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LBS Etiquette

Old 08-18-08, 12:37 PM
  #1  
jwhirry
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LBS Etiquette

Tonight I am pretty sure I will be buying a 2007 Specialized Roubaix Elite Triple. I have not test rode this bike yet but I test rode a 2008 Specialized Elite Comp and loved the ride, it felt like I was being pulled right up the hills. The price on the 07 is good, though I have seen other people say they have gotten better prices, I looked and called places and nobody seems to be able or want to match this offered price. I intend to ride it on Long Fitness rides and century+ Rides.

My issue is the LBS I will be buying from has gotten quite a bit of my business over the last 3 years (My MTB, my girlfriends Hybrid, 2 cyclocomputers, a nice pair of rollerblades, shoes, and quite a few other things) but I still feel like we have no real relationship. The deals I sometimes get are nice but never sweet. I walk away happy 90% of the time but never more than that. I am never jubilated by my experience. I also have given them quite a bit of my friends business with my recommendations along with while I was an Officer with the Outdoor Club at College I recomended this LBS first when the were interested in buying. I am a hands on guy and do my own repairs and tune-ups unless it is beyond my ability which it rarely is. They include a free break in tune up, which I think every LBS should. I guess I feel by now they should know my face if not my name, and offer me at least a free water bottle with any of my larger purchases, if not a sweet deal on pedals, bibs, or something. I have to admit after walking into the other LBSís around town this one treats me most like a potential customer, but I hear how other people are rewarded for their business and I feel shortchanged.

What can I do or should I do to try and improve this customer-buisness relationship? It seems being polite, semi-knowlegable, being genuinely interested in the sport, asking questions, and spending money does not get me it. Should I just be forward and point out the $thousands$ in business I have brought them?

Also I really liked the compact gearing of the 08 does anyone think it okay/possible to ask if I can have the triple switched to that?
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Old 08-18-08, 12:55 PM
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I feel where you are comming from, but some places are just like that. The have good service, do everything you require, but the personal connection never develops.

If that is really so meaningful to you, then maybe shop around, and see the kind of reception you get pre purchase.
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Old 08-18-08, 03:29 PM
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You don't have a relationship with the shop; you have a relationship with the people who work there. The shop owner might care about the $thousands$ in business you've steered her/his way, but the schmoes who work there are probably more interested in their next date, their next exam, or their next job than they are in the bike shop or its customers.

You want personal service? Develop personal relationships. About every six months, I walk into my LBS with a cake, a pie, a bag of cookies, or something else that the mechanics/salespeople will enjoy. It costs me next to nothing (I buy the goodies on sale), but do you think the LBS folks know my face & name?

Bribery may not be the best way to maintain a relationship, but it sure is an effective way to start one. Now my LBS folks ask about how my training program has been going, what I'm riding now, what cool finds I've found lately at yard sales, etc. They take the time to know me because I'm not exactly like every other customer who walks through the door. I get personal service, friendly advice, good discounts, and walk out 100% satisfied every time.

I like the kids who work at my LBS, and they seem to like me. I tried out the "only bribery works" theory by "forgetting" to bring any goodies for a year. Know what? It didn't make a bit of difference in the way I got treated. Once the relationship is established, it grows by the fun you have with them and they with you.

Best of luck with the shop & try to get to know the PEOPLE who work there - they're probably really nice
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Old 08-18-08, 05:06 PM
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It's also probably obvious, but I'll state it anyway.

If your LBS has a decent employee turnover, then it's unlikely that you'll be able to build any sort of relationship with them. Which would make me wonder what the shop is doing to lose the employees so often, but that's not a huge concern as a customer.

On the flip side of things, I wonder how much of a discount would be a good idea. For example, if I own a store, and the employees are regularly giving 10% discounts to everyone they know... I guess I'd be inclined to raise prices to compensate. I'm all for being friendly, but there's also a profit margin to be maintained. And one free water bottle doesn't sound like a lot, but if you multiply that by the number of customers... it may become an issue. (It may not, I have no idea what the profit margins are on things like water bottles, but I think the overall point is clear) So if things are running close to the wire, then I'd be less inclined to give any discounts -- and hope that my long time customers would understand that necessity.
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Old 08-18-08, 05:08 PM
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How often do you bring them pizza and beer, or doughnuts in the morning?
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Old 08-18-08, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by brianmcg123 View Post
How often do you bring them pizza and beer, or doughnuts in the morning?
You don't have to bring pizza and beer (anytime, let alone often) to have a "relationship" with your LBS. It's a business relationship. If your LBS is honest, competent and reasonably priced, enjoy that relationship.
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Old 08-18-08, 08:15 PM
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One of my HS and college friend opened a Car Audio shop, both were friends of mine and we did loads of things together over the years. However.com when it come to their product their profit margins were slim and the ability of a "sweet" deal just wasn't there. Another friend of mines father owned the local honda shop, my big discount with him was no sales tax...LOL buy a 5k bike save 6%....
People are in business for a reason, and with the increase competition from the internet and other sources I just don't think the ability to give 15% discounts are there anymore.
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Old 08-18-08, 08:32 PM
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Sounds like the bottom line is what matters to you. Buy online if thats the case. There is no shame in it. Go in make an offer if he/she does not budge on price , don't give him/her the sale.
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Old 08-19-08, 06:57 AM
  #9  
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I certainly don't expect 'killer deals' from either of my local stores, just like I don't expect the occasional free meal at my local restaurants. I suspect these 'killer deals' you hear about are from when the buyer has a personal relationship with the owner.

