It’s not all plain sailing being a premier bike retailer...

BikeBiz Award Winner Interview: Rutland Cycling

Sales director Steve Gill speaks to BikeBiz:

How does it feel to have a BikeBiz Award in the trophy cabinet?
Well, with BikeBiz being the Industry standard in terms of a trade publication, to be recognised as the ‘Best IBD’ for 2010 is a fantastic achievement. It doesn’t really get any better does it? We are, however, working especially hard to try and secure the award again for this year!

Rutland also bagged a local business award last year – can you tell us a bit about that?
We won Local Business of the Year, which was another nice accolade to receive. To be recognised by your local community and by the trade you work in must mean we are getting something right.

What are the advantages to working in picturesque surroundings?
For the people that work in our shops it is a real buzz to turn up to work each day on the side of a picturesque lake. Our head office is in a somewhat more industrial location however! Both Rutland and Grafham Water are beautiful locations and we really are very lucky to have shops in such fantastic places.

Does Rutland get involved in demo days, or reach out to the local cycling community in any way?
We host three to four demo events per year with up to twenty brands attending each. This gives us some of the biggest demo events in the UK and on top of that we have a 600-bike demo fleet spread across our three shops, which is available 363 days of the year featuring bikes from all major manufacturers. We run monthly night rides throughout the year too, which are extremely popular.

We like to offer something more to our customers than a cash till!

What services does Rutland Cycling offer beyond bike retail?
Well as mentioned above we have one of the largest Demo/Hire fleets in the world, which is actually where this business started from. We also have a climbing centre with a rock wall and high ropes assault course.

Outdoor activities are something we feel passionately about and will continue to support regardless of the direction of the retail element of our business.

What training do your workshop staff get? And are you finding the workshop more important at the moment during these tough economic times?
When Cytech published their list of best trained cycle shops in the UK we were number one. We train all of our mechanics to either Cytech Level 2 or 3 depending on what they specialise in. The workshops are a very important part of any shop as that is where your reputation can be made or lost. We pride ourselves in having well trained staff who are very knowledgeable within all areas of cycling.

How many employees work for Rutland? How many sites do they cover?
We have about 100 staff overall working in three shops and at our head office. The mail order operation is run from the same location as our head office so we have quite a few staff working there.

Rutland created a new website last year – how was that received and how important is the online business to Rutland’s operation?
The new site was well received by consumers and has helped us gain some market share. Ecommerce is a way of selling that is here to stay so our plans are to make the best we can of this very versatile platform. We embrace new technologies and selling ideas, and as such are growing in this sector.

How does the Giant Store integrate with Rutland Cycling?
With having two shops located on the same lake there was always going to be a problem differentiating between them, so when the opportunity to work with Giant came along we grabbed it with both hands. The shops function better now and have their own customer base.

We have nearly been open as a Giant Brand Store for one year now and we are very excited about what the future holds. This store coincidentally is the largest Giant Brand Store in the world.

What’s the biggest challenge ahead for Rutland Cycling?
The biggest challenge will be to continue to grow the business at the rate we have done for the last few years. Everyone is working very hard and we do have plenty of goals to achieve this year. We have a few irons in the fire so watch this space…

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