Pedal Tavern Increases Revenue By 30% in 3 Months
The minute Stephen Lindsay saw his first pedal tavern, he was sold. As the 16-person, raging contraption cruised along, he immediately called his brother Brian in Michigan and said, “I’ve got an idea.” By Monday, Steve had submitted requests for a bike of his own. That was the beginning of the thriving pedal tavern company today known as HandleBar Indy.
As a mechanical engineer by day, it’s fitting that Steve would start his own business on the back of a mammoth bicycle. After almost a decade with Rolls-Royce, something still left him unfulfilled.
“It seems like in Corporate America you work hard for a long time and you don’t necessarily get rewarded in proportion to what you accomplish,” Stephen Lindsay explains, “whereas when you have your own business, if you work hard, you can directly see the results.”
Nothing says “Stick it to the Man” quite like a party bike parading beer-drinking, fun-loving adults around downtown Indianapolis.
In the company’s earliest days, time was a crucial commodity in constantly short supply. From 7am to 4pm, Monday through Friday, Steve held his job at Rolls-Royce. After hours, he’d lead tours with HandleBar Indy from 5:30pm until 10:30 at night. Rinse and repeat.
Before his business even opened to the public, he was already inundated by phone calls regarding advanced bookings. “Being able to keep up with growth was the biggest challenge,” he says, “I never expected to be doing tours every day during the weekdays and weekends.”
Essentially, Steve had an hour and a half every afternoon to meet off-the-chart demand for his rides. He knew he needed a booking system, and fast. While Steve’s original software worked in the early days of the business, HandleBar Indy quickly outgrew its limited functionalities.
As volume continued to increase, problems like a clunky checkout for online customers, or the inability to input payment information in the same software, soon morphed into giant pain points. Every abandoned online purchase led to exponentially more time for Steve in terms of emails, voicemails, and accounting–all which took place outside of his booking system. He couldn’t keep track of which bikes were booked for which tours, or reserve single seats for smaller groups.
“I can’t imagine dealing with our volume without having switched to Xola.”
The bigger picture
What’s unique about HandleBar Indy is that it immediately experienced growth as a new business. All Steve needed in a booking system was one that could stoke the already burning fire. Instead, what he had was software that was undermining his ability to operate.
The clumsy checkout, the lack of payment integration, deficient inventory management–it all boiled down to one thing: this system wasn’t built for his business.
This fact proved costly to HandleBar Indy in terms of time and profits. From the beginning, HandleBar Indy was designed to serve large groups as well as individuals. But Steve compromised on the latter when he settled on a booking system that couldn’t support individual reservations. There was no way to work around this missing functionality to save those single-seat bookings.
The result: Steve’s system was squandering a customer segment that now represents $20,000 to $40,000 of his yearly revenue.
A new way
Think of HandleBar Indy as one of those gummy dinosaurs that grow thirty times bigger after you leave them in water for an hour. It’s a company that was primed for growth from the get-go. But companies like these are also vulnerable to stagnate if owners lack the bandwidth to plan for the future. Booking systems are crucial in this equation as either time-savers, or time-wasters, and at this point, it’s clear which one Steve had.
When, between his two jobs, could Steve consider important issues like turning his new business into a respected and trusted brand? He couldn’t. His booking system wasn’t doing anything to empower Steve with this kind of knowledge, let alone give him the time to think about it. On the contrary, all it was doing was eating away at his productivity and undermining his profit margins.
HandleBar Indy is a powerful and efficient company with a weak and dysfunctional reservation system. It was like oil and water.
Success with xola
After about a year with his old system, Steve knew he needed a change if he wanted to keep up with demand. “I can’t imagine dealing with our volume without having switched to Xola,” he says.
Steve’s new system addressed HandleBar Indy’s former booking shortcomings, notably by serving that valuable segment of single-rider business. With robust analytics on Xola, he was able to quantify the tens of thousands in revenue that these customers represented, and integrate them into his business. Overall booking efficiencies have also helped make it possible for Steve to expand from two bikes to six bikes in the same season.
Ultimately, Xola has given Steve control over his business again.
Along with greater profits, Steve also recovered exponentially more time to run HandleBar Indy. Making a back-office booking with Xola, Steve claims, is five times faster than before.
The biggest surprise for Steve was how much Xola could accomplish under the hood without him having to lift a finger. In the last 10 months, HandleBar Indy has raced to #1 on TripAdvisor, helping to brand this new business as a top dog in Indianapolis.
Part of this success comes from Xola’s automatic review feature, which has helped HandleBar Indy go from 10 reviews in the first 14 months, to 91 in the last 10 months. By reaching the top of TripAdvisor, HandleBar Indy has captured the attentions of Car and Driver magazine, who featured them in an October 2014 article. Steve’s company will also be showcased on a European television program later this year as well.
HandleBar Indy’s quality tour provided all the material for its success; Xola is merely helping to drive it forward.