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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So since I’m starting to use the 29er more for trail specific purposes I decided I needed some mtb shoes and clipless pedals, and because I am in the RPS (Research, Pondering, and Saving) phase of purchasing a road bike this has caused me to not only ramp up my online research, but also to visit some Local Bike Shops (LBS).

When purchasing the 29er, I visited about 7 LBS.’ I have mixed feelings about all of them, and none of them hit me with the right vibe, but I keep trying, as I’m still not sure what road bike I’ll get, and whether I want to purchase it at an LBS or online.

Sunday tends to be a good day for me to attend to my bike needs. That scratches a couple of shops as they are closed on Sunday. However I did visit one shop (Pembroke Cycle) that has an owner and usually just one employee this past Sunday. He sells Trek exclusively, and did show me that he does usually come a little lower than the prices on their website (that’s good news). He doesn’t sell roof bike carrier racks. He does sell MTB shoes, they’re “$90 and in boxes on the top shelf.” So I walk over to the area he was pointing at and looked at the lovely boxes all lined up, he didn’t have a display shoe. While I was looking longingly at the shoe boxes, he started dealing with another customer, and after a couple of minutes I left. He never said the magic sales words, “Would you like to try on a pair?” He never left the chair at his computer command center the entire time I was there. I know that I could have asked to see a pair and try them on, but lately I’ve had some customer service experiences at various shops (a drum shop that my son takes lessons at for instance) that have made me feel like I should see how their customer rapport is.

So Monday, I go over to another store that is considered a high-end LBS (Alex Bicycles). They sell Cervelo, Pinarello, Felt, Scott, Jamis, and Orbea. I walk into the store and see four people. After a couple of minutes I was able to determine that all four are staff, no customers in the store except me. I start walking around the store looking at merchandise. I look at some of the bikes. I start leaning over so I can read derailleur names, Sora, Tiagra, 105, Ultegra, and so on. Nobody in the store has spoken to me. At one point while I was looking at something, I hear a guy say loudly, “Hey brother!” I say “Hey” and look up, he’s talking on a cordless phone. He walks away from me behind the counter to the back of the shop. I continue walking around examining merchandise. A customer comes in wearing biking attire, (I’m a teacher, and was in my work clothes, khakis, a casual shirt, and New Balance walking shoes). This customer brings in a MTB and a broken chain. Immediately the staff member behind the counter (who was actually working on something) stops what he was doing and offers assistance to this guy. Meanwhile I walk around the store some more. I am purposely not being pushy and demanding attention. I want to see how much they want to work for my business. I go over and look at a Mavic rim display and give them a couple of spins. I do another “lap” around the store looking at bikes, walking past the counter, pausing near some store staff, continuing walking around, and then leave after 10 minutes in the store and nobody speaking to me. Maybe I’m really a ghost. Too bad Jennifer Love Hewitt wasn’t on staff to see me. This is the shop I was hoping to go to for a professional fitting session. I seriously doubt I’ll ever buy one thing from them, let alone do a fitting with them.

I drive over to Z-Bikes (they primarily carry Giant). This time I’m greeted immediately by a staff member. I have purchased shorts, glove, and a pump from them previously. He shows me some Louis Garneau shoes that are decent for about $100. Louis Garneau are the only shoes they stock. He shows me a Shimano XT-M770 pedal for $140. Having done some online research ahead of time I was prepared to spend $200. So their limited selection made me hold off on a purchase.

I went to one more shop, a chain LBS called Bike America. They gave me immediate attention. They had Bontrager and Louis Garneau shoes in a variety of price ranges. I chose some Bontrager’s for $90. He showed me some pedals (Shimano 520’s and XT’s), I asked about the Shimano m540’s, they had them in stock for about $90 as well. So I was able to get my shoes and pedals for under $200. I was glad to get the pedals here as he also gave me a small inservice on installation. I know that I could have saved money buying these same items from JensonUSA, Amazon.com, Pricepoint.com, or Nashbar.com, but I like buying clothing and shoes from places where I can touch them and try them on. I must say that in the future I’ll probably buy the pedals online.

I have no idea how this will impact my road bike shopping decisions. The shop that ultimately served me well this time sells Trek and Cannondale, which I might or might not be interested in.

Customer service is dying off. In the age of increased competition for my dollar, the one thing that a local store should be able to do is provide friendly service, since they usually can’t beat the inventory and pricing options of many online retailers. I get irritated when I am on the checkout line at the grocery store and the cashier doesn’t talk to me, they just continue a conversation with another employee (I will complain to a manager about this, particularly at Publix, as I have many friends in Publix management, and they tell me they want this feedback. Meanwhile, I bring my son to a drum shop every week for lessons. We also have spent almost $2,000 there buying drums and accessories. Last week I’m there with cash in hand to purchase a $100+ item. While waiting on me the phone rings, the guy dealing with me answers it. He tells me to wait while he deals with the phone customer, then he finishes our transaction. Now, while I appreciate him communicating to me that I will be placed “on hold.” I was irritated that a customer calling in with a question on the phone got a priority a cash in hand customer who was actually giving them money right at that moment. No wonder I tend to prefer shopping online. “Teh interwebs” is always open. I don’t have to worry about what time they close.
 

