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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
well i just got hired today at my local bike shop. i will be working in sales. im a 20yo college student and was wondering if anyone had any advice? im starting on thursday btw.
 

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Learn the bikes that your lbs stocks, their strengths & weaknesses and what makes one bike suit a particular person over another. Don't try to sell a customer a bike they don't need, if they are all gung ho for a bike that isn't going to suit their needs at least try to explain to them why another bike would be more suitable even if the more suitable bike is cheaper.

If a customer asks a question you aren't sure on then ask one of the store experts or look it up, don't try to fudge your way through answering a question.

I assume you ride? Share your experiences, get to know the local scene like if your LBS has a team or a club, get involved in it or if there are social rides in your area ride them and let your customers know what is out there. You will get a lot of first time customers and local knowledge like that is invaluable.

Anyway just a few tips from an armchair critic. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
thanks, yeah i do ride, but im really not in shape cardio-wise at all. i have some bike knowledge in terms of components but not a whole lot, im just trying to learn how to be a good seller since im working off of comission. thanks for the tips.
 

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be honest and friendly

about all - be honest and friendly

sales can be tough - sell a bike "for" the customer not "to" the customer
 

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The Right Wing
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Ha!
Onabulletride is in for some rude awakenings. He will soon be taught about upselling, what topics to avoid discussing with customers, and which bikes have the highest margins, down to the dollar. He will quickly learn how to protect his sales from the other kids working there, and how to spot the most likely buyers to "help" when they walk in.

Sad, but true, retail is a business. Whether it is cars, bikes, or ice cream, the business exists to move product, every day, every way.

My advice? Try to separate your personality from your job as a salesperson. When you go on shop rides (after you get in shape) switch off the slaes pitch for a couple of hours and just enjoy the company. Your customers are probably nice people, in addition to paying your salary.

Also, try to understand the customer's reluctance to spend so much on a bike or accessory. Make you pitch and close the deal, but don't take it personnaly if the customer transfers some of their cognitive dissonance to you as as an instrument of their anxiety. (How is that for psycho-babble?) They will get over it and enjoy their new toys, more than likely.

Also, don't abuse the pro deals you get from the shop. Nothing is more annoying to the GM than an employee who doesn't know his prime directive: make the owner as much money as possible.

Know-it-all's will come in from time to time, but do not spend too much time on them. They will buy on line for a better deal than you can offer. Spend your time on those that don't know about on-line deals, or don't know enough about the sport to make their own online purchases.

Also, don't drink the cool-aid that the GM will spout about offering higher levels of service and support that justify your higher prices. These are just the dying gurgles of a belly-shot industry that is going the way of the buggy whip and the wire-line home telephone.

Sorry to be so cynical today, but I got to call 'em like I see 'em.
 

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From what I have been told the money in most bike shops is all in the parts and the service as bikes really don't have that much of a margin so if you go and push a bike on someone who is there making an impulse buy without doing much research beforehand and they bite but then go back home to find all about their new purchase only to find out that they ended up with the wrong bike for their needs so guess how they now feel about their LBS and guess where they will go for parts and service?

I'm sure there are a lot of bike shops out there that work just like you say but those are the ones that I prefer not to give my business to, believe it or not there are still some nice little family run bike shops that provide good service and advice on what you need and not what will increase their bottom line.

Often online purchases can be cheaper but for example if you are buying a whole bike online then remember you are going to have to either put it together yourself or pay someone else to do it, then what about service? Usually a new bike from a good LBS will come with several free services plus they will do a proper fitting for you so by the time you add on all the extra costs then buying online often doesn't look so attractive. However with things like cycle computers and other accessories then yeah you can get them cheaper online without any hidden costs but I usually buy from my LBS anyway to support them as the prices aren't usually that different and getting parcels delivered is a real pain in the neck most of the time.

Quality local bike shops aren't going the way of the dinosaur any time soon, those that might are the big chain stores that just push merchandise without offering quality service & advice as most people still want that when making a major purchase and don't want to do things like purchase a bike online, sure if you do your own wrenching and are an expert in such things you may order online but hey even if you are then good luck finding a Specialized online. ;)

EDIT: My bike shops? oops... I wish I owned a bike shop... I meant most bike shops so the above has been edited!
 

