Mario Cerda is the owner of BC-Help, a bicycle repair shop that provides services directly at the customer’s office or home. This “Cashless Pioneer” managed to grow his business by accepting payment methods other than cash.
My name is Mario Cerda; I’m a cyclist and the owner of the bike repair shop BC-Help. The idea to start my business began when I noticed that, more and more, business people and office workers were riding a bike to work to skip the regular traffic jams in Santiago, Chile.
Initially, our plan was to create bicycle parking. To get started, we conducted a focus group and asked cyclists their views on how secure they felt their unattended bikes are when at work.
The study showed, that people do not mind locking their bikes outside and that office buildings typically provide employees with spaces. Additionally, the study made us realize something important: new bike users don’t have the time to take their bicycles to a repair shop and don’t want to wait 4 to 5 days to get their primary means of transportation back from the shop.
And that is how we came up with BC-Help, a bike repair shop that goes wherever customers need it with the commitment to return bicycles fixed within 24 hours; if we are unable to do so, we provide customers with a spare bike for as long as the repair will require.
As the business began to grow, we advertised our message and slowly started attracting new customers. Interestingly enough, we noticed another ongoing trend. When we opened the shop, we only accepted cash or electronic transfers. When we mentioned that to customers over the phone, they said they would call again later but never did.
At that point we realized that most of our customers no longer walk around with cash in their wallets and that they prefer to pay with cards so in order to avoid further sales losses, we decided to start accepting card payments.
This had a very positive impact, raising our daily average ticket from 50,000 Chilean pesos [73 USD] to 500,000-800,000 Chilean pesos [730-1,100 USD], mostly from card payments. In fact, 70% of our monthly profit comes from cashless payments. Although we pay transaction fees, the more we sell the more it offsets that.
Before we accepted card payments, we would hardly make a large sale of 400-500,000 Chilean pesos [580-730 USD] in cash. Also, card acceptance gave customers the opportunity to pay in installments, which has helped us increase profits.
Three years later, our company has seen a significant growth, and much of it is thanks to the quick deployment of card payments. The next step is to expand and create new branches in Santiago, which will allow us to grow not only our business but further develop and enhance my very passion: traveling the world on two wheels.