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Old 04-23-14, 08:03 AM   #26
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If the LBS had measured Fumbles22's post BUT had not told him the size what would you think of the shop.

As someone who'd just take some calipers and measure it, I don't understand the controversy. But to answer your question, I'd assume it was an oversight.

If the shop had asked for payment for this information (which would be credited against a seat post purchase) what would you think?

I would think poorly of the shop and never grace their doorstep again. If it were some diagnostic information, or something that required special knowledge that would be another story, but this is trivial information that took no skills to come by, and a few seconds if that.

Personally I don't go into retail stores and ask for information, unless I'm going to purchase something. I understand that you have to draw a line somewhere. But measuring a seat post diameter?
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Old 04-23-14, 08:30 AM   #27
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It takes a lot of nerve to have a shop measure a seat post for you at no charge, take the information, and buy a seat post on the internet. I for one could not do it.
I'm with you. The problem for LBS and consumers, though, is there are a lot of people who will do just that. They're the ones who are shocked when a hardware store in a small town goes out of business and doesn't contribute to the high school band or sports teams any more, while the Walmart that too many customers went to (and saved a buck) pitches in $100 per year.

I think fee for service is one reasonable approach. It's probably best to post it up front. Frequent customers might get a wink and a nod, and won't have to pay for minor jobs. And if the fee for measuring the seatpost comes out to the difference between the LBS part and the on-line price, well, how many of those freeloaders are going to pay extra to keep FedEx and UPS going?
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Old 04-23-14, 08:34 AM   #28
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It's the nature of the service industry. I give out tax advice to people all the time in the hopes that they will come to me at tax time to have me do their return. Some do. Some I never see again. It provides goodwill and generates word of mouth.
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Old 04-23-14, 08:35 AM   #29
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These types of services IMO should be considered "cost of doing business". Absolutely present your in house choices and pricing. I personally would buy it from you if the price was only reasonably higher and you had it in stock. If you have to order something then probably no sale. If I was presented with having to pay for a recommendation on a product I would probably walk and not return. Having said that these are decisions that must be made by the shop owners. If you have so much business that you don't have time to stop and do these things without losing time on paying jobs then you have to do decide if that is the way you choose to handle it. Is the bike shop down the road going to do it for free? This is a much more complex issue than it seems on the surface but an unhappy customer will be unhappy for a long time but a happy one will be back and might buy something next time.
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Old 04-23-14, 08:38 AM   #30
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It's the nature of the service industry. I give out tax advice to people all the time in the hopes that they will come to me at tax time to have me do their return. Some do. Some I never see again. It provides goodwill and generates word of mouth.
This. Our shop -- new to the area, only been around for five years or so and there's still people coming in saying, "I didn't know you were here!" -- has been lauded as a "best kept secret" and our service numbers are way up over last year.
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Old 04-23-14, 08:46 AM   #31
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I guess I just don't buy into bike shops being some magical business in a story book land that is all about smiles, handshakes, greased palms, favors, honor codes, etc. I am much more comfortable with a straightforward business model for bike retailing much as if it were the local grocery chain, drug store chain, or department store. Maybe that is why I like Performance Bike Shop and Bike Barn in Houston so much. They are of a size to make bike retailing just like any other retail commodity. I don't want to have to worry about whether Mom and Pop have enough to eat. I don't want favors because I am a regular customer. Hey, if I get a freebie like a free steerer tube cut, I'm happy about it, and I express my thanks verbally but not likely any other way. I just don't want to expect it, be upset if I don't get it, or experience all the other emotional involvement so many folks posting here seem to relish in LBS shopping. It is just a bike; it is just a store selling bikes; I am just their customer when I walk in; I am just not their customer when I shop online. It doesn't have to be so mystical.
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Old 04-23-14, 09:22 AM   #32
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^^^ Magical business, no. More then just selling parts and pieces, yes. My LBS values it's customers and supports the mt bikers in the area. The same ones who show up on Sunday am trail work days. The same ones who set up a tent at our larger rides and events to do basic repairs. They also give us space for monthly chapter meetings and we bring food and beer to the meetings as well. The same LBS gets my recommendation for bike repair to anyone who asks because they get it done correctly the first time at a competitive price. Also some of the same people I ride with and seek advice about new parts and pieces. It's called a relationship. Your loss.
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Old 04-23-14, 09:34 AM   #33
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I work in a shop, stepping down from full time mechanic/sales for about 4.5 years to part time work now.

I would do the measurement for free, with a smile. That customer will be back for more free advice. Eventually they will get into a situation with an online purchase where they bring the bike in for fixing, and then they will be charged right at shop rate for any and all repairs/adjustments, no bro-deal no matter how friendly I appear when giving out free advice.

