Jeff Cayley Interview – How A 25 Year Old Mountain Biker Earned $3 Million Online In 2014
Jeff Cayley is the real deal when it comes to being an entrepreneur.
In 2011, at just 21 years young he founded a high end biking boutique, Worldwide Cyclery. Since launching, Jeff and his team doubled business every year, pulling $3 million in sales in 2014.
They do everything from custom bike builds to changing broken spokes; and do it for pros and weekend warriors alike.
Here’s why you should listen to Jeff:
- Earned $3 Million in Sales in 2014.
- Over 6,000 positive testimonials on Ebay.
- 25 year old official dealer of some of the highest quality biking brands in the world.
Jeff knows exactly what it takes to turn your passions into profits.
Today we’re thrilled to have him shed light on what exactly it takes to be a successful physical retailer in a digital world.
Jeff Cayley Interview
You’ve got over 6,000 positive testimonials on ebay alone. What sets Worldwide Cyclery apart from so many other retailers out there?
It’s definitely a combination of a lot of things, but customer service is the big reason. We want our customers to be more than satisfied, and always go the extra mile to make them happy — even if it means that we lose money on some sales. Having phenomenal customer service in my eyes is a way to build a sustainable business and maintain a loyal customer base.
Worldwide Cyclery was founded in 2011 and has seen nonstop growth; in fact with 8 employees, you nearly cleared $3 million in 2014. What’s been the biggest factor for your continuing success?
I think the biggest factor is our focus on progression. We are always thinking of ways to make every aspect of the company better. From the smallest of changes to the largest, we constantly step back and look at how things are being done. Then we come up with any different methods we can use to make us more effective and more efficient.
You cater to a global customer base and offer everything from chain lube all the way to custom bike builds. How do you go about shipping and handling all of the merchandise that you sell?
On the shipping side of things, good software plays a big role. ShipStation is an amazing platform we use to manage all of our shipping logistics in one place. As for handling, we’ve set up a properly organized warehouse with defined systems and protocols in place. But of course a lot of credit goes to the knowledge we have gained over the years.
The majority of your business is online, but you also have a retail shop. How has having a shop influenced the way you do business?
Having a physical place customers can come to is great. It mostly benefits the nearby customers, but also shows the legitimacy of our company — not only to the customers, but to the manufacturers and distributors as well. I really believe omni-channel retail is the future, so it is import to us to be wherever the customer is at any given moment. If they want to walk into a store, buy directly on our website, buy on Amazon, eBay, etc., they can — because we are where they are.
At Worldwide Cyclery, you specialize in high end gear and are an official dealer of every brand that you sell. How’d you manage to form a relationship with each of these unique brands?
Because we are riders ourselves and have been involved in the industry for years, we know which brands are reliably the best, and which ones we want to sell. With that knowledge, we spent some time building the legitimacy of our shop, and then went after the brands we wanted. If you are doing a great job as a retailer, any brand would be happy to have you sell for them.
What are your favorite 3 online tools, why?
- Xero – Hands down the best cloud-based accounting system for a variety of businesses, but it works especially well with our model and is a vital tool for us.
- Google’s array of products – Gmail, Google Calendar and Drive are incredibly useful tools for anyone or any business.
- ShipStation – Their robust cloud based shipping platform is phenomenal. I could spend hours talking about how much time it saves us. Simply, ShipStation is one of those tools that gives us the ability to be as efficient as we want to be. A must for any company that ships products.
You’ve doubled your business every year since 2011, what’s your secret to this success?
I feel having a great team of people — each with the right mindset — is the biggest factor. It is unreal what you can accomplish when you find and partner with the right people. If you want to have a great company that is enjoyable to work at, turns a profit and keeps going up, you simply need the right people on the team.
If you could go back to 2011 when you were just getting ready to launch, what would you do differently?
A ton of things! The amount I have learned about business since then is unreal. The biggest mistake I made was just being the typical small business owner. I didn’t really know any other way at that point than to just do everything myself. The first year I was the typical super stressed-out, overworked, one-man-show business owner. The most important thing I have learned is that you cannot run a business without learning to delegate. You should find qualified people, spend as much time necessary training them, trust them and make it a team effort. If someone has a talent for sales and innovation, he or she shouldn’t be packaging boxes or cleaning windows.
As a former professional mountain bike racer, you’ve undoubtedly made a ton of connections in the industry. How much of a factor were these connections when you decided to launch your company? Are you still actively networking in the race community? Do you reach out to riders directly or just show up at events?
I did create a lot connections while I was racing, but surprisingly they didn’t do much to help the business. The racing side of the sport and the average rider/consumer-of-bike-products are kind of segregated. Almost all of the people on the racing side of the sport don’t know anything about retailing products, or how that aspect of the industry even works. They just get sponsorship dollars from brands and go about their racing. One thing that did help was learning a lot about the products, since my friends and I were using them all the time.
I do continue to travel to some races and network in the race community, because many of my close friends are still racing or working in that part of the sport. I am sure those friends will be some good help when we decide to put some marketing dollars in that direction.
You’re quite a marketer and implement a lot of the latest internet marketing tactics on your website. What worked well and what didn’t work as good as you expected?
There are several things that are working really well for us; to name a few:
- Clean, easy to use website with responsive design – (www.worldwidecyclery.com)
- Free U.S. shipping on everything – No one on earth wants to pay for shipping, so a good retailer should have the math skills to factor the expense into their margin. We have done that and people love it.
- Being on every sales channel – That is easier said than done, and requires some good software. However, it is vital as a modern day retailer to have your products for sale on every channel possible. Get on all those third-party marketplaces, post items on industry forums, have a great website and top it off with a physical store front.
Some things that did not work so well:
Social media. I don’t know if it is just our specific industry, but we have not been able to quantify much from advertising there. Of course you need to have a social presence — and a good one at that. But for us, marketing dollars there seem to do very little. I personally like quantifiable marketing strategies, ones with hard data that back them up. If you don’t have data substantiating your marketing strategies, you are just gambling, and probably not even knowing whether you win or lose. That isn’t the kind of thing a small company can afford to do.
I’d say that mountain biking is definitely a passion of yours. What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs looking to turn their passions into a legit business?
If you like business, then DO IT!
Mountain biking is a huge passion of mine, but second up is business and entrepreneurship. That is what has helped me succeed. You can’t just be passionate about something, you also have to have a passion for business to some extent. Because although you will be in the industry of something that is your passion, you still have to run and build a business. And that is no easy task. So if you have no interest in the business side of things, I would suggest just getting a job within that industry. That may be a little blunt, but I feel it is the truth.
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
“Where there’s a will there’s a way.”
My Mom said that to me about ten years ago, and for some reason it runs through my head every time I feel stuck, overwhelmed, at a dead end, etc. It is just a simple saying, but it can move mountains if you believe it.
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