From the June 2008 issue of Smart Business Cleveland magazine; the online version of the article can be found here.
How Century Cycles creates relationships with its customers
When Scott Cowan opened Century
Cycles, he detailed his customer service
principles in a brochure. Sixteen years
later, Cowan still has that brochure and
follows those same principles.
Cowan places an emphasis on forming personal relationships with customers. Each
customer is considered a VIP, and those who
purchase a bike receive a variety of services
at discounted prices and rewards.
But customer service isn’t contained to
the stores in Medina, Peninsula and Rocky
The company participates in 20 bicycling
events and races per year, allowing it to
extend its customer service by providing
mechanical support, sponsorship dollars,
free products, raffles and charitable donations.
“This outreach supports our customers,
the community as a whole, the excellent
causes and — just as importantly — the
sport of cycling itself,” Cowan says.
Cowan also focuses on a relaxed atmosphere with no-pressure sales. Employees
are not on commission and are encouraged
to spend as much time as possible with the
customer, even if it’s a few minutes to a few
hours, so they are focused on customer
needs and not dollar value.
To reach that customer service level,
employees receive extensive training. They
have the opportunity to attend a national
bicycling trade show in Las Vegas each
year and all attend a staff retreat each
February to talk about new products and
inventory, sales trends, and marketing
ideas. There’s time for business and recreation to build teamwork.
Cowan says the atmosphere at Century
Cycles has set it apart from competitors.
“Someone is always here to spend lots of
time answering the customers’ questions,
the bikes are all professionally assembled,
and we have the expert mechanics they will
need down the road for tune-ups, new accessories and repairs,” he says. “It’s the home-town touch we can all be proud of.”