Focus on WeBuyAnyBike.co.uk – Interview with Gary Cheetham, MD
A lot of the early posts on this blog focused on customer service, both good and bad. I always waved a flag for excellent customer service, and shone a light on not so brilliant service! With this in mind I’ve teamed up with We Buy Any Bike – a family run business based in Manchester. They consistently get excellent ratings on independent sites such as Trustpilot and Review Centre.
Don’t let the company name confuse you. It’s not affiliated with any other company who will buy your vehicle. They are independent, and have low overheads, meaning they are in a position to make fair offers for the bikes they buy. They are passionate about bikes too, and have been for generations. They are bikers and not ‘suits’. Plus, they don’t agree a price and then get their guys to haggle the seller down during the collection. Interestingly, they are happy to be scrutinised too. They’ve invited me to take a closer look at their business, to tell the story from my perspective.
In the coming weeks I’ll be publishing interviews with key members of the WeBuyAnyBike.co.uk team to see how they operate. From the customer facing purchasing team, to the folks that collect the bikes, to the mechanics that check them over and get them ready for resale. First of all, I’ve gone straight to the top to speak to Gary Cheetham. Gary is the Managing Director of WeBuyAnyBike.co.uk and was happy to reveal the man behind the title.
Hi Gary, lovely to meet you!
Could you tell me your career journey from where you began, to where you are now – the MD of WeBuyAnyBike.co.uk ?
Something my father and his father before him have always done is vehicle mechanicing and motorbike restoration. I really did grow up around the things and as soon as I could hold a spanner I was mechanicing at the family workshop. Fast forward a few years and you get to buying and selling the bikes, and that’s really how it all started.
What’s an average day for you? Are you still hands on as the Managing Director?
My comfort zone has always been in speaking to people and making sure they’re happy. Thankfully I still get to speak to the customers and this is something I’ve always enjoyed. I also oversee the final stages of buying the bikes, including organising collection and making payment to the customer. We always make sure the payment is in the customer’s bank before we take the bike away so it’s really important that I’m involved in that. I also work with the staff and make sure they’re delivering the best service possible.
You proudly state that you’re a family run business, who from your family is involved?
I think anyone who walks into the showroom is likely to bump into myself or my cousin Alan on the sales floor, and if you’re not careful you’ll find yourself chatting about bikes for an hour with us over a brew. My wife is harder to find, but she works with the purchasing team and she personally prices many of the bikes.
What is your bike history?
I’ve driven 125s on a CBT for six years, it was only when I had to redo my CBT for the third time that I went for my bike license. I was quite happy on the 125. I love restoring them, and there was always a 125 that I could get my hands on. Obviously in this job I get the opportunity to ride any bike. I went from 600s, bandits, SVs, to sports bikes, all the way up to BMW s1000RRs, they’re an unbelievable weapon! But to be honest more recently I’ve been loving the cruisers.
What would you you say the advantage to your customers would be of selling their bike to you, rather than putting it on eBay, or selling privately?
Many people do try to sell privately on eBay first before they come to us, and honestly it’s usually quite difficult to get the price that they want. You’ll find there really is a reason so many people choose to sell their bike to us. Unlike eBay or AutoTrader we actually have a dialogue with the customer, and like to make sure everybody’s happy before we agree on a price. We have a reputation to uphold and can’t go around ripping people off.
Many people also put it up for auction and struggle to attract the interest, and end up with fewer bids and letting it go for a steal. If they come to us they’ve got no concern of somebody coming to their house to steal it or smash it, no-one time-wasting. Plus there’s the additional benefit of a quick sale, everyone lives in an environment now where they expect everything to be done in 5 minutes. That’s the pace of our lives nowadays.
I’m aware you have competitors who provide a similar service to you – what sets WeBuyAnyBike.co.uk apart from your competition?
What does set us aside from other businesses, our advertising is low and our overheads are low. That’s what allows us to give more for the bikes. We were the original, the first to do this of this kind in this way with motorbikes. We genuinely aim to give a good service, combined with the fact that we’ve been doing it for so long with the right service, we get a lot of repeat customers.
It seems that every man and his dog is trying do the same thing these days, fortunately, we were the first and the original and we have built up a good trust, and we do like to make sure our customers are happy before we part ways.
