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    Andrew R Stewart Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
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    Is Information Valued

    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.

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    I think if you need to get help measuring the seat post at the LBS you are honor-bound to buy it (the seat post) from them.

    My $0.02...
    Last edited by Hendo252; 04-23-14 at 08:04 AM. Reason: Clarification

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    Bandolero Bandrada's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hendo252 View Post
    I think if you need to get help measuring the seat post at the LBS you are honor-bound to buy it from them.

    My $0.02...
    If it is someone who obviously has zero knowledge, then you would do yourself a great disservice charging for that kind of information. If I owned a shop in the same town, and I found out about such practices, I would immediately post a sign that states "Free Measurements." If it was someone who appears like they should know, I'd simply loan him the tool. If he effs up the measurement and buys the wrong post, I'd sell him on an upgrade.
    Nothing better than a good chain lube thread...

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    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
    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?
    That sounds excessive... and I would think the LBS was desperate... MHO.

    Although some shops do very well... I think the old traditional "shop" business model has some problems. Thanks to Internet shopping I have millions of name-brand and other items that can be delivered to my door very quickly... if not tomorrow. All at very competitive prices.

    Why would I go to a LBS to purchase a part or item at four times the price from some "youth" that reeks of pot and calls me "dude"? So why do I go to the LBS?

    1. I like to see and touch the bicycles and accessories.
    2. I like talking cycling with the staff that are also cyclists (when the staff isn't stoned).
    3. I don't have to squeeze every penny. A staffer saying he/she likes an item can make up for a price difference.
    4. I hear... a couple LBS's has group rides stating and ending at the shop now.
    5. One LBS offers repair classes that interests me.
    6. I'd like to see coffee sold and served at the LBS. That would be a great place/way to meet-up for a ride.
    7. I'd like [to see] winter off-season spin classes at the LBS.

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    Bandolero Bandrada's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
    That sounds excessive... and I would think the LBS was desperate... MHO.

    Although some shops do very well... I think the old traditional "shop" business model has some problems. Thanks to Internet shopping I have millions of name-brand and other items that can be delivered to my door very quickly... if not tomorrow. All at very competitive prices.

    Why would I go to a LBS to purchase a part or item at four times the price from some "youth" that reeks of pot and calls me "dude"? So why do I go to the LBS?

    1. I like to see and touch the bicycles and accessories.
    2. I like talking cycling with the staff that are also cyclists (when the staff isn't stoned).
    3. I don't have to squeeze every penny. A staffer saying he/she likes an item can make up for a price difference.
    4. I hear... a couple LBS's has group rides stating and ending at the shop now.
    5. One LBS offers repair classes that interests me.
    6. I'd like to see coffee sold and served at the LBS. That would be a great place/way to meet-up for a ride.
    7. I'd like [to see] winter off-season spin classes at the LBS.

    #
    5 is a great way to earn business, IMO.

    #6 is pretty good, too.

    #7 they have stationary bikes now that can compete over a wide variety of terrain and world class competitions. I'm pretty sure you can compete on your local jaunts via , too.
    Nothing better than a good chain lube thread...

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    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bandrada View Post
    #7 they have stationary bikes now that can compete over a wide variety of terrain and world class competitions. I'm pretty sure you can compete on your local jaunts via , too.
    I HATE stationary cycling... I think most people do. But if the LBS setup a dozen el-cheapie trainers and let customers bring in their own bicycles and setup and ride as a group for free. A projection screen and a cycling video would be a nice extra touch as well. At least they could have a dozen cyclist in their shop on a cold week night.

    And why does NONE of the LBS's have a decent web page????? Any geek could put up a forum/chat room for the LBS. Yet... I can't even check to see what might be in stock at the LBS's.

    Why not a LBS parking lot "classic bicycle show" in the summer. Other places do something similar with classic cars. Or maybe a Saturday afternoon [hot dog] cook-out for customers in early summer?

    How about a bicycle tool loaner program for customers who buy bicycles from the LBS? 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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
    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.
    With the parts available to anyone on-line these days, it's easy for the buyer attach a value to the part, and consider anyone charging more for the part than what they can buy it for, is ripping them off. They have no consideration for the value that anyone offers (LBS) as to whether the part will fit, or how to set up and adjust it so it will work.

    So... are you obligated in provided (too much) info when they ask? Absolutely not. It's common nature to provide answers to all the questions you're asked because you're a good guy. It never crosses your mind they will take that info and go somewhere else to buy the stuff.

