SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE
SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE • JUNE 2017
There is no pretense to Jeff Cayley. When he answers a question, it is honest and without delay. He says it comes with the territory of being a “learn on the fly kind of guy” and you might think he is being modest when you discover that this Millennial entrepreneur owns and operates a business that cleared over $5 million USD in sales last year alone. Worldwide Cyclery was built on Jeff’s sincerity. His cycling and high- end bike shop is where it is because Jeff and his staff of twenty-somethings – save one 30 year old – offer a customer service experience that is rare these days: their expert knowledge goes to work after you’ve detailed what you’re looking for, never before. “For us, it’s always been about making the buying experience about the customer,” Jeff told Spotlight on Business Magazine in early May. “We’re not here to change their habits or move a particular item off the shelf – we don’t have an agenda like that. Every one of us is super passionate about cycling and high-end mountain bikes, so we all know where and how the industry can be more customer-focused.”
JUNE 2017 • SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE
By David MacDonald I f you are a numbers kind of person and that $5 million USD figure caught your attention, here are a few more to consider: Jeff launched his business at the age of 21 in 2011, and in its seventh year it is still growing – and fast, too. Worldwide Cyclery has grown by 35 percent or more every year since 2011. They process on average 200 orders per day. They have shipped to 160 different countries. Fifteen percent of their ship- ments are international. They have made the Inc. 5000 list two years running. There are two locations: retail stores paired with fulfillment warehouses in Newbury Park, California and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
The numbers, Jeff explained, do not lie. “We’ve made a name for ourselves in the industry so quickly because our invest- ment at Worldwide Cyclery is in the customer experience and the happiness of the staff, not just making a sale.”
The 16,000-plus positive reviews on eBay are a testament to Jeff and his team’s investment.
Customers love Worldwide Cyclery because Jeff and his team give them what they want: rare high end bike brands like Evil, Yeti, Devinci, and Transition as well as special order brands including Banshee, Canfield Brothers, Turner and NS Bikes. (All this in addition to a massive catalogue of top-tier components, accessories and apparel from the likes of Rockshox Suspension, Sram, Fox Shox, Maxxis Tires, KETL MTN, and much, much more.)
But it is more than just top brand names that propelled Worldwide Cyclery so quickly away from the peloton – a French word that Jeff taught me which means a pack of riders in a bike race. For Jeff and his team it is all a labour of love.
“I loved riding bikes and motocross as a kid. I grew up riding BMX bikes and dirt bikes before a friend of mine intro-
“I discovered early on that I love talking about bikes, especially when it’s someone’s custom dream.”
SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE • JUNE 2017
duced me to mountain biking when I was 13. His Dad had a mountain bike, and riding it was like a perfect combination of a rigid BMX bike and a fully suspended motocross-bike. One ride and I fell in love. From there I got my own bike and raced full-on from the age of 15 to the age of 20. I was able to tack on some sponsors, travel all around the country racing, meeting tons of like-minded people and learning a lot about the industry – it was a ton of fun. I also had a part-time job at a local bike shop during that time, so the business side of it became second nature too. I discovered early on that I love talking about bikes, especially when it’s someone’s custom dream bike. It’s a fun and healthy industry to be a part of and I knew that’s where I wanted to be.” “So I pitched my parents my business plan looking for a small loan from my Mom and to use my Dad’s credit history and credit cards,” Jeff continued. “Luckily my parents believed in me and agreed to everything I asked. I’m eter- nally grateful for their support. I used my Dad as a co-signer to lease a building, used his credit cards and my Mom’s loan to build everything out. Just like that Worldwide Cyclery starting rolling and I was able to pay my Mom back in year one. By year two it was profitable.
What I lacked on the business knowledge side of things I made up for when I hired some great people.
The awesome people that make up the Worldwide Cyclery team are driven by a desire to help the customer and build an amazing company while doing it. We’ve found the perfect balance between fun and focus. We do right by our customers and each other and I really think that has a snowball effect.
