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Ski Shop Sales Staff - Buy This, or this .... - Page 2

post #31 of 51
Following the discussion I can see that it´s the same everywhere. Few good shops and salespeople, skiers overestimating or at least overrating themselves (yes, men, Lostboy was faster than me pointing out this), etc. etc. - there´s hardly anything I could add which you don´t know already.

Therefore just one comment.

Nightcat:
"... shops do have to take into account how much better customers are informed today, by testers like Keelty and Harb, than they were even 7 or 8 years ago. The shops haven't kept pace with the change in customer knowledge..."
Lars:
"... An educated consumer is the best customer. Always."

That´s a very valid point. An educated afficionado (I don´t mean an expert skier) often knows more about skis than an average salesman. If skiing is his hobby, the former has access to a vast amount of information which the salesman hardly ever finds, reads and processes.

Each fall I write a special issue of our ski mag with at least 100 pages. I wish it was more (like the Japanese or Italians) but it´s still fairly enough to produce an overview with some detailed information. (Just imagine me filtering everything from Epicski, not to speak about other websites in English and German. Add other sources of info, gear talks with pros, tests, demoing...)
These 100 pages concentrate such a quantity of information that hardly any salesman here can ever gather: he doesn´t have the time and there is no one here with English and German good enough to extract info from some advanced discussions or sources. Such rare speakers mostly have super jobs and don´t sell skis...)
Sure, a reasonable salesman buys the mag and reads everything to be ready for his educated customer. However, not all of them are reasonable, motivated, intelligent enough - if they are, they mostly don´t just sell skis...).

The above said is no bragging! it´s simply my full time job and at the same time hobby.

Otoh, there´s a danger that the educated customer reads and knows only one source., e.g. a commercial test in a mag where other articles on gear are basically paraphrases of companies´ marketing babble.
He enters the shop with the mag open and his index finger pointing at some paragraph in the text and wants this or that because his Ultimate Source the Mag says so... Actually, he may know the texts by heart but he may still be only half-educated.

Just being informed is not enough. You also have to filter the information. It´s sometimes extremely difficult if you are not an expert staying in contact with the trends, developments and other insiders.

Which leads us to:
(i) even an educated customer mostly needs some help and orientation
(ii) that´s where Epicski and similar forums are almost indispensable
(iii) cf. the corresponding thread on the value and uniqueness...
post #32 of 51
=== As a late-middle-aged female, I've found that I am pigeonholed into a category the minute I set foot in the door unless I am VERY "to the point" ===

You go girl! I have had the same thing happen to me. I held out for the skis I wanted even though I was told they were way too much ski for an old git like me. Well come to find out those skis are/were totally marvelous! I learned a lot on those skis and had tons of fun, something that wouldn’t have happened on the sluggish dogs the ‘experts’ wanted me to buy. Like you, I demo like crazy and buy what –I- want … not what someone else thinks is ‘suitable’.
post #33 of 51

I trust the bootfitter, but not the ski shop sales guy

I fully agree that ski shops are very poor at recommending skis. As a former USSF competitor, I find I am always being condescended too with a “these are not for you” or “this is the only ski I would recommend”. Most of the time these “professionals” will not even ask what trails at what areas do I usually like to ski. I tend to buy on eBay after reviewing the models on Realskiers.com and taking a few demo’s. I skip the sales BS and save hundreds of $$$$$.

I do find that a good bootfitter to be invaluable, and I do trust the recommendations of a properly trained boot tech. I now know what brands fit my foot shape well and which models provide the right level of performance. But I do depend on a good tech to dial in the fit.

Barrettscv

Live to ski, ski to live.
post #34 of 51
I think some of the local shops in this area are going to start reading these forums. I think they are tired of missing the trends, under stocking the (New hot ski) over stocking the wrong stuff.
The past couple of seasons have been rough on ski shops. People are walking in the door with info from these forums about what is and is not?

Year and a half ago, a Kid, @ local shop and I had a disagreement about what I was looking for in a ski. He did not so much underestimate my skiing ability. He was attempting to get me away from high end GS skis and onto Fats, Explosives / Apache Recons. He was probably right. You should have seen the smirk on his face when I walked in this summer looking for bindings for my Pro Rider.