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be able to reconize the rider type
someone that wants a fast bike to ride once a week or to work is not best for a racing bike. The geometry is too uncomfortable and he/she will never enjoy it.

you sell and experience. 'The ride'

everyone is looking for a diffrent ride. Find theirs

stress the 'fit' a few adjustments here and there will give the customer the feeling of a custom bike.

that feeling = word of mouth.

ask your LBS for biz cards to pass out. When you sell a bike ask the customer to recommend you if he enjoyed the experience.

this will make you stand out beyond other sales associates. You'll get the hours you want.
 

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53T,

Firstly where can I buy a new Specialized Roubaix Elite Triple online from an authorized dealer?

Even if I could buy it online who is going to put it together for me? I want to spend more time riding than I do wrenching so I don't want to do it myself even though I probably could do it.

Then who is going to fit the bike for me? How can I switch out the stem for a longer one when I realize the stem the bike shipped with is too short for me?

When the bike needs a service who is going to perform that service? Again I could do it and to an extent I already do but I'm not a bike mechanic and have no intention of learning everything I need to in order to become one so I'll leave it to the experrts.

All those extras do cost more and once you factor them in then unless the LBS is a rip off to begin with then the prices usually at least even out and often end up in the LBS's favor.
 

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i work in my lbs and have for a while. i'm also around your age, original-poster-person.
first off, forget about commission. just forget it. you have so much to learn, it ain't even funny. you won't be competitive with the senior sales guys, and you come in too aggressively without enough knowledge, you're just going to diminish your credibility and piss people off.
you're there to learn first. other ENJOY helping people that are respectful and want to learn. if you try and act like you don't need anyone's help, they won't give you any help.
NEVER paint yourself into corners. know which sizes in different bikes you have in stock, especially towards the end of the season. if you're in the middle of a sale and say "you would be a 54, let me go check" then the cutomer expects a 54. what if you only have a 56? we both know a 56 might work just as well, if not better, with a shorter stem, and showing less post. but all the customer hears is that you don't have what they need. keep all your options open during a sale. don't fix them on a specific bike, size, or color until you know what you have. obviously, there's a line here that you shouldn't cross. you don't want to sell a customer the wrong bike for them. ever. but for most, especially for rec. riders, there are a number of options within any bike category that would work well for them.
Know the components well. record-chorus-centaur-veloce-mirage-xenon. know which is the top, which is the bottom, and the order of them.
figure out the difference between what we, bike enthusiasts, like to know about bikes, and the more simple questions the general public has. "how many speeds?" "how big are the tires?"
the bottom line: don't come in like some hot-shot all worried about commission. youre a rookie there, the absolute bottom-of-the-foodchain and even the customers know it. you can use that position to your advantage though, by being the most unassuming, unintimidating guy in the shop. you'll put all your time and energy into each sale and when you don't know the answer to a question, you'll find it out on the customer's behalf. this is the rep. you want.
i think you have a rude awakening ahead of you, buddy. i did when i took my job. there are a lot of salespeople but there aren't a lot of GOOD salespeople. it doesn't happen overnight. do what you gotta do to not stand out as the worst (take notes, study catalogs, write down cash-register codes, etc) and in time you'll get the experience you need to be that hot-shot salesperson you look up to.
 

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The Right Wing
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Jase,

You are, of course, correct that in the instances you mention a good LBS can add value for you. Consequently you will pay for that added value. We cannot loose sight of the other half of your LBS purchases. For instance my LBS is top notch, and I get a club discount 10% or 15%. I bought a BB last year that I had to pay $10 premium over on-line prices after I deducted my discount, and added shipping to the online price. This is the sad reality. The premium I pay in that situation is nothing short of charity, and for a guy that has a lot more money than I do.

I do like to fix my own stuff. I can assemble a complete bike in one evening after dinner and find the work enjoyable and a good contrast to my real job. Consequently, the LBS adds little value for me. They do, however, make me feel like a pariah for enjoying doing my own work, subconsiously at least (they send me vibes!).

BTW, I just bought a Specialized frameset, from my LBS. He had to make the price right, however. I could see the pain in his face. Not that I could get a Specialized somewhere else, but I was looking at a Cannondale and he dosen't carry them.
 

