Which is the ‘best’ North East bike shop?
Before I answer the headline question let me explain something first. Whilst on holiday recently I read the the book ‘The Ultimate Question 2.0 - How Net Promoter Companies Thrive in a Customer Driven World’ by Fred Reichheldwhich which explains the Net Promoter Scoring system. This is a tool used by many successful business across the globe to gain feedback from their customers regarding their products and services. It is used by the likes of Apple, Lego, BMW to name but a few.
As a Service Delivery Manager myself I was keen to understand more about how the system worked. The systems comprises of a survey. Nothing new their you might think but there is one crucial difference, rather than the long laborious surveys many businesses ask their customers to complete NPS surveys normally consist of only two questions. The first being along the lines of ‘On a scale of 0-10 how likely would you recommend a given product or service to a family member, friend or colleague’. A follow up question is then asked what the most important reason was to support the score given. According to research into thousands of surveys these are the only questions that really ever matter.
The beautiful simplicity of the system also ensure high survey return rates which ensure high quality feedback is gathered from a balanced range of respondents. This leads to NPS survey return rates well over 50% where traditional survey results hover around 10%. Traditional surveys also have a tendency to attract a negative bias. Once feedback is received scores are grouped into three categories. Promoters, Passives and Detractors. The percentage of Detractors is subtracted from the number of Promoters to give a % score. I’ll explain the three categories in a little more detail shortly but to give a quick example first, if you had a store with a Promoter score of 10% and a Detractor score of 20% then the NPS score would be -10%. The industry average for a typical retail outlet is usually around 10%. Apples Retail stores aim for a minimum of 70% whilst some of their stores reach 90%.
So enough of the maths what are we really taking about. Business consultants tell us word of mouth is far more valuable than traditional marketing approaches. If people are recommend a product/service by someone they trust/respect then they’ll take far more notice compared to advertising they may see (TV/Radio/Internet/etc). So they idea is to get people talking about your business. How do you do that? By following the golden rule of treating others how you yourself would wish to be treated. If this rule is followed great custom service will follow. In a world of social media word of mouth reaches far more ears then ever before.
OK, some of you will be keen for me to get to the punchline and I’m sure you may have already sneaked a peak at the bike shop ranking table below but to make sense of the rankings and scores we need to understand the three NPS categories. Let’s start with the positives first:-
People who score a 9 or 10 on an NPS survey feel loyalty to a brand. They feel that the products or services provided enrich their lives. These are the people that will use word of mouth to spread good messages about a business. Research shows these people bring in more sustainable repeat business over the long term compared other marketing approaches to grow a business. Bottom line, buinesses need to aim for as many promoters as possible.
These are people who have scored a 7 or 8. They’re not particularly thrilled by a given business but wouldn’t actually bad mouth it either. However, it does mean there is no loyalty and next time they were in the market for something wouldn’t hesitate to go elsewhere.
People who score below a 7 are called Detractors. These people feel very disappointed and let down. Repeat business is highly unlikely but worse than that these people will actively tell others to steer clear of a business, effectively anti-marketing. If they are somehow locked into using a business products/service they will consume more time staff time therefore affecting profitability. Bottom line a business wants as few a number of detractors as possible.
Whilst detractors are unwanted they offer an amazing opportunity. Research has found that if early intervention is taken after a customer has a bad experience then you can quickly turn a potential detractor into a promoter. Apple did some research, if they did not contact detractors within 24 hours of the survey they found that customer spent considerably less over the next 12 months compared to the previous 12 months. However, if they intervened within 24 hours of the survey feedback, apologised and promised to rectify the situation something suprising happened. These people actually spent more over the next 12 months than they did compared to the previous 12 months.
North East Bike Shops
So how did North East bike shop do. I sent out a simple survey via Facebook, Strava, Singletrack and BikeRadar forums. In total I received 100 responses. This in itself speaks volumes about the NPS approach. I asked the question following question ‘Overall how likely is it that you would recommend the following Bike Shops / Websites to a family member, friend or colleague. If you have not visited/used a bike shop/website listed within the last 2 years please do not select score, skip the row?’
