Wiggle and CTC

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
thirdcrank
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Re: Wiggle and CTC

Postby thirdcrank » 5 Dec 2012, 7:24pm

Can I make the point that there is a long-running thread reviewing wiggle as an interner retailer?

viewtopic.php?f=18&t=42638

This one is about the CTC shop (which is currently operated by wiggle.)

The CTC is now a charity whose trustees are bound by law to act in the best interests of the charity, not its members. One doesn't join a charity on the basis of "what's in it for me?" The main benefit is the warm glow of knowing one is supporting "a good thing." Anything beyond that is an unexpected bonus.

pete75
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Re: Wiggle and CTC

Postby pete75 » 5 Dec 2012, 11:05pm

thirdcrank wrote:C
The CTC is now a charity whose trustees are bound by law to act in the best interests of the charity, not its members. One doesn't join a charity on the basis of "what's in it for me?" The main benefit is the warm glow of knowing one is supporting "a good thing." Anything beyond that is an unexpected bonus.


Yes but I suspect most people joined when it was a club.

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Re: Wiggle and CTC

Postby thirdcrank » 6 Dec 2012, 8:00am

pete75 wrote: ... Yes but I suspect most people joined when it was a club.


You are right, of course, but I was only addressing the newer membership. The "club" CTC members voted to convert their club into a charity after quite a long period of campaigning when issues like this were aired.

(PS I suppose I could have included "... or vote for conversion to charity status .... " but it might have been seen as being unnecessarily provocative. The die is cast etc., or rather, the ballots were.)

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Re: Wiggle and CTC

Postby pioneer » 6 Dec 2012, 8:26am

Pity it still isn't a club rather than a charity. Too many strings attached IMO to warrant the change. I wouldn't be surprised if in the near future a breakaway faction form within the CTC and a new touring club is born.

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Paul Smith SRCC
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Re: Wiggle and CTC

Postby Paul Smith SRCC » 6 Dec 2012, 1:12pm

Si wrote:
pioneer wrote:When it comes time to re-new the CTC shop contract, I'd like to see it going back to Bike Plus. They were much better IMO.


Alas, I believe that Steve, who created the CTC dedicated help desk at B+ has moved on and so we might not get the same sort of attention again (especially considering the effort they went to to accommodate the CTC before the plug was pulled on them).

Which is a great pity, because, as you say, they were better - well at least for my needs they were: a more varied range of useful touring/commuting items than Wiggle, plus plenty of help and advise (yes you could actually phone up and chat about what you wanted).


Actually Si I'm still called Paul Smith :wink: You are right that I'm no longer at Bikeplus though, in 2008 I went back to working in an actual local bike shop as apposed to working in a virtual mail order one; note that BikePlus did and do have an actual store, I ran the Mail order side only, I only popped into the 'real world' to help out from time to time if needed.

I have said this before but as it was over two years ago may be worth repeating some of it here. The CTC changed the focus of the CTC shop from when I ran it, at the end of the three year contract it was made clear to me that the CTC went with what was a better financial offer. When GB Cycles/Bike+ took over the shop from the CTC, the organisation seemed to want the focus to be on customer service far more than it was on simply increasing revenue. The new shop had dedicated CTC staff (OK that was mainly me, as I ran it on my own mostly as we had to have completely separate systems to GB cycles) who members could contact by email, letter and telephone, the website content was also completely different to the more race bike focus of GB Cycles.

