Richard Morrow, former Chief Retail Officer at Mike’s Bikes has joined the expanding team at retail tech company Myagi. Rich has over a decades’ experience working in the cycle industry, working his way from Sales Manager all the way up to Chief of Retail before making the jump to the world of online training.
During his time as Director of Training and Development at Mike’s Bikes, Rich trained staff across their 12 store locations and members of Head Office on the Myagi platform. Their staff are some of the most engaged and avid users of Myagi and Rich now has a unique perspective of the online learning network having sat on both sides of the product.
I sat down with Rich to discuss his career in cycle retail, ‘’bike snobs’’, his thoughts and predictions for the industry in the years to come, how online training helped to revolutionise operations at Mike’s Bikes and what he hopes to bring in his key new role in Customer Success.
Rich, tell our readers where your love of cycling came from
Growing up in the American midwest a bike was the only way for a kid to get around the urban sprawl. Cruising through neighborhood to neighborhood on a bicycle gave us the sense of freedom and exploration. That sense of, “I can jump on this bike and go anywhere,” still propels me on rides today as an adult.
Since those days you found your vocation in the industry, how did that begin?
I was sucked into the bike industry like so many others, the desire to spend slightly less on products because I was breaking things all the time! I also saw a lot of people as an adult who wanted to ride but didn’t know where to start and I wanted to somehow help them get out and ride for their health, or sanity. The best way to help is to get involved, so into the industry I went.
You found yourselves at Mike’s Bikes – what was your favourite thing about that business?
My favorite part of working for Mike’s Bikes was the teamwork. I feel like most successful bike shop teams around the world work closely together to make their communities a more fun place for bikes and bike people. Having that team to lean on and work with makes every struggle and task that much more accomplishable and enjoyable. Winning is great, winning with others is better.
You mentioned before the best way to help is to get involved, do you feel like you managed to help as you wanted?
Certainly. There are a couple stages of becoming a “cyclist,” first just buying an adult bike and trying to get out there. Then comes the realization that this is more than just working out, it can be fun and should be fun. Third you see people get over the initial hump of gaining some fitness and confidence on the bike, and they start self-identifying as a rider. That’s my favorite part and the best part of being in the industry, watching someone find themselves and a new passion and being a part of that.
If you’ve ever worked in a shop before you l know that feeling when someone comes and thanks you for helping them get into cycling and helping them lose weight, or gain fitness, or overcome some other obstacle. Being that for someone is a powerful and fulfilling feeling. It’s a win/win for everyone involved
How and when did you notice there was a need for enhancing the customer experience in the sector?
I come from an extensive background in retail, sales, and customer service so when I fell into the bike industry I saw an immediate need for better customer experiences. If you’ve ever been in the average bike shop across the world you may have run into the “bike-snob” attitude. Bike shop employees had a reputation for only caring for other hardcore cyclists and not giving new riders enough help, attention, and advice they deserved. We all were a struggling up-and-comer at one point in our lives and having sage advice is priceless. From Day 1 I knew I needed to do everything I could to kill that stigma and reputation bike shops had, and make new riders feel like they could be themselves. Ask questions, ask for help and be vulnerable without judgement from the person behind the counter.
How did you go about implementing these ideas you were having?
Leading by example is Step 1. I made it abundantly clear to all my staff that every single person who walks through the door deserves the best possible experience regardless of how skilled they are or how much they’re willing to spend. Today’s beginner could be tomorrow’s National Champion so you must treat them so, so I talk to everyone like they’re my neighbor and they’re about to fall down the rabbit hole of bike awesomeness. Step 2 was standardization, creating a style of customer service that was easy to understand and replicate regardless of your sales/technical/customer service background. Once you have your style and culture set it’s about recreating this for all new employees and shops in Step 3; building a structure to teach others how to be part of this culture, that’s where Myagi came in. A place to house all this tribal knowledge and share it to everyone who comes aboard. Step 4 is making sure to never quit learning and growing. Training and culture should be “alive” not something written in stone and never developed again, you need to learn from each other, learn from your mistakes, and change styles and tactics when the world changes around you, which it always is.
You mentioned Myagi in that answer – what attracted you to the Myagi platform for training staff?
Ease of use, customization, and the readily available content from so many brands already on the platform. Nothing like jumping in and already having content to chew on and learn from. If you’ve ever worked with other online training platforms you’re familiar with the long process of getting new content on the site, or even worse adjusting content already up. With Myagi you’re in control; edit, adapt, and adjust content anytime from anywhere. No need to wait for programmers or sales reps to return your emails. Everything you want is just a click away. Time is money, and when you’re wasting time working with yet another representative instead of just editing your page and getting back out to your customers or projects it’s money down the drain. Save money and have piece of mind knowing you own your content and you’re in control of that at all times.
