The COVID 19 Effect – D&D Cycles
In this new series, we will be putting questions to bike shops on how the pandemic has affected them. First up is D&D Cycles, D&D Cycles has been around a while now and have grown to be very reputable within the cycling industry. We speak to owner Dave and get his view on how 2020 with the global pandemic has shaped out for him.
Hi, Dave thank you for taking part in this interview and also many Congratulations on becoming a father for the second time. For the readers that don’t know you or D&D Cycles please introduce yourself?
Thank you for the kind words dude! So my name is Dave, I’ve been riding and repairing bikes since I was about 13/14, so just over half my life now. In 2012 I started up D&D Cycles with Dan Locks, stocking desirable & niche brands in the UK whilst offering a now highly respected and well established workshop. The shop has been expanded 3 times now, stocking exclusive and premium brands like Production Privee, Troy Lee Designs & Deity Components.
How is everything going with the current Global Pandemic?
These are crazy times we are living in!. It’s been weird but everyone has been there for each other, checking in and offering a hand where they can. With the birth of our little boy Theo, we ended up in lockdown longer and tighter than most I’d say so going back to work was a big decision for me as I couldn’t risk bringing anything home. Furthermore, my other half has been amazing through it all and can’t put into words just how well she is taking to motherhood and living with the restrictions still in place. Overall, for such a shit situation things are pretty damn good both at home and at work!
In what ways have you adapted the shop and yourself to the COVID situation?
Bike shops were one of the lucky ones that were allowed to stay open and classed as essential.
Once back open, I sectioned off a small part of the shop at the front for people to leave their bike in but after a while, I found I had to restrict it further. So thinking on my feet and using the resources I had available, I now use a pallet across the door and slide it when someone comes to drop a bike off. Bikes get a wipe down on the main contact points such as grips, saddles & levers etc and the brand Muc-off have made a great range of sanitizing products to use in the workshop as well.
People can come to the door to make purchases now or book an appointment to come in and go through something like a bike sale. Hygiene wise I don’t think my hands have ever been so clean which I’m sure every mechanic would agree with me!. Washing hands regularly throughout the day and wearing a mask and gloves when working on a majority of jobs is now a must!
With more and more people taking to cycling through the lockdown are you seeing this with demand from customers whether it be Repairs or sales?
I know a lot of shops closed at the very start, as like many they were unsure how bad it was going to get. But once the government started laying down the rules and saying that cycling was allowed, even if it was just for one hour, this gave people the bug to grab their dusty bikes out the shed and go out.
Almost overnight, the demand for servicing and new bike sales under £500 doubled if not more! It won’t last forever but everyone I speak to is riding and every local mechanic or repair shop like Blackout Cycles is booked up for weeks. For now, I am just working 3 days a week doing around 8-10 repairs a day and I’m trying not to book anything over 2-3 weeks in advance, purely to keep up with the new demands.
I would say repairs are now the priority for a lot of smaller shops. This is mainly because the bikes people want to buy are sold out from most places for at least a couple of months, the second hand market is going to be the next biggest demand.
Have you seen a shift from physical to digital sales due to the current situation?
Definitely! So to start with, the shop was closed for about 4 weeks and I just kept drilling the online sales whilst everything was very fresh in the UK. Online sales have grown massively and not just from the UK, I am seeing more orders from all over Europe.
Over half of all repairs are now booked in from email enquiries and people are now calling to make sure I have what they need before making the journey to the shop. (This is much appreciated!)
What’s the plan going forward as we slowly ease back to normality will you be changing anything in how you operate?
I think as the lockdown eases we still need to be really careful and keep up these restrictions in smaller shops. What a lot of people don’t get is that just because the government says it’s okay to socialise in small groups now or visit places like B&Q, it doesn’t mean the virus is gone, you are still putting yourself and others at risk if not following the current guidance.
When there is a vaccine or perhaps no new cases being recorded for a couple of weeks, then I would be inclined to open normally.
Moving on from the COVID Subject. How is everything going now Dan has moved on to Canada, is the shop coping just as well now it is just yourself running it all?
It was the biggest change the shop had ever gone through, we both built it from the ground up and had our ways of doing everything together and that worked really well! We both had different outlooks and methods but combined that gave us a solid work ethic.
The move was planned for a while and it wasn’t just sprung on me one day with a note under the door, luckily! The biggest change was adjusting the workload, for the first 3-4 weeks I was still booking bikes as if there were two of us there and I had to reign it in a bit. Luckily, we could both do every aspect of the business so it was just a case of trying to allow enough time for each job. People didn’t realise it was literally just the two of us doing everything: from the accounts, social media, events, sales and the obvious day-to-day running and repairs involved with running a bike shop.
Fortunately, the shop is still doing amazing as always but I’d love to put a bit more time into the social media side, which was one of Dan’s biggest strength. He still helps me out with tips on taking snaps of products and editing when needed.
What’s the future got in store for D&D Cycles?
Just gonna keep doing what I’m doing for now! The workshop is getting a makeover soon and doubling in size which will give me more storage. The Race team will be getting back into full swing once racing starts and I’ll be at the Pedalhounds events offering support to all riders.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Dave it’s very much appreciated and we hope everything goes well for you going forward.
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