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How much negotiation when buying a touring bike from an LBS?

Old 06-02-12, 06:53 PM
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How much negotiation when buying a touring bike from an LBS?

I am getting closer to buying a touring bike. My budget is tight and although I can afford the bike itself I want to get the best possible price with the most amount of service so that I can have extra money for the modifications and buying extra gear. I want to get a good deal but I don't want to offend the LBS.

Here are a few things I've thought of asking for.

1. Price matching
2. A cash discount. If merchants pay a fee for credit card transactions this seems like a win/win.
3. Changing out bar end shifters for brifters at cost and no labor.
4. Minor gearing changes at cost/ no labor.

Do these seem like reasonable requests to make the deal happen?
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Old 06-02-12, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by mm718
I am getting closer to buying a touring bike. My budget is tight and although I can afford the bike itself I want to get the best possible price with the most amount of service so that I can have extra money for the modifications and buying extra gear. I want to get a good deal but I don't want to offend the LBS.

Here are a few things I've thought of asking for.

1. Price matching
2. A cash discount. If merchants pay a fee for credit card transactions this seems like a win/win.
3. Changing out bar end shifters for brifters at cost and no labor.
4. Minor gearing changes at cost/ no labor.

Do these seem like reasonable requests to make the deal happen?
I think it depends on an awful lot that we can't know. If it's your LBS, and you've been a good customer for some time, I think you're in a better position to make requests. If you just walk in off the street, you wouldn't be in the position to make demands. If you buy the extra gear from them, you might be in a slightly better position

I think it can't hurt to ask, but in my opinion, it seems unlikely that you'll get all of those things. I've only known a few places to do a cash discount, and you are asking for a lot of mechanical work for no money.

Be honest with them, let them know how much you can spend and what you want, and see if you can't come to some kind of an agreement.
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Old 06-02-12, 07:38 PM
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You might be able to negotiate a 10% discount on panniers or something like that.

And you should be able to ask for some minor changes to the bicycle.
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Old 06-02-12, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by mm718
1. Price matching
2. A cash discount. If merchants pay a fee for credit card transactions this seems like a win/win.
3. Changing out bar end shifters for brifters at cost and no labor.
4. Minor gearing changes at cost/ no labor.
1. most will
2. maybe
3. no, brifters=300-400 / barend=100
4. define minor - cassette swap only is no big deal, cassette+RD+FD+crankset is a big deal
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Old 06-02-12, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by fuzz2050
I think it depends on an awful lot that we can't know. If it's your LBS, and you've been a good customer for some time, I think you're in a better position to make requests. If you just walk in off the street, you wouldn't be in the position to make demands. If you buy the extra gear from them, you might be in a slightly better position

I think it can't hurt to ask, but in my opinion, it seems unlikely that you'll get all of those things. I've only known a few places to do a cash discount, and you are asking for a lot of mechanical work for no money.

Be honest with them, let them know how much you can spend and what you want, and see if you can't come to some kind of an agreement.
You're right it would be a lot to ask for all of that. I was just thinking of different angles to get the most for my money as the costs are really adding up. The merchants fee only adds up to about $24 so I can skip that. I guess price matching and some sort of deal on the brifters would be enough for me. Maybe if the bike is $1200 I could say I've got $1300 and I need brifters and see where that gets me.
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Old 06-02-12, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by seeker333
1. most will
2. maybe
3. no, brifters=300-400 / barend=100
4. define minor - cassette swap only is no big deal, cassette+RD+FD+crankset is a big deal
Will I need any gearing changes for a LHT for a cross country trip? 300-400 for brifters? That's outrageous. Definitely prohibitive for me...
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Old 06-02-12, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by mm718
Will I need any gearing changes for a LHT for a cross country trip? 300-400 for brifters? That's outrageous. Definitely prohibitive for me...
It's a good idea to do some price checking before you go in and ask for things. Browse some online shopping sites to get some idea of cost (but keep in mind that the prices online may be less than what the LBS charges).

What gearing does the bicycle you want to buy have?

What gearing are you used to?
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Old 06-02-12, 09:07 PM
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Negotiation is all about leverage. If there is someone standing next to you asking to buy the same thing at full price, you don't have much leverage. If it is old stock, and you have a long customer history, you might have better leverage.
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Old 06-03-12, 08:04 AM
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If it were my shop I'd tell you that you were out to lunch... given the time of year I imagine a good LBS is pretty busy and full of people paying full price for stuff. I think asking for a bit of a deal if you're buying racks and panniers too is fine but asking for hours of free labour and parts is just plain ridiculous. If your budget is tight get used to the bar end shifters. Most stores can sell a few hybrids on a good day and make more money that they would doing work on your bike for free. I'm pretty sure that's how it'd play out if I tried to get a deal on an LHT in my town.
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Old 06-03-12, 08:46 AM
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Hopefully they won't tell me I'm out to lunch for asking for price matching and a discount on brifters. See my post #5. Selling me the parts at cost is no loss to them on a $1300+ sale. It shouldn't hurt to ask. All things are negotiable. By working with me they may gain a customer for life.
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Old 06-03-12, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by mm718
Hopefully they won't tell me I'm out to lunch for asking for price matching and a discount on brifters. See my post #5. Selling me the parts at cost is no loss to them on a $1300+ sale. It shouldn't hurt to ask. All things are negotiable. By working with me they may gain a customer for life.
So ... you aren't already a regular customer?

