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I know the guys at my Local Bike Shop (Cheeky Transport in Sydney, they are awesome!), are very helpful with answering questions.
However, I also know that they need to get back to work fixing bikes, and can't answer questions all day.
Considering that, they would probably be interested in promoting a quality bicycle question and answer site, in that it may help reduce their question and answer workload.

So questions are,

Should we be recommending Bicycle.SE to our LBS?
Is there a standard "invitation" if you like, that could be sent to your LBS?
Is there a set of rules or recommendations for LBS entering Bicycles.SE (could apply to manufacturers as well)?
An example would be recommendations on full disclosure of interests. Eg You are a bike shop that sells certain brands but in your answers you manage to slip in recommendations on your brands.

If bike shops recommended Bicycles.SE to their customers then it would probably get a wider demographic, which relates to my other question What is the proportion of users on Bicycles.StackExchange who are not on StackOverflow?

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I think you have the right idea here:

However, I also know that they need to get back to work fixing bikes, and can't answer questions all day. Considering that, they would probably be interested in promoting a quality bicycle question and answer site, in that it may help reduce their question and answer workload.

The way to pitch this is to ask yourself "how can bicycles.se help the local bike shop?"

Realize too that hyper-locality is actually the opposite of what we do here, but that's exactly what a local bike shop is best at. So at least in theory, bicycles.se and your local bike shop should be complementary.

  • 2
    Browsing some questions on Bicycles, I was thinking from a bike shop point of view, and I can imagine the fear of too much do-it-yourself knowledge, stealing business from them. Hopefully though they're a bit more insightful though and they will see the point about hyper-locality, which is a very good one. One issue here in Australia though is that local bike shops are losing business to Internet sales. I've seen price differences of 300%. I think it is more a wholesaler issue, but the LBS is already wary, very wary. – Jason S Aug 26 '11 at 4:55
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Absolutely you can tell your shop about this site!

Many of these issues have been discussed here on meta, although not all of them conclusively.

Part of the problem is that we need to explain to bike shops: What's in it for them? Why should they help promote this site? People who sell and repair bikes in general do it because they love bikes and like talking to people about them. What would it add to the equation for them to promote this site?

  • Although they might like to talk, some of them don't have time to talk, nor do they want to spend too much time talking, they need to get back to fixing. In that case they could refer people here. – Jason S Aug 24 '11 at 1:45
  • ...and (not to be pessimistic) it would take them a lot of time to explain the site, which they'd have to do without seeming brusque. – Neil Fein Aug 24 '11 at 1:49
  • True. I'll mention it to the LBS anyway and see how they go with it. They often have flyers or cards for various things so I'll have a look the links to flyers, but later. – Jason S Aug 24 '11 at 1:51
  • I hope they prove me wrong! – Neil Fein Aug 24 '11 at 2:02
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I think we also need to get product managers for branded products on board. Maybe with a piece written for the trade press. Within the Q+A format there is not much scope for them hyping their products in a way that would be ugly, however, they could post questions that come in their inboxes for the benefit of others facing a similar problem.

An answer provided by - say - a Shimano product manager on how to fix one of their common issues would carry more weight/authority than afforded to a mere cyclist if they wanted to use an ID with their job title/company in there. Plus, if people knew they were listening, then they would post questions knowing their concerns were being listened to.

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Why not talk to bike shops about what we do.

In fact, we should be giving bike shops cards or stickers or some other cheap + provocative + convenient promo artifact that the guys behind the counter can use themselves or give to customers.

Stickers? Does any real rider actually want a sticker? Maybe something reflective that is actually practical? (Expensive, I imagine, but maybe doable).

A stack of cards may be too commonplace. Any cheap wild ideas?

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    In reality there are lots of suppliers trying to clutter every bike shop with POS displays and stuff to go on the counter. Shops do not want any of this stuff because the counter needs to be kept clean - also if people have got questions you want them back in the shop buying stuff and some random website where there are idiots like myself going 'off brand' are not useful for the sales process. What we need is a product with USP to get in to the counter space. Or to go in with some product that does get there somehow. – ʍǝɥʇɐɯ Aug 24 '11 at 22:40
  • see my answer -- put yourself in the shoes of the bike shop. How can we help them? – Jeff Atwood Aug 26 '11 at 2:42
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In our plans for world domination (TM) we could get ahead of the bike shop staff that already have so much information to deal with.

Most bikes come with a manual. Not everyone reads these and they are not necessarily that up to date or good. However, some manufacturers do put good manuals together and refresh them from time to time.

We need to get into those manuals. The instructions should be clear - got a question and post it onto bicycles.se with the tag 'brand x' where 'brand x' is whomever the bike brand is.

Then some manager from 'brand x' gets email alerts of whatever the question is.

For this to work some guarantees on the future direction of the site are needed - do we get adverts? If we do get adverts, will they be for what? You cannot have a 'Trek' customer see a 'Giant' advert for such participation to work. The advert algorithm could solve this problem by reading the page tags and doing something appropriate.

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