When we took it over the original CTC shop items from Godalming were retained, all of them, we couldn't drop one; many of which were hard to find items which to the CTC organisations credit they had stocked in part as they were not easily available to CTC members, often these niche products they had imported themselves as there was no UK distributor, additional items along these lines were also added during the three year term, again something I wouldn't have necessarily considered from a commercial point of view. Like wise we also advertised, at our cost, items that the organisation wanted the shop to offer. After BikePlus lost the franchise to Evans BikePlus continued running the same advertisement in the CTC magazine under their own name, I naturally had more freedom with what I could and couldn’t advertise and the turnover/profit increased significantly. To an extent though I applauded how the CTC wanted to the CTC shop to be run, with these potentially non commercial or hard to find items. I have to say when we did lose the franchise at the time I did feel slightly hard done by, I had maintained and arguably even improved the service, especially in speed of dispatch, I had increased niche products available, I had even increased the turnover, so though that was all to the good. If they were chasing more turnover-profit over I could have taken the store in that direction as well, although I have to be honest I'm not sure I could have competed with Evans offer who I believe guaranteed a minimum sum to the CTC, we in comparison gave them 10% of turnover regardless of margin, Evans if I recall matched the 10% of turnover as and when they went over the sum they had guaranteed; naturally I was not 'in the loop' when after four years the CTC shop moved onto Wiggle so haven't a clue what their offer was. You may have picked up on four years, if I recall Evans dropped the shop 1 year into the second 3 year term running the franchise, as they were allowed to if they wished, if their contract was the same as ours that is, both parties could stop the contract at any time.

Times change of course, it could be argued that it is more important to generate revenue that is then spent wisely by the CTC organisation, by the same token both Evans and now Wiggle are major mail order outlets, they have increased revenue by increasing custom, so on some levels you simply can’t argue with that. However, they are not a local bike shop offering a personal service with niche products as the CTC shop once was; on a personal note I think it is a real shame that the CTC organisation has changed direction in this way, for me it’s now just another supplier as apposed to something rather unique or special; now it’s neither. Increasing turnover and profit is all rather marvelous to those who benefit; although I’m not quite so sure if it is the CTC members who are the beneficiaries in quite the same way they once were. That said who other than a slick mail order operator would want it, there are a few touring mail order specialists out there who you may think would be a logical choice, but, why would they need it, they have their customer already. Another option would be back to someone like BikePlus, but if I recall the CTC didn't have that many offers from retailers like that back then, another option would be for the CTC to take the shop back, but that would seem a step backwards in some circles, part of the reason they off loaded the shop in the first place was to offload the financial risk, so can't see that happening.

Fortunately both the large mail order specialists and local bike shops still justifiably exist, to an extent the local bike shop these days concentrates on service, even more so now than ever before, I am pleased and rather relieved that they can and do compete in the modern market place. With internet shopping there is always someone somewhere prepared to do something cheaper than you; cheaper does not always equate to better of course, for many the advice and service they enjoy at a quality local bike shop often means they end up with the correct product; a mail order bargain is less of a bargain if you have gone and bought the wrong thing of course.

Paul Smith.

thirdcrank
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Re: Wiggle and CTC

Postby thirdcrank » 6 Dec 2012, 2:04pm

Without wishing to give him a warm damp feeling up his back, I think it's worth remembering that when Paul was a regular contributor to this forum, he often answered technical queries about bike equipment, usually in considerable detail and well-illustrated with pics, but I don't ever remember him taking the opportunity to plug his shop.

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Re: Wiggle and CTC

Postby Si » 7 Dec 2012, 9:56am

Paul Smith SRCC wrote:Actually Si I'm still called Paul Smith :wink:


Whoops, sorry Paul - got your name mixed up with Steve Smith who used to be at another bike shop I used.

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Re: Wiggle and CTC

Postby Paul Smith SRCC » 7 Dec 2012, 8:14pm

Si wrote:
Paul Smith SRCC wrote:Actually Si I'm still called Paul Smith :wink:


Whoops, sorry Paul - got your name mixed up with Steve Smith who used to be at another bike shop I used.


Don't worry Si; no offence taken, I don't know who I am myself half the time either :lol:

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Re: Wiggle and CTC

Postby The Mechanic » 8 Dec 2012, 11:55am

thirdcrank wrote:Can I make the point that there is a long-running thread reviewing wiggle as an interner retailer?

viewtopic.php?f=18&t=42638

This one is about the CTC shop (which is currently operated by wiggle.)

The CTC is now a charity whose trustees are bound by law to act in the best interests of the charity, not its members. One doesn't join a charity on the basis of "what's in it for me?" The main benefit is the warm glow of knowing one is supporting "a good thing." Anything beyond that is an unexpected bonus.