$1300 isn't a huge amount of money for a bicycle, and if brifters sell for $300-400, that's a quarter of the price of the bicycle. Asking for the brifters at cost is asking for quite a significant discount ... in the spring ... when they are doing the bulk of their sales.

Go ahead and ask, but don't be surprised if they suggest that instead of your suggestions, they'll give you a 10% discount on any additional products you might purchase in the store on that day.

Let us know how it goes.
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Old 06-03-12, 09:20 AM
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No, not a regular customer. I don't see asking for the parts at cost as outrageous. If they buy them for $150 and sell them to me for $150 what's the big deal on sale that's nearly 10 times that. You may be right they might not do it. It all comes down to how good their business is right now. 10% off on gear doesn't really help me all that much as I've purchased most of it for 30=50% off so far... I'll let you know it goes.
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Old 06-03-12, 10:20 AM
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These folks aren't running a charity, they are trying to put food on their plates and a roof over their heads... most shops aren't running huge profit margins, especially on new bikes. It can't hurt to ask but I think it's wishful thinking. I'm not even sure asking them to match prices of a complete bike sold online to one that is already assembled and presumably done correctly is even fair... most bikes bought online ship partially assembled and the full assembly is an additional cost since the shop has to pay an employee to do it in a building they have to pay for.

Selling parts at cost is a loss for any business. Even the co-op I volunteer at sells new parts for twice the cost. It's pretty standard if the rent and utilities need to get paid, let alone the labour and inventory costs. I can appreciate wanting to be frugal with your money but asking the business to give up a few hundred for your pocketbook's sake comes across as being cheap to me. The other option is buy it all online and put it together yourself.

Cycle Tourists aren't nearly as spendy as other types of cyclists so they might not see gaining you as a loyal customer to be as big as deal as the types that buy new bikes every season or two without asking them to give up the little profit they make from selling new bikes.
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Old 06-03-12, 10:45 AM
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You're coming on kind of strong by suggesting that I am out to lunch, that I think an LBS is a charity, and that I am cheap?? This was supposed to be a dispassionate conversation about what would be appropriate negotiation while respecting the bike shop. For you there is apparently no middle ground. I never mentioned matching prices online I was referring to matching prices with an LBS down the street. A shop I will incidentally go to if the first store doesn't price match. Trying to find a good deal isn't a crime. I can ask, they can say no. I have options, they have options. Either way I'll buy a bike and someone will get the sale.
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Old 06-03-12, 10:47 AM
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I buy from my LBS fairly often and get my maintenance done there as well. I brought a friend in there recently and the owner immediately took 100 off the sticker price. The cash discount at this point usually goes unsaid. He'll easily throw in some labor for free if I'm buying a bike. Recently I bought a cheap commuter and he switched out bars/brakes/shifters from and to an older bike (also purchased form him) all for free.

All that said I think you are barking up the wrong tree for the discount on the brifters. I'd suggest sucking it up and paying or upgrading later. I would, however, feel comfortable asking for a swap out of the rear cassette.
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Old 06-03-12, 11:34 AM
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"1. Price matching"

There are two approaches to this. One are the stores that can't wait to be asked, and others are stores that will not budge, they want to hold the line on prices, they believe they are worth what they charge, etc... Sometimes the stores that hold the line are good, and sometimes they have an exaggerated sense of their importance.

"2. A cash discount. If merchants pay a fee for credit card transactions this seems like a win/win."

Yeah, maybe, but that really isn't what is meant by a cash discount. Normally that is an attempt to circumvent taxes, and so you are asking the store to break the law, in cahoots with you. That can queer the deal on other fronts if they are running a square business. While you might think stores would be willing to bend over backwards to save that CC fee, the smarter ones know the cash customer is probably not buying the 4k bike in the window and so they don't really want you on the property.

"3. Changing out bar end shifters for brifters at cost and no labor."

I think you are unlikely to get that, but it never hurts to ask about anything. I normally tease them slightly, to create the impression that it is all a gentle game for me. "What does a guy have to do to get a low volume discount?". It depends a lot on whether the owner likes to deal. A lot of bike guys seem rigid in my experience. The reason you may not get it is simply because the shop has to make money somewhere, and if they offer really good prices on low margin bikes, they need to get paid for the accessories. Also In some shops the service area that will have to do your options is a separate book, and they are not going to give you free labor. If they are building a bike, they may be willing to install something else. Some shops will also discount for parts you want to install at home, so you say you have a brooks seat, and brifters, then they will discount you for parts not sold.

4. Minor gearing changes at cost/ no labor.

Same as above.

