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  1. #1
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    I am a service manager for a retail bicycle store. As I read peoples posts I see a lot of frustration with how people's local bike shops handle repairs. In an effort to improve my service department I'd like to get peoples opinions/suggestions on what they like or dislike about LBS repair shops(no shop names please). I realize that what I am asking for will include negative comments but my hope is that it can be done in a constructive way so that this thread isn't a negative "shop bashing" thread. Hopefully for every problem or dislike people will offer a suggestion for how to make it better. Thanks in advance.
    Pete

  2. #2
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    I guess I will start it off.

    Being treated like the customer is important is the main thing.

    I also don't want to have to leave my bike for a day or two for something that is going to take 10 minutes of the mechanics time. Perhaps a creative queueing process... Do at least one short job between each long job.

    I had to leave my bike for about 36 hours for a tune-up (basically a cable adjustment and quick bike check and lube)

    I once had to leave my bike over-night for a warrantee related tire change... and then the tire wasn't changed, so when I brought it back and pointed this out, I got the tire changed in about 10 minutes.

    EDIT: Another idea... if you have multiple mechanics, dedicate one of them to drop whatever long job he/she is doing or assisting on to take care of the easy/quick stuff for a customer that comes in... Remember, we are in an age when people are liking waiting less and less.
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  3. #3
    Klaatu barada nikto cascade168's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Hamer
    I am a service manager for a retail bicycle store. As I read peoples posts I see a lot of frustration with how people's local bike shops handle repairs. In an effort to improve my service department I'd like to get peoples opinions/suggestions on what they like or dislike about LBS repair shops(no shop names please). I realize that what I am asking for will include negative comments but my hope is that it can be done in a constructive way so that this thread isn't a negative "shop bashing" thread. Hopefully for every problem or dislike people will offer a suggestion for how to make it better. Thanks in advance.
    Pete
    One topic that gets rehashed again and again is whether it is appropriate to show up at your LBS with parts you have purchased. One great shop that has got this figured out is Wheelworks in Belmont, MA. Their policy concerning this is plainly stated on their web site - they just charge an additional 20% surcharge (on the labor) when you bring in your own parts. I think this works well for both sides. The shop does not lose money (from the profit they would have made on the parts) and there is incentive to buy the parts from them. But, if you want to bring in your own parts their is no moral dilemma. They are ok with that.

    Here are their service policies:

    http://wheelworks.com/repair.htm

    Intelligent policies and a willingness to work to help customers solve their problems are big steps in the right direction to any service department. Wheelworks has clearly listened to their customers and removed an uncomfortable roadblock to good business.

    Sorry I disregarded the "no names" request, but I think that using Wheelworks as a good example should not be a problem. I'm sure they would welcome this kind of press.
    "Work is the curse of the drinking class."
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  4. #4
    Klaatu barada nikto cascade168's Avatar
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    Another great policy from another Boston area shop is from Cycle Loft in Burlington. They give automatic priority repairs to anyone who is a bicycle commuter.
    "Work is the curse of the drinking class."
    - Oscar Wilde

  5. #5
    Sometimes knows stuff. rmfnla's Avatar
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    Good for you for trying to make things better.

    Years ago I managed a real busy shop in Santa Barbara. One thing we did was give on-the-spot flat repair service. We did not repair tubes, just R&R, but our guys would stop their other repairs to get flats done and out the door.

    Of course, my guys could R&R a tube & check for crap in the tire in about 45 seconds...
    Today, I believe my jurisdiction ends here...

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    Quote Originally Posted by cascade168
    One topic that gets rehashed again and again is whether it is appropriate to show up at your LBS with parts you have purchased. One great shop that has got this figured out is Wheelworks in Belmont, MA. Their policy concerning this is plainly stated on their web site - they just charge an additional 20% surcharge (on the labor) when you bring in your own parts. I think this works well for both sides. The shop does not lose money (from the profit they would have made on the parts) and there is incentive to buy the parts from them. But, if you want to bring in your own parts their is no moral dilemma. They are ok with that.

