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Gun Stores & Ranges Keep Making the Same Mistakes

We've found five things that consistently pop up in gun shops and ranges across the country that are detrimental to business. Working on some of these common issues can help bring new customers in and old customers back. Here are the 5 biggest problems we've found with firearm businesses all over the country:

  1. No Process for Newbies
  2. Ugly Display Racks and Shelves
  3. Poorly Lit
  4. Not Featuring Best Sellers
  5. No Product or Service Bundles

...Plus a Bonus Tip!

In our last article, we talked about why most gun stores fail, and gave some advice on how to address those issues. In this article, we’ll be targeting five specifics problems that we’ve found over and over again in gun stores all across the country.

#1: No Process for Newbies

This is one of the biggest offenders that we’ve seen in many gun stores. People who are new to shooting and concealed carry have a lot of questions (a lot) ((like, really a lot)), and you are positioned perfectly to be their Yoda. If you’re not familiar with Star Wars, Yoda is a Master Jedi, a guru if you will, who guides his young apprentice Luke in the ways of the Force.

You can be that same person for newbies that come into your shop. Maybe a friend referred them, maybe they found some of your awesome inbound marketing materials that you’ve created, or maybe they drive past your shop every day and got curious. Whatever reason for them coming in, this is a prime opportunity to not only make a sale, but to mentor someone in a very confusing endeavor.

Many people new to gun ownership and concealed carry are a little scared or intimidated to come into the gun store, but if you’re able to make them feel welcome, educated and empowered, then you’ve just made a customer for life.

One thing to consider as a potentially physical addition or change to your store is separating things into sections. For example, you could have a wall that was just for new gun owners (of course you wouldn’t label it as such, but you and your staff would know), and separate that wall into three sections:

  • Personal Defense/Concealed Carry
  • Home Defense
  • Hunting

For each of those sections, have corresponding selections of guns, holsters, ammunition and other accessories that work best for that purpose and are popular sellers. If teaching is something that happens at your store, then you can also have information in those sections about upcoming classes, such as a concealed carry class or hunter safety course.

This way, whenever someone new to firearms comes in, you have a prepared method of best reaching them and supporting them in their goals. Remember, it’s not so much what you specifically do or say, but how you make the person feel that will dictate whether or not them purchase from you and become a repeat customer.

#2: Ugly Display Racks and Shelves

When it comes to accessories, remember that you are competing with the Internet, so it’s important to make the items on your racks and shelves look like the top quality products they are. For example, a lot of holsters come in plastic bags. This is perfectly fine for shipping but in a display, it looks awful and reduces the perceived quality of the item and your store.

If possible, have a “display holster,” or if the holster doesn’t have attractive packaging, keep it on a lower shelf. Having great looking displays for the products in your store improves the image of your store and helps you sell more of those items.

#3: Poorly Lit

This was another one of the most common issues we found in gun stores: They seem to all run on about a dozen 25 watt bulbs. Brighten things up! A well-lit store gives a professional appearance and makes it easier for your customers to find what they’re looking for.

Likewise, it also helps prevent theft and reduces liability. Consider brightening up your display cases as well. Putting some LED light strips in the corners of your glass cases shows off the products much better, making them more attractive to your potential buyers.

#4: Not Featuring Best Sellers

Amazon has a best seller section for every category of products, and there's a great reason for it: People want to buy what they already know works for others!

If you have certain products that are always outperforming the rest, there’s no reason to keep that a secret. Make shopping easy and set up displays with things like your Top 5 Guns, Customers’ Choice Holster or Top Rated Ammunition.

Having these things out as a clear go-to makes an easy talking point for you and your staff, and leads us into our next point.

#5: No Product or Service Bundles

This is part of the “If you give a mouse a cookie,” process that happens when customers start stacking products together. If they buy a gun, they’re going to need some ammo, and a cleaning kit for after the range. They’ll also need a safe to store their gun, a holster to carry it in, and a gun belt to put the holster on.

The combinations are limited only by your imagination, and adding upsells is an incredible way to increase your average transaction size. A great way to do this is to have some of these products already bundled together, and for smaller bundles, having them in the register queue or on the cash wrap capitalizes on impulse buyers.

Having products already bundled reduces the travel time for your salespeople, since they don’t have to walk all over the store collecting all the items for the customers, and reduces the amount of time for pre-purchase doubt to set in. A great version of this would be the “Concealed Carry Starter Kit,” in which the customer could buy a firearm of their choice, and add-on your best-selling holster, ammo, gun belt, and a shop hat or t-shirt.

This is just one of many product stacks you can develop. The bottom line is to make it easier for your customer to buy the things they want.

#6: BONUS - Ladies' Night

In our survey of gun stores all over the nation, one thing we’ve found that is constantly missing is a Ladies Night program. Statistics show us that the majority of gun store patrons are male, but if we can find a way to include their female counterparts, then we’ve potentially doubled sales.

A "Ladies Night" is a great way to do this, and here’s an easy way to start it if you have a range at your store or one nearby that you can partner with. Ladies would be able to shoot for free, just paying for ammunition, targets and rentals.

Of course, their husband or boyfriend will want to join in so he’ll be paying for range time on top of ammo and targets. This is also a great way to include girls night out groups and bachelorette parties, and provides a great lead in for a concealed carry class or one of your product bundles.

Taking a little bit of time to brainstorm with your team and find out what ideas they may have to bring in more customers and give them the best experience possible can be extremely helpful. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of running the operations and managing staff, inventory, etc., but your salespeople have daily interaction with customers and know their desires.

Along with regularly surveying your employees, don’t forget the customers themselves. Institute a feedback program, whether that’s through your email list, on social media or physical feedback cards at the cash register. Your customers will let you know what they think can be improved!

Want to Know More?

A great way to improve your store is to continue selling high quality products. If you're interested in joining the Urban Carry Holsters Dealer Program, visit our Contact page to get in touch with us today. Be on the lookout for Part 3 in our Dealer Series, coming next week.