Saturday, November 8, 2008

The first cut is the deepest

I think I have mentioned in the past that I work a "real" job for Southwest Airlines. Whatever your personal opinion might be of Southwest, I think I'm safe in saying that Southwest is pretty much known for offering great customer service. So, having worked there for almost 12 years now, I think I'm qualified to offer my opinions on what constitutes good customer service. Actually, qualified or not, I'm going to offer them anyway. But, for now, lets go ahead and pretend that I am qualified.

Before we go any further, I need to include some disclaimer type statements. The opinions expressed here are my own, based solely on my personal experiences. The experiences are factual. Not "based" on fact, but factual. (I'm desperately trying to avoid getting sued.)

Over the next few posts, I would like to compare and contrast the type of service I have experienced, and offer my opinions based on those experiences, of the two largest bike shops here in the Dallas/Plano/McKinney area. For those of you not familiar with the area, the first shop would be Plano Cycling & Fitness. I'm not going to mention the second bike shop by name, because my opinion of them is somewhat less than that of Plano Cycling. But for our purposes here, we'll refer to that bike shop as RBM, (wink, wink).

We'll talk about how much attention you can expect from each of these bike shops, the type of attention you will receive, and how well they cater to the needs of their customers. Today, we'll talk about how much attention you get from each of these bike shops. Remember, these are my own person opinions, based on my factual experiences. (PLEASE, don't anyone sue me.)

I defy you to walk into Plano Cycling and Fitness, spend any amount of time there at all, and not have someone ask you if you need any help. And if all you want to do is just look around, all you have to do is say so, and they'll leave you alone. One day I stopped by to pickup a copy of a cycling magazine. Already knowing where the magazine racks were, I walked in, went straight to the magazines, saw that they were sold out of the magazine that I was looking for, so I turned around and walked out. As I was getting into my car, one of the salesmen came running out of the store into the parking lot after me. Thinking that I was about to be arrested for shoplifting, I prepared to defend myself and assumed a classic karate stance. I have literally no karate training, but I am big, and sometimes being big is enough. In actuality, he only wanted to make sure that I had found what I was looking for, but I'm pretty sure that I scared the hell out of him.

Now contrast that with my first experience at RBM. Seven years ago I was looking to buy my first bike. Being inexperienced and not knowing any better, I went to RBM. I walked around for an hour, literally with my checkbook in my hand looking at bikes. No one said a word to me. Being understandably upset, I left. The next Saturday, I decided to give them another chance, so I went back. One lonely hour later, with no one to talk to, I once again stormed out, swearing to never darken their door again.

It took me a while, but I finally figured out why I couldn't get anyone to help me. As a new cyclist, I was looking at the relatively cheap bikes. In my opinion, no one was interested in selling me a $500.00 bicycle. On both days I was there, there were plenty of sales people around. I could see them all over by the $2,000.00+ bicycles.

You shouldn't have to spend $2,000.00, or $3,000.00, or more on a bike to get good customer service. Over the last seven years, I've probably spend $10,000.00 to $15,000.00 on bicycles and bicycling related stuff. If RBM had expressed any interest at all in selling me that first $500.00 bicycle, I probably would have spent a good portion of that money there. But they didn't, so I haven't.

Next time, we'll discuss the type of service you can expect from each of these shops. Until then, I'll be retaining legal council.

(I have nothing. You'd be wasting your time by suing me. Please leave me alone.)

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred


Rick Ankrum said...

Nearly Famous Fred, I am glad you took the time to recount your experience at the bike shops. While you focused on bike shops I am afraid your experience is replicated at many retail establishments. What you experienced is what makes one place great and the other place mediocre.

Just today I was watching some online video on the Fox Business site. Dave Ramsey was interviewing John Miller. John's most famous book is QBQ: the question behind the question. In chapter 1 he recounts an episode he had in Minneapolis which inspired him to write this book. The service at a restaurant was so outstanding. You read about it at
I await your next installment.
Rick Ankrum

Anonymous said...

Funny to read your posting Fred. My first trip to RBM netted the exact same results, lots of wandering and looking with no help. Not seven years ago, seven months ago! Needless to say the results were the same, off to BI I went and have spent 5 to 6K since and it all started with an 800.00 bike and some attention.