    Here are their service policies:

    http://wheelworks.com/repair.htm

    Intelligent policies and a willingness to work to help customers solve their problems are big steps in the right direction to any service department. Wheelworks has clearly listened to their customers and removed an uncomfortable roadblock to good business.

    Sorry I disregarded the "no names" request, but I think that using Wheelworks as a good example should not be a problem. I'm sure they would welcome this kind of press.
    20% surcharge is just a ripoff. On most parts over $100 there is not that much profit. Fortunately I do 100% of my own work.

  7. #7
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    good: making sure a part can't be repaired before trying to sell me a new one.

    letting me borrow tools while in the shop (when it's really slow). obviously you have to be a regular to get this kind of deal.

    trying to educate people a little bit more about their bikes each time they bring it in for repairs.

    bad: not letting me borrow any tools at all (even tire irons) because "we don't want to liable for any mistakes you make with our tools."

    treating a tire change the same as a tune-up. "we have a two week wait for all repairs right now." (happened to a severely mechanically challenged friend).

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    **@#XX#@#**! bk

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by cascade168
    removed an uncomfortable roadblock to good business.

    Sorry I disregarded the "no names" request, but I think that using Wheelworks as a good example should not be a problem.
    That's an interesting thought. Are there any other uncomfortable roadblocks that anyone can think of?

    I can't imagine anyone having a problem with people naming their shop when they are complimenting them so I agree with you there.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcoine
    Fortunately I do 100% of my own work.
    I think that people who can do alot of their own work are also the ones that can easily be frustrated by LBS service departments. One thing I want to do better is satisfy people who are mechanically savvy but need to come to an LBS for occasional service work.

  11. #11
    Senior Member CPcyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbertfixy
    good: making sure a part can't be repaired before trying to sell me a new one.

    letting me borrow tools while in the shop (when it's really slow). obviously you have to be a regular to get this kind of deal.

    trying to educate people a little bit more about their bikes each time they bring it in for repairs.

    bad: not letting me borrow any tools at all (even tire irons) because "we don't want to liable for any mistakes you make with our tools."

    treating a tire change the same as a tune-up. "we have a two week wait for all repairs right now." (happened to a severely mechanically challenged friend).

    Triage repairs a bit more... also anotheer part to point one make sure you have the part that is needed or can get it in a resonable time frame.

    I have had on shop take more then 2 weeks to get a part.... mail order is quicker.

  12. #12
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    I do most of my own work, but I occassionally have an LBS service my bike. I think that it's nice when the shop retains any replaced parts, and shows them to me with a brief description of why they needed to be replaced. It really doesn't take that much time, and it allows the customer to see where their money went, with their own eyes.

    Not every customer is interested in seeing the replaced parts, but simply offering the little show and tell session conveys a positive message to the customer.

    My girlfriend doesn't know anything about automotive mechanics, but she always appreciates it when her mechanic shows her the problem. It is the complete opposite of the male chauvanist attitude of "your little female brain wouldn't understand these greasy parts."

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    I want someone that will help me fast, when I'm about to check in my bike then a Mechanic can stop what they're doing for about 2 minutes and tell me what's going to be done and how they're going to do it, then I can learn.

    Also, even if your website or paperwork says you'll do it, but don't deem it nessecary, tell the customer that. Tell them the positives and the negatives.

    A shop told me they were going to resurface both my brakes, right now, I don't have a true Disc Brake.

  14. #14
    Caffeinated. Camel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbertfixy
    ...letting me borrow tools while in the shop (when it's really slow). obviously you have to be a regular to get this kind of deal...
    Along these lines, another boston area shop has tools available for everyone. They are chained/cabled to a wall with a bit of space to work (no it's not a full set, nor are they that great of quality-but comes in handy from time to time). Obviously would depend on the space you happen to have available.

    On borrowing regular shop tools: Have a standard policy, posted. Charge a reasonable fee. Fair to everyone.

    On customer service:

    Re-enforce to your staff the importance of customer service. I don't mean they're allways rite, but never-ever let them "rip" about some customer being a complete arse in front of other customers.