More people want to join our team and more people want to be our customers. It’s a win-win.”
For Jeff, the A-Team dynamic is critical for a business plan that sets out to put the customer first at every turn.
“Any team that’s successful has a dynamic like that.” “We’ve got a good mix of people with just the right talents. A lot of the accounting and strategy falls on my shoulders; we’ve got a guy who’s phenomenal with high-end customer service, managing and organizing people in the shops; we’ve got a guy who is incredible with data and logistics; and a marketing, design and social media guru – plus a bunch of awesome guys turning wrenches, helping out cus- tomers and loading trucks. We have one mechanic who’s a former World Cup race mechanic – his brother is actually in the top twenty worldwide in downhill racing. He’s our top-notch mechanic out East. Here out West, we’ve got a couple of guys who’ve been in the industry for more than a decade and they’re phenomenal wrenches. I still work alongside them on occasion. I actually had a short stint
JUNE 2017 • SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE
ambition along with some technology skills. Really the biggest piece of the puzzle is how we utilize technology and data. We’re an industry leader in that regard. From day one we set out to challenge the status quo in the bicycle industry by embracing a far more modern approach to the traditional retail model everyone was used to. We have a full multi-channel approach from our website, store fronts, third-party marketplaces like eBay and Amazon all the way to the Worldwide Cyclery app. We wanted to establish a good sales presence in every sales channel possible and always be where customers were. We have our products available on every conceivable channel, which really allows us to be wherever the customer is and prefers to shop.” Focusing on customer service for a small business that does big business can be challenging, Jeff explained. “We are growing fast, but we’re growing comfortably. Our customer experience has only gotten better and we’re still able to keep all of our amazing reviews across all of our sales channels. The data doesn’t lie: our customers love us. We’re incredibly highly reviewed. We’ve got something that all f us at the shop can be proud of and clearly shows how we’re different than our competitors.” “To build an amazing company culture like the one we have here,” he continued, “you need everyone doing what they do best and doing it with a competitive desire. That means fostering a positive social environment because happy employees make happy customers. Our shop is funny, goofy – we even like to make our customers laugh. We have a lot of humour that’s built into different pages on our website. Even our email exchanges with customers take on a funny spin. If you ever place an order with us, you’re going to laugh and love the experience. It’s a young, fun, happy culture here and that culture bleeds into our customer experience very often.”
working as a mechanic for a World Cup team back in 2010. I’ve competed in races all over North America and been in the heart of some really successful race teams. Any team that’s successful has a dynamic like that. As time has gone by, I’ve been a strong proponent of bringing people in who can help us where we’re weak. We’re always honest about ourselves that way.” “Our typical customers are people who have been riding for years already, someone who fell in love with the sport a long time before.” Worldwide Cyclery’s first satellite shop is a testament to Jeff’s honesty. In the beginning, he explained, customers along the Eastern Seaboard of the US were “too often for my tastes not experiencing the same shipping times as those in Western States.” “Opening the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, location earlier this year,” he explained “was primarily about logistics as it allowed us to improve the customer experience dramatical- ly. We do a lot of shipping and while the California location is great for the Western half of the US, it left our East Coast customers with longer wait times. Pennsylvania is perfectly situated to give those customers a better experience with shipping times and it just so happens to be a great State for mountain biking. The Poconos are there an the riding and racing opportunities are huge. Many of the ski resorts there offer incredible mountain bike parks in the summer.” Jeff said that each shop, California and Pennsylvania, is designed with a kind of party in the front, business in the back approach. “In both locations, the front of the shop is a showroom; it’s all mountain bikes, gear, parts, accesso- ries and demo bikes. The middle of the shop is the work area with work stations where the phones are going off and shipping labels are being printed. The back part of the shop is the warehouse area where on one side products are being shipped and on the other side mechanical work is happening and bikes are being assembled and serviced.” He explained that everything gets shipped directly to either of Worldwide Cyclery’s locations before being rerouted to the customer. “Drop shipping in the bicycle industry isn’t very popular because it’s had a negative impact on local bike shops and often the customer experience. For this reason, many manufacturers won’t supply to strictly online companies. We do it all: online sales, store front sales, assembly and maintenance. We can replace your spokes or build the custom high-end bike of your dreams.” “The high-end bike industry is filled with great engineers and tons of folks who have a serious passion for cycling,” he said. “But the business side of things often lack a few key elements. We filled the gap in many areas, we put cycling passion with entrepreneur business sense and
The ‘About Us’ page at Worldwidecyclery.com is worth a visit for the laughs alone even if you are not in the market
for a high-end mountain bike at the moment.
