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The Sweet Spot Leasing offers brands, retailers option to make owning a bike easier

Published June 21, 2024

A version of this feature ran in the June issue of BRAIN.

SUPERIOR, Colo. (BRAIN) — With e-bikes touted as a replacement for some car trips by many U.S. retailers, Ryan Fishel said it only makes sense to offer a purchasing option like the auto industry. As CEO of The Sweet Spot Bike Leasing, Fishel is giving them one.

In April, The Sweet Spot announced a partnership with its first brand, Stromer, to offer e-bikes with an e-commerce leasing option for purchases between $3,000 and $20,000. Fishel said the leasing option will appeal for those looking for a more sustainable way to commute or for utility. With a down payment, term options are 18, 24, and 36 months including other options to buy, trade-in, or walk away. The leasing option is also available for pedal bikes as well.

"What we're seeing are people that use their bike to commute, run every day errands, or take their kids to school instead of a car," said Fishel, whose company began in 2022 as a bike subscription company. "The e-bike checks a lot of boxes. They are a lot more like cars and that resonates with those types of customers who are already used to leasing a car or cellphone, or paying for subscription services like Netflix. It just makes a lot more sense for most people than it does to just purchase outright."

While Stromer is the first brand partner, Fishel also disclosed in early May that the company has added Ventum and Integral Electrics to its offerings. He also is speaking with 30 other brands and hopes to have at least 12 more lined up by the end of the year, "but I think we're probably going to get more just given the amount of traction we've gotten from industry and consumers."

The pitch to get D2C and brick-and-mortar retailers on board also is underway, he said, with The Sweet Spot currently onboarding about 60 Stromer dealers and aiming for a goal of 120 other retailers.

Leasing program gaining interest

"We do have a few retailers we're talking to, one is a chain of e-bike focused retail stores out of the San Francisco Bay area. There's a desire to have some hybrid type model with some of their offerings, and then a long-term option, where they'd roll into a service like ours. And then on the traditional retail side, there is another chain with bike shops out of New York and California that focuses primarily on high-end bikes. So this is an opportunity that they see for those types of customersthat have high turnover on products where they upgrade every year or every two years and are willing to pay a premium for flexibility."

Fishel said shops are offered an incentive program that includes a percentage of MSRP to receive the bike and then ship or prepare it for pickup at the shop. Leases are Ryan Fishel ordered online through the brand site. Retailers are able to work with customers to order a bike while in their shop and will get the full delivery fee.

Insurance also is included from BikeInsure, and with additional distribution through a partnership with the mobile service and fulfillment franchise Velofix.

"Shops get the opportunity to have a brand new customer and really focus on those things that are high margins with service and retail sales," he said. "We are rolling out training on how to add leasing to retailers' sales pipeline or sales process when people are on the floor looking for something. We're also partnering with the NBDA to get that out to a broader audience. We're currently focusing on enabling our individual partners and their dealers and will be taking it to the rest of the industry in the next few quarters to enable folks to leverage this type of sales."

With a background in go-to-market and product at Splunk along with co-founders Steven Hanna and Mike Dupuis — all part of Splunk's Trek-Segafredo pro teams' sponsorship in 2019 — Fishel said that knowledge will be put to use to aid the retailer in the leasing process.

"We will also be leveraging e-bike telemetry to provide additional service and retail touchpoints throughout the course of the lease," Fishel said. "The driver here is to make sure that the retailer is in the loop through the entire lease lifecycle with the goal being that customers will lease their next bike when their current lease is over, and we continue the cycle over again with a newer — and likely more expensive — bike."

Following Europe's lead

It's no accident Stromer was the first brand partner. Fishel worked part time at a shop that sold Stromer and saw first-hand the quality of its e-bikes. Stromer's general manager for North America, Matti Rajakylä, told BRAIN at April's Sea Otter Classic that companies like The Sweet Spot are common in Europe and have been "the saving grace" for that bike market.

"I told Ryan what's going on in Europe and whoever is the first one doing this in the U.S. has the potential to be successful," Rajakylä said. "And what makes me excited is the potential because I think it's going to be a new way of doing business in this industry."

Steve Kwait, Stromer's Western Regional sales manager, who was also at Sea Otter, said the "archaicness" of the U.S. industry prevents retailers from seeing that they can substantially increase unit sales through leasing.

"The (retailer's sales) volume could go from three Stromers a year to 25," Kwait said. "Because if they're in an area where those customers are potentially able to acquire a bike for transportation, it just changes the landscape of them getting on the bike."

Ryan Fishel.
Topics associated with this article: From the Magazine

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