Joanna Flint, marketing director at the Green Commute Initiative, recently took over the day-to-day running of the organisation alongside her colleague Katherine Stather. Here Flint looks to the future for the social enterprise
This piece first appeared in the June edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here
Where it all started
Green Commute Initiative entered the Cycle to Work Scheme industry in 2016, determined to shake things up and give everyone a fairer scheme. We got rid of spend limits, we eliminated ‘ownership fees’ and drastically reduced bike shop commission. GCI literally revolutionised the marketplace.
First up was to dispel the myth of the £1,000 limit and we did this by gaining FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) authorisation and decoupling the hire and salary sacrifice elements into two separate agreements. Uniquely, GCI became the hirer rather than the employer.
Additional benefits of this arrangement are that when the employee leaves their employer, the employer has no claim on their bike, and the employer is free from any owner and hirer responsibilities which reduces their workload.
Savvy bike shops can use GCI’s scheme to upsell, showing the customer they can significantly increase their budget for free through the scheme. The Cycle to Work Scheme really is an amazing sales tool for the bike shops that use it to its full extent.
Fair for all
GCI is a UK-based not-for-profit social enterprise, and as part of our ethical and social governance, we are committed to offering a fair scheme for all participants. For bike shops, we made the commitment to only charge what we need to cover our costs.
From the start we have charged bike shops the lowest commission rate in the industry. This currently stands at 5% across both of our scheme platforms (Instant and Corporate).
On top of this, we also have a commission rebate scheme on orders over £6,000. We play fair when it comes to paying bike shops – usually within 24–48 hours of a voucher being redeemed.
Being a not-for-profit means we’re not required to generate additional income with so-called ‘ownership fees’. With some schemes, this can be as much as 7% of the bike’s original value which makes a sizable dent in customer savings.
With no shareholders (either in the UK or overseas) demanding we hit profit targets, we ensure customers make the full savings available to them under the scheme.
As the legislation around the public use of micromobility equipment becomes clearer, without doubt there will be opportunities to support this growing market. Whatever we do, the customer will always come first.
What the future holds
Stock availability is key. When consumers choose to ditch the car and switch to cycling, we need to help them achieve this goal as soon as possible, before the momentum for change has waned.
Giving female customers an enjoyable shopping experience with good product choices, appropriate sales patter and relevant marketing is key to winning over this demographic
with substantial spending power.
The global climate change crisis is a significant opportunity for bike retailers as more consumers transition from car to bike for short journeys. Issues-based marketing around cycling will be important to winning customers.
GCI will continue to be forward thinking and challenge unfair practices with the quest to get more people cycling.