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New program makes it easier to apply for America's Best Bike Shops designation, but harder to make the cut

Published January 31, 2017
The application period for the fifth annual program is open until March 31.

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — The National Bicycle Dealers Association has launched its fifth annual America's Best Bike Shops program, and this year the association has made it easier to apply for the designation but in some ways also made it harder to earn it.

NBDA president Todd Grant said the new online application process is much easier to use than in the past. The user interface is better and the application now allows users to pause the process and return to the site later to complete it, among other improvements.

But Grant said that in order to keep the ABBS designation meaningful and to continue to push NBDA members to improve their stores, the questions on the application are a bit harder.

"We continue to evolve the questions to make it more difficult every year as the pool gets better and better," Grant told BRAIN. "We've taken some of the subjectivity out of the application because the new technology allows us to score answers in a more objective way."

Some parts of the application that were essay questions in previous years have been broken up into multiple-choice questions.

"Instead of asking an essay question like 'Tell us about your marketing efforts,' we now might break it down so we ask, 'Do you use newspaper? Do you use the web?' etc.," Grant said.

Grant said he expects the total number of stores that earn the ABBS designation will remain about the same as previous years. 

The application topics and their points values are:

  • Customer service (100 points)
  • Knowledgeable staff (100 points)
  • Operational excellence (90 points)
  • Marketing excellence (60 points)
  • Community involvement (100 points)
  • Local bicycle advocacy (30 points)
  • National bicycle advocacy (20 points)
  • Shop appearance (50 points)
  • Mystery shopper visit (150 points)

He said the NBDA's goal with the program remains to help educate retailers and raise up the level of professionalism across the board. And this year the NBDA is getting more value out of the program by hiring research consultants to examine five years of ABBS application data. They will develop a report on best practices and common threads of the industry's best retailers.

"There is a lot of great information there and we need someone who does (research analysis) for a living to tease out the insights," Grant said. "The goal is to get the data back to people who applied to be part of the program."

For many retailer applicants, the program's mystery shopper is the most valuable tool. All applicants are shopped by a service; applicants get access to the service's report for $125, a bargain compared with hiring a secret shopper service directly.

The application period is open until March 31.

The list of America's Best Bike Shops will be released at Interbike in September. Sponsors of the program include Bicycle Blue Book, Primal, QBP, Abus, the NPD Group and Bicycle Retailer.

More information and application:


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