Reinventing the Wheel
The Science of Creating Lifetime Customers
By Chris Zane
(BenBella Books, Hardcover, 9781935618157, 240pp.)
Publication Date: March 2011
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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When Chris Zane bought his bicycle shop at age 16, his business struggled until he discovered the secret that catapulted his store into one of the largest in the country. His secret? Provide unbelievable, over the top, excessively generous customer service.
Chris Zane isn’t a management consultant or professor preaching a theory of customer service; he’s a hands-on entrepreneur whose customer service approach has yielded enormous success. Zane has become a business celebrity, including being featured in the most recent round of American Express television ads.
Featured in the New York Times and in Associated Press articles and bestowed numerous awards for its unique business practices and outstanding customer relations, Zane’s Cycles has produced ideas thought by many to be pie-in-the-sky. But these counterintuitive concepts have proven to be hard-headed and effective. For example, Zane’s offers a trade-in program for families who can turn in bicycles their kids have outgrown for a 100 percent credit toward new ones. Initially thought impossibly generous, this program has proven to be good business. Experience and a clear understanding of the lifetime value of a customer makes this program, and many others Zane’s implements, work.
In Reinventing the Wheel, commonly overlooked elements that make a business exceptional are revealed. Zane produces a case study unlike any otherone that shows the importance of investing in customers and employees and how businesses are really selling experiences, not products. His philosophies and tried-and-true methods of guerilla marketing will show entrepreneurs and business owners how to knock out the competition while thriving in any kind of economy and doing good for the community along the way.
At age 45, Christopher J. Zane is already a twenty-nine-year veteran of the retail bicycle industry. His story includes getting a state tax ID number at age 12, buying his first bike shop at age 16, and building Zane’s Cycles into largest bicycle shop in Connecticut by the age of 30. Today, Zane’s Cycles is one of the largest retail bicycle stores in the nation.
Zane’s unique approach to marketing includes strategies such as continual learning, the lifetime value of a customer, guerrilla marketing, bootstrapping, community relations, cost-controlled customer service, and image branding. He has positioned himself at the forefront of the industry by continuously setting standards in customer loyalty and creative marketing.
Since 1985, Zane has been accumulating awards and accolades such as the BBB Award of Recognition for Customer Service/Outstanding Business Practices; one of the 30 most influential people in the bicycle industry”; North America’s Best Bicycle Retailer, North American Bicyclist Magazine; Mass Mutual Blue Chip Enterprise Initiative Award; 2006 Customer First Award, Fast Company Magazine and the 2006 Connecticut Retailer of the Year.” Zane’s Cycles currently holds the status of Trek Bicycle Co.’s largest dealer worldwide. Most recently, Chris was inducted into the Junior Achievement Business Leader Hall of Fame, named the 2008 Customer Champion, 1to1 magazine, and the 2009 CT Climate Change Leadership Award.
Zane’s cutting-edge marketing techniques have been used as case studies in more than a dozen college textbooks worldwide and has been the subject of several articles in publications such as The Harvard Business Review, Inc. magazine, the Associated Press, Fortune magazine, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, as well as being profiled in Alpha Dogs, a HarperCollins bestseller by Donna Fenn. Zane has served as Quinnipiac University’s Entrepreneur in Residence and he is frequently featured on WCBS’s, The Wall Street Journal’s Small Business Report” with Joe Connolly.
A sought-after speaker, Zane has presented to individual companies and at numerous conferences: Yale University’s Business and Economic Forum; Quis 9 International Marketing Symposium; The Conference Board; Inc’s Annual Growing the Company Conference; Inc’s Annual CEO Symposium; WCBS Newsradio 88 Business Breakfast Forum, and ASU’s Compete Through Services Symposium, where he was the highest rated speaker. He is currently a board member of several organizations, including The Sachem Bank (IO) and ASU’s The Center for Services Leadership.
Chris' practical approach for balancing the art and science of service delivers exceptional customer experience. This book is a must-read for anyone seeking to maximize the value of lifelong customer relationships.”
Cody Phipps, President and COO, United Stationers Inc.
