Cyclists’ desire to see just how far they can take their riding has inspired a lot of products over the years, but few until recently have really delivered training direction so precisely. Bike shops that know how to use and put this new gear in riders’ hands are receiving lifetime loyalty in return.
There isn’t an element of bicycling that hasn’t been thoroughly dissected and highly personalized. From frame material to tread patterns to chamois and lotion, all of the choice in the marketplace allows a rider to tailor every last detail of their bicycle to fit their perceived abilities and goals. With the latest influx of compact and lightweight electronic gadgetry that can record and decipher the mechanics and energy that goes into a single ride or an entire season, it makes sense that the same appeal of personalizing your bike with gear translates to personalizing how you ride it.
Why Use Power?
Cyclists have more access than ever before to data thanks in large part to the ever increasing popularity in power meters. Power meters can make measurable differences in training regime, racing performance, nutrition and injury prevention. Whether fueled by friendly rivalry within their clubs or chasing the pro ranks, there are power devices for every discipline and mission. Power devices tell a rider a complete story about what’s happening in a given ride, race, or season without the variability of other common training tools like heart rate, for example. Power is power. By determining and understanding the parameters of your output, there can be training within real, constant numbers to help you train smarter and faster. And while the cost of unlocking these secrets can be a barrier for many cyclists, the pros outweigh the cons in the never ending quest for speed, and the “power category” continues to grow.
With more products come more questions though, and developing the expertise to get your customers just what they need to achieve their objectives can seem rather daunting. So how do you do it? We asked three shops that sell power incredibly well what their approaches are.
Playtri, Dallas, TX
Ahmed Zaher, founder of Playtri, uses his own experience from 14 years as an athlete and successful coach to tell the power story to his customers. “Educating customers is key as I believe athletes are not usually looking first for the best deal but for the best knowledge. Explaining the importance of training with power is very effective and for that reason we sell lots of power meters.” Playtri offers coaching and classes that focus on every aspect of multisport, to a clientele whose abilities range from newcomer to professional. That diverse audience makes it necessary for the staff to understand the function of equipment from the most basic to the most complex, thus educating themselves as well. “We made a budget for testing new products before we put them on the shelf so we know them inside out and can recommend the ones that fit our client’s goals and budget,” says Zaher. Using social media and the store itself to make their expertise known has proven well for Playtri too. “We host lots of lecturers and seminars on different products. We also use Facebook to reach more athletes. I believe we have over 52K ‘likes’ on our page.”
FitWerx, Peabody, MA & Waistfield, VT
Fit Werx has locations in Peabody, Massachusetts and Waitsfield, Vermont. Dean Philips is the co-owner and lead fitter in Peabody. Phillips and his staff are also firm believers in getting out and using power training gear themselves. “That’s the best way to get to know how the units function and integrate with different computers. It also helps us troubleshoot any problems, identify compatibility issues, train customers on how to use them, and answer questions.” To curtail any potential problems that could arise from incompatible parts, the Fit Werx crew has worked with bike and power meter manufacturers. “The more you understand compatibility, the easier it is to educate the customer on what works best for them and help them select the best power meter to suit their needs,” says Phillips. Equal or greater to the time spent selecting and installing products is the time Fit Werx spends training their customers after the sale. “Seeing a power file in person and hearing a staff member talk about it is one of the most eye opening experiences for a customer. While you can’t explain all the uses of a power meter in one sitting, we’ll give an overview of sample workouts, how to pace themselves on race day, and provide follow-up help down the road as they start using it. We’ll go as far as having the customer bring their first power file into the shop and upload it and we’ll explain what we’re looking at, value they can take from it, and what they can do to improve.”
Studio Velo, Mill Valley, CA
Chris Reed is a partner and manager of Studio Velo in Mill Valley, California. “We operate in an area where many of our clients are familiar with the benefits of training with power.” Customers will go through tests in local studios with coaches to find out their base thresholds etc, and come to the store with an idea of what they want. Outside of these studios though is where Reed and his staff take the opportunity to really enhance sales by getting outside and on the road with them. “Building community has played a major role in the growth and evolution of our business,” he says. “Connecting with clients outside of the shop is a great way to earn their loyalty and reinforce our expertise, so it has been important for us to ride and train with power on the group rides we lead. It encourages questions and begins conversations about the importance of riding with power. This has also helped us create great relationships with local coaches who can help our clients utilize their power data and improve their fitness effectively. And with the emergence of websites like Strava there are more ways than ever to compare statistics, share information and track progress, which makes it fun and social for riders of all levels.” The group rides and community that Reed and Studio Velo have built has led to interesting statistics. “We continually see a direct correlation between our sales and our efforts at creating community through shop events and group rides. There is no better forum than a group ride to test out new product and introduce it to your clients. Once you earn their respect and loyalty, they will look to you for advice and future sales.”
Why Sell Power?
Power training equipment makers continue to develop products that compartmentalize all of the complex aspects of performance on a bike. The integration of the parts will undoubtedly become easier to set up, and end users will record and receive more meaningful data that looks less and less like it came out of a laboratory. Successful retailers will be the ones that understand the personal aspect of training, and listen to and read customer needs so the best current product is what gets sold. They’ll also able to go beyond the sale and educate their customers so they can interpret and use their new information to take their riding to the next level. In return, their customers will be taking them along
on their rides for a very long time.