Monday, June 13, 2011

Stark Raving Fans

I’m a stark raving fan of Spokes Bike Shop in Vienna, VA. If you ever in the need for anything biking related and are even within 20 miles of Vienna – stop by this shop. After just one visit you’ll know why I feel this way. Why am I blogging about this? Because I want each of you to think about what you can do to make those who read your books stark raving fans. That is after all, the only way a book succeeds…it’s called word of mouth and it is the only true path to success.

I want to share my most recent experience at Spokes. On Friday afternoon, Michael and I were traveling by bike to Washington D.C. to the Sculpture Garden of the American History of Art. Each Friday, they have Jazz concerts there and you set under the trees near a fountain, listening to music and munching on whatever snacks you bring and have some drinks (They have great Sangria there). On my way I was hit by a car. All in all it could have been much worse. It’s only Monday and I’m already “mostly recovered” – I think I bruised a rib which has been the biggest discomfort, but most of it was just a lot of bruising and scrapes and road burn etc.

While I was in pretty good shape, the same could not be said about my bike. The front wheel no longer resembled anything circular or in a single plane, the chain derailer rubbed against the gears. The brakes were at a 45 degree angle, the handle bars were pointed in the wrong direction and the back tire was out of alignment. I was mentally calculating the costs, but more disappointed about the potential “downtime” as I figured t would take a week or two to bring the bike back to the living.

We hopped on the Metro, and Michael rode home to bring the car and we carried the bike to Vienna. I walked back to the service area where three technicians were working on other bikes and just watching them I could see the degree of skill in how they practiced their craft. When I showed up, battered as I was they were immediately interested in how I was doing. I asked if they rented bikes, so I could have a loaner while they worked on mine and while they did not, one of them immediately took the mangled wheel I was holding and went to work removing the tube/tire and putting it on a replacement. When Michael showed up a few minutes later, another technician put it up and started examining the other damage.

I had a phone call with an author scheduled for 4:00 so I went outside to discuss that with them and in short order Michael came out of the store with my fully restored bike. I steadied myself as I asked the question I dreaded…well how much? Michael laughed…he told me the new wheel rim was $44 and as for the labor…they gave him a long list of things they did and then told him it was on the house. I had bought the bike from the store only a few months earlier and they felt bad that I had gotten hurt.

The moral of this story is I’ll be a customer with them for life and what’s even more important…I felt this way even before this incident. I felt this way because every interaction I had with them was one of professionalism (employing the highest skill in their work) , a true interest in what they did (they are bike enthusiasts), a genuine concern for me (helping me pick a bike based on my biking habits). I’ve never found ANYONE there that is just “going through the motions”.

I’ll write a bit in the future about techniques I’ve used to help make stark raving fans. But I wanted to get this out today so you all could share some of your insights and experiences that I could incorporate into the next post on the subject. And as I said…if you’re near Vienna VA and need anything bike related – please be sure and stop by. You’ll be glad you did.


Jon Moss said...

So glad to hear you were not seriously injured, Robin. If I'm ever in Vienna, I will be sure to visit that bike shop.

Donald Wells said...

Thank God you're alright. Biking is great fun but dangerous at times. That bike shop sounds like a great place.

Merrill Heath said...

Robin, I'm glad to hear you weren't seriously injured. The last year I lived in CA I rode about 100 miles a week and got my share of skins and scrapes but, thankfully, I never came in contact with a car.

Like you, I had a bike shop out there that I loved and I recommended it to everyone who expressed an interest in anything bike related.

I'm curious about how to go about developing "stark raving fans" and look forward to your follow-on article where you get into this in more detail.

Merrill Heath
Alec Stover Mysteries

Melissa Douthit said...


Good post! This is really good advice for authors who are building their platform!

I'm glad the bike accident turned out well. Be careful on bikes! My brother in law got hit by a car last summer during a bike race at Yellowstone and had to have spinal surgery. He is doing well now.

Libby said...

I can't believe you got hit by a car. I fear biking in this area for that reason. Glad to hear you're okay!

Annie said...

1.) OH. my gosh. You got hit by a car and were taking calls from an author at 4? I think you must secretly be the bionic woman.

2.) There's a Spokes up here in Columbia, and we've heard nothing but rave reviews as well. It's amazing what a difference word of mouth makes. :)