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  1. #1
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    What do you owe a business?

    A recent post about an old topic shows there may be some confusion about the relationship between business and customer.

    To me a customer Owes a business just three things:
    -Comply with their part of the sales contract. Whatever you bought don't expect it to do more, or less than what was agreed.
    -Pay your bills on time. You bought it and agreed to pay for it. Now do what you said you would.
    -Be honest in what you say about the business. Don't tell others the business was great when it wasn't. Or, tell people you were "had" when, in fact, you got just what you bargained for. (Example: An aquaintance was soundly criticizing a friend of mine who is a car dealer. I told him I knew the guy, was his friend and knew exactly where he was at that moment and would take him there right then to settle things. Then it came out that he had bought the car "as is"(sticker was still on the car) but expected it to perform like new.)

    The customer isn't obligated to do anything to "keep the local in business" or any other of that nonsense. How do you know who owns the business? Lots of "local" businesses are truly owned by some corporation a long way away. On the other hand many chain businesses are really franchises or licensees and are in fact locally owned.

    Go where you get the best deal for what you want. Be a good steward of the money you and your family depend on. Let the business do their thing.

  2. #2
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    In addition to the above;

    If a company is looking out for my best interest, I will look out for theirs.

    For cycling equipment and services, it means that I am loyal with a good relationship. I am loyal, unless the price premium for this loyalty is too high. In other words, I will not switch supplier or provider to save a few pennies, but might switch if the competitors product and service is better, or unique, or if the price is far better.

    I will promote a business or product, If I'm happy with it.

    If the sale is a single-transaction, with no chance for repeat business, I buy on price or value with no concern for loyalty.
    Last edited by Barrettscv; 04-24-12 at 01:30 PM.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    What's in your long term personal self-interest? If having a local service conveniently available is important to you, I'd think that would affect your decisions.

    That said, in the end you have no obligation to make business people happy. They earn their money by making you happy.

  4. #4
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Nothing, other than paying for service and equipment at the point of sale.

    IMO, Retro G has it correct. Businesses have the obligation to earn customer purchases and loyalty by providing high value product and services that customers like. And, businesses should protect the interests of customers prospectively. By that I mean that businesses completely understand their value propositions, how they work and governing laws that impact those products and services. Customers are much less sophisticated and make buying decisions based upon impulse to carefully vetted analysis and comparative shopping. In the case of bike shops, those that offer test rides, fitting services, high value products and service and warranty after the sale, IMO, will win customer loyalty and command premium margins.

    The other aspect of business and customer interaction is the product or service a commodity? IMO, a commodity is a bicycle tire. One can easily buy them on line for deep discount to the retail price. In this transaction the low cost seller will win most of the transactions and customer loyalty will be to the lowest price. Neither the business or the customer have much interest in a "relationship" and / or "communication". If the transaction has a problem, once again, it is up to the business to protect the customer by providing a clearly stated termination or return terms and conditions.

    My observation is that local businesses do not carry commodity items due to the thin margins and carrying cost of inventory. If they stock a bicycle tire, it is a courtesy to customers that need one in a hurry.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  5. #5
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    What's in your long term personal self-interest? If having a local service conveniently available is important to you, I'd think that would affect your decisions.

    That said, in the end you have no obligation to make business people happy. They earn their money by making you happy.
    Totally.

  6. #6
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    At the end of the month I try not to owe any business anything.
    Craig in Indy

  7. #7
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    My observation is that local businesses do not carry commodity items due to the thin margins and carrying cost of inventory. If they stock a bicycle tire, it is a courtesy to customers that need one in a hurry.
    I've never known an LBS that didn't stock tires.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    In a race on Sunday a crash happened just in front of me and I had no where to go but straight. In the pucker moment I grabbed the brakes and locked the rear wheel. In a few feet my Contential Sprinter tubie was worn thru the tube. My LBS does have tires but probably not that model and can order what is needed. I had a spare at home and a tube of carbon rim glue that I took to the LBS that afternoon. On Monday afternoon the mounted tire was ready to pick up. The LBS is happy due to making money on the service, I'm a happy camper and PBK sold me a tire at a super discount along with the tube of glue sometime last year during a sale.

    As a customer, I'm satisfied and I believe the LBS is also.
    oldschool areodynamic brick

  9. #9
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    What do I owe my LBS? Currently, nothing. But when I need something for my bike, I'll go there and buy things, even at a premium. Essentially, I give them extra money for no good reason when I have a better value option available.

