How to set yourself apart from the rest

In 2019, Backyard Bike Shop was awarded the BikeBiz Award for Best Independent Bike Dealer, sponsored by Citrus-Lime. Owner Nic Vieri shares his shop’s story along with some best practice…

Rob and I opened the shop back in 2017 with the view of creating a small workshop specialising in custom builds. We combined my own background in bikes with his in architecture and bars, making it somewhere we can service and build bikes, but also have a social atmosphere where people can come to hang out. The layout and branding was always designed around this idea. 

Our main business has always been the workshop, specialising in servicing, custom builds, and upgrades. We started with a coffee machine, but that quickly grew into a full cafe. By having the cafe, we’ve managed to attract customers throughout the day, even when they didn’t have any bike-specific needs. This is great for relationship-building and keeps the shop fresh in their minds. We run as a cocktail bar at night, which also hosts private events. All the different aspects have helped us attract a variety of different people with different interests. It helps ensure that we always have people in and something happening.

I appreciate, of course, that many IBDs aren’t looking to open up a cafe, but if I could offer any advice to fellow bike shops, it would be to look to see what is missing in your area – what can you offer to set you apart from the competition? Find something that will bring more people to your shop, and get them to keep coming back. Look for inspiration from other businesses, in other industries in your area. Speak to your reps. They usually have a very good idea of what is missing and can help with ideas on how to increase your customer base.

Make sure you get the basics right first. Your customer service needs to be spot on. Try to be helpful and enthusiastic wherever you can. Keep your overheads down. Look at the numbers, and react to what they are saying (Citrus-Lime has helped us loads in this aspect). Don’t only focus on the big sales. Smaller transactions quickly add up. Instead of pushing for a complete bike, maybe look at upgrading wheels or components. Most importantly, ensure your customers keep coming back for future sales.

What’s next for us? We’re currently very happy with how things are going and will be focusing on trying to improve on what we are doing. Going forward we will be working on our own clothing and doing more collaborations with other brands.

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