The Free Air Station Story
I am part owner of a great little bike shop in Hermosa Beach, California. Like most shops, we had a couple air hoses hanging out our window for customers to use. Recently, I set out to improve on the dangling hose situation, built three "Free Air" stations in my garage and installed them where our hoses used to be.
Immediately, we went from ten or so questions each day asking us to help or how to inflate tires to virtually none. Instead, we get lots of complements each day, some raving about how nice the air stations are. My best guess is that much of the users’ enthusiasm comes from the sense of accomplishment of doing this formerly intimidating task themselves. And now, they can do it without imposing on shop staff, surely a factor that kept some away. The air stations eliminate concerns about over/under inflation, by having users dial in the right pressure BEFORE inflating. A 120-psi line becomes a 60-psi line, for example. And, the stations help users easily locate their proper tire air pressure. It's all made very inviting and easy with the large interface designed to naturally draw attention to key aspects of the process and it’s explained with as few words as possible. It works surprisingly well.
As a retail store that sells bikes, parts and service, this was a home run addition to our store. The goodwill these stations add is obvious. Everyday our store make new folks happy and we know someday – maybe that same day – they will become customers. The Free Air™ stations are located outside, for space reasons. If there is room to locate one inside a store, it's a must-do. Where better to bring a potential customer, one you are about to make very happy with a little free air.
I founded Free Air Company to manufacture the Free Air Station™. The Free Air Stations were introduced at InterBike and were well received. A few folks stopped by my booth to say our product was probably the best new product at InterBike. That sure felt good! And, I have to agree. I think the stations will be the biggest boost in attracting and pleasing customers to come along in decades. The benefits for bike stores and customers were easy to demonstrate, essentially with one photo and a few words, and a demo unit. Many bike shops shared their enthusiasm for the stations and had their badges scanned to be alerted when units were ready to ship.
The Free Air Stations placed at the store cost more in components and labor to make than they sell for today. A lot of tedious hours went into the design and creation of each unit. Many more hours went into the final released version, including use of engineers and consultants. To be responsive and accurate, components need to be industrial grade, high quality and properly configured. Plus the stations need to look nice. These units are high quality, accurate and reliable.
If a bike store sells just one nice bike to one happy customer attracted by the Free Air Station, the unit is paid for. It's an easy financial decision, with a quick payback. The only question is where to put them. I hope you enjoy your Free Air station as much I enjoyed creating them!
Founder and President
First units shipped.