    In the case of the "seat post..." If the dude comes in asking you to measure the post for the proper sizing, I feel a little up-front conversation is in order. Maybe like- "yeah we can measure it for you, but if you don't buy a post, that info is x$. Or, "we measure fit for free with the purchase of a post." Or some questions- " Do you need a post today? We'd be more than happy to fit, and install a post. No charger for the sizing."

    This should give them the idea that they cannot just waltz into an LBS and pick their brain w/o paying for it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
    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?
    If I was the customer in that situation, I would feel like the shop is trying to take advantage of me, withholding information as leverage to make a sale. I'd walk out, never to return. If a shop wanted to charge me for that type of quickie work, I think it would be more reasonable to charge a base service/diagnostic fee for ALL work, made known beforehand. Like, "It's $5 if we even touch a tool." Then offer to credit the fee toward purchase of parts. But as a customer, even that would leave a sour impression on me, although I'd understand the reasoning.

    Now if a shop did the measurement as a courtesy, let me know what options they could offer me, and their prices were reasonable, they'd not only sell me a seatpost, but they'd have a long-term customer. I value their time, knowledge, tools, and courtesy. Those would carry a lot of weight, along with price, when I make my purchasing decisions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
    That sounds excessive... and I would think the LBS was desperate... MHO.

    Although some shops do very well... I think the old traditional "shop" business model has some problems. Thanks to Internet shopping I have millions of name-brand and other items that can be delivered to my door very quickly... if not tomorrow. All at very competitive prices.

    Why would I go to a LBS to purchase a part or item at four times the price from some "youth" that reeks of pot and calls me "dude"? So why do I go to the LBS?

    1. I like to see and touch the bicycles and accessories.
    2. I like talking cycling with the staff that are also cyclists (when the staff isn't stoned).
    3. I don't have to squeeze every penny. A staffer saying he/she likes an item can make up for a price difference.
    4. I hear... a couple LBS's has group rides stating and ending at the shop now.
    5. One LBS offers repair classes that interests me.
    6. I'd like to see coffee sold and served at the LBS. That would be a great place/way to meet-up for a ride.
    7. I'd like [to see] winter off-season spin classes at the LBS.
    I don't know where you live Cutter, but in my town there's no less than 15 shops who offer the services you "require." The one item missing is the "classic bike show." Too many Fugis and Univegas to make it classic.

    That still doesn't change the fact that someone will come in looking for info and go elsewhere to buy it. There has to be a cost to providing information. It's simple- buy it here the info is free. Buy it elsewhere, get the info there.

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    Well, I recently payed close enough the double online price for a UN-55 italian thread BB at a lbs.
    I think they had earned it after a lengthy discussion regarding which symmetric cartridge BB that would make a good replacement for the assymmetric cup & cone BB I wanted to replace.
    But I try to be fairly up front. If I'm in "research mode" rather than "buy mode" I would expect to get some guidance from a lbs with no strings attached.
    Last edited by dabac; 04-23-14 at 02:55 AM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member jyl's Avatar
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    10 minutes of a mechanic's time should cost the customer $20 or $30, I figure.

    For some unknown person who walks in off the street asking to have his seatpost measured, I think the shop should say "you can buy machinist's calipers and measure the frame and old post for an estimate, but the only way to be sure is to hone and lubricate the tube then test fit different sizes of gauge posts. We have a set of gauge posts and charge $X for the job." A regular customer maybe gets a courtesy, but maybe not.

    I have three LBS that I go to.

    One is the local co-op, CityBikes. They have boxes and bins of old parts so if I need something like a used BB spindle or an old French stem, I stop in there. Their mechanics are good and prices fair, and I used to get my bikes worked on there until I started doing my own work. Last purchase was, I think, some $4 crank bolts and a used Campy pump head.

    Another is the local storefront of a big online bike shop, Universal Cycle. It is basically like shopping online, same prices, but no shipping costs. They have a service dept too and the staff are nice guys, pretty knowledgeable. I mostly buy apparel, spokes, tools and consumables there. Last purchase was, I think, a jersey, some gels, and some quick links.

