As a loyal LBS customer, I've also had the odd transaction Fatty describes, where I paid *more* than the asking price on stuff. Somebody has to make the owner's boat payment, after all. You know that famous Karl Marx quote, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need"? Mike (the LBS owner) assures me he really needs the boat. I guess that makes me a pinko commie.
Something Fatty did not mention: I've actually had bike mechanics who refuse to accept tips from me. That's just weird. Is the practice of paying a gratuity now so rare in bike shops that mechanics don't know what they are? If you're a customer, do you tip your mechanic? If you're a mechanic, does anybody still tip?
By Yokota Fritz
Guitar Ted rants a little about bike shops that still don't get that the winning proposition of the Local Bike Shop is not everyday low prices but excellent service.
With pressure from online vendors and even Wal-Mart apparently entering the high-end bike market, there's more pressure than ever for the local bike shop to compete effectively. Unfortunately, stories of intimidating visits to bike shops with smarmy employees and patronizing sales personnel still seem to outnumber the "I had a great experience!" experiences.
I've been fortunate enough to visit some great bike shops with outstanding and helpful people. When I visit a new shop, though, the help I get is usually indifferent if I can get any attention at all. I'm a knowledgeable consumer, so I can imagine the neophyte will be completely intimidated.
I'll close by quoting G-Ted: "I think a lot of folks need to wake up to the reality that it's more about the service and relationship with the customer and a lot less about the prices. If that happens in your bike shop, I know that a lot of people will buy items from a shop like that even if the prices are a bit higher because they are getting something else money can not buy." Read more of his rant here.
By Yokota Fritz
I found this in my "drafts" folder. The links are a few months old but I think the lessons for the Local Bike Shop are still valid. Is it still too difficult for the uninitiated to buy a bike? Or have things chnaged much since last year? Has Shimano's "Coasting" initiative done much to make things easier?
Trek makes it too hard to buy a bike. "Bicycle shops are notorious for being unfriendly places to the uninitiated. I am not one of those neophytes, but I once was. I recall going into shops where the "sales associates" were notably annoyed that they had been interrupted by a customer- especially one who doesn't know all that the omniscient staff members already do. It's about the same feeling you get going into a music store like Guitar Center."
Trek Makes it Hard to Buy a Bike Part 2. "The first thing you must know when you go to purchase a high-perf bike is that the people in the bike shop will treat you with about much interest as a call from a telemarketer at dinner time."
By Yokota FritzSanta Cruz County residents can receive a discount of up to $250 on folding bikes through the Santa Cruz Area Transportation Management Agency. The Santa Cruz Area TMA started the folding bike program yesterday to encourage area resident to ride the bus.
Although Santa Cruz Metro is equipping buses with 3-bike racks, cyclists often miss the bus because the racks are full and must wait for subsequent buses. Folding bicycles can be brought into the bus.
Santa Cruz County area residents are eligible for this program by attending a 2-hour bicycle safety training class. Call the Santa Cruz Area TMA 423-9569 ext. 127 to sign up for a class. Currently, the discount is available only at three Santa Cruz bike shops: the Spokesman (Dahon), Bicycle Trip (Giant), and Sprockets (Trek, Dahon, Breezer). A representative of the Santa Cruz TMA told me that other local bike shops in the county can contact the TMA for details on how to join the program.
By Yokota Fritz
In April 2003, Bruce McGrew opened Pro Cycling in Colorado Springs, Colorado. McGrew needed a manager, so he hired William Reeese Houghton to manage his store.
Houghton was an experienced bike store manager, starting at age 17 at online retailer Colorado Cyclist as a warehouse stocker. He worked his way up to become General Manager before leaving Colorado Cyclist in 2002.
In 2003, McGrew lost $400,000. He lost $280,000 in 2004 and $110,000 in 2005, so McGrew hired a consultant to figure out where the money was going.
It turns out Houghton was fired in 2002 from Colorado Cyclist for stealing from that store. At Pro Cycling, Houghton listed shop inventory on eBay, used the shop's FedEx account to ship the merchandise, and pocketed the revenue. Houghton stole $375,000 from McGrew, and made $147,605 in his venture.
taking bicycles a bit too seriously
1. I don't think Cervelo has a custom frame program at all...except maybe for their pro riders.
2. Unless specifically paying someone to be your punching bag, no expenditure of any size justifies being a dick. And $4,000 for a road bike isn't even spending a lot. That'll get you a mid-level Cervelo frame and, like, an Ultegra gruppo. La di fucking da.
3. The folks at Cyclepath are super-nice. Very laid-back, relaxed atmosphere. Very friendly and helpful. Dropped in there once with a buddy who was shopping for a new saddle. They gave him a Selle Italia to try out...a free demo saddle that was worth around $150 retail. Didn't ask for a deposit or even a credit card #/imprint. Just his phone number. That's the type of folks they are.
Kudos to the owner for making the jerk apologize, even if it was an insincere apology.
...so, mr "cisco joe" burton...ya thought you were gonna be the cats ass/meow 'cuz you were investing more money on a bicycle than ya initially thought was possible...
