Following the huge outpour of congratulations that the nominees for this year’s BikeBiz Top 20 IBDs list received from the industry, we decided to catch up with some of the shops to discuss what it means to be one of Birtain’s top retailers. This week I talked to Paul Bowker from the Edinburgh-based Criterium Cycles.
How does it feel to be included in the BikeBiz top 20 IBDs?
"It is real honour. We have always tried to deliver the best possible service we can to our customers as well as make a genuine contribution to the wider community whether cycling related or not. We were thrilled to be included in the Top 20 list in 2014 following our first year of opening, but to have managed to make the list in every year since then is very humbling. We’re never complacent though – we always want to try and constantly improve."
What do you think makes you one of the top shops in the country?
"We have always started from the premise of wanting to put each customer on the right bike for them, usually a combination of what kind of riding they want to be doing, the budget they have and then of course the correct fit. We are continually amazed by just how many new customers come to us with their old bike that is either inappropriate for the riding they’ve been doing or the wrong frame size and the wrong fit. It’s awful when that happens so we work tirelessly to avoid it with our customers. We’d rather not sell a bike to someone at all than sell them something that doesn’t fit correctly. Ensuring the correct fit is something that really motivates us – we are always delighted when customers tell us how much more comfortable and enjoyable is their riding experience because they took the extra time to get fitted properly by us."
Whats the secret to great customer service?
"It’s really simple. Ask the right questions, listen very carefully to the answers and then make sure that you meet all the needs of the customer with what you then sell them. Follow up is crucial of course – many of our customers have bought multiple bikes / bike stuff off us – but that first interaction is crucial. Customers are very smart – they know deep down when they are getting great advice and service and if it’s good, they’ll come back time and time again. So great customer service is actually just good business."
Paul Bowker, one of the founders of Criterium Cycles, has made a career in high end product retailing and customer service. Previously he was sales manager of one of the UK’s leading independent BMW dealerships and prior to that, he worked in senior sales roles in a number of other premium manufacturers in the motor trade such as Brian James Trailers.
The BikeBiz Top 20 IBDs list 2017 was sponsored by NEOS Cycling. For more information on NEOS, visit the brand's website here.