Once upon a time, every market town would have its own local bike shop, a staple of the high street.

With the decline of the traditional high street and the emergence of the internet and a big blue warehouse in Ireland. The bricks and mortar bike shop has not gone without their challenges in the last few years. Bike Remedy is one of those stores.

Nestled just off of a market square in the small coastal town of Stonehaven, it has a local reputation for good service and encyclopedic knowledge of all things bike. I recently spoke with Christian Franklin, the shops owner, to discuss the modern bike shop, the pressures they face and services they can offer.


So how did you end up in the bike industry?

I started as an after school and Saturday boy from the age of 13. Continued at that, then left school and finished college, spent a bit of time traveling, finished traveling and automatically came back and continued my job at the bike shop. Went full time and just continued at that.

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The bikes shops I worked in at the time, the shop was growing or the owners were changing. So it was quite a good time to be in the bike shop. Never got round to do anything else, never really stepped out and had a change of career.

I enjoy it, and I’ve done it for a long time and I’ve got quite a lot of good knowledge and depth of knowledge of product and historical product. Which comes in handy with servicing a lot of the time. So stuck with it, its what I know, its what I’ve always done.

In 2006 I moved from Essex up to Aberdeenshire, I was working in a bike shop at that time anyway. Running a bike shop as I always had. So I got the opportunity, got offered a job in a bike shop straight away. So it was a no brainer, it was an income straight away. Stuck with that. As time progressed, the opportunity to own my own business presented itself, so here we are

How does owning and running your own shop differ from running someone elses?

I’ve worked in different shops and I’ve worked in businesses that are a similar size to this, which have had maybe a few stores or a single store. As a manager of a single store its maybe not that different, but you are probably a little bit more aware of costs. What’s going out what’s coming in. When I’ve worked in similar sized stores, I didn’t have to pay the suppliers, so I wasn’t so aware of what was going out, I just had to worry that the money kept coming in. So a little bit more aware of that and a little bit more cautious, just as the industry changes.

Lots of people will use bikes shops as well as the internet. That’s something you have to accept.

Who comes to bike shops these days?

Enthusiasts, new cyclists, pretty die hard cyclists, all sorts really. An important part of our business is servicing and repairs, so that is the foundation. That’s something you have to go to a bike shop for, and that its where we start from.

Lots of people will use bikes shops as well as the internet. That’s something you have to accept, which is fine. In the same way people will choose to use any shop they want. I suppose with the internet they have the ability to reach into peoples office space, through their computer screen at work, dropping emails with promotions. That’s how they do business, and that’s fine, it’s just something we have to work with and not get too upset.

Online can’t service your bike, and as great a price they can offer, they can’t provide that maintenance support. So is that where the future of bricks and mortar shops is going, becoming service centres with a show room?

That’s how they have to survive, that’s how that has to work.

So with brands such as Trek and Giant to a certain extent, dealing online but you cant have the bike delivered to your home, it has to be collected through a dealer. Is that car show room model going to become more common across the industry with more brands adopting it as apposed to the direct sales model.

I think a lot of brands have tried to protect themselves and protect their image in that way. I suppose the reality is with the success of direct sales model, those brands could then start to adopt a direct sales model themselves, and then their IBD would lose that exclusivity.

A big part of cycling for a lot of enthusiasts is servicing and maintaining their own bikes. With the complexity of modern bikes, not just MTB but also E Bikes, are they becoming  less and less of a user serviceable product? And something that is going to become more reliant on shops for servicing?

Some products like E Bikes, but for the most part, if someone is competent and likes servicing, then fine, they are going to go ahead and do it. We offer servicing to people, one, because possibly they don’t know how to do it, they don’t have the knowledge. Two, maybe they don’t have the tools and it’s not worth them buying the tools to do it. Three, they might not have the time, or maybe they just can’t be bothered.

Those are the kinds of people we service bikes for, we appreciate that some people can service the bike themselves but actually they are quite happy to pay someone else to fix it. There’s no real stereotypical servicing customer that we get, we get all sorts. Some people wouldn’t know where to start and some people would do a good job themselves but don’t have the time or are happy to pay someone else to do it.

Where do you see the modern bikes shops place within the wider cycling community, does it have a place a hub and driver for that community?

There are shops that certainly provide that and there have been shops for a long time that have been a good hub. Whether it is combined with a café or just a good centre for the community.

And there are some businesses that are just places to purchase equipment and to get servicing done. You have to be quite organic about it, it is very hard to set your stall out and say “right, this is what I am”. You really just have to see what people want and go with it from there. If something works and it sticks then great, do more of it, if it doesn’t work and its quite stagnant then stop and do something different that does work.

It can make it challenging for the retailer, and its getting the local customers trust that you can offer value and service.

Have you seen a growth in the number of cyclists in the past few years with the recent success of British cycling on the road and in MTB?

I find that quite a hard question to answer as I’ve worked in bike shops for over 25 years, so I’ve always been around cyclists. I’ve ridden past or driven past a cyclist and I want to know what bike their riding on the road or in the woods.

Maybe less enthusiastic cyclists or general people looking to get into biking that come into the shop, their perception of cycling might be that it is growing and growing quite quickly.

It’s in good health, there are a lot of new cyclists keen to take it up.

There seems to be the common assumption that shops are struggling, but you see some stores that are doing really well. What is creating that idea amongst cyclists and do some locations lend themselves to cycling more than others.

It is true some shops have struggled, some shops have shut down, even in the area we’re in. Historically you would have had a bike shop in almost every town and that’s not the case now. So whether it is shops that just want to be retail spaces and sell, then you are directly competing with the internet. Or shops that support their local customer base with servicing and after sales service.

The internet is obviously very strong and it has great pricing to offer. I think 20 years ago if you picked up MBUK or Cycling Weekly and you saw the advert for something, maybe a bit cheaper. There was a certain amount of distrust, you had to send your cheque in the post, wait a few days and hope your kit arrived. Whereas now its not the case, these guys are pretty good, they can get stuff to you next day. You trust them, which is the big thing.

It can make it challenging for the retailer, and its getting the local customers trust that you can offer value and service.

As someone who has been in the industry for a number of decades now, what gets you excited in terms of new product or new directions for cycling.

I’m always excited by new product, I cant always see whats coming or whats coming next. There are so many facets or branches of cycling so theres always something going on. Theres nothing earth shatteringly new coming along, just products continue to get better and evolve.

The current 6 inch travel mountain bikes, even how they have progressed in the last five or six years. They are much better, they are lighter, more reliable, pivot bearings are better and the bikes don’t sort of crunch along as they are being pedalled.

Road bikes, more integration, just looking cleaner, slicker, lighter.

E bikes, that’s something that is finally seems to be taking hold in the UK, probably in a way and certainly for us not in a way that I expected with mountain bikes.

With that sort of product I can see the application with a hybrid type user, but people want to use them for more adventurous types of riding. But it does open the road or mountain up to a lot of other people.


As we were winding up the interview a past customer, a female cyclist on a road bike came in, she had suffered a puncture on a bike she had recently purchased from the shop. Almost as the perfect example to illustrate everything Christian had said about offering service and support.Christian and his staff had set about fixing the flat and getting her up and running again so she could finish her ride.

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All this was with the same level of service and attention as if she was there to buy a top price bike. It is that personal connection and dedication to each customer that comes into any shop that builds that trust and loyalty Christian had spoken about. That loyalty is hard work to build and maintain, but for those shops that have it and can evolve to meet the customers needs, the internet will never truly be the threat to the Highstreet that some fear it is.

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