“The intent is to use concept principals to support independent retail brands,” said Clements, the association’s executive director.
According to Clements, out of 4,200 specialty bike retailers only 200 are concept stores affiliated with one of three main brands: Specialized, Trek and Giant. That leaves the other 96 percent of retailers that may be looking for ways to succeed on their own. “We’re going to try to help those stores,” Clements said.
NBDA plans to launch the program on the protected member section of its Web site in about three weeks. The Web site will contain suggestions for how to improve in seven key operational areas of retailing. “These are proven techniques of good retailing,” Clements said.
Clements kicked off the one-day seminar with an overview of NBDA initiatives, followed by presentations from three speakers who offered advice on how to improve retail profitability through community outreach, effective leadership and efficient service departments.
Jay Graves, owner of The Bike Gallery in Portland, Oregon, urged his fellow retailers to “get outside your box” and make a difference in your local community. Graves suggested that retailers get to know their local politicians, listen and respond to local advocacy needs, and support local advocacy work to improve the visibility of their businesses.
Dan Mann, president of The Mann Group, emphasized the importance of creating a consistent retail experience. Mann said it’s up to the manager to be a great leader to influence consistent results. He said successful leadership behaviors include setting expectations for employees and following up with gentle pressure relentlessly applied.
"I believe that the single most important ingredient to profitability in your business is the store manager," Mann said.
Brett Flemming, The Bike Gallery service manager, said that retailers have more control over their net profit than they think and one opportunity to improve net profit is in the service department. Flemming said mechanics should ask questions to determine customer needs and align with a customer’s expectations. This might mean providing free service, doing a repair while a customer waits or servicing a junker bike because it has personal history.
“There was a lot of good confirmation for me in the leadership roles of a manager and the service department. It reconfirmed a lot of ideas I have. The major thing is empathy—listening to the customer,” said Dan Rock, manager at B and L Bikes in Solana Beach, California, and a 30-year retail veteran.
Lloyd Taylor, owner of Triathlon Lab, Inc. in Redondo Beach, California, said that even though many of the tips from Tuesday's seminar applied more to large volume shops and didn't necessarily correlate to retailers in single stores "certainly we can pick up great tips and apply those tips in ways that work for us."
In Taylor's six-employee store, he planned to implement Flemming's idea to add SKUs to service items.
The fourth stop in a four–city tour, the Anaheim seminar attracted roughly 45 retail attendees from throughout California.
Photo: Dan Mann, president of the The Mann Group, enlists the help of Dave Hanson, owner of Jax Bicycles, and Beth Annon-Lovering, owner of B & L Bike Shop, in a role playing exercise at Tuesday's NBDA Super Seminar