The shop is quiet, so is it the perfect time to spruce up your shop floor and take stock? Waving Cat’s Nick Fish explains the pros and the cons…

Ever considered closing your shop for a week?

Traditionally, February isn’t the busiest month in cycle retail, so what better time to get to grips with some ‘big jobs’? However good you are at shop maintenance and cleaning, bikes have a habit of leaving marks and ‘dings’ on walls and floors, which over time build up to a messy look. Have you been thinking about a better changing room, a bike fit area, repositioning your display areas or opening up the workshop so that customers can see their bikes being fettled (scary I know)? As long as you make room for the renovations by reducing your floor stock and tell your customers well in advance when the refit is going to happen, you can have a well-organised showroom blitz.

Making room
Love or hate the Christmas sales, it’s guaranteed that millions of pounds will be spent and you need to get your share. You won’t just be attracting your existing customers through a sale but many customers who live outside your usual catchment area will travel to buy – but only if the price is right. You will also have a good chance to take some sales back from internet retailers. You might want to ask other non-cycling retailers in your area when they are starting their sales and try and fit in as footfall in the area will be high.

Bikes: Target the last season models or current season hard to sell sizes and colours with discounts or FOC equipment bundles. Promote your sale stock via your website, email database, flyers in the shop or even eBay (dare I say it). There are currently 1,634 mountain and 1,493 road bikes listed on eBay with a start price of £300-plus, making eBay the dominant market place for closeouts and used bikes. Some thoughts:

* Make your clearance bikes ‘collection only’ as your suppliers might get hacked off if you start shipping bikes around the country (there’s also the extra hassle of boxing and shipping to deal with).
* If your stock is ‘clean’ and you have money to invest in stock you might want to buy-in some closeouts from your suppliers. Make sure you buy at the right price – as a guide you need to be making at least 30 per cent margin (ex VAT) off an SRP discounted by 25 per cent. If it isn’t a good deal don’t buy it.
* Use the motor trade ‘ex demonstrator’ ploy to move less saleable current models rather than a straight discount as you might annoy customers who have recently bought new bikes from you.
* Don’t list your clearance bikes all at once – keep adding to the list as this gives you a great opportunity to remarket your sale through “more models added to the sale”.
* Make a noise about it in your shop window – big, bold signage can be bought from a local supplier or online for beans.

Clothing and equipment: Dusty stock in damaged packing has to go! Identify it, list it, and put it in one location so that your customers can easily find it. Get a sale rail for clothes and a shoe rack for all those shoe range leftovers and make sure that everything is sized, in order and priced – remember clearance stock isn’t rubbish.

Planning your refurbishment
Refurbishing your store needn’t be a costly process, as a lot of the labour cost will come from your team who won’t be hanging around waiting for a customer to walk through the door on a quiet day. It could also be a good team building exercise by encourage their input and getting them involved.

Look and feel: We aren’t all budding Laurence Llewelyn-Bowens so don’t be proud – just copy! Plagiarism isn’t a bad thing. Visit your local shopping mall and choose a colour scheme you like. Look at the various “concept stores’ created by the big cycling brands and use some of their ideas. Things to think about in advance:

* If you and the team aren’t inclined to pickup a paintbrush then book a local odd job guy or a builder for bigger work.
* Check with your suppliers to see what in-store signage, window graphics or staff uniform they have that you can use to good effect – less can be more here as signage overkill can be distracting for customers.
* Also check to see if your suppliers have any good point of sale or display systems you can utilise.
* Work out in advance what the focus will be in each area of the shop – this is particularly important if you are laying new flooring.

And finally:
Plan a post refurbishment mid-week evening event and encourage your customers drop in – offer some promotions on the night: buy a jersey and shorts and get free mitts, book a service by the end of the month and save 25 per cent of the labour cost, buy two new tyres and get two free tubes etc, etc, etc. Don’t forget to promote it in store and via your website and email database.

Waving Cat – Business Mentoring
Contact Nick Fish via email:
or by phone: 07842 932201

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