SEASIDE, CA (BRAIN)—A small group of top Specialized dealers gathered in California’s Central Coast Thursday morning as stage five of the Amgen Tour of California left the overcast skies of Seaside bound for Paso Robles.
“I’m like a kid out here. This is great,” said Greg Comen, sales manager at Zane’s Cycles, a top Specialized dealer in Connecticut, snapping photos as pro riders pedaled from a narrow street lined with team buses to the race start line.
Specialized invited Comen and six other dealers on a four-day event in conjunction with the tour that includes rides along parts of the course on the ocean-front Highway 1, VIP access to the race starts, wine tastings at local vineyards and team car rides.
Even though business isn’t necessarily top of mind as sales reps ride alongside dealers, events such as these are important from a relationship building standpoint; Specialized’s sales force will have face time with dozens of dealers during the eight-day stage race, and, for retailers, the experience of seeing the race from the back of a team car is one that won’t soon be forgotten.
“These guys are pretty removed from the pro level. For most dealers, it’s a pretty big deal,” said Mike Abrams, East Coast sales manager for Specialized.
More suppliers are using events like the Tour of California as an opportunity to interact with dealers. Scott Sports, for instance, is coordinating daily rides on its new Foil aero road bike at each of the stages.
“It's a great time to use the excitement of the ToC and our get dealers aboard the new product,” said Adrian Montgomery, marketing/pr director for Scott Sports.
For dealers, particularly those from faraway shops, being on the sidelines at a race such as the Tour of California is a story they can share with customers to help build excitement just as the summer selling season ramps up.
Each night, Comen downloads photos onto his shop’s Facebook page in hopes of passing along his enthusiasm to customers.
“It makes them passionate,” he said. “They want to get on their bike and ride.”
The Tour of California continues today with the individual time trial in Solvang.
Photo: Breaking for lunch on Highway 1 just past Carmel during a 40-mile ride organized by Specialized for a half-dozen top dealers. For more photos, click on the link above to go to the BRAIN Facebook page.