Our panel believe that for the mid-to-high-end sale it has. Could it protect your margins too?

Industry Opinions: Has pro bike fitting become a must?

“Having the ability to professionally fit a bike is a must in a road store.” That’s the opinion of one of our industry panel quizzed on bike fitting. Mark Sutton finds out more about tailoring a bike to a customer, the financial pros and cons and more…

David Green, Action bikes, Embankment
“I have found so far that a bike fit seems to offer some help for all types of customer. There hasn’t, as yet, been any particular age or skill group who have been more common when seeking a proper fit.
The company has used the Trek Fit School and are very grateful to Phil Cavell and Trek for putting on a fantastic course for our staff.
The area you need to set aside for bike fits is quite large and the equipment can get very expensive. This has not seemed to cost us in terms of having more bikes on the floor to sell from. The bikes being sold have raised in value and we are generating better KPI’s through selling pedals, shoes, saddles, bars and stems that the customers may require.
Having the ability to offer a bike fitting service in a road store is a must. Competition is very strong where our stores are and if we didn’t offer this type of service we would be left behind our rivals.”

Clive Gosling, Axel Imports
“I seriously don’t think shops will be able to sell road bikes moving forward without offering some kind of fitting service. There is too much ‘noise’ about correct fit to a bicycle and road consumers have come to expect it when dropping their hard earned.
There are a lot of different systems, some involve a lot of smoke and mirrors, perfect for some retail theatre, others are very scientific, some are just based on taking some measurements which is still better than nowt.
The key reasons to have a fit system in the shop is to gain consumer confidence, it shows that you are an expert and it adds a service that cannot be had online or in some competitors.
Dealers are having to discount heavily this year. Offering a fit with a high value (we charged £75 per hour) allows them to add value to the sale and retain the price tag, or even charge for the fit as well as get the retail for the bike (but that’s rare at the moment, I would say).
A proper fit does normally involve getting a better position on the bike, however like anything, the quality of the result relies on how good the fitter is and understanding the process to get the correct end result for the customer. I’ve seen lots of people who have been ‘fitted’ and end up in a worse position. In terms of revenue, as I said, I think it’s adding value to retain the retail price, or boost margin.”

Brian Curran, Pedalworks, Dunstable
“It’s my feeling that at the serious end of the market the customer still very much perceives personal service as worthwhile spend. Much the same as a professional golfer wants their swing analysed and sized up, we’ve a big focusing on sizing up the correct equipment for all our customers – be it a basic fit for the beginner, or a comprehensive tailored bike fit for the discerning cyclist. The latter is chargeable to the tune of £120 to £150 for an average three hour session, yet this leaves no stone unturned in matching a bike to a customer.”

Ask the expert: Bikebiz speaks to Phil Cavell of Cyclefit UK

Is bike fitting exclusively for the retailer with the enthusiast customer?
Increasingly fitting is encompassing a broader spectrum of customer, but this is largely trickling down from the competitive/enthusiast sectors.

Can bike fitting thicken the revenue stream of retailers selling low to mid-priced bikes too?
Yes, because fitting, when it is done well, is all about looking after the customer and tuning every product to their needs. This feels good as a customers no matter how much you are spending. When saddles, shoes and ultimately bikes fit better it is an enhanced customer experience.

Can offering a bike fit service ultimately boost the quality/margin of the end product sold?
Yes, especially if the fit session is a charged-for service.

How much can a retailer typically charge for a professional bike fit?
We charge £195, but this needs to lift. Experience and the fitting environment are the ceilings to price. We teach the Trek Fit Services classes and they tend to charge at least £100 to £120 after the course.

And what are the set up costs/commitments?
From as little as a turbo-trainer and a few tools, to tens of thousands of pounds. It depends where you pitch your fit business.

Do you need swathes of store floor space to accommodate a bike fit service?
You need at least 12 by 12 feet of space and even more if you are using cameras for motion analysis. Bigger fit environments work better for the client and technician.

What education and training is necessary to set up this additional service?
To be credible, the technician needs to be able to show some element of training from the likes of SICI, Trek, Specialized, Retul. We are talking at the moment about trying to introduce an industry qualification again. We first raised this issue eight years ago.

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