Bike Shop Hub Center:

The business and work culture of Bike Shop Hub in all it's glory.

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We get to see and touch and test all sorts of great cycling gear here at our world headquarters. But we actually get to meet very few of our customers in person.

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Monthly Archives: February 2007

Everybody Likes Customer Reviews

It was another week of pondering my way through the world of internet sales. In my quest to raise the profile of both by websites in Google, I sent out requests to professors with sustainable technology web pages. I recently learned that links from websites ending in .edu can be very valuable in search engines.

I got my Xtracycle up and running again after having lent it to my bike-less friend for the last few months. I used it to deliver a Burley Flatbed across town. It was the biggest box (39″ x 32″ x 10″) that I’d strapped on top of the Xtracycle so far.

The site is doing great but could do even better if we started getting more product reviews. As a website that is very focused on bike cargo trailers, I think we can really become a hub for information. And getting customer input will be a great addition to this. I posted an inquiry on the osCommerce Forums and got some interesting suggestions on how to encourage customer reviews. I will now be contacting customers a month after there purchases and asking them to post a review in exchange for a small gift.

I finally broke into planning the workshop extension underway. This is a vital step to get back into product development. I hope to push this through the spring and get back into developing the stand alone CELLO and a liner for the BOB trailer by summer. Here I am modeling with the CELLO in front of my small workshop which will soon be my big workshop.

BOB Trailer: Traveling & Shipping

Wandertec Cello Tracks BOB Trailers have become a popular choice for extended bike touring adventures. They have a large capacity, work well over a variety of terrain and are rugged. If they are damaged they can be welded back together by anyone with a gas torch, usually something that can be found even in remote villages.

Deliver anything by Bike Trailer

Bike Trailer DeliveryWorking in the online bike world requires that I make a bike delivery trip to UPS or the post office almost everyday. Most of the time I use my BOB Trailer or Xtracycle except when I’ve got just too many boxes and I need to resort to the car. It gives me an excellent opportunity to test out the capacity of what I can load on my rigs.

Balance Between the Short & Long Term

It was a week of dealing with odd tasks and clearing my schedule for the looming shop construction project.

I shipped out 4 bike cargo trailers.
Figured out how to track the value of each sale that comes through Google Adwords.
Worked on my shop plans.
Worked on a custom sign project.
Managed my rental property

As I look towards the spring ahead, I’m pulled in multiple directions. As I’m expecting a great year for growth in sales, I would like to continue to work on adding new products for both Wandertec and the As part of this, I would also like to continue optimizing both websites. On the other hand, I also would like to be putting a good effort into getting the shop extension built. Having a spacious shop will be of great benefit as the business continues to grow. So, as always in business, the demand for immediate growth must be weighed against the demand for long term growth.

My general strategy for meeting both short and long term goals is to continuously be involved in projects that serve both purposes. As a matter of getting the most efficient work out of myself, I tend to bounce between tasks based on what excites me most at the moment. If I can keep my perspective on both long and short term, I will be excited about moving forward in both directions.

In keeping my business afloat, its been an ongoing necessity to bring in extra income when the opportunity presents itself. For quite some time, I spent my weekends delivering pizzas. Having moved on from that about a year ago, I’ve since been involved in two side jobs to earn additional income, both of which I was quite busy with this week.

The machine that is used to build the CELLO bike trailer case side-panels as well as other parts, the ShopBot, is also quite good at doing CNC designed sign projects. I’ve gotten to know the owner of our local Signarama shop and begun cutting out custom shaped sign blanks for them. There is plenty of opportunity for doing business with 3D signs and though this is not the main thrust of my business, I’m gradually learning the process as they ask for gradually more complicated projects. This week I was working on an Oak carved sign for a local jeweler.

My other income source is my rental property. I decided to hold onto my 5 bedroom house after recently moving to my new home/shop location. After paying the bills, the house rental still provides a decent amount of income. The arrangement I’ve made is to rent out rooms individually. This is helpful to me in earning a greater income from the house. But it requires more work especially when I’m looking for new roommates. It also is both an opportunity and a task in that it gives me more ability to look after what is going on with the house so as to upkeep the property. In an effort to make the rental run more efficiently last week, I switched out 30 bulbs in the rental, my house and my shop from regular to energy efficient fluorescent. Each bulb is supposed to save $45 over its five year life. That’s a $1350 savings on my electric bill over the next five years.

