Last week I attempted to purchase a lock at the shop down the street from work. Prior to riding down to the shop and wasting a lunch hour I first tried to message them on twitter, following it up with an email to the owner asking what type of locks they had. Quickly, the owner responded but I can honestly say his email didn’t lead me to wanting to purchase a lock from them. “We have a mixed bag of random locks (eleven81, Surelock, Kryponite, etc.). Nothing all that exciting but hey there are locks. Those Knog locks sure look interesting.”

Really, that’s supposed to make me want to purchase a lock from your shop?
Customer Service FailAfter this response I hoped online to a few different websites and within minutes I was live chatting, instant messaged, and utilized onsite contact forms to email the exact question above. Four different websites replied to me within 20 minutes with QUESTIONS and FEEDBACK to my question.

  • Where will you be locking up your bike?
  • Do both of your wheels of QR (quick releases)?
  • How much do you want to spend?
  • Do you have anything to carry your lock in or on?

My purpose on this is not to rip on my local bike shop, nor is it to encourage you to buy online, but instead I’m doing it in hopes that bike shops will open their eyes. There is a level of customer service that every business needs to put in to play, and to realize that there are 100 other retailers, if not more because of the internet, that want our business.


  1. Okay so the response that you got out of your LBS was a joke. I think it is a plus that you got a quick e-mail response. How fast would have you expected for a Tweet to be responded to?
    As a former shop employee/manager what would you expect to be a proper response time for a Tweet? Given all the social media and information streams a small operation has to monitor and respond to what would be an acceptable and fair response time?

    In this world that is speeding up everyday people want quicker and faster response times at lower prices. How would you balance that and be competitive? Obviously the on-line guys are equipped to respond quickly yet a brick and mortar isn’t. That is how the on-line guys make their living. It doesn’t excuse the poor response you got from your LBS in anyway.

    You have a unique perspective as you have been the LBS and you are very social media savvy, so I am wondering more of what you think, what is acceptable as you the consumer and what would be acceptable for you the manager of the LBS considering staffing etc.

    • Ernest,

      The mention of the tweet was that I tried that first and then followed up with an email. The shop mentioned is also very, very, very, up to date with Twitter and post more on twitter than I do with all of my handles. I didn’t feel like this could be included in the article as it may out the local shop.

      Be competitive by treating every customer like your first. If you are going to take the time to respond to an email, do so with the energy that you give to the person walking in your front door or calling you on the phone. They all have equal opportunity to sell, or create a lead.

      Online competition does have the upper hand when responding to emails or Twitter, and I actually complimented the shop by saying they “quickly” responded. I was prepared for it to be into the next business day with the response and I believe that most consumers feel the same way, unless they are pinched to make a quick purchase. In a follow up article I plan on posting all of the shops responses to the exact email, some took 5 minutes to get back to me, and others took up to 18 hours. 4 out of 5 of the cases, they followed up with engaging questions.

      If someone called and asked you what type of tires you carried, what would your response be?

    • I would have 1.) Thanked them for contacting us. 2.) Asked them what type of bike do they have? 3.) Asked them what type of riding they were looking to do. Are they getting ready for a specific event or getting back on the bike because cycling is so much fun! 4.) Told them that I was sure that we could find them the perfect tire for the type of cycling that they do since we stock a large selection that includes; Bontrager, Vittoria, Continental, Michelin, Hutchinson, Maxxis and Kenda to name a few. 5.) Encourage them to stop by the store with their bike so that we could make sure we got them the proper size tires for their bicycle and help them with any installation needs etc. 6.) Inform them of our store hours and then follow up with them a few days later.

  2. I have only found one LBS (Performance Bike brick and mortar) that really caters to the commuting public. Most of the shops have roadies that don’t understand the needs of commuters. But then I don’t know how many commuters there are around here to warrant a bike shop to have someone on staff that understands these needs. Therefore, 90% of my purchases are made online. I did just recently find some new hi-viz shirts (Brooks and Nike) that I could purchase at Dicks Sporting Goods. I must say I was pleasantly surprised as hi-viz stuff is hard to come by.

    Ride safe,


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