So, walk me through the process of selling a bike through your site – it’s immediately clear that you simply put in the registration number – what happens after that?
People usually fill out our online bike valuation form in around 1 minute. They’ll then get a phone call back from my wife or one of her colleagues the same day, or at least within 24 hours, to just run over the details and make sure we have everything right. We can usually make an offer there and then, but if we have to triple-check with our buyers we call back the following day. It’s important to remember that all of this is made possible because we’ve iterated on the process over many years.
We’ve put alot of time into getting the process right. People are usually surprised at how easy and quick it is to sell it to us. Unlike their local dealer or some of our competitors, our focus is 100% on buying bikes, and everything about the business is set up to help us do it in a professional way.
You don’t just buy bikes, you sell them too. What process do you go through to get the bikes you’ve purchased ready for re-sale?
With a car, if something goes wrong it’s an insurance claim. With a bike, if something goes wrong it’s a hospital visit. We’re keenly aware of this and always need to make sure the bike is up to our standards for resale. We’ve got a really good team in the mechanics department now, and this being my expertise I usually give the bikes a final check-over personally.
The process is quite extensive, the go through a considerable checking process. It’s a necessity to make sure nothing’s going to go wrong with the bike after it goes out the door. Over the years, we’ve production lined it to a point.
– Initial inspection and MOT : Straight out of the van we have a specialist give the bike a good look over, and fills out our inspection checklist. The bike is also thoroughly cleaned to make sure any rust, corrosion, or stone chips are visible.
– Vehicle detailing : A process involved in removing blemishes and reconditioning. Anything found in the initial inspection stage is corrected at this point.
– Road test : Usually the lad’s favourite part! A quick blast on the motorway and local A-roads. It’s important we also get them to temperature multiple times so any kinks can reveal themselves to us.
Do you worry that previous owners might ‘follow’ the resale of their bike, and get upset you are profiteering from their sale? I know bikers can be very protective of their rides!
First of all we are bikers and I pride myself on providing a genuine service to the biker community. There are alot of bikers out there who would like to see their bike go to a good home, frequently people don’t have the time to use them. We care for them when they come into our ownership and it’s pleasing to see them become somebody else’s enjoyment. I think the other thing people don’t realise is just how small our margins usually are, we arrange free collections, we put every bike through the same rigorous checking process.
Even though our overheads are low there is a cost incurred in advertising and actually conducting the sale. And remember we’ll always engage with bikers and try to clear up some of these misunderstandings when they do arise.
I’ve heard that other companies will haggle down the price offered for a bike they are buying. You have a no haggle policy – does that mean your quotes are lower to start with?
We work as hard as possible to keep our overheads low, we don’t sell out of a fancy glass-fronted showroom, instead we are essentially in the basement of a mill in Oldham. This lets us bid high where others would bid low, and our no-haggle policy is a big part of that. Something’s only worth what somebody else is willing to pay, and it’s only worth that at that moment in time.
In a day it could be worth more or less. We’ve bought many a bike off of somebody who’s tried to sell on autotrader for even less than what we’ve paid, and then we’ve bought it for more than that and moved it on quite easily.
You’ve got a LOT of good reviews on independent review sites – how do you think you’re perceived in the wider biker community?
The people who do go to the trouble of using the service do usually come back to us, and we are building trust, but there’s still the perception that we steal from the poor and give to the rich. It’s quite the opposite, we are actually a genuine service to the biker community.
What would you say are the cornerstones of WeBuyAnyBike.co.uk?
Genuine service, genuine bikers, genuine trust and genuine offers.
What do you love about your job?
Work with bikers and my customers are bikers. There’s almost a community feel to it.
What do you find challenging about your job?
In the early days it was challenging, but now we have it really streamlined and we’re good at what we do. So it’s not really challenging any more.
What do you see in the future for your company? Do you have any plans for growth?
Honestly we’re comfortable at the level we’re at. It naturally grows year on year and we’re happy with the pace. We’re not here to run before we can walk – we like a nice, steady pace.
It was great speaking to Gary, and I really loved how candid and honest he was about everything. I’m looking forward to sharing more of my interviews with the team over the coming weeks.
This post has been written in partnership with WeBuyAnyBike.co.uk
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