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Two skinny J's
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I can relate to your story. I felt the same when I started looking for my first bike.

The shop I ended up buying from treated me well throughout the test ride/purchase phase. However, I had a completely different experience after the purchase. It was as if they had no idea who I was and could care less that I was there;they had money from the "big" purchase if you will. Cost them some good money. They were a Specialized/Giant dealer.( Funny part is they are no longer a part of the Conte's chain -local)

The other shop I had been looking at was a Trek/Gary Fisher/Scott dealer who I ended up dealing with. The biggest reason was the customer care they showed me.

I do shop rides with them, know all of them as friends now and I am happy to say when I come in the back door I always get a big greeting and for the most part if I have my bike, they stop and help me out on the spot!

It was this kind of rapport that kept me going back and developing a good relations with them. I'm pretty new to riding and the first few times I did the shop rides they were great about showing and more importantly telling me the etiquette of pace line riding and group rides...course now they just drop me like a bad habit. Most of them race and I have no desire to race.

All this to say it was the customer service that won me over to be loyal to their shop. I believe the very thing that has made daily life easier is also part of the demise to customer svc. The smart phone. I truly believe personal phones should not be allowed in those types of work environments. My daughter works part time at Lowes and they are made to leave phones in their lockers. I know some still "sneak" them in.

That first impression thing ,whether it's in person or over the phone, still carries a lot weight with me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
As a potential customer, the basics of customer service is, "Hello, how may I help you?" Or words to that effect. To be in a store for ten minutes (I am a Special Ed. teacher of children with autism, so I am always wearing a digital watch) and to not even be greeted is inexcusable.

I am extremely busy, so I ride when I can, usually alone. I have a hard enough time hooking up with some friends, forget about a large group. Besides work, I am extremely involved in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts (Cubmaster for my youngest, Asst, Sm for my third, Boy Scout Roundtable Commissioner, sit on Eagle Boards of Review occasionally, and so on.) Now our third will be entering high school and involved in marching band as well. So I don't necessarily have the time and energy to cultivate a relationship much beyond, I am a potential customer, treat me right so I shop with you and not somewhere else.

Then keep treating me right so I continue to patronize your shop for repairs, parts, and accessories.
 

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Total noob (& forum admin)
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I avoid Trek boutique stores. They're hopeless.

Hadley's Cycle in Newcastle Australia could teach every other shop in the world about customer service. No commissions, no sales quotas. They just tell their employees to meet the needs of every customer that walks through their door, and do it in a polite, and courteous manner.

When I sold my Honda Goldwing, I walked out of my local Harley dealer with my wad of 140 $100 bills in my back pocket, because no one wanted to offer me any assistance. Any customer that brings $14k to buy a $9k would be a salesperson's dream, but since I wasn't dressed like a pirate (leather, bandana, denim, missing teeth) they didn't want to help me. I bought a low mileage bike, used, off our local online classifieds that night. It was another year before I would even buy the Harley I wanted, and I bought that one used as well, just to avoid giving my local dealer any money.

Dang, I sound like one cranky bastard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Exactly IH, I wasn't dressed as a bike rider. I came in after work (actually I had left work, ran to an attorney's office to drop off my mother-in-law's Living Trust) and then went to the bike shops still in my work clothes.

I had $200 in cash I was ready to spend at that moment. Meanwhile, I am in the market for a road bike within the next year (I'm going to want a bike fitting), as well as a rooftop bike carrier, a couple of more shorts and shirts, and who knows what else, I will probably spend a couple of thousand dollars in one of these stores.
 

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Customer service really isn't hard, but it just takes the desire. The people in my local bike shop are not clerks anymore. They are friends. Sometimes I spend $5 and sometimes hundreds but I get the same treatment either way. Sometimes I have time to talk, but I don't consider that wasted time. The next time I need something that could go either of two ways, they know my abilities, desires, and goal in giving me advise.

