Every week we talk to our clients about everything that motivates them to do business. This week, entrepreneur Aram Brucker (aka the bike whisperer) of DrBeyk talks about (online) entrepreneurship, job happiness and his love for the cargo bike.
Tell us, why DrBeyk?
"Together with my little brother, I started the bike shop: DrBeyk 25 years ago on the Overtoom, a busy and lively shopping street in the middle of Amsterdam. The idea was to sell cargo bikes. Unfortunately, this did not cover all costs at the time, as the product was still very new. Therefore, you could also come to us for regular and used bikes or repairs. So we were into all kinds of things, as long as you could ride a bike on it."
Keeping up with the market
"We ended up doing this for 10 years with a lot of fun (and success)! Until we found out that the internet was taking over. Potential customers did the test ride with us and then bought the bike on the internet! We sometimes literally saw them cycling by. For me, a sign that it was time to change strategy. That's entrepreneurship: moving with your market. There is no point in complaining about this. The rent of our premises on the Overtoom was not economical, so we moved to the Rivierenbuurt. This allowed us to focus on the online strategy."
Do you still work together?
"Eventually, my little brother and I split up. He is a bit more old-fashioned than I am, for instance, still wrote his receipts by hand for years. He also has a huge passion for refurbishing old bikes. This was really the only thing he wanted to get involved in.
I continued with the online strategy and started selling (delivery) bikes online. I also changed my opening hours. Want to buy a cargo bike? Then only by appointment. This way I make sure I don't always have to be in the shop and I can arrange my time flexibly."
By appointment only... Don't you miss out on potential customers then?
"People always initially orientate themselves on the internet. They then often already know what they are going to buy before they come to the shop. Whereas, if you have a shop that is always open and has a lot of great stuff, people will come by, who are not planning to buy a bike right away. That takes up your time and your focus. Now I can concentrate well on what I am doing. Besides, a cargo bike costs enough money, then you also want to give people the attention they deserve."
"Of all the bikes, the cargo bike has always been my favourite. However, I could never have foreseen that it would become such a success. We did always have the idea that it had to take off sometime anyway, especially in a busy city like Amsterdam. On the Overtoom, our shop was always full of 'special' bikes, such as tandems or bikes that were a size larger than the average. Yet it by no means covered the costs at the time. So I decided to offer additional services, such as a lock cutting service or the mobile repair service. Thankfully both were a success! Once the cargo bike started to rise in popularity (around 2012), we were one of the first (if not the first) you could turn to."
You have a customer rating of a 9.9! What's the secret?
"An unsatisfied customer is always my fault, that's my philosophy. Of course, sometimes customers are unreasonable or make too many demands. But I see it as my job to keep the customer happy. If customers doubt my work or integrity and you feel we haven't done a good job, we still try to resolve this with the customer. Sometimes, as an entrepreneur, you have to go through the dust unjustly, that's part of the job. Besides, I never work for the money, I work because I like it. If you treat people well and provide excellent service, you can always earn a good living."
People come to your shop from all over the country. Never thought of starting a second shop?
"I don't actually have that ambition. My grandfather always said "You can only fill your belly once". I earn enough and can spend time with my family. I am a lover of cycling, not a manager. A colleague of mine is an entrepreneur in bike rental in Amsterdam and at one point grew very fast. The other day I heard that he misses being involved in cycling so much because now everything is about managing. I'm glad I never chose this path!
Besides, I have had staff at times, but when you have so much passion for cycling yourself, it is difficult to find such a same cycling nut who wants to come and work for you. For instance, I travel all over the place to keep abreast of all developments and I am also involved in it in my spare time. You just don't find a geek like that easily."
What do you actually think of Rinkel and what do you use it for?
"It is the perfect way to regulate all the bubbles! It has made my life as an entrepreneur a lot more pleasant. If it's too busy, I can easily transfer the line to an answering machine. So it's ideal for entrepreneurs! You can adjust everything quickly and are flexible as an entrepreneur. For example, for mobile bicycle repair, we could easily transfer the number to the new business unit without any hassle."
What are your future plans?
"Basically, I just want to continue in the same way. I am happy that the cargo bike revolution has finally taken off and that I have managed to find my own place in it. The fact that I can now make a living from my hobby is fantastic! I think cargo bike sales are still a growth market. Especially since corona, of course, people cycle a lot more to avoid public transport. I have the ideal capacity now. I can serve my clientele at the level they are used to. Unfortunately, I can't help everyone and that's ok."
An entrepreneur who says no...
"True, I just say no sometimes. The capacity I have now is maximum. I cannot do more without compromising the quality of my service. During corona, there was a huge spike in requests, then I put the phone on voicemail. You can't help everyone. That is sometimes not nice for potential customers, but it ensures that I keep my quality. Of course, we are always available for service and warranty. I now have enough time for fun things (with family) and that is also important to me."
We spoke to: Aram Brucker, Bike Whisperer at Dr. Beyk