Business mentoring service Waving Cat has some stock shifting advice for bicycle shops, courtesy of founder Nick Fish...

How to keep dogs and fish out of your bike shop

When you are busy with bikes, equipment and spares rolling out of the door it’s hard enough keeping in stock what’s selling, let alone focusing on what’s not. It is, however, a great time to clear slow moving stock through focus and a small discounts.

Customers who are using their bikes regularly are more likely to impulse purchase a new jersey, or pair of shorts, if they are presented with a bit of a deal in-store. You will also have ‘clean stock’ so that when the ‘end of season deals’ come along from your suppliers you are in a good position to buy and extend the selling season through deals and offers to your customers. So what makes a dog or a fish?

DOG – the buyers’ worst nightmare
You can be the best buyer in the world, but you will always buy a few dogs. The extra large or extra small end-of-line shoes, a few too many safari beige short sleeved jerseys, or stock which has been superseded by a better spec, or lower price replacement – it just collects dust and represents cash tied up that could be spent on saleable stock. If you move the stock now you might have to discount it by ten per cent, if you try and move the same safari beige jerseys in November you’ll get cleaning rag prices for them. Dogs never get better – they just attract more fleas!

FISH – First In, Still Here
The 2013 bike and equipment ranges have now been selling (or not) for over six months in your shop and you are now in the position to decide what’s hot and what’s not. Buying at pre-season shows always takes guesswork and intuition – the more you do it, the better you are at second-guessing the market. It is, however, time to focus on the ten per cent (hopefully not more) of your less successful buying decisions – it’s time to move the fish! If you tried out a new brand, got the size split a bit out, or chose a colour option the consumers hate, it’s all got to be sold – and now’s the time to do it.

Action Plan
Identify the stock that needs to go: Walk round the shelves and look at your stock – you can check the stock report generated by your computer, but there’s nothing quite like seeing a £30, at cost, lock which has lost it bracket languishing on the shelf collecting dust. Anything with damaged packaging or items looking shop soiled need to go.

Create a space in the shop: you might not want to have a bike sale area, just make it easy for the sales team to focus on what needs to go. A sale rail for clothes and shoes is essential and make sure the stock is clearly priced and sized (it shouldn’t look neglected).

Make sure the rest of your team know what’s going on: Have a team meeting and run through the clearance plan and the stock. Maybe offer an incentive to the whole team if they clear a targeted volume or value of clearance stock – it might not be cash, a Friday night curry might do the trick. There are, however, no prizes for selling the 21-inch mountain bike to the 5’ 4” rider just because it is clearance!

Promote your clearance stock to your customers: Make sure your customers know you’ve got goodies at great clearance prices. Tweet, blog, email and stick it on the home page of your website, and make sure your clearance area is easy to see in-store. Customers like receiving information from you if it has value to them.

Who’s Waving Cat?

Business mentoring is an established concept in the USA and Australia, while here in the UK it has typically focused on larger businesses. Enter Waving Cat, set up to meet a gap in the market for complete business support services for small to medium enterprises (SME).

Waving Cat was founded by business development specialist and cycle industry stalwart, Nick Fish, who leads the network of experienced business specialists. Fish has a 30-year proven business development track record in the cycle industry, working with well known brands including Shimano, Madison, Trek and Specialized. 

So far Waving Cat has piloted with a range of business sectors including cycling, performance cars and printing.

“Business mentoring is in its infancy in the UK, but over time a good business mentor will become as important to a business as a shrewd accountant,” said MD Nick Fish. “Businesses large or small, successful or struggling can benefit from an objective outside view on their potential to grow.”

Waving Cat assesses the general health of a business, looking at strengths, weaknesses and related opportunities and threats. It then recommends strategies that will maximise the potential of the business to ensure future profitable growth. The company says its services are also ideal for start-up businesses, or entrepreneurs looking to identify business opportunities. Waving Cat offers support for every element of a business from business infrastructure and people management, through to IT systems and financial services to communications services.

“Running a successful business requires a diverse range of constantly changing skills and attempting to be a jack-of-all-trades and master of them all is an impossible task. Our team covers all the bases from marketing to training and HR to communication, allowing our clients to flexibly fill the skills gap when they need specialist help – a literal ‘one stop shop’ of business skills,” explained Fish.

Waving Cat offers two fixed-cost services for SMEs. ‘‘The Conversation” £250 +Vat and “Strategy Planning” £1,500 + VAT are designed to provide a current business overview and to present potential opportunities that form an agenda for future discussion and work.

For more information, contact Fish on 07842 932201, or via email at

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