Mobile Bike Shop: A Case Study

bike brick and mortar leadership

We first met Ian Christie of Summit Bicycles over a year ago, when we profiled him as a Featured Retailer. We delved deep into the 20 Collective, Christie’s effort to unite the bike industry.
We learned then that Christie is no stranger to innovation. His latest venture, a partnership with Beeline Bikes, proves he’s still growing.

Beeline Bikes is essentially a franchised mobile repair shop. Vans outfitted with repair tools and a knowledgeable technician take off from a partnered bike shop—in this case, Summit Bicycles—and stop at homes across their region to service bikes. It’s the perfect solution for busy businessmen who ride to work and don’t have time to take their bike into the shop, but it’s also the perfect solution for busy moms who can’t take four family bikes into a shop for a tune-up.

“My wife, through this whole thing, kept saying, “There is no way I would take all our bikes to a bike shop to have a flat fixed. I want to be able to do this on my phone,” Christie says with a laugh. And with Beeline that’s exactly how it works. Visit their website or give them a call, and one of their franchised vans will come out to fix your flat or tune up your treads.
Though Christie had considered mobile repairs in the past, he couldn’t create a scenario that was cost-effective. When Beeline (the company was born in the same area as Summit) reached out to Christie last fall, he was surprised to see their numbers worked. “Beeline asked if we’d be interested in acquiring their company-owned market in the Bay area (from San Francisco to San Jose). I always entertain everything, so we looked at the numbers and they were way better than we originally estimated,” says Christie.
So in the late winter of 2017, Christie began to send his first Beeline Bikes vans out into the streets. Christie envisions co-branding of the two companies in the future, but for the time being their marketing and branding remain separate.
As of April, the response to Beeline has been wholly positive. “We’re only one month into operations, and we’ve already seen some cross-pollination,” he says. “We’ve sold bikes to Beeline customers, and some physical customers have reserved repairs through Beeline.” According to the numbers Summit Bicycles has fulfilled 84 new bike purchases from the Accell brands, Diamondback and Raleigh. All were new customers to Summit Bicycles, further increasing Ian’s customer base.
Perhaps the most important and most surprising perk to come from the partnership is a whole new customer base. “We were able to take Beeline customer information from the area and put that on top of our existing customer base, and we are super interested in the overlap we’ve seen. I hoped it would be small—and it came in under 1.5%.”
That’s a number that’s frankly staggering. By incorporating a partnership with Beeline—another bike company, albeit a different system, in their same community—Summit Bicycles significantly increased their customer base. The people who come into Summit Bicycles are not the people who work with Beeline Bikes—but they should be, and now they will be.
“The main objective of the 20 Collective was to market the industry to a broader population, and to make an industry advancement committee that focused on that,” Christie says, explaining the similarities between the two endeavors. “Beeline, especially that overlap percentage, proved they’re serving a different customer, which fulfills that same philosophy… It’s bringing different customers to biking, so they go out and ride. It’s basic stuff, but for whatever reason, Beeline is hitting a different customer 98% to be exact.”
Through innovative projects like the 20 Collective and Beeline Bikes, Christie and Summit Bicycles are changing the bike industry as we step into the future. Christie is quick to point out that this isn’t exactly innovation or even a particularly modern idea. “The first thing that comes to mind is that it’s not that modern,” he argues. “We were talking about it the other day—ice cream trucks. Did that revolutionize the industry back then, when ice cream was available through mobile means? It’s really more just a maturation of the industry. We’re just saying yes to customers. Can I order this online? Yes. Can you pick this up at my house? Yes. These are not revolutions in retail.”
But still—this is a revolution in retail. Perhaps it’s later than Christie would like, and perhaps it’s even common sense. By taking the next logical step, often miles ahead of his peers, Christie keeps his own retailer relevant in a modern age.


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