We talked to Hakan Ugdur of Unlimited Biking about Ride It Out Program and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Hakan Ugdur: Our team and families are well, thankfully. We have been very fortunate to be able to keep our company going during these uncertain and unprecedented times, with everyone healthy and safe.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Unlimited Biking.
Hakan Ugdur: We started this company back in 2010 after realizing that there was a need for bike rentals and tours around Central Park. Starting with just fifty bikes and one small store located in Midtown Manhattan, Unlimited Biking was able to grow to multiple locations in different cities nationwide. With high-quality bikes and multiple expansions into different niches within the bike market, we were able to grow Unlimited Biking to be the one-stop-shop for guests. We were able to identify a need, figure out how to do it better, and grow based on just the increasing demand over the years.
How does Unlimited Biking innovate?
Hakan Ugdur: Our company is able to adapt very quickly to the environment. Given the size of our team, and the cohesiveness of our communication, our teams are able to implement new ideas and campaigns very quickly. As the world was first being introduced to COVID-19, our team was brainstorming of ways that we would be able to pivot our business to fit the needs of individuals better. We were a bike rental company that originally focused on the international market, with most of our business from travellers visiting from abroad, looking to explore the city they were travelling to. We decided to shift more locally, with fears that flights would be cancelled sooner or later. As lockdowns became imminent, our team decided to run the “Ride It Out Program,” which discounted all long term hybrid bike rentals to the cost of a monthly metro/public transportation rate. Our goal was to help the essential workers, and local customers find a new and better way to get around. Then, gyms started to close, and people needed a way to exercise. As gyms closed and the nervousness of taking public transportation increased, we saw over 1,500 locals rent from our Ride It Out Program. Innovation is crucial to our success – our ability to adapt to different situations and environments to keep our business evolving is crucial to our success.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finance?
Hakan Ugdur: The Coronavirus pandemic has affected our business greatly. Prior to this year, our company was on track to do the best that it has ever done- along with most companies within the Travel and Leisure industry. The pandemic has definitely affected our budgets for the year – cutting down on non-essentials for the time being such as major marketing efforts. We are still in the process of growing, with the understanding that it may be a little slower than previously timelined. Overall, our team is more cautious about finances.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Hakan Ugdur: Along with all companies, large and small, we’ve had to make a number of difficult decisions in regards to human resources. While we were very fortunate to have been able to keep our core team working and being paid, we had to let go of a number of key employees. We were able to transition a lot of our employees back to full-time workers once we were able to fully adapt to the changing regulations that each city had. During these times, it is important to understand that your best employees are the ones who will be around and work during difficult times, to still help your company grow in the direction that you’d like for it to go in. It is important to have a core team of people that you can trust and work with to build or rebuild your company.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Hakan Ugdur: During the Coronavirus Pandemic, it was crucial for us to manage our relationships with our customers. Across most industries, especially the Travel and Leisure space, flights and reservations were getting cancelled across all companies. We saw a large influx of cancellations and requests for refunds, and it was important for our guests to understand that we were there for them, and doing everything that we could to provide relief for them as well. We became more intimate with our current customers, giving them updates about our procedures and policies in-stores, to help them feel safer about renting bikes and touring with us. We were extremely proactive and tried to keep our customers engaged.
Did you benefit from any government grants and did that help keep your business afloat?
Hakan Ugdur: No
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