Stakeholder interview Beeline Bikes
How Beeline Bikes is filling the gap between online and offline
Beeline Bikes is changing the bike industry with a lofty objective: getting more people out riding bikes by taking a convenient bike shop experience right to customers. Brian Mikiten, owner of two ‘bricks and mortar’ bikes stores in Texas, immediately saw the potential and became Beeline's local franchisee. “Around 90 percent of customers coming in through Beeline are brand new to us.”
You were already are running two successful bike stores. What made you decide to become a Beeline franchisee?
“After a long career in software engineering, I decided to return to my old passion: biking. I invested in two bike shops in San Antonio and Austin and was looking for ways to make them successful. It was clear from the start that bike sales were moving online, but consumers were frequently unhappy with the experience. I saw a lot of poorly assembled bikes coming into my stores that buyers had bought online and assembled at home. The customers had no idea how to use or take care of the bikes and started to lose interest in cycling. There was a big gap to be filled between online and offline.”
Why Beeline Bikes?
“I wanted to offer a mobile bike service experience, consisting of three integrated parts: corporate programmes, repair & maintenance and delivery of assembled bikes. These elements reinforce each other and proved to be critical to the success. I realised that simply getting a van with some tools on the road wouldn't get me far. Becoming a Beeline franchisee offered me the opportunity to much more than that and gave me access to Beeline's exclusive delivery-deal with Accell Group. We were the first bricks & mortar store to work with Beeline and I was really impressed by their flexibility and professional approach.”
Why is it important to have a corporate programme?
“By partnering with big corporates in the area and servicing their employees' bikes, we were able to quickly build both the category and the brand. We still attend a lot of biking and charity events, which is a great way to introduce yourself to over 50 people in one afternoon. How much time would it take me to get the same number of people to visit my store? And would I be able to reach the same people? The mobile service proved to be a highly cost effective marketing tool as well.”
Is there a market for mobile bike maintenance and repair work?
“People are used to getting a plumber or an electrician to come to their house, so why not bike mechanic? Our customers appreciate the convenience and the personal service experience. We're not just repairing bikes. We're also teaching people how to get the most out of their bikes. If you don't know how to change a tire or make small repairs, our technicians will show you how to do it. We are actually increasing the size of the market by sharing our passion for biking, and people keep coming back to us. In fact, most of them live within a mile or two from a bike store, so they certainly don't choose us for lack of alternatives.”
How does the delivery model work?
“When someone orders a bike on one of the Accell brand websites, they can opt for home delivery via Beeline. This option is built into the price and popular with a younger generation who practically live online. We pre-assemble the bike, deliver it to the customer and fine-tune it to make a perfect fit for each customer. As we do with our maintenance services, we really try to educate customers and make it a great experience. For example, if we know you are a woman, 29 years old, 5"8 and you ordered a blue Raleigh Amelia, we'll bring along a matching helmet, biking gloves in your size and a set of maintenance supplies. People value this tailored experience and it's a great opportunity for upselling.”
Why do you think this is an attractive model for Accell Group?
“For a company like Accell Group and its brands, the problem with online sales is that you lose the ability to interact and talk to customers. You want people to buy your products, but you also want them to use your bikes effectively and safely. If a bike ends up unused in a garage, you are unlikely to sell any parts or accessories, not to mention an upgraded model. You've lost that customer. I think Beeline can re-establish that connection and relate to a target group that's no longer used to coming into a bike store. In turn, as a franchisee I benefit from Accell's eagerness to make this a success and actively work with us to develop this channel.”