113: chris guillemet, ceo, velofix, the future of bringing the bike shop to the consumer

“They {Velofix Franchisees} know how important it is to have a repeat customer. Our business today, our number one source of revenue today in 2019 is a repeat customer, and our number two is from the referral. Number three is they saw the van…”

– Chris Guillemet

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EPISODE PREVIEW:

As Amazon Prime and Uber, along with other businesses committed to bringing convenience and personalization to today’s shopper, Chris Guillemet, CEO and co-founder of velofix, was busy with his two partners pioneering the mobile bike shop solution.

That was six years ago, and a lot has changed with today’s omnichannel consumer and cyclist. In today’s Channel Mastery podcast, Guillemet and I discuss this evolution in the context of the future of the mobile bike shop. Where the channel is headed in the near future is not what you might expect.

Bike shops are still a strong go-to channel for today’s omnichannel cyclist, without a doubt, but cyclists are also consumers, and are trained everyday by the likes of Amazon, Instacart, Lyft and other friction-removing, convenience-driven businesses. Consumers today are demanding – they want choice, they want personalization and they want to save time. And they don’t have patience for anything less than that, it seems. In fact, just this week, Amazon Prime members threw a fit because of slower-than-usual delivery times. 

Guillemet and his partners are not in the business of taking down the IBD – far from it. Instead, they’re hell-bent on serving more cyclists – and consumers – in the way they’re used to being served by brands today. They want to make it easier to ride bikes – whether that’s for competitive amateur cyclists refusing to lose a day of training or commuters committed to getting around their city safely and efficiently by bike. 

In today’s show, you’ll learn about opportunity. Guillemet and his partners only see runway with cycling and closed on a round of funding early in 2019 with a group who believes the same. 

In this episode, you’ll learn about velofix’s new U.S. expansion, which includes a U.S. headquarters located in Austin, Texas and an all-star team committed to building an exceptional and consistent end-consumer experience. Velofix is continuing to evolve its innovation and technology platform and brings a fresh take on lifestyle franchise opportunity for its partners. We also talk about the momentum behind brand relationships like the velofix/Canyon Bicycles partnership and the incredible opportunity for cycling technicians who want to run their own business. 

Talking to Chris for this episode of Channel Mastery sparked a think bigger mentality for me. He and his team are continually looking one step ahead in everything they do.

GUEST PROFILES:

Chris Guillemet

Chris Guillemet is CEO and Co-Founder of velofix. Chris brought over 20 years of business experience to Velofix. His Senior Management experience includes growing a company to $90 million and a successful IPO, launching an Internet startup that has raised $45 million in financing and driving growth at a $30 billion dollar consumer packaged goods company. Chris is also a graduate of the SFU Executive Management program. Chris is a 2x Ironman Canada finisher, ran a 2.54 at the Boston Marathon in 2010 and returned to Triathlons by winning his age group at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside in 2019.

TOPICS COVERED:

IBD, franchise, community, target consumer, delivery service, building loyalty

SELECT QUOTES:

“…So, I think from our perspective, we saw the vision in terms of concierge type service when and where you want it, but I guess hindsight 20/20 we were probably a couple years early. Having said that, those were the years that helped form the company, shape the company into what it is today.”

“…Our initial vision, our initial focus anyway was that personal customer. That person that wants to get a bike serviced at their home or at their office, and we really tried to focus on that. Quite frankly, we launched the first mobile bike shop in Vancouver, we hadn’t decided if this was a franchise model or not. Really we wanted to get one shop on the road, we wanted to understand the business, we wanted to understand how our route optimization software was working and how we could change that. We really wanted to see that consumer three or four times a year. That was the early stages of what we were doing and what we were trying to accomplish, but the other big piece became the convenience factor. With our route optimization software, you put in your zip code or postal code in Canada and it brings up the time and dates we’re in your neighborhood. What that does is it just eliminates windshield time, the mobile bike shop’s in one area.”

“We coexist with traditional bike shops all across North America. We’re at the same events, we’re out supporting the same charity rides, we’re in the community as well, and we’ve always taken the approach that yes, at the end of the day we are competing for that customer, but the more people that get on bikes, the more people that ride, everybody has an opportunity to win in that situation. For franchise partners, we get that question all the time and if you follow the program and you’re in your community and you’re engaged and you’re giving back and you’re networking and building your business, we believe that it doesn’t matter how many traditional bike shops are there. You’re going to get your share of the business and you’re going to be able to grow and have a successful business at the end of the day.”

“The one piece that still is a challenge, which is what we solve is…there’s still a lot of people that don’t have the skillset or the time or the tools or the room to build their own bikes and to feel confident about building those bikes and then going on to ride it. What we do may not be the sexy piece of the business overall, but at the end of the day, it’s always going to be needed.”

“That’s what we’ve started focusing on more and more in our business, is having the right products, curating the right products, and once again, the great part of our business is that we can’t carry 37 different bar tapes. We have to be a lot more specific in what we do.”

“…I think if you’re a manufacturer in today’s world, and I don’t care if you’re selling running shoes or t-shirts or bikes, you have to have your product available in a multitude of places if you’re going to be successful. And that’s traditional brick and mortar, that’s online, that’s maybe non-traditional brick and mortar that you haven’t sold to in the past, and once again, at the end of the day we truly believe that in the bike space, that service piece is always going to be there…”

“They {Velofix Franchisees} know how important it is to have a repeat customer. Our business today, our number one source of revenue today in 2019 is a repeat customer, and our number two is from the referral. Number three is they saw the van…”

“…So, when we look at our business and how it drives, our franchise partners know and our mechanics know that they have to give a great experience and a great service because that person’s A, going to come back, and B, they’re going to tell their friends. It’s something we’ve worked on and we’ve tried to provide best in class experiences and practices for our franchise partners, but really they’ve executed.”

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