The best customer service I have had recently outside of my LBS is surprisingly in a grocery store. Its a local chain that caters to high end clients. They don't try to be the cheapest. Everything in there though is quality, and its usually not that much more than you would pay elsewhere. What else is amazing that all the young kids have been taught to be nice. They may not be but 18, but every single on of them has been nothing but helpful and polite. Looking at the parking lot, the cars are high end. That kind of customer base doesn't take to poor treatment kindly, and no one really should. It cost no more to have an 18 year old be nice than it does to have them be lazy and rude. All it takes is the commitment to make it happen
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thread Interlude

 

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Two skinny J's
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[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBCCuDEOw0c]YouTube - CarMax - Gas Station - 2011 Super Bowl Commercial Ad[/ame]​
 

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I avoid Trek boutique stores. They're hopeless.
Maybe I don't have the same standards, or just have an unusual Trek store, but the one I go to has always been very helpful. My wife is looking at getting a road bike, and due to the money involved wanted to try several different bikes, and different manufacturers. The sales guy got her on two different Trek models and explained the differences between them and the Specialized she'd liked at a different store. Didn't talk bad about the Specialized Ruby, just the different geometry etc. Some of it has been the stupid stuff, but when you're new to biking, having a mechanic show you step by step how to change a tube is quite helpful, and it was at a Trek store that they did that for us.
 

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I bought two Treks at one store, and took a friend in, who bought a bike also. Then the store changed hands, and I was treated like dirt. Never went back, and the store changed hands and lines of bikes within a couple of years.
Now me and my friends and relatives have bought five bikes and lots of parts and accessories at a different store where they treat us like we were VIPs.
The best thing we can do as customers is vote with our feet.
 

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I bought two Treks at one store, and took a friend in, who bought a bike also. Then the store changed hands, and I was treated like dirt. Never went back, and the store changed hands and lines of bikes within a couple of years.
Now me and my friends and relatives have bought five bikes and lots of parts and accessories at a different store where they treat us like we were VIPs.
The best thing we can do as customers is vote with our feet.
The AF Trek store was a miserable experience, and Mad Dog in Orem was only slightly better. Taylor's in Provo gets all my business, as they are nothing but helpful. Might be a bit too far for you, but they're only five minutes away from me.
 

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Specialized Crosstrail
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Well, I did make one observation in dealing with a LBS employee, but it was after I made a decision on a bike. When I first started looking for a bike, I went to the LBS right down the street from me, maybe 1/4 mile away. At the time I wasn't really sure what kind of bike I wanted exactly, my first test ride was on a Giant MTB. The guy there prepped the bike first, put it on the stand, went thru the gears, added air to the tires ect.

It wasn't for me I soon found out, geared to low, among other things. Next bike I test rode was a Giant Cypress... again, he preps the bike, I took it out, much better... but still not ready to jump. That's when I went to another LBS, and test rode a Crosstrail. That was it, I bought it right there.

A couple weeks later, while riding home on it, I stopped at the first LBS I originally went to when shopping for a bike. I brought the Crosstrail right in the store to check out a new seat. Actually, I thought the guys there would like to see the bike anyways, they don't sell Specialized bikes there.

Well, that one employee that helped me out before with the bikes I test rode, suddenly acted is if he never knew me! I mean I've been in that store a few times, we've talked on a few occasions, and always welcomed me... not any more! And then it hit me... he took his time to sell me a bike, and I bought another one somewhere else. I guess that irked him. He hasn't said a word to me since.

Now the owner of the place wasn't as bad at all, in fact, he sincerely wanted to know what it was that made me settle on the Crosstrail over the other bikes I test rode there days before... and I really couldn't give him a concise answer. I think I just said something like, "I don't really know, it just clicked, it just felt right." or something to that effect. But he nodded his head, and seemed to understand exactly what I meant, with no attitude what so ever. He was interested in the bike, looked it over, asked the price, ect.

But if he had acted anywhere near how his hired hand did, I wouldn't have ever stepped foot in there again needless to say. I continue to get things there if need be, it's so close, and me and the owner continue to chat. The other guy... well, I don't if he still works there or what, I haven't seen him there lately, and if I never see him again, I guess it's all the same to me. I'm just hoping this rain stops out here in LA so I can ride again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I found a bike shop I think I will like. It's a little out of my usual shopping area, but not out of my way at all. It has a wide variety of bikes, including Kestrels, Cannondales, Fujis, Jamis, and Raleighs.

I'm going to buy a Jamis Quest from them.
Reynolds 631 tubing
Shimano 105 gruppo, with Ultegra rear derailer.
Mavic Aksium wheels
About $1,300

sweet!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Garilia a little extra distance is no big deal when they give really good service. Its not worth it at all for a few dollars cheaper. YMMV
I agree. Apparently this shop has been in the downtown part of Hollywood since 1944, and I never knew it was there until recently (it did move a few blocks in the 1970's). This area of town is near where I take my son for drum lessons, it's just a couple of miles from the beach. Like I said, just a bit out of my usual shopping area, but not at all far.

My wife greenlighted me to go buy the bike today. I have a boy scout planning meeting this morning, so it'll have to wait until this afternoon.
 
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