The bike trade has been through a turbulent start to the year, so we asked BikeBiz readers about how they have found the first six months of 2023
This piece first appeared in the July edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here
How has business been?
Andrew Sleeman, Spokes Cycles, West Sussex
Well I’ve seen a few recessions over 35 years, some low points and some very high times, but it all tends to come in waves. The biggest killer for independent bike shops is the Internet. Covid without a doubt was a high time. For myself and other bike shops we earned our money, busy busy! Yes sales are quiet now but with Moore Large gone, getting bikes from the few that import is difficult, and the price! Everyone that wanted a bike during Covid got one so what can we expect. Repairs are for me the best and still busy enough on that front.
Matt Ivory, Mucky Nutz component brand, Cornwall
2023 has seen a very promising start with strong sales and signs of recovery in even the worst affected markets, following the boom/bust cycle of ‘20 – ‘22. New products are selling very well, and so far our expectations for the year have already been surpassed. Customers seem to be spending more, despite the economic situation. Our AOV for direct to customer retail sales has increased significantly.
Matt Jones, Run & Repair, Swindon
A very tough winter and early spring. Now, very busy and gaining interest every week. Personally, I deal with a lot more of the lower to mid-range bikes. And I’ve had a lot more people turn down quotes and opt to buy a new bike instead, obviously putting me out of the work. I am genuinely one of the cheapest workshops around Swindon, so it’s not that I am too expensive.
Any advice for other businesses?
Matt Ivory, Mucky Nutz, Cornwall
Cost reduction is crucial – there are always ways to further reduce costs even when you believe you’re running a tight ship. Re-using inbound packaging materials, streamlining processes and shopping around for logistics are areas where we have found savings.
John, e-bike sales and repairs, Herefordshire
Be open minded about lesser known brands and products.
David Bordewisch, BioWheels, Ohio, USA
Do not become a warehouse for your suppliers, hold prices, be mindful of cash flow, cut and control expenses whenever possible.
Adam Bell, Bognor Bike Hub, Bognor Regis
Always engage with people to encourage them to cycle. Just because they might not buy a bike at the time, they’ll appreciate any advice given.
Cristian Tomlinson, Rokit Cyclery, Berkshire
Put your staff on weekend rotas. Stop looking at everyone else, including your local competition. Portray your business as you actually are, not what you dream to be. Treat customers as your mates, even complete strangers – hearts and minds go a long, long way. Don’t overcharge…in a world where nothing is value for money, at least try to be, or make customers feel like that’s what they get.
My best tip: It’s hard from a shop’s point of view, but for a loner like me its easier, and that’s contact. I chat to customers whenever I can.
ABP: always be positive. You could be selling photocopiers. A customer of mine sells photocopiers. He rides bikes to escape, I don’t.
Amos Brumble, Brumble Bikes, Rhode Island, USA
Work with vendors who can supply product on demand vs having to order well in advance. Focus on service over lower margin sales of bikes if you have the capacity. Adjust your pricing both for worker pay and how goods and services are priced. Marketing to new riders will be more important as many bikes will start to need service but those riders may not have purchased from a bricks and mortar store so they have no loyalties yet.