    Of course, having an LBS around is beneficial. Because they do things for me for no good reason. They give me advice and guidance on repairs and wheel building. They advise me on parts I plan to buy, basically a sounding board with bike knowledge far deeper than mine. For no good reason, they organize events and rides in my community. For no good reason, they advocate for the interests of cyclists. For no good reason, they whip up support at city council meetings when key votes arise. For no good reason, they maintain a good relationship with the city planner in charge of cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. For no good reason, they provide a place to hang out for people who want to talk bicycles. For no good reason, they conduct swap meets.

    In short the LBSs in my area do a lot of things "for no good reason," i.e., without a direct profit motive. I recognize that those things benefit me. So if I pay 10% or 20% more for something in the shop compared to what I would pay online, I don't mind doing it "for no good reason."

    I realize that if I (and others) don't spend money at the LBSs, they will go away. We've lost two in the last 18 months alone here in Fort Worth. I don't want to lose another, so I spend more money than absolutely required for my bike stuff. The extra I pay to the bike shop versus online buying, it turns out, is for all kinds of good reasons. An online source will never, ever do any of those things the LBSs do "for no good reason." There isn't a direct benefit in paying more than I absolutely need to, but there is a clear indirect benefit to keeping my LBSs in business.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  10. #10
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
    I've never known an LBS that didn't stock tires.
    In general, they do not stock many tires and only a couple of brands. Of course. larger stores can do what they please. It takes several turns of inventory to make money in retail. So having inventory lying around is a losing proposition.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  11. #11
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    I do not think any businesses do things for no good reason. Promotional activities such as organized rides, free advice and etc add value to the basic value proposition. Apple does a similar thing with the Genius Bar. Customers can get advice, help and some service for free by stopping into a store. I find that valuable and convenient and use Apple equipment even though Apple costs more than the commoditized PC computers and Android phones. Apple and some LBS offer lifestyle value propositions which many customers find valuable and are willing to pay a premium to get.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  12. #12
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I tried to show up on time..

  13. #13
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    I patronise my LBS. I do so not because I owe them anything, but because it is very much in my, and other cyclists' interests that they should be around. I can do virtually all my own mechanics, and I can buy whatever I want on-line, but there are occasions on which I need something urgently or encounter a problem I cannot readily fix.

    However, I wouldn't give them my business if they didn't give me a decent service. They know me, and they know I know that some of the things I buy from them could be bought cheaper on-line. As a result they give me a sensible discount, and offer help, advice and conversation beyond what I am strictly paying for. They recently built me a wheelset, for example, for very little more than I could have bought the components myself.

    Neither of us owe one another anything. But we understand that we are in a relationship in which our long-term interests are best served by us not squeezing out the last drop of profit from every transaction.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  14. #14
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    OP"Think outside The box. What Box? There is no box to think outside of unless a person builds their own."You are right. we do not owe LBS, grocery, coffees shops anything. But as your tag line suggest "What Box?" is Walmart, Starbucks Target McD Bikes direct is the Box you get

  15. #15
    Senior Member bigbadwullf's Avatar
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    Try calling the guy you get stuff over the internet to come over and help you fix your fence or help you take your elderly mother to the nursing home or help you with a problem and see where that gets you. These people are our neighbors. I am there for them and they are there for me...

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  16. #16
    Senior Member bigbadwullf's Avatar
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    Try calling the guy you get stuff from over the internet to come over and help you fix your fence or help you take your elderly mother to the nursing home or help you with a problem and see where that gets you. These people are our neighbors. I am there for them and they are there for me...

    I'd say we owe them a L O T !!

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    2012 Specialized Tarmac Elite Rival Mid Compact
    2007 Cannondale Caffeine 29er Lefty. Crank Bros pedals, wireless cateye. Specialized body geometric seat(uh, saddle)

  17. #17
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    Wow! I am not dissappointed. I figured some folks would not be able to clearly analyze this and I was right. As I stated in the original post the whole premise is that if the customer takes care of their own financial well being and the business takes care of their there is a healthy, and in the long term, a profitable relationship.

    It is mere blather to mix in services like family caretaking. However, the poster who phrased the post as critical but then said because he shops there he gets a discount and extra service actually proves my point. The business and the customer have reached a price point where both get what they need. Each is conducting the transaction according their own best interests.

    I expected, and got, the usual Big Box Store, or Chain Store, negativity. Actually they are very beneficial to the overall economy. What they do best is sell in quantity and then use that quantity as leverage to provide better prices. It is amazing once one starts looking how many service businesses are built around taking care of the products the big stores sell. It is also pretty humorous to read about patronizing the local business with bicycles when people don't take the same perspective about automobiles. Many times the car dealership may look local but in fact is part of a chain.