Chris Zane’s Reinventing the Wheel provides insights, proven practices, and anecdotal customer experience vignettes that demonstrate success by having a relentless focus on the Lifetime Value of the Customer.’ With an ever-increasing competitive market, where products and services are easily commoditized, Chris offers pragmatic approaches to consistently providing the best customer service experience resulting in improved loyalty and brand recognition.”
Joe M. Shaheen, Director-General Manager, The Boeing Service Company
Reinventing the Wheel is a must and easy read...from a genuine real-life, world-class entrepreneur...who hugs’ and embraces each customer and turns each one into a client for LIFE! Chris openly shares all his secrets of success love his stories a gem in every one of them. Anyone who believes that customer service is central to their business culture needs to read this book!”
Jack Mitchell, President, Mitchells/Richards/Marsh and author of Hug Your Customers
The first time I heard Chris Zane speak about customer service and creating lifetime customers, it changed my thinking forever. Get ready for a similar experience as you read this book.”
Steve Church, Senior Vice President, Chief Business Development and Process Officer, Avnet, Inc.
Chris Zane's bold —and practical— approach to cultivating lifetime customers holds valuable lessons for businesses large and small. Through a series of engaging stories, Chris shares his recipe for experiences that offer more than what customers expect. And he shows us how to build deep emotional bonds, even in the face of material price premiums. A fascinating read and an excellent testament to the power of customer centricity and unconditional service guarantees!”
Julie Moll, SVP, Global Brand Strategy and Research, Marriott International
Blend an unrivaled entrepreneurial spirit, a passion for delivering quality service, a highly creative mind, and a big dose of street smarts,’ and what you get is Chris Zane. Reinventing the Wheel is a marvelous book that will teach you and inspire you.”
Leonard Berry, marketing professor and author of Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic
Zane’s relentless pursuit of building life-long customers by reinventing the wheel is truly inspiring. Watch out bike dealers of America—Zane’s may be coming to your town next!”
Robert Zollars, Chairman & CEO, Vocera Communications, Inc.
Reinventing the Wheel is an inspirational story of how to look beyond the horizon of instant rewards in order to plant the seeds of deep brand loyalty and customer lifetime relationships.
Kim Gravell, VP, Innovation & Strategy Management, Cardinal Health Supply Solutions
Reinventing the Wheel tells a story of linking extraordinary service to value for the customers, the Zane’s employees, the communities it touches, and ultimately the culture and success of his business. It is hard to read the account of Zane’s service journey without stimulating ideas for my business and my life."
Chris Melocik, Senior Vice President, Integration & Process Improvement, Republic Services, Inc.
"Chris Zane, a hands-on entrepreneur, brings novel next practices to life and also demonstrates how to execute practices that others have only talked or written about. More than a case study, this book is a must-read for entrepreneurs, managers, marketers, and others wanting to grow their business through non conventional and truly innovative investments in customers."
Stephen Brown, PhD, Professor and Executive Director, Center for Services Leadership, W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University
What is an archetype?
Chris Zane’s Reinventing the Wheel provides a step by step business success roadmap for readers that will educate both the neophyte and the seasoned entrepreneur. His objective in this book is to share with the reader his secrets behind the Science of Creating Lifetime Customers.’
The title and age-old phrase —Reinventing the Wheel—might seem like a cliché to some, but in my estimation Chris’s book is bound to become an archetype and ideal example of the how to do it’ for long-term customer-relationship building in any business.
In writing this book, Chris taps his years of experience from his first bike shop in his teenage years up until today, where he has built a nationally recognized retail operation and distribution system used by some of America’s largest corporate organizations. He transitions from teaching you how to define your business’ to determining your strategy for a winning proposition’ to focusing on continuing improvement once your business model is working.’
I have known of Chris and his achievements for years, yet this book was a joy for me to read and to learn from, advancing through each page on the Amazon Kindle with an anticipation and an appetite for more.
His combination of simple talk and sensible explanation, combined with true-life stories, makes his first book a simple read. I will keep Chris’s Reinventing the Wheel on my desktop for my personal reference and to lend out to our company’s future brand builders.”
Jim Issler, President and CEO of H.H. Brown (a Berkshire Hathaway company)