MTT
post #35 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by snowcone
=== As a late-middle-aged female, I've found that I am pigeonholed into a category the minute I set foot in the door unless I am VERY "to the point" ===
You go girl! I have had the same thing happen to me. I held out for the skis I wanted even though I was told they were way too much ski for an old git like me. Well come to find out those skis are/were totally marvelous! I learned a lot on those skis and had tons of fun, something that wouldn’t have happened on the sluggish dogs the ‘experts’ wanted me to buy. Like you, I demo like crazy and buy what –I- want … not what someone else thinks is ‘suitable’.
The multiple experience of not only girls being apriori underrated by the shop guys makes me ask:

Don´t you ever buy skis with someone accompanying you who really knows the stuff? (Sure, if you have such a friend.)

I wouldn´t buy a computer just walking into a shop and asking. The first sentence I utter they know that I don´t know... I have a man who gets such things for me.
You see someone approach the skis, grab and hold them and you mostly know whether he´s an expert or not. It´s not absolutely reliable and you can´t tell some smaller differences (your level 5, 6, and 7 will probably hold the skis similarly) and it tells little about the customer´s preferences as to terrain or style but it often gives the salespeople some clue.
Otoh, they should see, feel and smell a good skier who really knows what he/she wants. Especially if he/she has PSIA on the jacket...

I was in a shop in the mountains last winter. I had race suit with training shorts and a traning VIST jacket on. I asked a simple question if they had... or how much something was... The guy tried to talk to me like I was a standard middle-aged guy who evidently needs some fairly basic lecture.
Wouldn´t it occur to you that a man in a race outfit probably has something to do with skiing? :
post #36 of 51
A grown man parading around in tights and short pants. I would have given you the business too. Shop rat has to have some fun. He's only human!
post #37 of 51
I agree, most of shops i've been to here in Ontario have not been very helpful. My wife was looking for Ski's so we went to a place recomened by a friend. I spoke to the manager he was talking down to us, because we were new to skiing, but my wife is pretty good. A ski instructer friend rates her intimediate to advanced. We just walked out i couldn't belive this guy. Didn't even listen to what she was looking for. The funny thing is this was a dediacated ski shop. I bought my Ski's stock from a box store, but the assocote was a skier. He was really excited that i was takeing up skiing and really wanted to help me out. he asked what i liked how i skied and what i was looking for, they had all kinds of models but he directed me to a ski that was a couple of years old (K2 escape Radius). He said there was no need for me to pay $700 for newer model skis. I bought them and i love em!! They ski way better then demo's i was useing and i have room to grow. After going to a bunch of shops,I have learned this; when buying ski's try to get a sales person who LOVES to ski. They will want to help you get on the slopes and ski well.
post #38 of 51
Having worked in suburban shops (moonlighted back in the 80s), I can tell you that most of the guys there are in it for beer money. Around here, it's a little different, and most of the shop rats ski, and it helps. Around here, when they ask ability questions, they pay attention. But, they know the areas, the terrain, and can understand the implications of your answers. In general, typical shop rats can't (at least in my experience).

Turn the tables on 'em: "So, what do you like the most about working in a ski shop?" After their answer, decide if you want to work with them or not...
post #39 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by checkracer
Don´t you ever buy skis with someone accompanying you who really knows the stuff? (Sure, if you have such a friend.)
I know more about skiing than most of my friends, so, no, I am going in alone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by checkracer
I wouldn´t buy a computer just walking into a shop and asking. The first sentence I utter they know that I don´t know... I have a man who gets such things for me.
And I know WAY more about computers than anyone except the techs who used to work for me before I retired. I started out with an Osbourne eons ago.
post #40 of 51
Well it seems most of the major points have been covered on this subject, and it has been enjoyable reading.

Since getting back into skiing the in January '04, I have become increasingly fanatical about filling my brain with as much information on ski gear as it can hold (a limit I'm as yet far from, but Epic is really aiding this goal). I love to go into shops and talk the ears off of whoever's available, and get a sense of what their motivations are. The ones who like talking about skiing in general are the ones I tend to trust. If you go in to a shop in September and see that they go into a sort of reverie of anticipation when ski season is mentioned (like unto Pavlov's dogs), it's a good bet this is someone who thinks in terms of function more than sales numbers.

At my favorite local shop, I've met one of the aforementioned types, and bought a pair of boots from him in late September last year. I spent almost three hours there asking questions, trying on boots, and ultimately having the thermoflex liners fitted for the ones I chose. He's a skier, and a boot tech; talking to him about equipment is much like the sort of knoweledgeable conversations you find here at Epic. He asked about ability level, prefered terrain, and was not deterred from giving me his full attention even when I told him of my limited funds.