(my bold)

Off topic I know but I wonder how many members, new and old, actually understand that.
Cancer changes your outlook on life. Change yours before it changes you.

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Si
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Re: Wiggle and CTC

Postby Si » 10 Dec 2012, 8:57am

The Mechanic wrote:
thirdcrank wrote:Can I make the point that there is a long-running thread reviewing wiggle as an interner retailer?

viewtopic.php?f=18&t=42638

This one is about the CTC shop (which is currently operated by wiggle.)

The CTC is now a charity whose trustees are bound by law to act in the best interests of the charity, not its members. One doesn't join a charity on the basis of "what's in it for me?" The main benefit is the warm glow of knowing one is supporting "a good thing." Anything beyond that is an unexpected bonus.


(my bold)

Off topic I know but I wonder how many members, new and old, actually understand that.


Your problem is defining what is best for the charity. Wiggle might bring in more money to the charity, but Bike Plus might be better for cycling over all (given that it did much more than just sell a very narrowly targeted line of kit), which is promoting the charity's aims.

thirdcrank
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Re: Wiggle and CTC

Postby thirdcrank » 10 Dec 2012, 9:53am

For my part, I have no problem at all. There will be a lot of law on this subject and it's only going to be applied if somebody with some clout raises a fuss. Then the Charity Commissioners would decide, subject to that decision being subject to judicial review (as they just discovered when they tried to interfere with the jealously guarded privileges of the public (AKA private) school sector. I suspect that going for the best deal in terms of £££ will always be hard to criticise, but who knows.

Once upon a time, the CTC was a club to which many people felt they belonged. I think some still have that feeling. Then, it became more businesslike, so some members began to look at it in that way too. As in what does it cost and what's in it for me? The membership then voted (by a landslide by some accounts) for a change to charity status. There was also the promise (better described, perhaps, as an aspiration) the the tax wheezes made it a no-brainer for individual members as well as the wider CTC.

The bottom line is that trading by and on behalf of charities (that's a cumbersome phrase because I don't want to refer to wiggle as a charity shop :mrgreen: ) is intended first and foremost to benefit the coffers of the charity. Customers benefit from the warm glow of supporting the charity, not preferential trading conditions. If you don't believe me, just look at public schools: all those altruistic people squandering zillions to reduce the burden on the state sector by taking their brats out of it. Altruism at its very best. :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Re: Wiggle and CTC

Postby The Mechanic » 10 Dec 2012, 11:19am

thirdcrank wrote:For my part, I have no problem at all. There will be a lot of law on this subject and it's only going to be applied if somebody with some clout raises a fuss. Then the Charity Commissioners would decide, subject to that decision being subject to judicial review (as they just discovered when they tried to interfere with the jealously guarded privileges of the public (AKA private) school sector. I suspect that going for the best deal in terms of £££ will always be hard to criticise, but who knows.

Once upon a time, the CTC was a club to which many people felt they belonged. I think some still have that feeling. Then, it became more businesslike, so some members began to look at it in that way too. As in what does it cost and what's in it for me? The membership then voted (by a landslide by some accounts) for a change to charity status. There was also the promise (better described, perhaps, as an aspiration) the the tax wheezes made it a no-brainer for individual members as well as the wider CTC.

The bottom line is that trading by and on behalf of charities (that's a cumbersome phrase because I don't want to refer to wiggle as a charity shop :mrgreen: ) is intended first and foremost to benefit the coffers of the charity. Customers benefit from the warm glow of supporting the charity, not preferential trading conditions. If you don't believe me, just look at public schools: all those altruistic people squandering zillions to reduce the burden on the state sector by taking their brats out of it. Altruism at its very best. :lol: :lol: :lol:


And, in many cases, education at its very best, which is more than can be said for a significant number of state schools.
Cancer changes your outlook on life. Change yours before it changes you.

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Re: Wiggle and CTC

Postby thirdcrank » 10 Dec 2012, 11:48am

The Mechanic wrote: ...And, in many cases, education at its very best, which is more than can be said for a significant number of state schools.


