This week’s guest is Brad Loetel, the co-owner of West Seattle Cyclery, which opened in 2013 in West Seattle’s Alaska Junction. After many years in the software industry, he decided to transition and his passion for cycling has driven his desire to create a bike shop which provides great customer service and gives back to the community.
Highlights From This Episode:
- After leaving the software industry, Brad managed a couple different bike shops in the Seattle area since 2009 and in 2013, an opportunity arose for him to open his own shop in West Seattle.
- What do you love most about what you do? Working with the customers and he loves cycling… being able open the shop, he was able to put cycling back into his regular life rhythms.
- Some bike shops have the reputation of not being very personable and it’s ridiculous that a bike shop would talk down to or belittle their customers. With having worked on the retail side for companies like REI and Apple that are very customer service focused, he really saw the value and benefit of a business centered around the customers experience (very similar customer service values as Dave McCoy, owner of Emerald Water Anglers expressed during his interview on Episode 24). Brad is good friends with Reed, the manager at Dave’s shop. They race together on the same cycling team and even helped bust a guy that was stealing from both of their shops (making it onto the West Seattle Blog).
- One of the reasons West Seattle is so great is because of all the small businesses that give it such a “small town” and homey feel. It’s not like the Eastside, where the majority of the businesses are owned by large corporations but it also makes it very challenging for West Seattle business to compete with larger corporations.
- What was your biggest challenges when first starting business? Challenging his vendors and staff that their is a certain level of service and quality that he expects at West Seattle Cyclery. Also, with so many moving pieces in running your own business, it can be hard to stay on track and easy to get distracted.
- What is your biggest challenge now? Competing with online retailers and companies flooding the outdoor market with “grey market” products (bike accessories being sold out the back door of larger companies at or below cost). Many times those “great deals” on online bike parts are missing pieces because they were designed to go with a specific bike… and the bike owner has to spend additional money on the parts it didn’t come with to make it work and it ends up being a bigger headache and cost them more then it would of had they bought it in a local bike shop or from an authorized distributor.
- What set’s you apart from others in your industry? Great customer service, only sell bikes and accessories that are good quality that they stand behind. The bike owner/client knows what they are getting is going to be right for them, develop a trusting relationship with them and that they are supporting a local small business and supporting the community.
- What is your greatest strength? Being able to adapt to needed changes… being agile enough to adjust quickly.
- What habit do you wish you had? To be better at asking a few more questions to get to the root of an issue with employee and vendor relationships.
- What is a personal habit that contribute to your success? Being outgoing and nice to people… even when he is in a bad mood or things weren’t going the way they should have been.
- What boundaries have you setup to keep from being distracted by technology or other time suckers? Brad tries to be intentional about taking a break (for himself and his employees) from work to do something else for a few minutes to reset and be able to come back and focus on his work better… otherwise the work suffers.
- What is the best advice you have ever received? Brad’s dad and grandfather really instilled a strong work ethic and taught him to work smart and always do it right the first time (don’t take shortcuts).
- What is your one book recommendation for our listeners? “The Design of Everyday Things” by Donald Norman – Great for someone looking to create a business that is customer-centric.
- Parting Guidance – “Get out and ride your bike 😉 “.
Episode Links & Resources:
- Guest’s Website: http://westseattlecyclery.com
- Like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/westseattlecyclery/
- Recommended book: The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman
- Learn more about Christian, other projects he’s working on and his business at: www.Sea-Town.com