If your income depends on bicycling, you know (or you’ll soon find out) that it’s not enough to love bicycles and share that love. You have to understand the business.
And that means understanding your customers.
Your customers can be a diverse bunch of people. Riding bicycles for fun, health, camraderie or transportation. Riding in town or in rural areas. Riding on-road or off. Riding mountain bikes, tandems, recumbents, road bikes, fixed-gear machines, folding bikes or the many bicycles that exist within the sub-categories of these major types.
Some of your customers may ride thousands of miles a year. Others, a few dozen. Some may spend hundreds of dollars on bicycle-related items – clothes, accessories, travel expenses – in a few months. Some may go a whole year without buying so much as a spare inner tube.
But your customers aren’t simply people who buy (or don’t buy) your products and services. They’re people with different life experiences and different ways of looking at the world. They’re self-propelled idea factories generating potentially useful information with every contact, if you’re willing to ask the right questions and listen to the answers.
As a customer, I recently responded to an emailed question from a bicycle touring company and a phone call from a bicycle manufacturer following up on a recent sale. Neither exchange took more than four minutes of my time, and neither exchange led to a new sale. But for the companies involved, both exchanges kept the conversation, and the relationship, going.
If those companies heard a comment that helps them maintain or improve their products or business processes, well, so much the better for them and their customers.
I’m just happy someone was listening.