LHTs are just a step up from Walmart, my local shop sells tons of really expensive BMX bikes, road bikes, and downhill bikes. They don't even want to order LHTs.
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Old 06-03-12, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by mm718
You're coming on kind of strong by suggesting that I am out to lunch, that I think an LBS is a charity, and that I am cheap?? This was supposed to be a dispassionate conversation about what would be appropriate negotiation while respecting the bike shop. For you there is apparently no middle ground. I never mentioned matching prices online I was referring to matching prices with an LBS down the street. A shop I will incidentally go to if the first store doesn't price match. Trying to find a good deal isn't a crime. I can ask, they can say no. I have options, they have options. Either way I'll buy a bike and someone will get the sale.
I missed where you said that another LBS has a lower price... why not just buy the bike at that shop then? They probably get the bikes from the same distributor, maybe they run a tighter ship, I dunno. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that asking a shop to sell you expensive parts at cost and install them for free is in fact a cheap thing to do. You're free to disagree and of course you're free to go ahead and ask them. It's my opinion that you're asking for a free lunch rather than just trying to get a good deal. I'm just some random internet dude so don't take it too personally, I certainly don't mean it to be. There's a difference between being frugal and being cheap.

To me it doesn't seem like you want to consider the shop's side of the "deal" and you're not really offering anything other than the possibility that they might get a life-long customer out of the deal. As for a middle ground I'm sure you can get a bit of a discount on racks and panniers if you buy them with the bike, maybe a price match if it's a local competitor, or even free installation of racks. Every shop is different and of course it doesn't hurt to ask but I really don't see what's in it for the shop, especially this time of year where people will gladly pay full price for things. This kind of stuff works better at the end of the season than it does at the busiest time of the year.

Try it though, you've got nothing to lose really, and if it works out then I'll be the first to say good on ya!
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Old 06-03-12, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by mm718
No, not a regular customer. I don't see asking for the parts at cost as outrageous. If they buy them for $150 and sell them to me for $150 what's the big deal on sale that's nearly 10 times that. You may be right they might not do it. It all comes down to how good their business is right now. 10% off on gear doesn't really help me all that much as I've purchased most of it for 30=50% off so far... I'll let you know it goes.
A business selling at wholesale is selling at a loss because it takes a profit to pay for the overhead. So if you start out expecting them to sell at cost during peak business season you aren't operating from a realistic expectation nor would you be the kind of life long customer they need to survive.
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Old 06-03-12, 12:55 PM
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It's a $1300 gain for $1300 bike any way you slice it. I let go of the labor in post #12 when I learned how much time the brifter conversion would take. So far my cheap behavior has resulted in nearly 5k for local bike shops and online retailers in the last year. I sure hope they want my repeat business.
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Old 06-03-12, 01:11 PM
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LOL, they have to pay their costs out of that 1300$, it's not like they pick the bikes from the bike tree out back. Do you have any idea how the world really works?
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Old 06-03-12, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by mm718
It's a $1300 gain for $1300 bike any way you slice it. I let go of the labor in post #12 when I learned how much time the brifter conversion would take. So far my cheap behavior has resulted in nearly 5k for local bike shops and online retailers in the last year. I sure hope they want my repeat business.
Whole bikes are not marked up very much. Accessories, parts and labor are where bike shops make their money. I had this conversation with my LBS, who BTW I have a 30+ year relationship with and have purchased over a dozen bicycles from over the years. What they told me is if they sold their entire inventory of bicycles at standard markup it would just barely cover their cost of doing business, basically no profit, overhead only.

I don't go into a business expecting a discount nor asking for one, if I don't like the price I don't buy from them, pure and simple. If they offer me a discount or have a discount program in place that is fine. For some unknown reason people seem to think that small business owners are all millionaires and exist to do nothing but offer discounts and give things away for free. Do you go into Walmart or the grocery store and ask for a discount? I have owned several small retail businesses over the years and this is one of my pet peeves. Small businesses drive the US economy, but consumers could care less, all they want is the cheapest price, be careful what you ask for.

How would you feel if your employer came to you and said "we are only going to pay you enough to just cover your living expenses"? That is what you appear to be asking for.

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Old 06-03-12, 01:25 PM
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Btw, getting the brifters at dealer's cost is a losing business for the LBS since they have overhead, etc., and the mark up on bikes is pretty small. Why do you want brifters on a touring bike? Personally I'd be happier with the bar ends but to each his (or her) own.
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Old 06-03-12, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by wahoonc
Whole bikes are not marked up very much. Accessories, parts and labor are where bike shops make their money.
I have been told the same thing- that there is little profit margin on the bikes.
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Old 06-03-12, 02:22 PM
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Brifters are something that I decide on first and if I want them I would buy a bike that already has them.
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Old 06-04-12, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by mm718
.... My budget is tight
Please don't take this as me suggesting that you don't know otherwise, but if your budget is tight, and the bike you want has bar-end shifters, why not leave it alone? I realize that many people have perfectly valid reasons for choosing brifters over bar-ends, but keep in mind that bar-end shifters work just fine.
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