BOB Trailers: Extra & Oversized Cargo

Bob Trailer Tow TruckThe BOB Trailer offers a sturdy, rugged platform for a variety of uses. Among the more interesting of these uses are the ability for the BOB to carry a variety of items in different configurations.

From a basic standpoint the BOB offers a 25(in) x 16(in) x 18(in)area for storage. This is generally used for putting the BOB DrySAK or other bags, dry bags, storage bins and baskets for containing goods. But a variety of adaptions, both accessory and Do-It-Yourself projects allow you to carry odd shaped items that won’t fit in the confines of the cargo space.

The Emergence of Long Haul Bikes

Surly Big DummyThe evolution of methods for carrying cargo on bicycles has been quite active in recent years. With a greater interest and need for carrying stuff on our bikes for touring, commuting or errands, there has been a revolution in new products that help accomplish this.

The New

Projects started & finished this week:
Launched my new Blog,
Worked on our PayPal account: lower rates, earning a return, PayPal Shops listing.
Put Xtracycle Stuff on Sale
Listed new Ortlieb Panniers & the Pet Trailer, the Burley Tail Wagon

It was a busy week of fine tuning for the rapidly approaching spring. With the sales from keeping the business afloat, I’ve been focusing plenty of time on this division of the business.

The is underway as part of the marketing effort for Have a look at this Blog where I will be publishing content discussing every possible angle concerning bike cargo trailers. This Blog should also prove to be a useful marketing instrument for Wandertec as well as it will be an opportunity to showcase the CELLO and other Wandertec products in relation to other similar products on the market.

To keep the budget tight, I was doing some work on my PayPal account. Once reaching a minimum of $3000/month in transactions, PayPal charges 2.5% per transaction instead of 2.9%. As part of this effort I switched my Wandertec payment processing over to PayPal as well so all Wandertec sales will go into the same pool of transactions as the I also discovered that I could have my PayPal balance set up as a money market fund. Rather than just sitting latent, it will now be collecting 5% in interest for me. By switching over to PayPal’s money market, I was also enrolled in the PayPal Shops directory keeping the path of spreading out onto the web underway.

With this week of tightening the belt, I decided to look into switching my checking to free checking. My current Banker, B of A, told me they’d waive my fee on my account after I threatened to close it. The only catch is I have to call back every year to get them to extend this waiver. They did it for my personal account. It makes me wonder why I was paying $18/month all this time on my two accounts.

Winter months seem to have more variations in sales volume than do the warmer parts of the year. To move some inventory at the, I’ve been putting some items on sale. The Xtracycles haven’t been doing well this winter so I launched a sale. I’ve also seen a dramatic drop in Ortlieb sales, so while adding more Ortlieb products to our inventory, I’ve also been putting many of these items on sale.

As spring approaches, I plan on adding more bike cargo trailers to the mix. From the US I’m hoping to start selling Kool Stop Trailers. There are quite a few trailers out of Europe that I will be looking at. These include the Koga Chela, the Extrawheel, the Weber Monoporter and the Carry Freedom. Look for all these bike cargo trailers to begin appearing at the between this coming March and April.

BOB Trailer: Kickstands & Lights

For outfitting your BOB Trailer there is an interesting range of products available. Some of these are products designed specifically as BOB Trailer accessories, while others are simply pre-existing products that have been discovered as compatible with the BOB. Another area of interest to consider are the BOB Trailer Do-It-Yourself projects, one of the favorite topics of discussion at the BOB Trailer Forum.

Container Choices For A BOB Trailer

When it comes to setting up your BOB, one of the first things to consider is your bag choice. The BOB Trailer is a great starting point as essentially a platform on which to put the storage container of your choice. In considering what is the best way to transport gear on your BOB, the key points of comparison are the containers durability, waterproofing, ease of access, and fit with the BOB Trailer.

Becoming a Plug-In Partner

Signs of spring this week. We received orders for 4 trailers and a CELLO.

Other projects started and completed during the week:
1. I signed up Wandertec to become a Plug-In Partner, an association trying to convince automakers to manufacture plug-in hybrid vehicles.
2. I finalized an account with UPS where we will be receiving discounted business rates.
3. I placed multiple orders for our BikeTrailerShop inventory.

Plug-In Partners is a coalition of businesses, government, utility companies, non-profit organizations and private individuals joining together as a unified voice in an effort to demonstrate that a market exists for Plug-In Hybrids.