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Smart Business Cleveland: In Tandem

From the June 2008 issue of Smart Business Cleveland magazine; the online version of the article can be found here.

In Tandem

How Century Cycles creates relationships with its customers

When Scott Cowan opened Century Cycles, he detailed his customer service principles in a brochure. Sixteen years later, Cowan still has that brochure and follows those same principles.

Cowan places an emphasis on forming personal relationships with customers. Each customer is considered a VIP, and those who purchase a bike receive a variety of services at discounted prices and rewards.

But customer service isn’t contained to the stores in Medina, Peninsula and Rocky River.

The company participates in 20 bicycling events and races per year, allowing it to extend its customer service by providing mechanical support, sponsorship dollars, free products, raffles and charitable donations.

“This outreach supports our customers, the community as a whole, the excellent causes and — just as importantly — the sport of cycling itself,” Cowan says.

Cowan also focuses on a relaxed atmosphere with no-pressure sales. Employees are not on commission and are encouraged to spend as much time as possible with the customer, even if it’s a few minutes to a few hours, so they are focused on customer needs and not dollar value.

To reach that customer service level, employees receive extensive training. They have the opportunity to attend a national bicycling trade show in Las Vegas each year and all attend a staff retreat each February to talk about new products and inventory, sales trends, and marketing ideas. There’s time for business and recreation to build teamwork.

Cowan says the atmosphere at Century Cycles has set it apart from competitors.

“Someone is always here to spend lots of time answering the customers’ questions, the bikes are all professionally assembled, and we have the expert mechanics they will need down the road for tune-ups, new accessories and repairs,” he says. “It’s the home-town touch we can all be proud of.”

HOW TO REACH: Century Cycles, www.centurycycles.com or (440) 356-5705