Calling out….Dick’s Sporting Goods!!

This is not just for Dick’s. But especially Dick’s. Without trying to be offensive, I’m offering a critique here that I hope provides some insight for everyone into an important market that Dick’s claims to want. So….here goes.

I’ve never seen one corporate franchise involved in bicycles so short staffed! The locations I visit rarely have anyone that know anything about bicycles.  At first, I thought it was only the Dick’s in my area, but I visited other locations and in addition, looked at the Dick’s job postings page and see that the problem is wide spread. They are in dire need of “bike techs”.

I’m calling out Dick’s because I like the business. Its a good model! Dick’s does a pretty good job with the department store that incorporates “stores within stores”. That’s their objective – I’ve read their annual reports and have visited the stores, so I see what they’re trying to do. But Dick’s – you’re missing something critical in the bike shops category.

Dick’s claims they want athletes shopping at their stores. For bicycles, I’ll translate that to this: Dick’s wants competitive and enthusiast cyclists. And who wouldn’t? Cyclists spend thousands of dollars annually on bicycles, bicycle apparel, accessories, events, and more. The cyclist budget is unheard of as compared most other sports. You’d think that cyclists were all wealthy judging by the discretionary income that is devoted to cycling consistently, year after year.

Bicycles are technical, complex machines that vary between practical and high performance. So, cyclists that are spending their retail dollar at Dick’s will want something in return – service. Service from a person. And that’s what Dick’s seems to sell but does not deliver on. Their business model purports to invest in a “bike shop-within-a-store” model, but there’s rarely anyone there running the bike shop. A lot of the bike shop investment is wasted because would-be customers go expecting service but usually find nothing but a sales floor. And once you do get someone in Dick’s bike shop service – its slow! Most people would agree that a bike repair should take a matter of days at the most – not a matter of weeks.

The struggle Dick’s is having, and lesson to be learned by all of us, is that it is easy to invest in inventory and a sales floor. But the human aspect is a different puzzle.  My guess is that Dick’s has not put together an effective training program.  Successful bike shops lure interested beginning cyclists and train them, and then they convert into the “pro shop” guy or gal your business wants.

Employees need to be trained. If you want to give the pro-shop, or bike shop experience to your customers, train your staff. Do whatever training you’re already doing, but add more. Offer them some bicycle relevant training immediately upon hire, as soon as possible. Not just the regular corporate human resources stuff. Get them excited about how Dick’s interacts with the cycling community, how the Dick’s employee can be the go-to guy or gal for cycling in your area.

And now for my sales pitch – get them trained on bicycle safety!  They’ll sell more!  They’ll reduce your risk and loss by recognizing service needs and safety issues on bicycles.