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I get similar discounts from being on the store sponsored MTB team and can certainly relate to how often the prices on parts and accessories are just so marked up at the store I can find much better prices online even after the discount but for some reason the majority of the time I find myself going to the store anyway. I guess it doesn't help that the store is two blocks from my apartment and that I just like going there to hang out so when I want something I usually just pick it up when I'm there or have them order it in for me.
 

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My tip, sure bikes dont have huge margins, but water bottles, pumps, gloves, tire levers, spare tubes (especially) water bottle cadges all do. And everyone who has a bike NEEDS them. Dont let someone you help leave without everything they need to have a good first ride. It will bump the price of that 500$ sale you were only a little bit excited about up into the 600-700 doller range, or higher. Make you happy, boss happy, and most importantly your customer happy. You arent selling them things they dont need, you are makeing sure they HAVE what they need.
 

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What ever happened being able to get a lot of that stuff thrown in with a new bike purchase? I used to haggle and get a lot of that quite easily but now you're lucky to get just cages or bottles thrown in. Maybe that is an Australia vs America thing in that it is easier in Australia as opposed to here?
 

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jaseone said:
What ever happened being able to get a lot of that stuff thrown in with a new bike purchase? I used to haggle and get a lot of that quite easily but now you're lucky to get just cages or bottles thrown in. Maybe that is an Australia vs America thing in that it is easier in Australia as opposed to here?
yeah, i won't throw in more than a cage or maybe a bottle. a lot of shops offer discounts on accessories within 30 days of a bike purchase. this one works well.
 

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I dunno, that would be awsome! But I have never had that experiance. Wait I had a guy change out seats for me for free when I bought my first mtb. But they were similar in price, and that was 12 years ago.

Most of the places that throw in freebies with their bikes have inflated prices, so you end up paying for it anyway.
 

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Ride every bike your shop sells. Road, touring, bent, fixie, cruiser, hardtail, squishy - in the environment they are meant to be ridden in. Draw your own conclusions as to each's applicability to the kind of riding the customer wants to do.

Do not sell a bike to a customer without at least chucking it up in a trainer.

Know how X-Mart bikes differ from "real bikes" and be ready to explain why "real bikes" cost so darn much.

Never let yourself be seen abike without a helmet.

Never fuss at a customer for doing something stupid when attempting to maintain their own bike. They will never grace your door again.

Remind each customer that cycling shorts are to be tried on WITH underwear and worn WITHOUT them.

Remember that frames/forks/cranks/bars do NOT break while "Just Riding Along".

Never sell an incompatible shoe/pedal combo. Just say no.

tdh
 

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don't buy into some things people are saying like "never sell a bike without setting it up on a trainer at least." if you can do that, then absolutely. go for it. but part of being a salesperson is putting up with all kinds of unique situations/weird requests. for example, one day this summer a big-shot businessman's P.A. (personal assistant) came in to the shop. her boss had sent her in to buy shoes/clipless pedals for HIM, for an upcoming bit of touring. all she had was his shoe size. no price range. nothing. i could have been a prick and said "you really need to tell him to try them on" but he probably already knew this, and she probably woulda been on to the next bike shop. SO, i dealt with it, picked a shoe with a neutral-shaped toe box, middle-of-the-road prices (leaning towards high-end because hey, dude had a personal slave!!) and made sure his little helper had a receipt.

any salesperson can dig up stories about weird sales. you really just need to go with the flow sometimes.
 

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Tip #1 Don't steal things.
Tip #2 Don't stand around yacking with your co-workers while a customer wanders around.
Tip #3 Greet each customer within 30 seconds of entering the store (even if they aren't a hot chick)
Tip #4 Don't steal things.
 

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MR_GRUMPY said:
Tip #1 Don't steal things.
Tip #2 Don't stand around yacking with your co-workers while a customer wanders around.
Tip #3 Greet each customer within 30 seconds of entering the store (even if they aren't a hot chick)
Tip #4 Don't steal things.
  • Turn up on time
  • Wait until the last customer has gone before going to get changed/fix your bike
  • Sell the customer what they need, not what you need to get rid of - they'll appreciate your honesty.
  • Never ever mess around with a co-worker's bike even for a joke.
  • Treat mechanics with respect - once riled they are very difficult to win over!
  • All of the above!
 
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