However, in the same shop I've also run into, on a couple occasions, a guy who seems soley interested in getting as much money out of me as possible. He does seem to be knoweledgeable, but it's always about the buck with him, for example: I brought in a ski for a base weld (we had a rocky year) and asked to confirm what I'd been told on the phone was the price for just a base weld, I explained that I really wasn't interested in a full tune as it was still super rocky, and I planned on getting a full tune after we got better coeverage, but for now I just didn't want to get water in between my base and the core, just the base weld please. Then he asked me where my other ski was, that they needed it because when you tuned skis you needed to sand them both evenly. I told him again, I just need a base weld on this spot here (I gestured). Well I thought he had finally understood, then watched as he began to write up the ticket, and he stared to write it up not for a base weld alone, but for a full tune, and he asked me to bring in the other ski! I explained it one more time, and he finally relented. I don't think he does any tech work, he just pushes product.

The moral to this story is, if the person you talk to doesn't respond to you, ask to talk to a tech. Of course, this doesn't work well when it's busy, so choose a time when they're not so likely to be busy, like well before the season starts, and the crush for equipment commences.

Then there was the kid in another store that thought that Metrons were a big mistake by Atomic.....
post #41 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by telerod15
An grown man parading around in tights and short pants. I would have given you the business too. Shop rat has to have some fun. He's only human!
I haven´t considered this. Why not, if so, he should have his portion of fun, I don´t mind.
(There was a discussion about the "funny" guys in race suits in winter, remember? I ski mostly in Austria and no one wonders there.)

Still, I think he was just reciting his standard role without thinking. No big deal, I never though about it till I read some of the posts here. Fact is, I´m seldom in ski shops and I don´t get/buy there those specialized items one mostly needs.
post #42 of 51
Motivation drives all employees/owners: Whether it is internal, (like many dedicated partime ski instructors doing it for the love of the sport) or external--CASH. Some employees/owners are shortsighted, others are in business for the long haul.
--------
For best treatment: Seek a ski supplier who has either the internal or long haul cash motives-- a little profit every 2 years for the next 40.

Sadly, a few shops I frequent have both the former and latter motivators. My sales person strives to meet my needs and fill me with info, yet the guy working with the rich family who is taking their first ski trip is selling top end products left and right. One might call my sales person a sucker. I often feel bad for him, because he is doing the right thing. ( this keeps the tips flowing for him ) Sometimes I want to wisper to the father of the rich family---you might benefit from a beginner or intermediate ski, as opposed to those $1400 expert "ski name". But then I draw back and think, "someone has to pay the rent/heat/salaries of this shop, if it makes this rich guy happy to purchase the newest and best of everthing on the shelf, so be it"

This family is the reason skis are marked up WAY high. I have seen suckers who don't even ask the price. SKI magizine said I should have this/that, sell it to me. Customer: What ski sock should I get? Sales Person: This one is best (the most expensive $18.00/pr) Customer: Good give me 5 pr for each member of my family because we are going skiing for 5 days. "Ca--ching"

At Killington last year I saw a guy with the ski I have been considering purchasing but my skiing and wallet can't justify the $1000 price at this time. He was pushing his ankels through ever turn, his front edges were 1/2 inch off the snow, the ski never bent, nor did he know how to bend it. But he was having a blast, because he was skiing and was on the latest and greatest. Who am I to deprive him of that feeling? Was the sale's person wrong?

Next year I might be able to purchase them at his garage sale---edges sharp as the day they were born---because he 'up-graded'.
post #43 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by GregGaspar
Motivation drives all employees/owners: Whether it is internal, (like many dedicated partime ski instructors doing it for the love of the sport) or external--CASH. Some employees/owners are shortsighted, others are in business for the long haul.
--------
For best treatment: Seek a ski supplier who has either the internal or long haul cash motives-- a little profit every 2 years for the next 40.
Do you really think a sales person is going to remember you if you buy one pair of skis every two years?

And why would you tip a guy who sells you skis?

I somewhat agree with your rich-guy example... but just remember: the people who are able to make that much money deserve to spend it any way they want. If that happens to be on a $1000 pair of skis they use 5 times over the next two years, so be it.
post #44 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Dunn
Do you really think a sales person is going to remember you if you buy one pair of skis every two years?
Well, if it's a small shop, yes they will! (speaking as someone who used to work in a small ski shop)
post #45 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
Turn the tables on 'em: "So, what do you like the most about working in a ski shop?" After their answer, decide if you want to work with them or not...
this is a good approach to LIFE, and has value well beyond buying skis.

good one, ssh!
post #46 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by GregGaspar
Motivation drives all employees/owners: Whether it is internal, (like many dedicated partime ski instructors doing it for the love of the sport) or external--CASH. Some employees/owners are shortsighted, others are in business for the long haul.
--------
For best treatment: Seek a ski supplier who has either the internal or long haul cash motives-- a little profit every 2 years for the next 40.
right on the money, Greg.