People who ask for free advice generally lack tools and are too lazy to look online for many repairs, so they will be back to the guy/shop who has proven so helpful in the past.

I have no problem charging to build a new bike bought online, adjust a used bike bought online, or install parts bought online. Bikes - low margin; parts - reasonable margin unless price matching online deals; labor - all margin...
+1

Spoken like a true businessman. Those people who would advocate a hard line with customers to prevent showrooming would turn off 10 good customers for every 1 that they prevented taking advantage of some free service. An LBS thrives on loyal repeat customers. You don't build that relationship by treating everyone that walks through the door like a scammer and nickel-and-diming them.
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Old 04-23-14, 10:08 AM   #34
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^^^ Magical business, no. More then just selling parts and pieces, yes. My LBS values it's customers and supports the mt bikers in the area. The same ones who show up on Sunday am trail work days. The same ones who set up a tent at our larger rides and events to do basic repairs. They also give us space for monthly chapter meetings and we bring food and beer to the meetings as well. The same LBS gets my recommendation for bike repair to anyone who asks because they get it done correctly the first time at a competitive price. Also some of the same people I ride with and seek advice about new parts and pieces. It's called a relationship. Your loss.
It is only a loss if you value it and don't have it. I don't value it.

EDIT: I should probably qualify the above and stipulate I am only talking about bike shops and other retailers. There are lots of relationships that I value, just not with business establishments particularly. I am just interested in a good selection of quality goods for fair prices. All the other stuff seems to be important to lots of folks, but not to me. Perhaps it is because I don't drink beer.
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Old 04-23-14, 11:16 AM   #35
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I order plenty of parts online, and I also make sure to give the few shops close by some business as well.

I think it is honorable to buy where you get the advice, but I know that honor is not necessarily a common attribute among shoppers.

I believe that other industries have similar issues, such as auto body shops. I would probably not go to a place that charges for estimates, but those that offer free estimates must absorb the costs through the services when they do charge... So, I would suspect that people would tend to avoid bike shops if charged for preliminary information.

Being a user (and not provider) of LBS products and services, I would say that I like the "corner store" mentality that my favorite local shops offer. Willing to take the time to answer questions, and they once in a while throw a deal my way. I had them measure a frame for a seat post, there was no charge... and I seem to recall that I bought a post from them. If they were to start charging for measuring etc and apply it toward purchase, I would still go there. However, it would probably keep some customers away from a great shop.
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Old 04-23-14, 11:47 AM   #36
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? LBS's... need to find ways to create a new business model that fulfills needs that Internet stores can't. Even if that means... inventing a new need.
Yep. The Surf Shops in Southern California during the 1970's used to be like LBS are today. Grungy little holes in the walls where you bought a leash or bar of wax and then bailed. Over the years they evolved, and radically. They are now well light, well decorated, have nice seating areas with couches and chairs, large video screens and sound systems, sell every product associated with the lifestyle, and most have a food service ranging from snacks to full on meals. They have given customers a reason to WANT to hang out. To linger, like Starbucks. They are now a "destination". People who hang out in a pleasant atmosphere with like minded peers ultimately SPEND.

If my LBS were to build an environment like that, they would be swamped during the Winter. A place to hang with old friends or meet new people, share a snack and a beverage, and on the way out buy a pair of socks just because you are "feeling" the bike mood.
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Old 04-23-14, 01:04 PM   #37
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Measuring for a seat post

Post #56 makes me start this thread. For complete disclosure i am in the retail bike business, owned a shop for 15 years and still wrench daily. I have position on the topic of what value shop help is worth. But i want to hear from the people out there.

If the LBS had measured Fumbles22's post BUT had not told him the size what would you think of the shop. If the shop had asked for payment for this information (which would be credited against a seat post purchase) what would you think?

There are many other situations that mimic this one but let's keep our comments on topic please, the valueshop'shops's consulting and whether it's the shop's property until a price has been paid. I look forward to others' opinions. Andy.
From a LBS perspetive:

Its really quite simple. A customer sans seatpost comes looking for a seatpost. A person looking to find out "what size seatpost my bike needs" is not a customer. He (and mostly he) is a roadie or hipster wanting to know what size to buy online.
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Old 04-23-14, 01:13 PM   #38
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To charge for that info is bad policy but to withhold it in certain situations is okay. Once you set a policy of charging for petty services, you'll have to charge everyone equally which will certainly turn off (enrage) good customers. You can, however, withhold that info from people you judge not to be potential buyers. In the long run though, it probably doesn't pay. For once you've shown your expertise to people who take your measurements and run home to order off of the internet, those same people might be more inclined to buy their next bike from "the guys who know what they're doing."
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Old 04-23-14, 01:47 PM   #39
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So many LBS in my area that if they charged for a measurement they'd be out of business. There are high end shops that can get away with charging hundreds for a "professional fitting" but their clientele is usually showing up in a $100k car and buying a $5-10k bike so they don't mind spending a couple hundred dollars for that.