    The third is our local bike shop-bar-museum-social space, VeloCult. I most often buy beer and coffee there. When I need some work done and don't have the tools or skills or time, I go there. Mechanics are very good, they have all the tools for vintage bikes, and prices are fair. I know when they are not busy, so can often time it to have a beer and talk to the guys as they do the work. Last thing I had done, for example, was to have some crank pedal threads tapped out. Took him 10 minutes, I bought a pint, had a talk about French and a Italian threads, and also paid a modest fee for the work. When I need new parts, I order through them. The price is higher than online but I don't buy many new parts. The last purchase was, I think, a Silica floor pump. Before that, some NOS vintage Ritchey Z-Max tires from their stash. I recently ordered some pedals.

    The great majority of my parts purchases are used (C&V stuff) off eBay.

    So basically I support my LBS when they have or can get the part.
    Last edited by jyl; 04-23-14 at 03:38 AM.
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    If Fumbles22 hadn't said anything about going and getting the seatclamp & post on-line, we would have been non the wiser, however, they did and that put them in a bad light. They had gone to their LBS, got all the info (when they would have got all this at home (using correct tools) a prime example of how not to build a relationship with a LBS

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hendo252 View Post
    I think if you need to get help measuring the seat post at the LBS you are honor-bound to buy it from them.

    My $0.02...
    I feel the same.

    Brad

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    Quote Originally Posted by reddog3 View Post
    With the parts available to anyone on-line these days, it's easy for the buyer attach a value to the part, and consider anyone charging more for the part than what they can buy it for, is ripping them off. They have no consideration for the value that anyone offers (LBS) as to whether the part will fit, or how to set up and adjust it so it will work.

    So... are you obligated in provided (too much) info when they ask? Absolutely not. It's common nature to provide answers to all the questions you're asked because you're a good guy. It never crosses your mind they will take that info and go somewhere else to buy the stuff.

    In the case of the "seat post..." If the dude comes in asking you to measure the post for the proper sizing, I feel a little up-front conversation is in order. Maybe like- "yeah we can measure it for you, but if you don't buy a post, that info is x$. Or, "we measure fit for free with the purchase of a post." Or some questions- " Do you need a post today? We'd be more than happy to fit, and install a post. No charger for the sizing."

    This should give them the idea that they cannot just waltz into an LBS and pick their brain w/o paying for it.
    I agree. It is fair to charge for any sevice provided. Including the measurement fee in the price of a new post also makes sense. Is that cheapest for the internet-addicted customer like myself? No, but it is fair and good business. There are other strategies like providing sevices for free as a loss leader, but I feel that is old-school and no longer relevant. There is no reason why the modern LBS has to be any more of a patsy than the modern auto dealership, local pharmacy, what have you. LBSs reputations as soft touches and the folk lore established around that aren't serving them well in the internet age.
    Robert

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    Quote Originally Posted by bradtx View Post
    I feel the same.

    Brad
    I prefer the option to pay for the service without any honor code dictating where I buy the goods. It's cleaner and more business like.
    Robert

    My hero: "Tar-Baby ain't sayin' nuthin'..." (Joel Chandler Harris, Uncle Remus")

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    Senior Member North Coast Joe's Avatar
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    Sure, information is valuable!

    If I were in Fumbles22's position, I would expect an LBS to handle it thusly:

    Make the meaurement and present the customer with the in-house choices of seatposts. If they're labeled, or otherwise disclose their dimensions, let the customer have the info. You've provided your expertise and an IMMEDIATE fix to the situation, so he/she doesn't have to look it up online and then await shipping and self-installation. That's your advantage, IMHO.

    It's got to be unbelievably tough running a shop these days. I wish the pro's here all the best luck and wishes for success. I don't have an LBS within 40 miles. That one is a national chain that doesn't seem to be too interested in help with anything outside of their own product line. If an obscure item is what I wanted (ie. rigid MTB fork of specific size and material) I can be sure I'll be prattled off to the new bikes with the advise that if I have to modify what I have now, I didn't buy the right bike in the first place. They can help with that! It'd be nice to have a shop that doesn't treat me like a dumb ass.

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    Senior Member Kopsis's Avatar
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    If the LBS test fits several seatposts to determine (with absolute certainty) the correct size, they've performed a service and I feel obligated to compensate them for their time, effort, and overhead. If they're willing to accept their very reasonable mark-up on a purchased seatpost as adequate compensation, I consider that a bargain (since it's probably less than what they'd charge for shop labor). I don't feel like I'm paying for information in either case -- I'm paying for a service that happened to produce information.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    a suitable 'thank you, for the help', would be buy a few pints at least ..

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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...
    I know next to nothing. I am frequently wrong.

