Why would you open a business in the village of Radlett? That’s a question occasionally asked of Dan Chapman, the owner of one of Giant’s 13 brand stores currently open in the UK and Ireland. The local population barely reaches 8,000 people and the majority of housing in the area is valued at over £1,000,000, making it near exclusive to affluent business men and women who, one would assume, are more interested in Aston Martins than Anthems.
Some are, explains Chapman, but not all. “Being located in an affluent area obviously helps us chip away at our higher overheads. Customers can very often come in already knowing what they want and even if they don’t, they typically don’t mind spending the time and money to get the perfect bike for their needs. The service, however, has to be tailored to a greater degree.”
But there’s nothing unusual about providing a tailored service argues Chapman. “We’ll properly bike fit any customer buying a road bike of any price. Furthermore, we’ll tweak the bike fit when they return for their six-week check up. This not only keeps the customer in store, but develops their interest in a proper bike fitting and the benefits, which never hurts add-on sales prospects. We want people who come in curious about cycling to feel comfortable on their bike, as that’s how you create enthusiasts, from the enjoyment taken from riding.”
This is one reason why the store and its team of sponsored riders are heavily active in both school and charity activities – the creation of new cyclists.
“Our team is heavily involved in the community. We’ll regularly pitch up at school events. This month we’re involved in the Norwood Junior Bike Ride and Duathlon. Typically we’ll help fill out goody bags and drop a voucher in where possible to help bring families in store.”
Encouraging families, as well as athletes to visit is a big part of the store’s strategy. There’s a sofa in store, which is often frequented by regulars. There’s apples for the athlete who pops in for a tube mid-ride and a bowl of sweets to keep kids busy while parents are serviced.
“The sofa is there for a reason,” explains Chapman. “Selling a high-end bike takes time. We’ll put the kettle on and sit down to discuss the customer’s needs, intended use and take the time to get to know them. For us, retention of customers and word of mouth among their friends, family and colleagues is a big driver of trade. We only employ premium quality staff, who don’t mind offering a service that crosses the ‘t’s and dot the ‘i’s.”
It’s been a worthwhile approach. Slavica, in charge of the store’s digital marketing, was hired for her expertise and has since created links with celebrities such as Geoff Brazier, a customer of the store. A competition tweeted by Brazier on behalf of the store resulted in an additional 1,000 Twitter followers in a matter of days. The store also now works with the Saracens Rugby Club, providing four bikes per year for injured players to use as part of their rehabilitation.
It would be wrong to assume the store relies on high-ticket sales and celebrity customers to survive, however.
“Our workshop, while typically active anyway, works for us in helping generate income. Where viable, we’ll check a chain’s pitch or a frame’s alignment. If there’s something wrong with the bike that the customer hadn’t picked up on, we’ll flag it up. It often results in additional sales and the customer is confident their bike is being thoroughly serviced by a professional.”
Thinking outside the box has developed countless other opportunities to keep the business ticking over during quieter periods too.
“We’re introducing paid for cycle training. This will be for both the beginner cyclists, who will be taught the basics of cycling and safety and for the experienced athlete. This customer obviously spends plenty on bike kit and will often use their bike to stay fit and go one step beyond that. We’ve already drawn up personal fitness regimes for some of our customers who carry that competitive mentality – we’re assisting them in achieving their fitness goals step-by-step.”
Opening Times: 9am – 6pm
8pm Thurs, 2pm Sun.
Telephone: 01923 850327
Location: 74 Watling Street, Radlett. Hertfordshire. WD7 7NP