The shops I go to fit people for free (although it's a 5 minute affair not a pro fit) and they have done small work for me for free in hopes of getting repeat business mainly the annual tune up for $75-100
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Old 04-23-14, 03:15 PM   #40
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There are high end shops that can get away with charging hundreds for a "professional fitting" but their clientele is usually showing up in a $100k car and buying a $5-10k bike...
...and will still haggle on the price, like it will kill them if they have to pay full-pop, which they could do, easily.
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Old 04-23-14, 03:20 PM   #41
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...and will still haggle on the price, like it will kill them if they have to pay full-pop, which they could do, easily.
Maybe they're leveraged to the hilt and can't easily afford it.
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Old 04-23-14, 03:57 PM   #42
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But i want to hear from the people out there.
"Back When" I was "in the business" our layout intentionally kept the service & assembly staff out of sight/access to the public.
It was the job of the front of house staff to take care of customers: measuring a frame for seatpost size, taking in & accurately estimating a repair or selling mom a new Pixie for her daughter is what I paid them to do. Standing around, not so much.

Why would that change?

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Old 04-23-14, 09:12 PM   #43
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Bandera- Not sure how your reply addresses the thread. Andy.
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Old 04-23-14, 09:32 PM   #44
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I think he is saying the personnel that would be measuring the seat post are getting paid anyway so the "customer" in question would not be taking away from the technicians time in the service area. This means it costs his store nothing extra to provide the information in hope of making a sale.
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Old 04-23-14, 10:56 PM   #45
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At my shop, I'd measure the post for them and give them the info. I'm doing this knowing fully well there's an equal chance they'll-
1. Value my info and effort by buying a post from me.
2. Want to buy a post from me, but not be able to afford it.
3. Use me for free effort and info and weasel off to Ebay to save a few bucks-a few buck they didn't feel was ethically worth my effort and info.

Seems like more time and bother haggling over any "terms" of this very simple, 30-second procedure. Don't even think about taking the measurement if you intend to withhold the info for any reason. That's setting yourself up to be a dickhead because you think you have fine-print justification for some lame info-hostage standoff.
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Old 04-24-14, 06:15 AM   #46
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I think he is saying the personnel that would be measuring the seat post are getting paid anyway so the "customer" in question would not be taking away from the technicians time in the service area. This means it costs his store nothing extra to provide the information in hope of making a sale.
Thanks,

You understand my point exactly.

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Old 04-24-14, 07:35 AM   #47
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Is information valued?

It is, in as much as the consumer is willing to pay for it. Once people start paying for such things, it is then that a switch will get flicked in the minds of many. Pure business. Of course, someone will always get a wink and a nod.
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Old 04-24-14, 07:38 AM   #48
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"Back When" I was "in the business" our layout intentionally kept the service & assembly staff out of sight/access to the public.
It was the job of the front of house staff to take care of customers: measuring a frame for seatpost size, taking in & accurately estimating a repair or selling mom a new Pixie for her daughter is what I paid them to do. Standing around, not so much.

Why would that change?

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That's pretty smart, a more subtle way of discouraging people from taking advantage.

As a young man I was the technical guru in computer stores - this was at the dawn of the age of personal computers. In bigger operations I was often shielded from customers for this reason, and only brought out for sales calls.

Back then you saw the phenomenon that we called the "Priesthood of Knowledge". There were those who hoarded their knowledge, a deliberate concealment designed to magnify one's expertise while keeping the customer reliant on the expert's conclusions. Thankfully as the industry matured those types became rare. This kind of reminds me of that on a smaller scale.

The better you educate the customer, he's going to be more satisfied with his purchase and will more likely purchase up the scale. He'll require less free support. He'll view you as a valued resource, instead of that nagging doubt that the "expert" just talks a good game. I don't see how that doesn't apply to bicycles as well. There is a specialized knowledge involved here and it's more than the enthusiast will acquire from his involvement with the sport, so it's always going to be a value added resource regardless of what you dole out for free. The "Priesthood" on the other hand will only drag you down in the long run.
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Old 04-24-14, 07:42 AM   #49
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I think once word got out that you charged for answers to basic questions people would stop asking you basic questions. Once people stopped coming in to ask the basic questions there would be a lot less traffic through the door. Your days would be relaxing and you could just sit around watching The Price is Right while sipping on your coffee. I've always felt the worst part of customer service is the damned customers and this sounds like a great way to take them out of the equation.
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Old 04-24-14, 07:46 AM   #50
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Maybe they're leveraged to the hilt and can't easily afford it.
I feel so bad for them...
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