The Family That Plays Together

Walt Disney said, “A man should never neglect his family for business.” For many bike shops and their customers, business is family. Putting together a customer appreciation event has a lot of wins. It’s a way to stay in touch with customers, and thank them for their business. Three QBPers have suggestions about how to show your “family” you’re still thinking of them during the time of the year when things slow down.

Homebrew Contest

By Nate Swanson, Brand Support

Before working at QBP, I worked for Cycle Works in Lincoln, Neb. We were always looking for different ways to get our customers into the shop just to hang out. Lincoln has a big community of home brewers, and a lot of them were cyclists as well. So I decided to make an event that brought these two hobbies together and created the Bikers Love Beer Homebrew Contest.

The criteria for the home brewers were simple: (1) Do you ride a bike? (2) Do you brew beer at home? I reached out to home brewers I knew, but also used the shop’s social media sites to solicit entrants. Each brewer was asked to brew five gallons of beer at 65 International Bittering Units (IBUs) or higher. This was an intentional requirement so that there would be some consistency across the entries. We capped the event at 12 home brewers. Frequent shop customers were sent an invitation to attend, and all brewers were given four tickets to invite personal friends.

We kept the scoring simple: Each attendee received a scorecard and was told to rank the 12 beers from their favorite to least favorite. The brewer with the most points would be the winner. The shop donated gift cards to the top three brew winners, and there was a door prize raffle for all attendees who rode their bikes to the event. Door prizes were donated from local businesses and various vendor representatives. The event was a huge success. Staff and customers were able to interact and build relationships over two-ounce samples, the shop attracted new customers, and it was a great way to foster the shop’s connections with community members.

My advice for putting on an event like this would be to start planning early. Brewers need months of notice to start crafting their entries. In addition, you need to ensure that your event is in compliance with local laws and ordinances regarding alcohol consumption at your business, and you need to time to engage vendors and build support for your event. Granted, bikers rarely need an excuse to drink beer with other like-minded folks, but some planning and organization will take the event from “people having a good time” to “people have a great time and talking about it for months after asking, ‘When can we do this again?’”

Beer Swap

By Scott Haraldson, Sales & Service Training Supervisor

Bikes and beer. How they came to be so closely related I can only speculate—perhaps it is because they both are awesome—but somewhere along the line they became linked. Whether you agree they should be or not, beer can be a great way to bring people into the store, and can create community around your business.

Although I’ve long had a fondness for trying new beers, I would consider myself far from a beer snob. I’ve had more than my share of “macro” beers, but I do enjoy a good high-quality beer any chance I get. It was with that desire to try new beers that I launched the idea of a “beer draft.” I took the idea of a standard beer swap and combined it with the idea of a fantasy football draft. Instead of everyone showing up and taking home their six- or 12-pack, they play an active role as they “draft” the beers they get to take home.

The scoop: Everyone who takes part must purchase 12 great bottles of beer. They do not all need to be the same—in fact, variety adds to the event. What they do need to be is great. Not sure what great is? I highly recommend using Beer Advocate to check the reviews of a beer you plan to bring.

An example of top-tier beer is Toppling Goliath PseudoSue, rated 100/100—world class. Not-so-fancy would be Pabst Blue Ribbon, rated 68/100—poor. Now you may very well love PBR (heck, I’ve had more than my share). I’m not here to say it is a bad beer, but it just doesn’t quite fit into what this event is about.

At a few days prior to the event, everyone submits the names of the beers they will be bringing. You then make the list of beers available to participants to allow time to research the beer.

The day of the event, draw names from a hat to decide the order for choosing beers. We use what is called a snake draft order, meaning the owner who picks first in the odd rounds picks last in the even rounds in order to keep things fair. I set up a timer to keep participants on track so that the selection process doesn’t go on forever.

I did this at Q-Central last year with ten participants. A second event is in the works, and I may end up needing two groups, as the response has been overwhelming. This is a laid-back and a social event, and you often meet people you might otherwise not have. And of course, the icing on the cake is the beer I took home.

Movie Night

By Zach Fink, Customer Service for Salsa Cycles

One of the best ways my old shop found to develop our community was to host monthly movie nights. We had a multi-purpose area in the basement called the “Expedition Room.” This was an area we had set aside for presentations, clinics, and other meetings of the minds, so to speak. The normal flicks were “get stoked” films—you know the kind: The Collective or NWD (New World Disorder) for the riders, anything from TGR (Teton Gravity Research) or Matchstick for the skiers, Presented by Teva for the paddlers, and the classic Rampage from Big Up for the climbers.

Often times you could get in touch with the film’s production team or a brand that sponsored the film, and get a screening copy and some swag to give away. Here’s a pro tip: Be nice when you ask for free stuff, and be able to cite details about what you are doing, the number of expected folks, how you got the word out, and what kind of exposure the brand will get. Be prepared for a “no,” but the effort is worth it when you get inundated with swag from companies that are on board.

In a world powered by social media, getting the word out on these kinds of events is easy. Get some screen captures of the film you want to show (with the producer’s permission of course), and ramp up the Facebook shares. Tease the swag, and maybe hold a special sale for the attendees. Our customers used the ticket stubs from raffles at the cash-and-wrap to receive a sweet discount on brands featured in the film.

What a great way to keep folks excited about being outside, even in the off months. Things like this turn into a bit of a meet-and-greet for folks who’ve never met but have probably passed each other at the trailhead or lift line a bunch of times. People remove the helmet mask and sunglasses or goggles and get to know the faces and names of people they share similar passions with. Get folks together under one roof, swap stories about the gnarliest crashes, share a few beverages, and fill up on a bunch of junk food. Watch your community grow, and boost some off-season sales from folks that are dreaming about the next season outdoors.

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