...while 4g's ain't nothing to sneeze at, cisco joe, when it comes to the world of cycling, you're just getting your feet wet...
...but no matter what you spend, no amount of money buys you the right to be a douche...at least not in our little cycling world...
...you're gonna have to up your game, amigo, both attitude wise & on the machine...spend 4 grand a pop for a new ride & while we all know it ain't the 'best', we'll still expect to see some action...
...& you better get smooth n' supple, joe...we have expectations amongst our ranks...
No wonder Cisco gets jerks for new hires.
Wishing death on someone is not the same as threatening death on someone.
He's still an ass, but there's a big difference between "I hope you die" and "I'm going to kill you."
In my experience it's the folks who have sort of almost a lot to spend (i.e., wannabes) who have to prove somethign and get an attitude. The really rich ... welp, I don't even usually get to be lifeguards at their pools but they tend to know who to talk to to get somethign done instead of wanting to just make somebody else as miserable as they are insecure.
Tipping the wrench?
Tip the wrench? I had no idea. I've only been riding for a year but the thought never crossed my mind. What is the usual amount? Just a couple of bucks passed in a handshake or 15%?
The thought of tipping a mechanic never really occurred to me. After becoming "serious" about cycling a month or so ago, I've been trying to do all my own repairs and have only been paying my LBS for parts.
One somewhat uncomfortable moment was when I went in asking if they had any handlebar plugs (I had just taped my bars for the first time and - long story short - needed a single plug). This shop is known for being pretty easy-going and doing simple repairs or adjustments for no cost, so I didn't expect to pay for a used plug. When the guy handed it to me, I say "This'll work! Thanks!" and started walking. Afterwards, I realized I may have forced the guy into avoiding an awkward situation ("Hey, wait, you have to pay for that!") by just letting me go. I ease my conscience by buying all my tools and parts there.
It just so happens that I wrench for a living. So if I may add some feed back on this topic... Tipping is never expected but always respected. That is to say, when I work on your bike , I am not expecting you to tip me BUT it does mean alot to a wrench when he or she receives a little "thank you". As far as how much to tip, well that's on you. I've been tiped as little as $1.oo and as much as $50.00. I respected both equally. You have to remember that a wrench is a low paying gig. Other than myself, I only know a handful of wrences that are lucky enough to do what they love and make a house payment doing it. So, If you tip the guy who washed your car, why not tip your friendly neighborhood wrench. cl wrench4life
Thanks, all, for the comments. We've all heard the stories of surly mechanics, but I've been lucky enough to know mechanics who go out of their way to be helpful and are pleasant to work with.
I don't tip all the time -- if there's a mechanic who's worked on my bike(s) consistently for a while, I'll slip him (or her) a five or ten dollar bill on occasion.
As a professional mechanic for the past 8 years I can tell you tipping is very uncommon. I would say out of the 100 bike builds or repairs that are done maybe 2 come back with a tip, or 6 pack. Normally it's the guy you do favors for or just good guy.
I've been at shops that don't allow it. Maybe they felt they paid enough to not warrant it, or it was bad class but it wasn't allowed.
Personally I have mixed feelings. Yes if I'm doing a favor I want a thank you, but money isn't always needed. A coffee sometimes is better.
Nuther wrench here. I get the odd tip now and again. Money, coffee, doughnuts, that sort of thing. I don't ever expect it, but I appreciate all of those and more.
I met Carlton (Bike Biz)Reid's father, Al, and he went on a rant about how you should never tip anyone for doing their job. However; he felt that if they went out of their way to help you, over and beyond, that sort of thing- then it was merited. Interesting take, I thought.
I would like to say what I do expect, and that is pleasant people "asking nicely" for what they want. I'm more apt to go way beyond for the nicely put request than I am for a rude, demanding type person. It's the dirty secret of retail that the squeaky wheel gets the (contaminated) grease, late, and with no extras.
I in no way am defending outright poor service, but there are two sides to a dance couple and to know who stepped on who's toes is not always clear at first glance.
Wrenching in place where slow turnaround can ruin someone's vacation, we often get tips. Much of our service is on the spot, or within a few hours, which people aren't accustomed to. They feel like they've gotten exceptional treatment, and we like to think they have.
However, we've agreed upon our own commie system of tip distribution. It all goes in a tip jar, and that goes for shared snacks and beverages. We found that otherwise some wrenches would play to the tips, neglecting the dreary work of tuning rental bikes in favor of schmoozing high-end customers. A smarmy enough wrench can get tipped out like a waiter. The tip jar keeps otherwise rational mechanics from embarrassing themselves over handouts.
Tips are appreciated, and we appreciate the thought behind gifts, especially beer that you brought from somewhere other than here (I live in Utah). However, let me echo that civility and sociability go much further than trying to grease my palm (it's already greasy). The last customer on my service list is the one who tries to bribe his way to the front of the line, on the assumption that I'm tacky and desperate enough to engage in that conspirarcy. Like many mechanics I know, I'm unimpressed by affluence.