I asked respondents to rate the following stores and for comparison purposes added a couple of well known online cycling stores. This was not an entirely exhaustive list of North East shops but covered many of them.
- Active Cycles
- Bike Hub
- Bike Place
- Bike Scene
- Bike Sport
- Breeze Bikes
- Cestria Cycles
- Chain Reaction
- CJ Performance Cycles
- Conway Cycles
- Cycle Logical
- Cycle World
- Edinburgh Bike Co-Op
- Hexham Bike Shop
- Hopkins Cycle Center
- Infinity Cycles
- KB Cycles
- M. Steeles
- Prudhoe / Cycleart
- Sanctuary Cycles
- Start Cycles
- Strawberry Cycles
I did not ask the ‘Why’ follow up question as with so many shops to rate this would have led to multiple follow up questions which would have no doubt reduced the number of responses. I did pose that question to the forums afterwards to get some idea how the scoring had been driven, We’ll come on to that after the league table below.
First let’s put the result into perspective, the survey was announced in cyclising forums so it may be argued that those people that responded have higher expectations than your average bike shop customer (or not). Also, as I have no way of knowing who completed the survey I can’t guarantee the results weren’t gamed by employees of any of the shops listed above. They may well have marked their shops high and their competitors low. Only they will know if they did this.
If the results were gamed ultimately it would be counter productive. People may visit the shops based on the above table but then be dissatisfied by the service and become detractors and start their own mini ‘anti-marketing’ campaigns.
If any shops had less than 10 ratings I’ve dropped them from the table (but for the record they all had negative NPS scores).
So what do the results tell us. With an average NPS score across all shops of -41% it seems most bike shops can do better. Remember industry averages for a typical retail shop tend to be about 10%. Bike shops seem to be disappointing far more people than they please. Personally I hadn’t quite expected such a below average result.
Only one bike shop (Prudhoe Bicycle Repairman / Cycleart) out scored the two leading web cycling online retailers (Wiggle and Cycleart). After that there are no other shops with a positive rating. Astounding.
Whilst I didn’t ask in survey the reasons for the scores I did canvas opinions in the forums, I’ve summarised the negative feedback received below.
- Lack of empathy
- Bad advice
- Poor Service
- Service overcharging
- High bike repair costs
- Lack of choice
- LBS higher costs than online retailers
- Time spent waiting to be served.
That last reason in particular seems be quite common for low scores. Perhaps bike shops are currently a victim of the recent boom cycling and influx of new customers is placing some strain on the smaller shops. Picking up from lessons learnt from Apple they will aim to greet anyone entering their shops within 10 seconds or at the very least make eye contact to acknowledge presence. Many shops do this as it reduces shoplifting but Apple do it to reset the customers ‘perception of time’. When people are greeted this way and still have to wait 5-10 minutes to be served they don’t mind so much but when they are ignored for the full duration they far more displeased or are far more likely to leave a store before being seen.
For me it only took one bad experience with Evans to decide never to go back. As a customer of many years including the purchase of two bikes they refused to replace a pair of winter bibs tights which had frayed and developed holes after only 10 uses. All within 3 months of purchasing them. What was more astounding even was when I spoke with the store manager about the issue he basically told me I was lying and wasn’t at all bothered if he lost my future business. Gobsmacked and amazed I’ve never been back. The survey backs up my experience, Evans have an NPS of -65%.
So this wasn’t really about which was the best bike shop in the North East it was a sneaky test of the NPS system which to me has shown it’s value. If I were a bike shop owner I’d do my own NPS survey with the ‘why’ question, listen to the feedback, contact the detractors make some changes then repeat the survey at a later point in time to see if they have been successful. This is the essence of the NPS system, a closed loop feedback system to help business improve their products and services thereby leading to increased profitability.
Perhaps as Apple reinvented the Computer buying retail experience then some enterprising soul out there can do the same for bike shops. What was an average shopping experience 10 years ago is now below average today. Bike shops haven’t fundamentally changed in the last 10 years whilst many of their retail counterparts have upped their game, think coffee shops and car dealerships. When the cycling boom subsides how are local bike shops going to compete in future with the online stores and national chains to ensure their survival???