Interview with Jimmy Rigsby of Woodstock Bikes.
How long has Woodstock Bikes been around?
We started planning Woodstock Bikes in early 2003. We officially went into business in late 2004. We received our first load of inventory in late April of 2005 and sold our first model, the Woodstock 505, in May of 2005. As of 11/1/05, we have sold 70 Woodstock 505 bikes. This is right on our business plan!
Who makes up Woodstock Bikes?
Basically, my wife and I run the business. I handle the business side of things and my wife, Libby, runs the day to day business of fulfilling orders and answering customer service calls (toll free). We also have an associate in California, Mark McNeill, that answers our technical support line (toll free). Mark is a long time professional in the bike business with much knowledge and many contacts, and was instrumental in providing consulting services to help get us off the ground. He is also an outstanding professional bike mechanic.
What kind of obstacles did you face when starting up your own bike company?
There were many, but to name a few:
1. Finding a reputable factory that we could do business with was a major one. Mark McNeill, mentioned above, was the key to this success. The factory we use is one that Mark had worked with in the past. They are headquartered in Taiwan with their factory in China. If you didn’t know, most all bikes are made in Taiwan and China. This factory also manufactures bikes for some of the major name brands. We made contact with them in person last year at the Interbike show in Las Vegas and were impressed with what they had to offer. We had success with the 2005 inventory with them and plan on using them again for our 2006 inventory. We just met with them in person again at the Interbike show this year in October in Las Vegas and we are enjoying a great relationship with them.
2. Securing a line of credit to purchase inventory. We have to pay for all of our inventory up front, and that can be a very expensive Endeavour!
3. Getting the web site up and running was a challenge, but a fun one.
4. Getting high results on search engines requires much more effort than we had anticipated.
What kind of criticism do you deal with?
We basically have 2 main objectives.
1. Consumers are concerned about buying a bike they cannot see or test ride. That is why we must provide a bike-shop-quality bike at a great price that exceeds their expectations, along with great customer service.
2. Consumers are worried about service after the sale. We provide free telephone technical support (toll free) to all of our customers the entire time they own their bike. Most minor adjustments can be made by the consumer themselves simply by allowing our technical support to walk them through it over the phone. If they need anything major done, there is always a local bike shop nearby that will provide that service. Actually, the local bike shops around the nation help our business because they charge the same thing for their customers and they do for ours. It is like having a built-in nation-wide service arm for our product.
How aggressive does your marketing have to be in order to be recognized in the bike industry?
Well, our industry is the “on-line bike shop” industry which is totally different than the “local bike shop” industry. Due to the name brand manufacturers protecting themselves and the local bike shops by not allowing bikes to be sold on-line, the “on-line bike shop” industry is actually pretty small. However, this is what provides us our niche market. We do sell bikes on-line and we can provide virtually the same bike with significant cost savings. All of our marketing is in the form of advertising on other web sites and we also have an aggressive search engine optimization plan.
Are there any new bikes coming out from Woodstock for the 06?
Yes, in 2006 we will be releasing the new version of the model 505, and we will also be releasing the model 606, a full suspension (4 bar) cross country mountain bike. We are hoping to be able to drop the price of the new 505 a little bit and our plan is to keep the 606 well under $1000. Our goal at this point is to be under $900. Our 2006 inventory will be released in April or May of 2006. We are a little bit later than the big boys with our new models, but that is because we like to wait and see what they are doing before we design ours to compete with them.
Does Woodstock currently or plan on sponsoring racers? If so, are you going after pros or grass-roots/ average Joe Racer?
We have no plans of sponsoring racers. The insurance cost is just too high!
Would Woodstock ever think about SS, Dirt Jumpers, Cafe Bikes or 29r bikes?
We have toyed with the idea of a 29r but that hasn’t been decided yet. We do plan to add a road bike in 2007. Beyond that, it is up in the air what we do next. We plan on adding a new type of bike each year until we have a full line.
I think the components that are on the 505 compliment each other, what made you decided to go with that combination?
Well, we have kind of adopted the Dell Computer Concept. If you are old enough, you will remember that Dell Computer and host of many others started cloning the IBM PC back in the 80s. Obviously, Dell won that fight with the other cloners as they have actually kind of become the defacto standard today. We are kind of doing something similar.
For example, on the current model 505, the specs are almost identical to the Raleigh Lahar model. This gives us a base line for us to determine a fair price (much lower) and allows our customers to easily compare us not only to the Raleigh Lahar in this case, but with many others. In fact, we have those comparisons on our web site so our customers don’t have to do all the work.
Do you guys think you’d ever sell any of your bikes in LBS’s?
The only thing we have considered in that regard is maybe allowing a local bike shop somewhere in Georgia to sell the Woodstock brand. This is because we have to charge sale tax in Georgia and that takes a little bit off of our edge against the local shops. Currently the only place you can buy a Woodstock Bikes brand bike is on our web site.
Will you be offering other products under the Woodstock name such as water bottles, jerseys, and etc?
We currently are giving away free water bottles on our web site to anyone that takes our name brand comparison challenge. We will probably do something similar in 2006. We don’t know what item we will be giving away in 2006 yet. Beyond that, probably not, because we sell only “complete bikes”.
What’s in the future for Woodstock Bikes?
Well, as we stated above we are going to add a new type of bike each year until we have a complete line of bikes that hopefully will include: mountain, road, comfort, BMX, & kids bikes (and any others we think of).