The Road To Success: Owning A Bike Shop Business
Are you considering opening your own bicycle shop? We know it can be overwhelming when there are many tedious steps necessary to getting a new business up and running, but proper planning can alleviate stress and have a positive impact in your first year of business.
Finding a storefront, hiring employees, and obtaining all the necessary inventory are all factors you’ll need to consider before getting excited about your business plans. You can use these insights to guide you through your preparations.
Just The Right Fit
Depending on the location of your business, you’ll want to find a storefront that can foster growth and accommodate your inventory and employees. Purchasing or finding a rental property can be a lengthy process, so you’ll want to start your search as soon as possible. It’s important not to settle on the first storefront you find just because it’s available.
Here are some tips for selecting a storefront that will fit all your business needs:
You have two options to consider before pursuing the search for your perfect location. There are storefronts in every city and suburb, but depending on where you set up shop, you may need to reconsider how you’ll conduct your business. If you’re considering searching in a larger city, the majority of your property options will be available for commercial leasing.
In addition, if you’re planning to personalize your store to provide a comprehensive branding experience to your customers, you’ll want to thoroughly read through the lease agreement before signing. You may not be permitted to customize the layout or fixtures very much, as many landlords don’t want their tenants to cause cosmetic damage. After all, leases for storefronts can often last longer than a year, with the average commercial lease lasting three to five years. Committing to a long-term lease could stifle the growth of your business if the location hasn’t proven to bring in the necessary amount of traffic within your first year.
Opening a shop in the suburbs could open up your options and provide the opportunity to purchase a storefront outright. Purchasing a commercial property can get pricey quickly depending on the locations available, but investing in a permanent location can potentially result in a wider variety of future business endeavors. The suburbs also provide a safety net that commercial leasing can’t guarantee. Rent increases can often occur, and moving locations frequently in the city could disrupt your business flow. The suburbs could be a great place for you and your business to feel settled and put you in a calmer territory with less competition.
You may have found the perfect storefront, but before you commit, consider your customer base. Evaluate who your core customers are and the demographics in reach. Your business won’t make any headway if it’s located in an area that isn’t safe or ideal for cycling.
Finding a location near parks or trails could be an incentive for those visiting to pop into your shop and take a look. You’ll want to make your business easily accessible to communities that utilize biking by positioning your storefront in locations that encourage alternative commuting, outdoorsy areas, and can are populated with families. The greater the cycling population, the more profit you could turn, and creating a consistent customer base will aid you in reaching success as a new business owner.
The space available in a property should also be a determining factor for your storefront. A location should have a layout with enough room to accommodate a bike repair station, a counter for sales, and a designated area for you and your employees to work comfortably. Because bicycles can be a larger product to sell, overcrowding a showroom can deter people from making purchases, and customers may become overwhelmed with their options. You should be able to find square footage with room to grow into instead of the retail space that starts as a tight fit.
Hire Your Crew
The current job market is growing! This is great news for employers, but you don’t want to hire just anyone. Finding potential employees with the skills and knowledge you’re looking for to help you run your business smoothly and effectively will create quality customer service that your customers will look forward to when shopping.
Be mindful of the services you’re looking to provide at your bike shop and the tasks you’ll entrust your employees with to carry out those services. Positions common within the bicycle shop industry include repairs and maintenance, general sales associates, or even a trail and health expert to provide customers with adequate resources and information for local rides and organized meetups.
Repairs and Maintenance
If you’re offering a full-service bike shop, you should prepare to have someone on your staff equipped to handle repairs. When it comes time to open your shop, having the proper maintenance tools available for your staff will be important as bike repairs require specific tools. This service may be something you’ll have to require more in-depth training for, so it’s important to budget extra time in your onboarding process. These employees hold your customer’s safety in their hands, so make extensive training a priority to ensure customers have a safe ride.
All new employees should become familiar with the products you’re offering to have a collaborative work environment. It’s important to provide resources and detailed specs on all products so your employees can become acquainted with your inventory and recommend the best products to customers. Getting everyone on board with becoming a part of a sales associate team will lead to better customer service and ensure you can trust your employees to be self-sufficient if you’re not available.
Trail and Health Experts
Having an expert on your team who can assist customers with their biking journey will give your business an advantage over your competitors. A trail expert should provide customers with education on surrounding trails, give recommendations to people looking for an excursion, or lead group rides. Hiring a nutritionist or fitness coach that’s certified to recommend health advice will provide support to your professional cycling customers through supplements or recovery routines; this can be a great way to stand out from the competition and expand your shop’s customer base. It’s important that those training for bike races consult a doctor, but having a professional trainer in your shop can make those searching for advice feel more at ease.
Setting up your inventory management system can be intimidating, but with the proper tools in place, you can make it a streamlined process. As your business grows, your available merchandise will have to expand, so establishing good practices now will set you up for success in the future.
There are many products on the market that you’ll have to filter through to find the right ones to sell. This part of your business journey should be carefully researched and thought through to provide your customers with the best buying experience. A reliable way to vet products is to approve only those that you’d feel comfortable investing in and using if you were the customer. Once you find a wholesaler with a variety of bicycle products to choose from, you’ll be able to move forward with the logistics necessary to start selling!
Tools and Software
When you’re first starting out as a business owner, inventory may be easy to manage on your own, but as your business grows, you’ll want to establish a system that can automate your work. Implementing software that will keep track of your products can also assist you with the business plan you created. Your business plan and inventory management system work together to evaluate your customers' buying habits. From there, you’ll be able to understand patterns in your business, including when you’ll need to restock your inventory. Having systems like these in place will keep you on track during both busy and off seasons to secure profitable success.
Owning a business isn’t always cost-effective; especially if you’re just opening your bike shop, the expenses can feel overwhelming, but you’ll need to be aware of what operating a business can cost. You need to account for expenses that require you to invest in inventory, staff, or unexpected changes. Although you may not be at the level of business yet to require detailed expense reports, when you’re ready to expand, applying for a line of credit for small business owners could kickstart your expansion plans.
Use these tips and tricks to help you create a successful bike shop. Remember, starting any business requires patience, careful planning, and trial and error. It’s ok if what you originally planned for doesn’t serve your business anymore. Being able to adapt to the challenges that may lie ahead will only help you become a better business owner!