I think that from an LBS, it's much more reasonable to expect good service, priority work when the odd emergency arises and the opportunity to shoot the breeze over new bike bits or trails. My local stores just give a fairly standard discount to repeat customers.

Sounds like you're after a financial reward. If that's the case, I doubt you're going to get it from your LBS unless you're really good friends with the owner or have something else that sets you apart from the hundred or so other customers who have bought multiple bikes and made recommendations. Maybe you should just go online.
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Old 08-19-08, 08:11 AM
  #10  
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I don't understand why some people expect to get discounts and deals from bike shops. Do you also expect to get discounts and deals at the grocery store? The gas station? Your favorite pizza shop? I go to the same local cafe every day, they knew my order before I walk in the door, they know my name, but do you think they give me a discount? Absolutely not.

If your bike shop gives you good service and good products at a fair price, I'd say you've got a good thing going. Like many have said, if the discount is your main criteria, buy online.
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Old 08-19-08, 08:18 AM
  #11  
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Thanks for the feedback everyone.

I bought the 07 Roubaix Elite. I am more than happy with how the purchase went thru and I am really excited about the new bike. This time I did get a free water bottle and cage. I purchased Clipless Pedals with the bike and they installed those and did a full fitting with me at no extra cost.

I was happy when I made my other bike purchases but never got the "water bottle" it was probably more an oversight on both ends of the deal. I suggested this LBS to a friend of mine when he wanted to buy a Hybrid earlier this summer. After his purchase he was showing me all these extras they threw in, along with the extras he had purchased, and it did upset me a little and I should not have let it get to me.

I wasn't after a 'killer deal' though a 'killer deal' would have been awesome to find. I wanted a nice road bike, at a fair price, and I wanted to get it from someone who appreciates my business. Showing appreciation was as easy as giving me some swag (the water bottle with the LBS name on it is cheap advertising for them) good deal both ways.

Everyone loves treats, and that is why people so often suggest bringing them to the LBS to improve the relationship.

I would be done feeling sorry for myself but for this weather…it is in the 50’s with a 30 mph wind, can’t win them all.
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Old 08-19-08, 12:52 PM
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Sounds like you got quite a good deal with the full fitting. Many shops do offer that at no charge for bike purchases, and yours did the right thing. Just remember that they have to run a business, too. Local bike shops are not huge profit-making ventures. The have to handle very expensive inventory and seasonal ups and downs, not to mention staffing issues.

You probably get more "treats" than you realize when you bring your bike in for service. I bet they work hard to get your bike out on time or even bump you up ahead of other customers, although they may not tell you that they do it. You sound like a decent customer and the shop sounds like a decent shop.
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Old 08-20-08, 04:23 AM
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This LBS has the best price on the bike you want, no other LBS is willing to match that price and you are complaining.
I just do not get it.
Seems you are getting the sweet deal on the 2007 Specialized Roubaix Elite Triple they are selling.

If you want the free water bottle when you buy the bike, just ask. I bet they give it to you.
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Old 08-20-08, 09:01 AM
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Wait a minute....all it took was a water bottle and cage to make you happy?
That was the discount you wanted?
Did I miss something here?
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Old 08-22-08, 11:00 PM
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I have purchased 3 bikes from my LBS, brought thousands in business to them, and also spent a bunch of money on other accessories. The last bike I bought from them I purchased at a significant discount, even buying some components at cost. You know how I got a good relationship with them though? By giving them the respect and courtesy that they deserve.

Sometimes I'll just go in there to hang out with a six pack and BS with the owner and the guys that work there, and even helping out when applicable. The shop owner and I have an understanding though. I don't ask for a bunch of advice and then walk out without buying anything, only to show up with a bunch of new toys on my bike the next time I bring it in for service. If nothing else, it's a mutual respect thing.
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Old 08-22-08, 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by jwhirry View Post
I am never jubilated by my experience.
I learned a new word today.
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Old 08-23-08, 03:12 AM
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My local restaurant keeps a bottle of soy sauce that I like on hand for me and slips me occasional tastes of new dishes, so yeah, my LBS might throw me a bone or two once in a while.
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Old 08-23-08, 10:04 PM
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As a former employee (10 years of experience) of LBS's I am here to tell you the profit margins on complete bikes are pretty crappy.

Think about the overhead involved with a complete bike:
-Time ordering.
-Time unloading the delivery truck.
-Time building the bike.
-Time trying to sell the bike time and time again.

Ultimately, there is a lot of manpower involved and thus hours of labor. So getting deals on bikes is usually a no go.

If you are trying to get hookups go after accessories, over 100% markups on those. Go after things like clothes, shoes, helmets, computers, etc.
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