Jeff Sniderman is the owner/founder of County Bike Rentals (CBR), an innovative service catering to recreational cyclists, from bachelorettes visiting local wineries to families and couples touring the quiet roads of scenic Prince Edward County (PEC) Ontario. Jeff had barely retired from a career on Bay Street when he moved to PEC and started CBR. In just three seasons, CBR has become highly successful, not only in terms of activity (over 1,500 bikes delivered in 2020) but also in customer satisfaction, earning a 5.0-star rating from over 150 reviews on Google and TripAdvisor.
What is the secret sauce, you may ask? Firstly, a passion for cycling, especially in PEC where Jeff has cycled every summer for over two decades. Secondly, dedication to a top-drawer client experience gained from 15 years of working with high-net-worth clients on Bay St. And thirdly, an entirely new model for renting bikes. Unlike the competition, there is not a “bricks and mortar” location. Instead, bike rentals are booked online, and the bikes are delivered and picked up anywhere in “The County” so that clients can start and finish their rides wherever they wish. This method provides a ‘concierge/valet experience’ that is all about convenience, reliability, and communication, making the client experience hassle-free every step of the way.
Jeff further credits the success of CBR to the processes and infrastructure he has designed, like building efficient transportation (he gets 20 bikes onto a 10’ trailer), and to his son, who has been invaluable in the digitization of bookings and client communication that ensures no balls get dropped. As well, County Bike rentals include everything you need: helmets, locks, lights, maps and route reviews, souvenir water bottles, and emergency road service. Jeff currently has a fleet of over 50 bikes including MEC hybrid bikes in 4 sizes, Revelo folding bikes (for multi-day, multi-person, or multi-location use), a tandem, and bike trailers for kids and pets.
Cycling has been a constant in Jeff’s life for over sixty years. He and his wife, an accomplished artist, have a shared thirty-year history with biking, going back to when they bought her a bike on their second date. Their biking adventures have included multiple trips to France, Italy, and California – both on single and tandem bikes – even celebrating their twenty-fifth anniversary by biking up Mount Ventoux in the south of France, a climb of 1,600 m. More locally Jeff has logged over 7,500 km of charity rides in Ontario, raising over $25,000 for paediatric oncology treatment.
What is interesting about Jeff’s story is how a constant passion finally found expression in his “day job”. After graduating with a BA in Psych and an MBA, Jeff became a producer in the film and TV industry, where he brought in projects on time and on budget while handling the often big (read fragile) egos of actors, directors, and other producers. He made the switch to finance after the birth of his first child, completing the courses at McGill to be a CPA (but never writing the UFE). He eventually moved to Toronto to work at a boutique financial services firm, then was hired by a bank-owned investment firm to do estate planning for their clients, including many corporate executives and business owners. There, he worked so high up the food chain that his income became increasingly variable as he took on lucrative, complex cases requiring big investments of time, but with uncertain outcomes. He decided that if he was going to take on so much risk, he may as well be in total control and doing something he was passionate about.
CBR was conceived as a small-scale operation, but as the business took off (250% annual growth) Jeff soon realized that he needed to double his fleet, build a second trailer and acquire another vehicle and employee – his wife. This is where passions clash since his wife is a fine arts painter, not a bike mechanic. So lucky for you (lucky for us and hopefully for Jeff) CBR is currently seeking a Bike Rental Assistant through OCC. This team member will be Jeff’s new ‘better half’ and will receive training for the diverse responsibilities of the position while living in one of Canada’s most enjoyable recreational areas.
The culture of CBR is rooted in achieving outstanding customer satisfaction, through a stress-free client experience. Jeff says that while there can be a lot of stress for him before and during a Saturday or holiday when the entire fleet is rented and the team is delivering and picking up from two dozen locations, this can never be communicated to clients. Jeff wants a team member who can provide the same energy and commitment to the business and to the people who rent his bikes.
Jeff believes that the skills acquired in this position would be valuable learning for any role or business involving hospitality, logistics, and communication. Who knows, this could even be a long-term career opportunity for the right person, as Jeff would like to sell or franchise CBR in the future. Watching his clients set-off on fun and carefree adventures cycling on his bikes puts a big smile on his face. And the 5-star rating feels pretty good too. Now if he could only find some time to bike himself!
Jeff’s Advice on Finding Your Career Path
“It’s a bit of a cliché but start with activities you are passionate about. Get lots of education and different experiences – you’ll be surprised how they can all come together to support your next job or enterprise. Also, be realistic and honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Try to get some life/work balance but expect to work hard when you’re working. Be ready to take some risks with new opportunities while you’re young and have less responsibility for dependents.”