Sorry. I'll have to rein in my use of irony. Of course it's education at its very best because that's where most of the resources are concentrated partly through the historical quirk that if it's education it's inevitably charitable and therefore entitled to all the tax concessions. The side effect is that while the élites can opt out of the state system, it will never get better.

There was an interesting bit of research recently by the Sutton Trust about personal statements for university applications, with some examples. One was able to recount how he had spent a period shadowing an ambassador at the United Nations, another had worked part-time in a local pub. You don't need a doctorate to work out which went to Bash Street School.

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Re: Wiggle and CTC

Postby Joe.B » 10 Dec 2012, 12:09pm

Paul Smith’s comments make for interesting reading and is quite a good history lesson for me having only been in the CTC for four years.

One of the problems with the CTC/Wiggle shop is that like 90% of internet shops and LBS it focuses on the big sellers, Mountain biking, Racing, TT and Triathlon. They offer little for the tourist, audxer, tandem rider, recumbent rider or utility cyclist, i.e. me.

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Re: Wiggle and CTC

Postby Paul Smith SRCC » 11 Dec 2012, 12:44pm

Si wrote:Your problem is defining what is best for the charity. Wiggle might bring in more money to the charity, but Bike Plus might be better for cycling over all (given that it did much more than just sell a very narrowly targeted line of kit), which is promoting the charity's aims.

That is just what I was thinking, what does indeed service the members better?

From memory I believe the bulk of the membership is made up of recreational and novice riders, as apposed to what some would call a traditional CTC touring cyclist, so arguably they don't need a dedicated CTC shop stocking more touring focused products.

I did notice when I ran the shop that many of these 'novices' would however contact me as they felt the CTC shop would offer unbiased product advice and in some ways this was the role of the CTC Shop, to offer them advice on product choice, advice that any quality local bike shop should of course also offer; which of as far as I am concerned we did. Now I am a typical vocational type, I would imagine most of the CTC staff are, we have a passion for the CTC and its members and for my part giving this impartial advice to the best of my ability was the only practice I have ever followed; trust me, I would have done something far more financially rewarding if that wasn't the case! That said from a business point of view I also believe it to an extent be valid; the long term repeat custom in a cycle shop is always better than the short term deal, you can make money out of people time and time again but only rip then off once as far as I am concerned, so giving them impartial advice is the way forward. Get it right and the customer will often come back time and time again, get it wrong and not only may they take their custom else where but potentially you may put them off cycling all together, yes I know this may sound extreme, but how many buy a bike use it once, don't enjoy it then just store in the shed gathering cobwebs, often cause of this initial first ride that has been such hard work it has out them off could have be alievated by something as simple as not have their position set up correctly when it was collected, they may have also not have liked because with poor advice they bought the wrong type of bike or in the wrong size as such they have found it much harder than they should have; a potential cyclist put off at the first hurdle, a hurdle that they needn't have had to get over; shame when that happens and I have seen it so often.

Wiggle could and should in my opinion sort some of the concerns, more niche and touring specific products and perhaps dedicated CTC shop staff who could be available to talk to on the telephone; customers may well buy more profitable non niche products at the same time; see it as a loss leader perhaps. I'm surprised the CTC haven't insisted on this, when I ran the shop they were on my case all the time, perhaps Wiggle have so much power the CTC feel they can't dictate affairs in the same way they did with me, perhaps this is because the revenue stream is so high, or it maybe that few other suitable potential partners would want to run the CTC shop if Wiggle didn't, I would imagine Wiggle (and it has to be said like many retailers) need the CTC shop less than the CTC organisation need them, after all when we lost the CTC shop I then ran it as BikePlus and I had more freedom to do what I wanted, yet it has to be said along very similar lines, yet still naturally my costs were reduced, turnover went up by a third and gross and net profit increased. If the CTC upset Wiggle they could give back the shop and go back to advertising as Wiggle in the CTC magazine, so I would imagine the CTC would think very carefully before making many new demands.

Paul
Last edited by Paul Smith SRCC on 11 Dec 2012, 8:09pm, edited 1 time in total.