What I Learned About Building Business Relationships at a Bike Shop

Posted by Kerri Garbis
August 24, 2012

A trip to buy a bike becomes a lesson in building business relationships.

My husband is an avid biker and has been encouraging me to join him on weekend rides, so I thought I’d take look at what was available. We headed up to the bike shop where my husband had purchased his bike and were approached by a salesman named Manny.

“I’m here to get a bike”, I said. Manny just smiled.  He didn’t ask me anything but immediately turned to my husband and asked “What kind of bike do you have?” Without asking me about my needs or wants he directed me to the lady version of my husband’s bike.

I took the bike out for a trial run and I hated it.  It was too fancy for me, too many speeds as it was really intended for a commuter or long distance rider. My plan is too be more of leisure rider but Manny didn’t know that because he DIDN’T ASK ME. Sadly, I returned home bikeless.

Building_Business_Relationships_1It got me thinking, am I like Manny in business? How often are we approached and given a golden nugget of information such as “I’m here to get a bike” and we don’t ask follow-up questions? We often just spew out information based on why we think people are talking to us.

My friends at Northwest Cadence introduced me to their system of questions called  The Five Whys and it works well for any business.  Essentially, you ask Why at least five times during your initial conversation with a prospect to gather as much information as possible.

Here is how my conversation with Manny would have gone had he implemented The Five Whys (kept to just three whys for the purpose of blog brevity)

Me: I’m here to get a bike

Manny: Why are you looking for bike?

Me: Well my husband likes to ride and I’d like to join him on the weekends.

Manny: Why just on the weekends? Could you use your bike to commute to work?

Me: No, I’m usually traveling during the week so I’m just looking for something easy.

Manny: Why something easy?

Me: I haven’t done much riding in my life. I’m just not an experienced rider.

Manny: Try this Jamis Hudson Sport, it sounds like a good fit for you.*

Before we jump to offer solutions to prospects, let’s make sure we don’t pull a Manny. Ask Why, at least five times (or three if you’re writing a blog).  More importantly listen to answers and then offer the solution. Your prospects will happily ride away on their new, perfectly fit bike.

*after a visit to another bike shop (where the sales person asked lots of whys and listened to the answers), I ended up loving the Jamis Hudson Sport.


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