Monday, November 26, 2012

Reviving The Impromptu Bike Rental

Extemporaneously - Performed or uttered on the spur of the moment-usually without clearly known causes or relationships, as defined in Mirriam Webster's online dictionary.
We rented bikes at our brick-and-mortar shop for more than thirty years. Three years ago, however, we discontinued our popular rental program when liability insurance became cost prohibitive. 
That's over now. Our insurance agent has found an economical solution for us, so we'll be ordering our bike for spring rentals once again.
What a headache!

Our rentals in previous years used a 21-speed hybrid bike in various sizes and frames for men and women. Simple enough, yet we often questioned our sanity.

Most of our rental customers don't own a bicycle and may not have even ridden a bike since childhood. But, hey, they're on vacation in 'The Hamptons.' It’s a cloudy non-beach day; 'lets rent a bike.'

Carrying out an idea drawn from youthful memory can be an exhilirating experience. First come the excited phone calls. Vacationers arrive aglow with anticipation. Let the fun begin! 

They eagerly drink in the sight of shiny new bicycles. We're super busy in summer, so there's plenty of time to examine potential rides.  By the time we turn to the next customer, the promise of excitment is palpable.

Personalized attention is a thrill in itself because when you're a customer, it really is all about you. For a high-powered escapee from Manhattan, being measured and outfitted with just the right bike and helmet is often half the fun. And they get to ride, too? Not so fast.

Bicycles today are not like those ridden by the boy or girl of yesteryear. This realization usually sets in when our now grown-up customer holds the handlebars or sits on the seat.

This next stage in the rental process frequently entails patiently answering a lot of time-consuming questions. It's also when we wonder if we're nuts to rent bikes.
'What are all these levers for?'
(Me) 'Shifters.'
Customer pushes. 
'Nothing happens.'
'When do you shift? Oh, let me try it.'
'There aren't any brakes.'
'Look! I can pedal backwards.'
'Oh, I can't touch my feet to the ground.'

And on and on, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, when the season officially ends and the rental bikes are sold.

As we reinvigorate our rental program after a reluctant hiatus, the prospect is giving us new energy, as well. The fleet of bikes we're ordering may help us address those same questions in a new and enjoyable way.

Trust Me, It's Fun

Being a resort community bike shop, I imagine there’s many differences between us and a traditional bike shop. We're crammed into a small outdoor and indoor space. Add a vacationing crowd wanting to stuff every imaginable sports activity into a short weekend, and we end up with mass organized bedlam.
Its been in BikemanforU's mind for quite some time to capture the scene on live video, you guessed it, extemporaneously.



1 comment:

  1. What about getting a fleet of Jamis Taxi Bikes, http://www.jamisbikes.com/usa/thebikes/sportcomfort/cruiser/12_taxi_bk.html

    They are made specifically for rentals and are low maintenance. Sometimes you can save yourself a headache by limiting choices.