Comment: Why the IBD and mechanic must strive to never stop investing in education

By Jeff Rowe, Vice President at the PBMA

Some brands push training information out through their territory managers. Sales staff are brought up-to-speed at an annual sales meeting or via product launches, and are tasked with disseminating that information throughout their territory as product makes it to market.

Other brands have in-house training, and some take the show on the road. Some brands even have abbreviated sessions at trade shows.

It is vital to the survival of the IBD that you are recognised as masters of any new product or technology.

In the past two weeks, a major component manufacturer traveled with three staff to a major city in the southwest. They had five techs turn up for education on what is new and what is in the pipeline. None of those five professionals worked in a brick and mortar shop.

At the Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association’s Technical Workshops in Denver, the same manufacturer taught a roomful of professionals for three hours at a time, two groups per day, for three days. Surprisingly, to some industry members in attendance, the majority of mechanics attending were there on their own dime. Retailers and employers had not subsidised their time, travel, or lodging.

Isn’t this the IBD’s last line of defense? Staff capable of recognising what they are seeing, knowing how to assemble, install, service, and repair it?

It is entirely possible that your customer bought their new dropper post online and brought it to you to install. We all know how frustrating this is for an IBD trying to stay profitable in today’s economy. But don’t let your pride drive away a potential customer; take a moment to count to ten, congratulate them if they bought a compatible diameter, and install it!  Advise them that service will be required after 20 hours of riding, and explain some of the most common wear issues with their setup.

Will it be more or less common, going forwards, that a cyclist comes in who has bought a high-end bike online, “built” it themselves, exchanged their one-piece cockpit with the manufacturer, and have no idea how to, or even desire to, cut and refit hydraulic housings, completely re-cable derailleurs, and wrap those bars beautifully again.

The difference between the IBDs that survive and those that may not can be seen in whether the above scenarios end as lost sales or instead as service opportunities.

The Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association has two more scheduled Technical Workshops; January in Portland and February in Washington, DC.  Consider the impact to your business if someone like your Service Lead returned from one of these Workshops with hands-on training in SRAM, RockShox, Campagnolo, DT Swiss, FSA, Vision, and other products, as well as a business development shot-in-the-arm from Winged Wheel and Brett Flemming. That is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to capture a huge long-term return on a small up-front investment in your staff and your business.

These intense sessions will not take the place of week-long visits to SRAM Technical University, etc., but they will give your shop a big advantage over others in your market, and may stoke a fire for more continuing education with both service and retail staff, brightening your future even more.

Want to learn more about the PBMA and the services offered to members? Check in with our recent interview with President James Stanfill here.