    I'd guess that if you've some staff who are simply superb mechanicly, but lacking social skills to handle "difficult" customers-don't let them.
    mmmm coffeee!

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  15. #15
    so whatcha' want? bigskymacadam's Avatar
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    don't recommend service and parts i don't need. i'm getting a second opinion anyway so if you want me to commit to that repair appt ... don't tell me how sweet my bike is (it's not that great), then tell me i need a new headset.

    i like the shops that walk me thru the repair. it makes me want to buy my tools there, trust the shop, maybe buy my next bike there. by teaching me the basic maint that i can do myself, i'm gonna bring in my advanced repair to your shop. i'm pretty loyal that way.

  16. #16
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    One of my local shops doesn't mind letting me come into the back room and look through their buckets and drawers of small parts when I need something weird and prefer to find a used one to a new one. They also are happy to crack loose freewheels now and then for free when I don't have the right remover. Being nice about the little stuff makes me want to come back there.
    from Minneapolis, with bike love

  17. #17
    Unique Vintage Steel cuda2k's Avatar
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    I'll make a quick post now and come back and edit or add a new one when I have a bit more time.

    First - thumbs up on trying to make things smoother for all.

    Second - luckily I've had top notch service from my LBS thus far. I really like the above posts about making sure a 2-5 minute job doesn't go 2+ days because of the wait. Asking and listening to the customer about when they would like it back vs when they can realistically get it back.

    ok - I'm too tired to think of much else right now. Guess I haven't had any real bad experiences thus far to pull from.
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  18. #18
    Lost in the Black Hills mx_599's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Hamer
    I think that people who can do alot of their own work are also the ones that can easily be frustrated by LBS service departments. One thing I want to do better is satisfy people who are mechanically savvy but need to come to an LBS for occasional service work.
    i don't trust people working on my stuff. i have had things damaged in the past. for a business, time is money. while my time is precious, i can do a better job because i am not rushed.

  19. #19
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    If someone has a question during when their bike is being repaired, have the mechanic come around the counter and actually show him what happened and how to fix it.

    At a lbs, a few certain mechanics have tried to rip me off, if I had to guess because of my age. I'm a teenager, and I'm sure they though they could quote me a number they pulled out of their butt, and I wouldn't question it. Treat everyone fairly, even if they look like they would pay an absurd amount of money on something that shoudn't cost that much. $56 for 32 spokes and a 5 day wait, is absurd. Especially when I got to another lbs and pay $26 and wait a whopping 5 min.

  20. #20
    fmw
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    I think it is important to be reasonable about an exchange. I went to an LBS and asked for a 10 speed chain. I paid no attention to it, but after mounting it on my bike, I realized immediately it wasn't a 10 speed chain but a chain for an old 10 speed bike (5 speed freewheel.) I viewed it as the service department's error since 10 speed chain is a very common modern term and asked to exchange it for the right chain. They could always use it on a customer repair job. They refused. I didn't argue about a $20 chain. I just left it there and never returned.

    I think, if the service manager misunderstood what I wanted, he should have asked for a clarification. I think this is a pretty basic customer service issue.

    On the positive side, I once took a frame to good bike shop for prep. Not only did they prep the frame properly as I had specified, they also drilled and tapped the horizontal dropouts and added adjusting screws. I had failed to specify that. They had a more comprehensive concept of frame prep than I did. When I mounted the rear wheel, I discovered the screws were already adjusted to center the wheel. The whole frame prep, face and chase BB, face head tube, cut crown race, was $60 including the work on the dropouts. I return there all the time.

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    I used to enjoy hiring bike posers as part-timers in shops I managed and seeing how fast their ideas of how a shop should be run changed. Keeping a bike two days for a 15-minute repair makes sense when there's a queue of 30 or 40 bikes already in the shop and the salespeople are bringing sold $3,000 bikes back to the mechanics to install $200 worth of accessories.