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    Bandolero Bandrada's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mconlonx View Post
    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...
    Every customer is different. It takes some people skills. Good coffee doesn't hurt, either.
    Nothing better than a good chain lube thread...

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    I've taken Chinese-sourced reproductions of carbon fiber frames, bars, stems and whatnot into shops and have asked the guy on the floor to measure or weigh the question part to confirm how similar it is to the orginal. Always get enthusiastic service and cooperation.

    I've had a fork cut gratis; gotten a free carbon paste packet off 'em one time; a spare headset dust cover they had laying around in a drawer another time just by asking.

    I also always express my genuine gratitude with a big smile, a manly hand shake with a greased palm (a buck is enough) and a knowing wink though (out of sight and earshot of the owner; just in case)

    You catch more flies with honey...

  22. #22
    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reddog3 View Post
    I don't know where you live Cutter, but in my town there's no less than 15 shops who offer the services you "require."
    Nice that you have such active LBS's in your area... none like that in the Midwest (to speak of). That isn't a "requirement list" but suggestions for getting people in the shop. The OP wouldn't have even noticed that a customer had left with information and no parts... IF he had a shop full of customers.

    Bicycle popularity, usage, and sales are cyclical. Even in areas where cycling is still as popular as ever... it won't last forever. And most shop centric businesses are having trouble because of modern marketing (the Internet). New profitable business models must be developed by shop owners... or few will last. Apparently.... shops in your area have caught on.

    Quote Originally Posted by reddog3 View Post
    That still doesn't change the fact that someone will come in looking for info and go elsewhere to buy it. There has to be a cost to providing information.
    All retail is a numbers game! Since the OP didn't mention his shops closing rate/percentage... I would assume he doesn't know the numbers.. but can sense they aren't good. Knowing a lot about bicycles and bicycling is a good thing. Knowing a lot about retail sales... is what makes stores profitable.

    Trying to sell "information knowledge" in the age of google searches?!?! That's a joke... right?!?!?

  23. #23
    Andrew R Stewart Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
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    Good responses so far, thanks for staying on topic (mostly). Although i bet I can guess the industry people from the consumers My reason for this thread is to raise the question of what is your LBS's skills, tools and professionalism worth. I purposely used the word "consulting" to try to associate the shop's service to that of other professions. Like when the life coach (or financial adviser/lawyer/contractor/etc.) meet with you for the first time. The discussion is free and they propose a path that will provide you with results but they don't tell you the details (which stock to invest in, how much cash to have on hand, etc.) This information is held until the "contract" is signed.

    In my reply to the referenced thread I stated my actions. I measured the post (mentioning to the customer the size), offered our product options (in stock, available as a special order), offered to install the post (and transfer the seat). So my take is much like many of the above replies.

    But it's hard to learn if you don't ask the hard questions and consider other methods (then you already are doing). BTW yesterday we were given a tip for our no cost help and we have free to our customers coffee. Andy.

  24. #24
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hendo252 View Post
    I think if you need to get help measuring the seat post at the LBS you are honor-bound to buy it from them.

    My $0.02...
    +100

    As far as free assistance for minor tasks, you "earn" that privedge by being a frequent PAYING customer at the shop. While I do 99+% of my own work, I routinely stop at the LBS (there is only ONE in my town) to buy small odds and ends. The rewards to me are several. First, if I need a quick job done, they usually will do it immediately for a nominal charge. Secondly, if I want to scrounge around for a used part, they let me dig through their bin. Third, most recently, the shop saved a recent trade in bike for me (a 1962 model), and made me a great deal on it.

    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.

    We are down to one shop in my town, the next shop is 40 miles away. I value their presence, so I try to do routine business with them, and I recommend them to others.

  25. #25
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
    My Bikes
    '''96 Litespeed Catalyst, '05 Litespeed Firenze, '06 Litespeed Tuscany, '12 Surly Pacer, All are 3x8,9 or 10. It is hilly around here!
    Posts
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    I do most of my purchases on line for both cost and convenience but would never ask a shop to do work for no charge.

    A couple of years ago I was building up a new frame and fork and the crown race on the headset was a very tight fit. Since I didn't have a race setter at the time I took the fork and crown race to a nearby shop and asked them to set it for me. I was there mid-day on a winter week day and they weren't very busy so the mechanic did it right away. I offered to pay, which I was more than willing to do, but they said no charge. I have bought from them in the past when I needed something right away and will certainly do so in the future.

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