How to sell bicyclettes and other customer service tips

Posted by on Oct 27, 2013 in All Blogs, Blogs | 0 comments

How to sell bicyclettes and other customer service tips

To small entrepreneurs that sell something for a living: product knowledge, kindness and thoughtfulness can make your customers forget about some of your service downfalls (no one is perfect!).

Prelude: last year my partner and I decided that I should get a new bicycle for my birthday. As it is an expensive present, I thought it should also extend to Christmas but by Christmas, I decided that I needed to wait until I completed my Masters in May: I needed a carrot.

Needless to say that by spring, I had had time to imagine how my perfect bicycle would look like. I started my homework with searching the web, looking for a real Dutch classic: reliable yet stylish, and perfect for gnomes like me looking for opportunities to look that little bit taller. My bike had to match my personality and my outfits (especially the scarves I always wear around my neck). I looked and looked and when I found style, I could not find gears; when I found gears, I could not find the right colour, and when I finally found it all, my size was unavailable! By July, I had lost all hopes but then, out of the blue, came the shop of Monsieur Roger.

It is Saturday afternoon and my boyfriend and I are driving down a nearby high street when I say: “Who would want to come shopping on this street, everything has closed down… stop now! Look, a bike shop!”

From the outside, I am taken back in time to the 1940s: old fashion window display, walls needing a good coat of paint, shop sign dated; inside, it’s a mess. Bicycles everywhere, hardly any space to walk through to the counter, and none to walk through among the bikes; it’s dark and I cannot imagine cleaning being one of the weekly, let alone daily priorities… but at the back of the store I can hear a small man, my dad’s age, providing advice at length to a client in urgent need of help. This man clearly sounds passionate about his job. So I wait for him to finish because of course he is on his own, attending to everyone in what looks more like an abandoned warehouse than a shop.

I turn around to have a better look and there it is, I see my bicycle: it’s black, its’ got a basket, it’s a classic but it’s unapproachable, piled behind a mountain of other bikes. Helped by my partner, Monsieur Roger shifts a few things around and then positions himself on a pile of sliding brochures, gets hold of the bike, twists it upright and manages to get it down to my level (who said shopping was stress free?). I like it but it’s not perfect as I was looking for a specific black saddle, which I then proceed to describe. I see him toddle to his workshop and here it is, in his hands, my saddle! I am also not sure about the bell, I really wanted one of those big and old-fashioned bells….. and here we go again…. Monsieur Roger appears with the ding dong bell of my dreams! He might run a shabby looking shop but he surely knows what’s trendy. He will even add a special coat of varnish so the bell keeps shining in spite of the British rain. He then cleverly suggests that I upgrade to a smarter basket, which he will fix to a wooden platform he has especially designed so it does not collapse under the weight of my weekly food shopping. I just pay for some upgrades (the new saddle is free) and he won’t charge for the work as it’s just standard customer service to him.

You would think that by now my bespoke bicycle has cost a fortune. You’d be wrong. It still works out £100 cheaper than what I found elsewhere, and he has been selling that brand for the last 15 years, so I am getting quality too. All I can say is that Monsieur Roger knows how to keep a lady happy. We spend 10 minutes on test drives to fix the brakes; I am then reminded of the rules I should follow to be a responsible cyclist and told to come back 2 weeks later to ensure all is well.

My conclusion? Good things come in small packages that don’t necessarily look perfect but shine from the inside rather than the outside. Care and passion is what I look for when I decide to part with a substantial amount of money (especially when the money is not mine). Be flexible, accommodate needs, match dreams. Don’t just sell (that’s boring), cross-sell and up-sell to create and engineer experiences.

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