Bicycle mechanics aren't paid well, even as the work gets more technical, but we don't have our own, extra-low minimum wage like servers do. So tipping is not expected, but gratitude and kindness are always welcome. If your express those things with cash, that's fine too. Happy Trails, Ron Georg
...never met a shop that didn't appreciate 'sierra nevada' or 'red tail' for after work...
I tip with beer. Usually, it's a sample pack from a local brewery. Some stout, some porter, some ale, some lager, a little something for everyone in the shop.
Did I mention that while some people ask why I bother with my LBS because of slow service, I've never had a speed issue with them? Once, it took 2 weeks go get my bike fixed there, but that was due to a funky cassette I wanted that was back-ordered everywhere.
I appreciate the feedback from the pro mechanics. Thanks!
I think the shop where mechanics regularly refused my tips must have had the "no tipping" policy.
HEY you should definitely tip your mechanic...he/she works for very little pay at a job that demands skill and smarts. Your life depends on the quality of his/her work when you are flying down that hill. And no one doesn't like quality beer or green things if you're confused as to the amount.
Where I'm from tipping is considered, by most, as something annoying americans do (and expect). You only tip if it's a HUGE amount.
However, if your LBS mechanic (or some other type) goes out of their way to achieve an outcome for you, then beer, wine, chocolate or similar is appropriate.
What your LBS really, really wants is Repeat Business. If they are good, let everyone know.
I almost never get a tip. When I do it's a weird moment, because it reduces me from a professional to something like a bag boy. I certainly don't mind the money, being in a notoriously low-paying business, but I still feel slightly devalued rather than rewarded. Unless it's really hefty. But that's never happened. As I said to one person who asked about tipping, "enough would be too much."
one guy: -- "green things"?
Cafiend: Interesting perspective, I never thought about it from that angle.
Where I give tips, they also have my repeat business ;-)
and herein lies another example of our two countries seperated by a common language.
Although I tip hotel porters, waiting staff and the occasional cab driver if I'm err...lubricated at Christmas I'd never think to tip anyone else. It's not because I'm stingy, we just don't really have a significant tip culture here.
We have three bike shops locally, I tip my mechanic by repeat business ;+)
Prices or service
We in the Twin Cities have an outstanding collection of LBSs and only two (*cough* Eric's *cough* PennCycle *cough*) really put the screws to you. Funny -- they're the two multi-store shops in the Cities. I've spent a few hours repairing "fixes" by the wrenches in these stores for friends and neighbors. And I'm not what you would call a great bike mechanic.
As always though, YMMV...
I agree. The bike shop I go to doesn't have the best prices. They're a small chain with three stores in the area. Locally owned, they're in tough competition with a huge super mega-store that's a nationwide chain with huge stock and a snazzy-looking service desk.
At the end of the day, though, my little shop, although the bikes cost a little more, but they give you more for the money. When you buy from them, you get lifetime free labor and discounts on all parts and accessories. They're also a little easier to convince into giving you emergency service with the help of a little bit of beer ;)
Bike shop blues: It's too hard to buy a bike
Bike shop people often have social skills issues; they work better with bikes (or cardboard) than they do with people. On the other hand, the better salesfolks are less likely to be bike geeks... so they'll know less about the bikes even though they might sell more of 'em. Bike companies would do well to address some "how to talk to newbies" issues and "how not to totally alienate people without really trying," except that even thinking about what that session would be like hurts to think about. I prefer working with the guy who knows a lot ... but then, it's harder to insult me - I'm notoriously dense...
As far as "how to talk to newbies" Shimano sent bike shop people to the cosmetics counter to buy makeup and stuff. I don't know if that helps or not -- one of those seminars on speaking and thinking positively might work better. The owner of my LBS gets noticeably grumpy and defensive sometimes.
I've got to agree. I am loyal to "my LBSes" (yeah, I play the field a little) but am not always thrilled with the way they treat me. Sometimes all is great, but sometimes I get the "don't make me explain this to you" treatment. Or I run afoul of some sort of cycling orthodoxy and am accordingly chastised.
It disquiets me in part because I know LBSes (some anyway) are or could be imperiled by the Internet and the big-box stores. So why aren't they trying just that much harder to keep my business? (All this goes for independent bookstores too.) We need and want to support our local economies, but we also want that to be a pleasant experience.
Part 2 strikes too close to home. Every single time I've been waiting on a bike I've purchased to come in (twice) or am waiting for them to finish a repair (four times) I've called several times and have been told that the bike isn't in, or the repairs haven't been completed. I'll finally get fed up after hanging up from the last call and will drive right over to the shop where , without fail, they'll bring the bike out and tell me "Oh, yeah, this one has been ready for a week."
Santa Cruz: $250 discount for folding bicycles
So you'll be buying a folding bike soon?????
Bike shop manager Bill Houghton
OMFG that is sooooooo wrong. That's like being a bike thief (which, for me, ranks up there with guys who hit women) but worse. Wow.
To bad most of the people reading this and other articles on this subject do not realize that Houghton is actually a part OWNER and that Bruce McGrew is a crook and doped up drug head along with his so called consultant.
Anonymous, would you mind providing some more information along with your bona fides? I'm interested in learning more.