    Any business worth its' salt keeps sales and service as separate cost/profit centers. Bicycle shops are no exception. They may not be able to compete with the product but they can with service. With proper skill and pricing the business can thrive while doing so. But, that is the business's problem, not the customer's.
    Last edited by HawkOwl; 04-24-12 at 03:20 PM.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    I do not think any businesses do things for no good reason. Promotional activities such as organized rides, free advice and etc add value to the basic value proposition. Apple does a similar thing with the Genius Bar. Customers can get advice, help and some service for free by stopping into a store. I find that valuable and convenient and use Apple equipment even though Apple costs more than the commoditized PC computers and Android phones. Apple and some LBS offer lifestyle value propositions which many customers find valuable and are willing to pay a premium to get.
    Apple is an excellent example of great marketing. They have identified a market niche and have tailored their entire activity to reaching that niche. That supports the basic premise.

  19. #19
    Lotus Monomaniac Snydermann's Avatar
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    Speaking from experience, a small business was a lot easier to run before everyone had a computer. It what seems overnight, everyone was able to compare apples to oranges and evaluate my products and services with the relatively unknown. Now I was losing sales because my genuine part was 10% more expensive than the inferior aftermarket import. Back in the day customers changed their mind slowly and it allowed time to develop a rapport, which added value to my service. I remember opening my shop late on Christmas eve so I could help a long-time customer that I knew would be back for more service. I remember waking up to a 3 AM phone call to help a stranded daughter of a good customer when her father was away. I doubt today many businesses would do that for a new customer. Loyalty today isn't what it used to be and in my opinion it's the customer who loses. A business has incredible power to help you, if they feel it's worth it. But a business owner can kill himself helping customers that aren't loyal.
    Always searching for Lotus literature and memorabilia for use at www.VintageLOTUSbicycles.com, can you help?

  20. #20
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HawkOwl View Post
    Wow! I am not dissappointed. I figured some folks would not be able to clearly analyze this and I was right. As I stated in the original post the whole premise is that if the customer takes care of their own financial well being and the business takes care of their there is a healthy, and in the long term, a profitable relationship.

    It is mere blather to mix in services like family caretaking. However, the poster who phrased the post as critical but then said because he shops there he gets a discount and extra service actually proves my point. The business and the customer have reached a price point where both get what they need. Each is conducting the transaction according their own best interests.

    I expected, and got, the usual Big Box Store, or Chain Store, negativity. Actually they are very beneficial to the overall economy. What they do best is sell in quantity and then use that quantity as leverage to provide better prices. It is amazing once one starts looking how many service businesses are built around taking care of the products the big stores sell. It is also pretty humorous to read about patronizing the local business with bicycles when people don't take the same perspective about automobiles. Many times the car dealership may look local but in fact is part of a chain.

    Any business worth its' salt keeps sales and service as separate cost/profit centers. Bicycle shops are no exception. They may not be able to compete with the product but they can with service. With proper skill and pricing the business can thrive while doing so. But, that is the business's problem, not the customer's.
    Thanks for enlightening us. I'm sure each and every one of us here appreciates it.
    Last edited by Doohickie; 04-24-12 at 09:13 PM.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  21. #21
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HawkOwl View Post
    Wow! I am not dissappointed. I figured some folks would not be able to clearly analyze this and I was right.
    So, you were trolling?
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  22. #22
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOS88 View Post
    So, you were trolling?
    My American friends tell me it's a Republican trait.

    LOL
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOS88 View Post
    So, you were trolling?
    Not a lake in sight. Unfortunately my expectations were met. I would have been overjoyed if folks had come back with the kind of analysis that drives successful businesses.

    There is a reason the usual life of a new business is so short. Most people who run them don't really understand cost analysis. Most customers on the other hand don't either. I wish all did. But, unfortunately wishes aren't fishes and I go hungry.

  24. #24
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HawkOwl View Post
    Not a lake in sight. Unfortunately my expectations were met. I would have been overjoyed if folks had come back with the kind of analysis that drives successful businesses.

    There is a reason the usual life of a new business is so short. Most people who run them don't really understand cost analysis. Most customers on the other hand don't either. I wish all did. But, unfortunately wishes aren't fishes and I go hungry.
    A truly careful analysis would factor in the reality that there are differing views of what constitutes success. On, darn. I took the bait.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  25. #25
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    In general, they do not stock many tires and only a couple of brands. Of course. larger stores can do what they please. It takes several turns of inventory to make money in retail. So having inventory lying around is a losing proposition.
    I guess I'm lucky. Here in eastern CT the three LBS's that I frequent have tires hanging on the rack from the ceiling AND those spin type standing racks out on the floor. In the past 25 yrs. I've never needed a tire and been unable to just walk into any of those shops and buy it.

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