In a post last Wednesday I hinted at the idea that I feel amateur teams aren’t deserving of free money, or maybe even the supposed exchange of business name on the jersey for a discount. This is a set up shops have had with “sponsored” teams since for a long time, but last week I suggested that maybe that wasn’t a fair exchange for the LBS whose marketing dollar might be better spent putting on races, helping put on races or gasp! non race bike events.
Truth is, your amateur weekend warrior road race is dying out. The largest growth population in the “cycling industry” is the Triathlon, which while it includes cycling isn’t really a cycling event. From a behind the counter stand point it seems to me that a shop would get more out of their marketing dollars if they had a shop team, which yes would receive a discount on parts (but not labor – never discount the labor).
I know that racing and bikes are expensive. A glance at my pitiful excuse for a checking account will confirm that – and I work at a shop. Which to some of you may discount my argument as part of my meager compensation is a deal on parts. The ubiquitous cost + 10%.
For the work a day racer that’s a pretty good discount. What is sometimes lost on the “sponsored” team members receiving said discount is that the shop owner their “supporting” is loosing money on them. I’d reckon that the shops return on investment in minimal, as the fan base for amateur racing is minimal. Sadly, most amateur’s feel they are deserving of this discount purely because they make the decision to race their bikes. Supposedly for the sake of doing it, but that idea seems lost to them as well.
Sadly, the amateur athlete is conditioned to think this. In most cases they can find the very thing they are looking for on Amazon, or a internet cycling retailer sometimes close to cost. They may need their local LBS to install said parts, but that’s a different topic.
Internet business, like the one I used to work at offer huge discounts to the consumers, give them points (free money) toward future purchases in an attempt to garner loyalty because the the customer breathes air (and to under cut the local competition). This puts the LBS in a bind. They support the local racing economy all while having to deal with the discount culture the consumer has come to expect.
The cry of “Your shop name is on my jersey!” or “I belong to fat guy cycle touring club where’s my extra 10%” are so fucking common that they have become mundane. Everyone thinks they deserve a deal, but you know what, that’s just not true. Yes I get a deal, but I also make eleven fucking dollars an hour. I know for a fact that the friend I referenced in last Wednesday’s post pulls down more than I do because I used to do that same job. I’ve talked to guys who pull down in a week what I make in a month who feel entitled to my discount because they are deciding to spend their dollars at my place of employment. Its bull shit. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had a customer say to me “Money is no problem” and then try to squeeze every last bit of profit margin from me. That is money that goes into my pay check.
Fact is, the consumer makes the decision to ride and race bicycles and while it is entirely up to the shop owners who does and doesn’t get a sick deal. But the consumer needs to remember that this amounts to charity on the shop owners part and that they (the consumer) doesn’t deserve their discount.