GCI’s Joanna Flint talks about the future of social enterprise – Features

Joanna Flint, Marketing Director of the Green Commute Initiative, recently took over the day-to-day management of the organization alongside her colleague Katherine Stather. Here, Flint looks to the future of social enterprise

This piece first appeared in the June issue of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here

where it all started
The Green Commute initiative entered the Cycle to Work Scheme industry in 2016, determined to shake things up and provide a fairer program for everyone. We got rid of spending limits, eliminated “ownership fees” and dramatically reduced the bike shop commission. GCI literally revolutionized the market.

The first step was to dispel the myth of the £1000 limit and we did that by getting clearance from the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) and decoupling the hire and pay sacrifice elements into two separate agreements . Uniquely, GCI became the employer rather than the employer.

The added benefits of this arrangement are that when the employee leaves their employer, the employer has no right to their bike and the employer is freed from all liability as owner and lessee, reducing their workload.

Savvy bike shops can use GCI’s program to upsell, showing the customer that they can dramatically increase their budget for free through the program. The Cycle to Work Scheme is truly a great sales tool for bike shops that make full use of it.

Just for all
GCI is a UK based non-profit social enterprise and as part of our ethical and social governance we are committed to providing a fair program for all participants. For bike shops, we are committed to charging only what we need to cover our costs.

Since the beginning, we have charged bike shops the lowest commission rate in the industry. This currently stands at 5% on our two program platforms (Instant and Corporate).

On top of that, we also have a commission rebate program on orders over £6,000. We’re game when it comes to paying bike shops – usually within 24-48 hours of redeeming a voucher.

Being a non-profit organization means that we are not required to generate additional revenue with so-called “property fees”. With some programs, this can be as much as 7% of the bike’s original value, significantly reducing customer savings.

With no shareholders (in the UK or overseas) demanding that we meet profit targets, we ensure that clients make the full savings from the scheme available to them.

As legislation relating to the public use of micromobility equipment becomes clearer, there will undoubtedly be opportunities to support this growing market. Whatever we do, the customer will always come first.

What the future holds
Stock availability is essential. When consumers choose to ditch the car and switch to cycling, we need to help them achieve that goal as soon as possible, before the momentum for change falters.

Providing customers with a pleasant shopping experience with good product choices, an appropriate sales model, and relevant marketing is key to winning over this demographic
with significant purchasing power.

The global climate change crisis is a significant opportunity for bicycle retailers as more and more consumers switch from cars to bicycles for short trips. Issue-based marketing around cycling will be important in gaining customers.

GCI will continue to be forward-thinking and challenge unfair practices with the goal of getting more people to ride a bike.

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