As you hinted at, there’s a few alternative online platform’s you could have opted for – Why did you choose Myagi for Mike’s Bikes?
It was a tough competition, we looked at a lot of different companies and platforms before we chose the best. Like I mentioned before, training isn’t one-and-done. It’s an ever expanding, ongoing process and Myagi’s ease of use and ability to change anything at any time ourselves without extra cost or intervention was paramount in our decision. I didn’t want to be locked down top a specific change schedule or need to rely on the platform designers or programmers to change or update things for us. We also really liked the look of Myagi, the overall structure was so similar to all the social pages and sites our millennial staff already visit coupled with the ability to skin nearly everything on the platform with our logos and designs sealed the deal.
Do you think digital training is the way of the future for the cycle industry?
Absolutely! Products are more technical and diverse than ever before and with shops carrying more and more brands to expand their offerings, it’s become almost impossible to learn everything about your products from reps and sell sheets alone. Associates need training at their fingertips in instant, on their terms, when they have time. Only online training can do that for them. Every shop is doing more with less these days so allowing staff to learn at their own pace is invaluable to a shops overall success and bottom line. No one has the budget to train new employees for days at a time, we need staff to get onboarded with not only a ton of product knowledge but also employer knowledge such as how to special order something or close the register at the end of the day. There’s so much to learn in so little time, nothing replaces the ease of something like Myagi. One central place for all your learning assets. In the past new employees needed to train on several websites for products and then from word of mouth from other employees. Tribal knowledge like that can easily get lost when an employee leaves unexpectedly or is on vacation. We’ve all struggled with that scenario before, with digital training that’s a problem of the past.
Looking past the training aspect, what do you make of the current state of the cycle industry?
It’s a time of change, some would say doom and gloom but I don’t agree. Yes, there are a lot of shops closing, but I’d argue it’s the market correcting itself from glut. There were plenty of shops out there providing terrible customer experiences and services and only surviving because there was nowhere else to go. Now that so much of the bike industry is available online it’s forced retailers to up their game, or kick rocks. Shops need to invest in their customers experiences and separate themselves from the crowd.
How do you think cycle shops can be successful in 2018?
No website can replace quality service on a physical bicycle and that’s where bike shops need to focus their energy. Provide excellent mechanical service with excellent customer service and you’ll see the benefits of customers returning to your stores and buying from you instead of the web because they believe in what you do and how you do it. Integration is a big part, shops need to invest in quality online experiences as well as in-store experiences. Could a customer shop your whole inventory from their phone? If they had questions could they chat with you from the site directly or write a question and get a reply? “Omni-channel” or whatever you want to name it is a key to success for the local bike shop, we all buy things from the internet, however, we all still go to some stores, if you can make that process seamless you’ll be successful in 2018.
From your experience, what’s one piece of advice you could give to staff working in cycle shops?
Listen to the customer! That’s just great advice for anyone selling anything really. Too often when someone is seeking our “expert advice” we’re all too confident in our decision of what’s right without really listening to the customer, and what they think is right for them. With digital training it’s easy and quick to train everyone on your staff a few basic standard operating procedures, or best practices when dealing with customers. If the sales staff is busy it’s so great to have a mechanic jump out and help on the floor for a few minutes to bust down the line, or visa versa for a sales guy to jump behind the bench to adjust a few derailleurs or swap some tires. Cross training like that usually takes months-to-years of experience but could easily be shared with anyone quickly with a little exposure to the process from an online training platform, like Myagi.
You’ve now started a role at Myagi, your experience as a user will be invaluable to you I am sure – What are you hoping to achieve at Myagi?
A better customer experience for everyone that walks into a bike shop anywhere. From skilled lifetime cyclists to the new mom walking in a bike shop for the first time, I want these people to feel welcome, and taken care of. The only way to do that is to help educate and support everyone out there on the front lines representing cycling to the masses. Too many companies forget about the associates and mechanics in the shops being the face of your brand, helping people and solving their problems. I want to help those people and solve their problems so they can better focus on taking care of all the people walking through their doors. It sounds like a lofty goal but we can do it together, one shop and one brand at a time.
Thanks for your time Richard! Before you go, if you could wave your magic wand and gift the cycle industry one thing, what would it be?
Answers. Everyone in every shop everywhere is looking for help with something, and they’re searching for it online or in their coworkers or reps heads right now. I wish I could create a place for all these people to go and find all the answers they’d ever want to help someone with their cycling needs today.
If you have heard anything from Rich that you think is applicable to your business you can learn more about Myagi here