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Beeline shifts from franchise model to subscription software service

Published September 14, 2018
How scheduling will be displayed on a retailer's website.
‘Powered by Beeline’ is offered for a monthly fee to any dealer (no Beeline van required). Think of it as OpenTable for bike shops, the company says.

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (BRAIN) — In a play to make it more affordable for bike shops to expand into mobile service and repair and to help them fulfill online purchases, Accell North America is making the software previously used by its Beeline franchisees available to any brick-and-mortar dealer.

The software, called Powered by Beeline, allows retailers to manage their service departments entirely online. Consumers will be able to book service appointments on retailers’ websites or on their phones, and for shops the software will allow them to eliminate the traditional paper ticket and to engage more with consumers through an automatic feedback loop. Appointments scheduled on a website or phone will automatically be scheduled into a shop’s service calendar.

ANA acquired Beeline back in March, after investing in the mobile tech and service company for a few years.

Beeline officials said that about three-quarters of its franchisees are brick-and-mortar shops so few are affected by this shift. “All of our franchisees have the option of staying the course with the existing model,” said Pete Small, chief operating officer of Beeline, told BRAIN in an interview. “We’re committed and equipped to honor the franchise agreements they have.”

With Powered by Beeline, retailers gain the capabilities of a Beeline franchise mobile van, but without the costly investment of adding a fully outfitted vehicle. Many retailers already use a shop vehicle for pick up and delivery or to do service and repair.

“This is a new model we’re rolling out instead of a franchise, which is a complicated process,” Larry Pizzi, president and head of sales at ANA, told BRAIN. “The franchise is like a phone book of a contract, close to a 200-page agreement and highly regulated. It’s a challenging and long sales process. This lowers the bar from an initial investment perspective, and offers this platform we’ve developed as software as a service. In essence we’re giving people access to this platform that brings their business into the 21st century and gives them an opportunity to service the customer who’s making a purchase online.”

ANA will offer three tiers and pricing. Retailers who sign up for the software also become a fulfillment partner for ANA and other brands. Pure Cycles and Saris, for example, have signed on as fulfillment partners, so orders placed through their online channels could be delivered by retailers signed up for this software. Saris is launching in-home setup of its Cyclops trainers and plans to extend this to Saris racks. And ANA anticipates more brands will come onboard for fulfillment service.  

“For the customer, they get the convenience of scheduling online and know when and where that appointment is going to be,” said Peter Buhl, co-founder and CEO of Beeline. “For the shop, they have a backend tool that manages this whole inventory of appointments and see which mechanic is assigned to what appointment so they can fully book and utilize all their assets.

“The other thing for the shop is it’s a tool to acquire new customers online through this online scheduling tool when they want service, but also to the network of fulfillment partners which includes all of the Accell brands (Diamondback, Haibike, Raleigh, Izip, Redline), and Amazon, and a couple of new brands. Basically having all those customers come to them as a net new customer,” he added.  

Buhl noted that as Beeline approached dealers about expanding with a Beeline mobile franchise, they learned that their franchise model needed to change.

“As we talked to a lot of dealers, the thing we learned is that all their markets are a little bit different,” Buhl said. “The way they run their businesses is a little bit different. They’re all entrepreneurs in a sense, so going to them and saying here’s the Beeline model, here’s exactly how you do it, here’s the playbook, they’re like, ‘Yeah, but I don’t want that part.’ And the franchise just doesn’t work that way. The franchise is a playbook and you follow the rules of the playbook. This allows them to get the aspects of our system and tools and model expertise and utilize all those in a way that fits in their market.”

Powered by Beeline is entirely cloud based and the service can easily be added to any retailer’s website with a line of code.

Three software tiers are priced starting at $79 a month for the click-to-brick package (buy online pick up in store), the second tier adds in-store service to first tier plan (schedule service online for tune-up in store) for $299 a month for up to five store locations; the third tier adds the ability to include one mobile shop for $379 (every additional vehicle is $95 a month).

Beeline will demo the software at Interbike next week in Reno. The software officially launches in January.

More info: https://beelinebikes.com/poweredby

Topics associated with this article: Mobile service, Interbike

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