BR Bikes and Repairs sees 122% increase in customer contacts with their new website
The disruption caused by COVID-19 has been undeniable. Whether it is the tragic loss of life, the loneliness felt by those who have isolated for their own safety, the children no longer able to socialize with their classmates, or the surge in unemployment which can lead to homelessness and hunger, there are very few of us who have not been touched in some way by this pandemic.
As COVID-19 raged in the United States in the spring of 2020, the unemployment rate soared as high as 14.8%. Businesses rushed to cut payroll costs as demand for their products and services plummeted. As we approach the one year anniversary of COVID-19, unemployment has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.
Bernabe Romero was one such worker who was laid off due to the pandemic. Like so many in the United States, Bernabe found himself unemployed through no fault of his own.
However, Bernabe – along with his partner, Theresa Dobbs – provide us with a story of inspiration and a glimmer of hope against the backdrop of this pandemic. Losing his job gave Bernabe the opportunity to pursue a childhood passion on a full-time basis – repairing bikes.
How did the business begin?
Based in Champaign, IL, Bernabe and Theresa own BR Bikes and Repairs, a bicycle repairs and sales business.
“We started a mobile bicycle repairs and sales business after my partner was laid off due to the pandemic,” explains Theresa. “It turned out that losing his job was a blessing in disguise, because it gave Bernabe the opportunity to turn his side hustle into a full-fledged business.
Even before Covid, he had been fixing bikes for his friends ever since he moved to Champaign, IL, where many people use their bicycles to commute. Bernabe has always loved tinkering and building things, and he enjoys fixing bicycles more than he ever enjoyed the work at his previous jobs.
Our business consists of two strands: doing repairs and maintenance on our customers’ bicycles, including pickup and drop-off service; and buying used bicycles to refurbish and sell. Champaign-Urbana is a college town, and many people ride bicycles here, so we’ve begun to gain a lot of interest.”
About BR Bikes and Repairs
BR Bikes and Repairs is a mobile bike repair business based in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, owned by Bernabe Romero and Theresa Dobbs.
Their journey started in the midst of COVID-19. After being laid off due to the pandemic, Bernabe turned his childhood passion of building bicycles into a full-time business.
Providing unparalleled convenience to local bicycle owners, BR Bikes offers pickups, drop-offs and on-the-spot repairs in the Champaign-Urbana area. They also refurbish older bicycles, restoring them with a new lease of life.
Bicycle Sales & Repairs
The decision to invest in a website
As Theresa and Bernabe laid out their vision for their business, they knew that marketing was a key component of their growth. They had built a following on social media, but they were unsure about the next steps, as Theresa explains.
“Bernabe is the technical mastermind, and I take care of most of our customer communications and social media, but neither of us have a background in business administration or marketing. So there were a lot of things we had to learn from scratch.
Our business is still new, and we launched our social media last month [December 2020]. By the end of December, we went from most of our customers being people we knew, to most of them being people we didn’t know who had found us on Facebook.
We don’t have a brick-and-mortar store, since we mostly focus on mobile services. This made it hard for us to navigate selling our bikes. There was no central place where customers could go to see what bicycles we had in stock, and social media isn’t designed for that. Customers kept asking what bicycles we had in stock, and that was when we realized that that shouldn’t be a complicated question to answer, and that it would be much easier and more intuitive to have a website where we can list our inventory.
One thing we didn’t know anything about was website design and maintenance. We weren’t even sure that a website was right for us. After all, some small businesses get by without one, and just rely on social media – but it was the inventory issue that finally motivated us to take the plunge.
Fortunately, we already knew Tom and Stasia at True Boost, so we didn’t have to waste our time trying to find a diamond in the rough among digital marketing companies.”
Capitalizing on their competitive advantage
There was also one other aspect to the project to enable BR Bikes to make the most of a key competitive advantage – particularly in an area where a significant portion of the population speaks fluent Spanish.
“My partner Bernabe is Mexican, and we both feel it’s important to make all aspects of our business accessible for Spanish-speaking customers. Most bike shops don’t have any Spanish-speaking staff, so our bilingualism is a key competitive advantage. Bernabe has found that many Latinx people he knows do not feel comfortable going to the local bike shops for repairs, if they did not speak English at an advanced level. This provides a safety risk if folks are not getting their bikes properly serviced, so we are happy to provide a bilingual option. We also felt it was important to extend this focus to our website.
Tom at True Boost suggested a translation add-on to the website at no extra cost. This means when we edit the copy for our website, we can easily input an English and Spanish version, and our customers can read in the language of their preference.”
After BR Bikes reached out to True Boost Digital to discuss their requirements, the aims of the project were outlined. BR Bikes needed the following:
- A professional, responsive website design to keep their inventory updated
- Multilingual support to serve a broader client base
- Training and guidance on how to maintain the website after launch
- Advice for setting up their Google My Business profile to encourage customers to leave reviews
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The results of the project
With the website launched and off the ground, Theresa explains the benefits for BR Bikes and Repairs.
“In our first week having a website, our customer contacts increased by 122% compared to our average weekly customer contacts prior to having a website.
We are really happy with our website! It helps customers to see who we are and what we’re about. The inventory section saves us a lot of time fielding questions about the availability of different types of bicycles. Then that time we have saved is freed up to work on bikes, provide great customer service, and improve our marketing strategy.
The contact form on the website makes it easy to keep track of our customers and respond quickly. I’ve also noticed that messages through the contact form tend to be longer and more detailed than messages on social media. That is great because often customers provide helpful background information that we may have had to ask about if they hadn’t brought it up, again saving us time.
The website is better for us, and better for the customers too because it is easy to navigate and see our offerings. We are still happy to use social media platforms to build engagement, but social media is no substitute for a good website – especially for mobile businesses like ours!
True Boost also helped us set up our Google My Business account and reviews, and gave helpful advice which resulted in an increased number of customers leaving reviews.
We’re well on our way to becoming a well-known name in Champaign-Urbana thanks to True Boost Digital! We are very grateful for the support with our website and marketing.”