has put more thought into the winter side of things than ever before. “Mountain biking is also becoming less and less a seasonal thing. Fat bikes are popular with people who want to ride in the snow – and on the sand – and the companies making these wide tires and speciality bikes are also making the apparel that makes riding in unique condi- tions fun and manageable. We’ve got you covered. People who truly love to ride habitually aren’t going to let the snow stop them. Very often our customers have a summertime bike and a wintertime bike. It’s a great passion to have year- round because it’s no doubt An annual 35 percent plus growth rate comes with its own fair share of exercise. “Managing our growth has been our biggest challenge. Marketing and customer service is bringing customers back and it’s bringing more and more new customers every year. Our biggest priority is to ensure that the quality of service we provide never deteriorates for our customers. We also don’t want the team stressed out and overwhelmed with what often feels like too much business. It’s just growing pains. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new order online or someone bringing in their bike for service, we try to have as little turnaround time as possible. I’m not complaining – these are great problems to have!” Editor’s note: Worldwide Cyclery takes care of their own. Jeff and his East and West Coast teams recently ran an auction that raised several thousand dollars for the Steve Smith Foundation. Steve Smith was a legend in the world of professional mountain biking who recently passed away. Please visit https://www.worldwidecyclery.com/pages/ steve-smith- poster-auction for more information. In 2016 through Road2Recovery, Worldwide Cyclery donated $1,000 to Jessy Nelson, a professional motocross racer who broke his back in a horrific crash. the most fun way to get exercise and put a smile on your face.”
Worldwide Cyclery is also a kind of a response, Jeff said, to the saturation of generic, do-it- all bicycle shops that fill the retail market today. “Cycling has really evolved in the last decade. There are so many facets of the industry now – there are countless different types of bikes, riders and price points. So much so that the typical shop trying to serve them all really just serves them all poorly. We have begun with our niche of top-tier mountain bikes alone. It’s my background, after all. I knew the market existed from my time travelling throughout the US and Canada when I was racing, which is why I knew we needed to be online from the start. We couldn’t survive with just a local retail store front if we were going to target just one niche. We needed to be on all these different sales channels and it’s really that philosophy of targeting that niche, really focusing on that customer experience in the most modern way possible that’s enabled us to grow sustainably.” Jeff explained that perhaps the most encouraging element of Worldwide Cyclery’s growth projections is the nature of its market. “Cycling has been popular since its concep- tion and the sport has been growing like never before. TV exposure during the Summer Olympics and the Mountain Bike World Cup has really put the spotlight on the high-end mountain biking scene. Mountain bikes have been in the Summer Olympics for a while, and now with BMX on the world’s biggest sporting stage a whole new generation will embrace the sport. The publicity doesn’t necessarily mean a spike in sales for us. Our typical customers are people who have been riding for years already, someone who fell in love with the sport a long time before. It’s when you know your love of cycling is for life when you desire a shop like ours. The kids watching this stuff on TV and getting out to local bike parks and trails are our future customers.”
Jeff confessed that since Worldwide Cyclery became a Pennsylvania resident that his team in Southern California
3481 Old Conejo Rd. STE 105 Newbury Park, CA 91320
3063 Columbia Ave. Lancaster, PA, 17603
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