    The policy in a couple of those shops is to fix flats and the equivalent on the spot and to charge a $5 rush fee for anyone with a lengthier repair who wants to jump to the head of the repair queue. It's amazing how many people who otherwise would have spent 10 minutes trying to charm or wheedle a quick repair out of the shop find that they can wait a couple of days after all. A rush charge for quick service is taken for granted in a lot of other businesses; why it's not standard practice in bike stores is a mystery.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcoine
    20% surcharge is just a ripoff. On most parts over $100 there is not that much profit. Fortunately I do 100% of my own work.
    A 20% surcharge to install parts bought elsewhere is a VERY reasonable rate and far better than I'd expect. The profit margin on parts is significantly higher than on complete bikes and most shops make the majority of their net income from parts and accessories.

  23. #23
    Unique Vintage Steel cuda2k's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trakhak
    I used to enjoy hiring bike posers as part-timers in shops I managed and seeing how fast their ideas of how a shop should be run changed. Keeping a bike two days for a 15-minute repair makes sense when there's a queue of 30 or 40 bikes already in the shop and the salespeople are bringing sold $3,000 bikes back to the mechanics to install $200 worth of accessories.

    The policy in a couple of those shops is to fix flats and the equivalent on the spot and to charge a $5 rush fee for anyone with a lengthier repair who wants to jump to the head of the repair queue. It's amazing how many people who otherwise would have spent 10 minutes trying to charm or wheedle a quick repair out of the shop find that they can wait a couple of days after all. A rush charge for quick service is taken for granted in a lot of other businesses; why it's not standard practice in bike stores is a mystery.
    You make a couple of good points. However, when you always have to strike the balance between the 'now' and the 'past' and 'future' customers. Sure, you want to ensure that the guy who just dropped $3000 on the new bike gets his $200 in accessories installed asap. However that $60 tune-up or $50 Headset replacement job you let set for 5 days - were those guys who routinely spent $200+ in your shop or was about to purchase a new bike. A rush fee on some jobs to get ahead of the pack is fine when you are swamped with a million jobs and have a long queue - but on flat repair? Give me a break. You'd be better served to stop, help the customer out - and most importantly try to help them gain the correct knowledge to do it themselves next time (and make sure they buy a spare tube!) The next flat they have there's a decent chance they can take care of it themselves. Saving the shop time to do the other repairs and chances are the customer will come back for patch kit / another tube / that $3000 bike.

    I've done my share of working retail, though not in a LBS or in service so much. But none the less we'd get more than a few customers in with their old machines in hand when they had problems with it. I was the knowledgable guy in the department so I usually got stuck helping diagnose the problem. I probably lost a few sales, even some that would have gained me a commission or two. But a lot, and I do mean a LOT of the customers that I helped for 15-20mins with their 10 year old fax machine came back and asked about some very big ticket items because they trusted me, and thus the store.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcoine
    20% surcharge is just a ripoff. On most parts over $100 there is not that much profit. Fortunately I do 100% of my own work.
    How would you feel about an LBS giving %20 off installation on parts bought at the LBS and also just saying mail order parts welcome?

  25. #25
    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fmw
    I think it is important to be reasonable about an exchange. I went to an LBS and asked for a 10 speed chain. I paid no attention to it, but after mounting it on my bike, I realized immediately it wasn't a 10 speed chain but a chain for an old 10 speed bike (5 speed freewheel.) I viewed it as the service department's error since 10 speed chain is a very common modern term and asked to exchange it for the right chain. They could always use it on a customer repair job. They refused. I didn't argue about a $20 chain. I just left it there and never returned.

    I think, if the service manager misunderstood what I wanted, he should have asked for a clarification. I think this is a pretty basic customer service issue.

    On the positive side, I once took a frame to good bike shop for prep. Not only did they prep the frame properly as I had specified, they also drilled and tapped the horizontal dropouts and added adjusting screws. I had failed to specify that. They had a more comprehensive concept of frame prep than I did. When I mounted the rear wheel, I discovered the screws were already adjusted to center the wheel. The whole frame prep, face and chase BB, face head tube, cut crown race, was $60 including the work on the dropouts. I return there all the time.
    That is one great shop and should be supported all the way.

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