Have you ever had a problem getting your bike fixed, your service bill sky rocketed or the problem kept coming back? In the internet age, the workshop has become more important than ever for bike shops as this mechanical service is generally not available at online shops. It means that bricks and mortar bike shops have a competitive advantage, but they have to do it right… and many don’t.
My own list of grievances with bike shops includes a range of workshop disasters; bills for repairs which were not part of the contract and which were unnecessary, poor reassembly, continuous delays and lack of communication as well as outright lies. Of course, there are good bike shops, sometimes it is great management and sometimes it is a staff member, a great mechanic who understands and looks after customers.
In the Australian bike shop landscape, customer service and bike repair is inconsistent, and this is where a new service for bike riders and for bike shops called Bicycle Log Book aims to raise the bar.
The Back Story
In May this year, at the Bicycle Industries Australia (BIA) summit in Canberra, brief details on new software for bike shops was shared during an open forum discussion among the Australian cycling industry. But it was months later, on the TourXOz charity bike ride from Adelaide to Darwin, that I had my second contact with the software when I met a fellow rider, Daniel Wright, who is the owner of The Fixed Wheel bike shop in Manly. His bike shop boasts a shop loyal customer base and Daniel mentioned that they implemented specialised software to manage their workshop quality and customer communication. It has just become available to bike shops and cyclists so I was keen to learn more.
The idea was conceived when a Sydney cyclist, Rebecca Snell, began working with The Fixed Wheel to create a workshop log book. Rebecca was a keen cyclist but had become dissatisfied with the level and quality of servicing in bike shops and wanted a more transparent approach. She wanted the bike mechanics to sign-off on their work to ensure tasks were not overlooked and that mechanics could vouch for the quality of their work. A log book would be a useful record for her and for the mechanics providing the next service.
Daniel and The Fixed Wheel lent their support and industry experience to Rebecca, along with mechanics from other shops. The first iteration was a printed version of the Bicycle Log Book. While the bike shops loved the book, it wasn’t digital.
Fast forward 18 months and the Bicycle Log Book has evolved from a print version into a fully fledged online version which has just been officially launched and is now available internationally for free to bike riders and on subscription for bike shops. I met with Rebecca Snell, founder of the Bicycle Log Book in Sydney to find out more.
What does Bicycle Log Book do?
For cyclists, who are bike shop customers, the bicycle log book is similar to a service log book for a vehicle. For each bike you own, the Bicycle Log Book stores the bike details; the make and model right through to the geometry details and other relevant info. As an example, there is Strava integration which provides the mechanic with an accurate overview of how you ride. When you book a service, as a customer you receive a very clear overview of the service provided and can select the things you need and see the pricing.
The system facilitates communication between the bike shop and customer, if new problems are found the customer is notified. There are status updates so that the customer knows if the repairs have been completed and when the bike is ready to collect. The mechanic documents the repairs and this helps the mechanic the next time as it is a service history of the bike.
Cyclist (collapsed) view of a single bike service history
Cyclist access to book a service with a bike shop of their choice
Rebecca stresses that the system is fairly easy to use, bike riders can start with basic details for their bikes and for privacy, your details are only provided to a bike shop who is selected to service the bike. This means you can swap shops and for home mechanics, you also have service the bike yourself and update the service log.
Better Bike Shop Repairs and Service
Bike shops are big winners with the Bicycle Log Book as they have an accurate overview of the bike and service history. But more importantly, they have a clear guidelines and pricing for service, both the shop and the customer now know exactly what needs to be done and how much it will cost so this rules out that painful ambiguity.
The Bicycle Log Book system can be customised by a shop to outline the different types of service and prices available, though it comes with a pre-populated list of service options. The system has been built to suit all screens sizes, from the desktop to smart phone. In a bike shop, tablet devices such as iPads will be particularly convenient and mean with a click of a button ‘Completed‘, the customer is informed via email that their bike is ready for pickup.
Bicycle Shop Dashboard in Bicycle Log Book
Bike Shop overview of bicycles in service
For customers who aren’t comfortable with technology, the bike shop can enter the bike and service details and manage this for their own benefit without relying on the customer.
Bicycle Log Book is about delivering consistency and convenience for both the bike shop and the customer, I feel that bike shops will find this invaluable for their workshop and workflow management, as well as customer retention.
The cost for bike shops is $100 / month and there are no premiums for the number of services or customers which makes this a very fair and affordable system.
And it doesn’t end there
During the test phase, 20 Australian bike shops signed-up, along with a handful of bicycle shops scattered across the globe. Though barely known, there is already strong demand and this is just the beginning. Rebecca discussed some of the new directions and possibilities for Bicycle Log Book. In particular for independent bike shops, there is a huge potential to expand the system to improve and simplify their business management.
While there are a lot of possibilities, I expect that cyclists will notice that their local bike shop improves. If the bike shop already does a good job servicing, the Bicycle Log Book is convenient so will still help improve their communication and transparency.
Cyclists can sign-up for free and bike shops can register for a free trial period: bicyclelogbook.com
For cyclists there are no costs, for bike shops, Bicycle Log Book is a subscription service which costs $100 (AUD) month or $1100 per year.