I learned a practical business model from Adam Kahane, founder of Ski Center in Washington DC, which Telerod knows well, and which employs Brian Eardley ("erdz" in here) whom I've listed as a top bootfitter in the Wash DC area.

Adam's model was to create "customers for life" -- treat them like people you like, enjoy and want to help learn about skiing. Don't sell them anything in a "forced sale" situation. Provide information, let them decide. Be their guide through the world of equipment.

The point of such an approach is that you put all the "buy or not" power -- ALL OF IT -- in the consumer's hands. You trust the consumer to buy if he/she likes your store and your assistance.

This trust is the cornerstone of the long-term business relation.

Those who rejecte the trust engendering probably aren't worthy of a long-term relation anyway.

It's a little like love, if you ask me.

And it has its basis in respect for your fellow human, a notion in very short supply in a competitive, materialistic, capitalistic system. THAT, to me, is why it works so well. It's about the people, not the money. The money takes care of itself, eh?
post #47 of 51
I like talking to shop people for their personal opinions on skis they have tried. If you know much about skiing/equipment you can tell pretty easily what kind of skier they are. I think it's kind of different, people from this forum will be highly educated and walk in knowing what type of ski they want, hopefully have demoed it etc. We are not the type of people who would be surprised by how a ski felt on snow, given the information available now. If someone refuses to sell you a ski you know you want/can handle, eBay it, walk in, proclaim how you saved $300 and ask them to mount it, hehe.
post #48 of 51
It does seem to vary from shop to shop. At the two shops I've gone to the most (one in a major urban city, one in a suburb of that city, incidentally), I've never myself had a problem. If the first thing you say gives them the impression you know what you're talking about, they assume you do. The only problem I ever had with either shop was when they put down the race bindings (DIN starts at 10) for a pair of ordinary skis (which I changed to the normal binding when they asked me to sign the release for setting DIN beyond standard range).

From passing observation while milling around or waiting for something in shops, it also seems to be true that a lot of shoppers don't have any idea what they want, and many of them try to pretend like they do for some obscure reason. I could see how a tired sales-guy could just start assuming all customers are idiots.
post #49 of 51

Teachskiljp - shop suggestions

Don't know if you're familiar with them, but Bob Smith's Wilderness House on Comm Ave in Boston has always treated me well. My wife is a former instructor - and she would always get the intermediate carving ski suggested at the other stores. At BSWH they took the time to have a conversation with her. We've purchased a lot of gear there and always come out feeling like the sales staff were new friends. Had lots of good luck at Ski Haus in Wilmington as well.
post #50 of 51
Harry and/or whoever else questions a Tip---maybe I would not tip when I purchased skis---but I only do that ever 4 yrs. I did tip on my last ski purchase, which was via Pro-form discount. I really did save 200 plus dollars, so why shouldn't I give the tech who mounted and waxed them 20 bucks? I always tip when switching bindings, boot work, welding bases, fixing edges, waxing etc. I find I get more for the money.
AND as answered already, small shops DO remember you. And so do big shops who keep long term employees. They shop may not know you, but the tech who gets the tip does.

There are lots of posts on this site regarding tips for instructors...many shop guys either are instructors or are very similar to many instructors--they simply want to be there and help people. An extra 5 or 10 dollars goes a long way. Maybe not at the bar, but in building a relationship. Wouldn't you give a guy/gal your EXTRA effort if the last time you worked with him/her they dropped a fiver in your hand?

Last time I got a full tune, I mentioned I was going out west. When I picked up my skis, they were ready to travel with new ski ties and extra tape. That was worth the cash to me.
post #51 of 51
Parting note: As l left the shop with my new tune---the tech said, Very Sincerely, please let me know how that tune works for you. If you like it I will do it the same way next time. Otherwise I can change some things. What the specifics were, I didn't ask. However, I am very sure he will remember. I dont care if he did nothing different to my skis as opposed to the next ones on the table. However it made me feel pretty special, and I am sure that helped my confidence on the slopes the following week. The comment ensured my return---smart tech.
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