Create lifetime customers by reinventing the wheel


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Creating customer loyalty isn’t always as easy as riding a bike. Just ask Chris Zane, owner of Zane’s Cycles, and author of a new book, “Reinventing the Wheel: The Science of Creating Lifetime Customers.” lifetime customer book

You don’t need to own a bicycle to enjoy Zane’s account of how he turned a humble bicycle shop into a model of customer centricity. As someone who is tirelessly devoted to creating a superior customer experience, Zane’s Cycles is on track to make $21 million in sales this year. According to a recent article in Inc. magazine, Zane’s Cycles has had an average growth rate of 23.5% over the past 30 years. His cycle business has successfully weathered every business cycle. That’s testament to the durable loyalty of the company’s customers.

Chris Zane bought a bike shop in Connecticut when he was 16. It wasn’t always a smooth ride. In his book, Zane owns up to his mistakes and failed ideas. But, he kept making progress, and along the way he laid down several foundational ideas for his business:

  • “…no matter what kind of business you run, you should be in the relationship-building and experience-selling business because that is how you will find the greatest success.”
  • “The first part of selling an experience, then, is finding a way to connect with your customer–to find that thing that will absolutely blow them away.”
  • “…we still benchmark out success not on the products we offer or the price we sell them at but on how well we connect with our customers through the services we provide them.”

One of the keys to Zane’s success was his focus on customer lifetime value (he determined each customer is worth $12,500 over their lifetime to his company). That enabled him to make very clear decisions on what will add or subtract from that value. Figuring out your customer’s lifetime value is a key part of many successful businesses. (Read more about Customer Lifetime Value or CLV here and get an online calculator.)Chris Zane

If you want practical customer service ideas and examples of building customer retention, Chris reveals the thinking behind his strategies and the programs that grew his business and put many of his competitors out of business. The core principle driving his decisions: Create a lifetime bond with customers.

Some of the ways that Zane’s Cycles wow its customers include:

  • Giving every customer a hand-written thank you for their bike purchase.
  • Giving away bike replacement parts for free if they are cost less than a dollar.
  • Offering have a coffee bar in their store so customers can come in and relax, talk to other cyclists and enjoy the cycling culture.
  • The store allows anyone to take a bike out for a spin without having to leave a deposit or give them collateral. (The book includes a hilarious anecdote about how someone tried to steal a bike that way but was thwarted.)

I love that at his store, they “…offer more service than what seems reasonable.” They know that this builds trust and loyalty with customers.

Chris Zane is a great spokesperson (sorry, couldn’t resist) for the power of customer service. Check out his book and get more practical ideas on how to grow your business by creating lifetime customers.


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