Being a bicycle shop owner in 2019 comes with many challenges. But thriving shops tend to recognize one thing beyond everything else: building community is king. Cyclists want a community hub where they can talk shop and feel supported in the activity they love. Because, let's face it, when we move amongst the average citizen in our lycra and cleats, we don't blend.
That all changes when we walk into our local independent bike shop and are invited in with open arms - lycra, cleats and all (you should probably wear cleat covers though).
Building community can be broken down into 5 key areas:
1) Bonding - We all ride bikes. It's pretty simple. When customers come in to the shop, let's celebrate the act of riding. Ask about their favorite rides, tell them about yours, and invite them to shop events to help them meet other members of your local community.
2) Building trust - A key element of building community is building trust. Customers don't want to feel like their relationship with the shop is just transactional. Great shop employees know when to give the customer the space to decide on their own time. Long-term customers can support shops for years. Your shop may even move locations, but those customers will follow.
3) Educate customers on what it means to be in the community. Most non-racing cyclists have difficulty finding new people to ride with. Be open and inviting, host shop rides, and provide tools for participants to connect with one another, like Strava or Facebook groups. Be friendly. Shops can create community norms by example.
4) Consistency - Create a monthly calendar of events. Some customers may take a while to warm up to the idea of attending a ride or info session, but over time word will spread and you'll be surprised how loyal your community becomes. Make sure your team is well drilled on the idea of community. It only takes one unfriendly staff member to turn people off.
5) Appreciation - Foster the general notion of appreciation. Appreciate your customers and the community you build, and you will receive appreciation in return. Make sure you acknowledge and value the act of showing up - whether that's a customer showing up to a ride or your employees showing up with a quick tuneup. You'll be delighted when your community starts reciprocating by bringing their friends in to the shop and talking about you online.
At Bike Index, we're building a global community around registration and recovery. We're all members of the great global cycling community and no one ever wants to see a bike stolen. While we can't always stop criminals, we can make it more difficult to fence stolen bikes and use our community of over 200,000 members to police online sites and familiar neighborhoods for stolen bikes.
We hope that you will use our free bicycle registration as a tool to add value to your customer relationships, whether it be from the repair stand or through one of our Point-of-Sale integrations with Lightspeed and Ascend.