Bringing in More Customers (and Profits!)
You want to increase revenue, right?
We’ve gone over some things that cause gun stores to fail, and we’ve talked about building culture and community in your business. Now we’re going to spend some time on some direct ways you can attract more customers into your business and create some additional streams of income.
Concealed Carry License Course
This is the course that every person living in a state that requires a permit to carry a concealed firearm has to take. Most people in this class are going to be relatively new to firearms, concealed carry and defensive handguns, so this is a great time to make them a customer for life.
This will take some training on your part from a training organization such as the USCCA. The USCCA provides not only a solid training program but also a toolkit that will help improve the quality of your classes and boost your training program.
The concealed carry training course is also an optimal time to teach about concealed carry insurance, which the USCCA also offers. You can become an affiliate through them and make up to $177.00 per sale, and it costs nothing to join.
You would be able to teach your students about the USCCA during the course, and then send them your affiliate link after the class for them to get signed up. Hosting and teaching a concealed carry course is also a great way to start introducing new customers to your culture and community that you’re developing in your business. The course is the perfect time for them to tour your store or facility, meet your staff and hear your story.
This also gives you time to share about all of the things you do at your business, such as your special events like Ladies’ Night. The class may also be the time when a student is looking to purchase their first firearm, or a new one for concealed carry. They’ll also need other gear and supplies, which leads us to…
Never forget to stack your products and even services together. This is something we’ve mentioned a couple times now, but it’s because this is such a powerful sales tool that you’d be remiss to not incorporate it. Giving slight discounts on these bundles increases perceived value, and nets you a higher sale amount per transaction.
Remember the Concealed Carry Starter Pack we talked about before? If a customer purchases a firearm or enrolls in your concealed carry class, they can also get [insert items you know would be a good fit for your customers here] for 15% off. Even just having “impulse buy” items at the cash register, like stickers, 50 cal bottle openers, or knives is a great way to add on to normal sales like ammunition and targets.
Urban Carry is based in Florida, a state known for its ridiculous roadside attractions. While you don’t need to display a 25-foot alligator to bring people into your store or range, you have other options. One would be setting up a full-auto lane if you have a range, where people can shoot fully automatic weapons. You’re selling range time and ammo, and giving people an experience they probably won’t be able to get elsewhere, and they’re sure to bring friends.
Setting up a specific photo area where people can take pictures and share them on social media is a great way for people to have fun and promote your business at the same time. Have an artist come in an paint a custom, branded backdrop on a wall in your store, and have some awesome dummy guns available for people to take pictures with.
Have the backdrop done right, and you’ll have a unique feature that continues building community around your business online as well. You could also give people a discount, a t-shirt or 15 minutes of free range time for checking in and using your unique hashtag (ours is #UrbanCarryCo) on social media. This will help build visibility online, bringing in more customers from your local area and strengthening your reputation in the community.
Community Outreach Nights
Set up one night a week where veterans can come in, hang out, talk and shoot at a reduced rate. Again, this is building the community aspect of your business, something that will bring more profits over a long timeline.
You can also do a first responder night, or combine your veteran/first responder nights since many of them have shared experiences. These kinds of practices show results over the long term, when these folks share the word about all the awesome things you’re doing at your shop with their friends and online. They’ll also be the first to leave you great reviews online, which is another important part of the equation.
Update your online presence
You don’t need to become a social media guru to effectively use social media for your business. There are some simple things that can improve your visibility and online presence.
The first would be to make sure you own your business name on all platforms, even if you don’t plan on using them. Having your business name on social media lets you control where people find you.
For example, let’s say you have no plans of using Twitter for your business, but you do want to have a Facebook page. Sign up for Twitter anyway, properly fill out the information for your business, and in the section where you can put a web address (URL), put the link to your Facebook page. Then, in the “Description” section of your profile, write something like this, “While we don’t hang out on Twitter, you can click the link to follow us on Facebook!”
Something simple and friendly that leads them to your website or your active social media accounts is a way to make sure that you don’t miss anyone. Don’t feel pressure to be active on every social media channel all at once; it’s impossible and you’ll burn out trying to keep up.
Choose one social media platform and learn how to use it effectively before moving on to other channels. You’ll also want to make sure that your Google Business profile is up to date. This way, when people type in some like “gun store near me” in your city, you’ll pop up in the search results.
You’ll want to make sure that all of your contact information, hours and address are correct. It’s also helpful to upload a picture regularly to your Google Business account. This keeps shows Google that you’re active and will help you rank higher in the search results.
If you’ve never set up a Google Business account before, it’s very simple to claim your business on Google. Here’s a link to do so, and you’ll be walked through all of the steps: https://www.google.com/business/
Host a Competition
If you have a gun range at your store, or operate a range/training facility, hosting a shooting competition is a great way to involve local marksmen who may not normally spend time together. If you don’t have a range, it’s also possible to partner with a local range and co-sponsor the event.
A competition is a great way to get people involved in sport shooting, firearms rights awareness and gun safety. It’s also a way to bring in additional revenue, but more importantly, it establishes you as the authority in your area and builds in credibility for your business.
Also, if you’re hosting the competition, it gives you the right to be the sole sponsor of the event, or only allow in businesses to sponsor that aren’t direct competitors of yours. People love to compete, and a day of friendly competition will help grow that sense of belonging and community in your customers.
Meet & Greet with Law Enforcement
Hosting a regular event with local law enforcement is another way to involve the community and bring more people in to your store while building your presence and authority as the firearms leader in your area. People would be able to talk to the officers, see their gear and vehicles, and there could even be a gun safety portion of the event as well.
The organization “Coffee with a Cop” would be a good place to start if you’re interested in hosting this type of event. Click here to visit their website: http://coffeewithacop.com
Doing a giveaway is a great way to build interest for your business. You can have people enter both in the store and through your website. For both the physical and digital entry, have people fill out basic info, such as name, phone number and email address.
A giveaway like this is one of the best ways to grow your marketing list to start bringing these people back in to your store or to your website make additional purchases. Marketing through email and text message are very effective ways of reaching your audience, and promoting the contest on social media will build buzz around your company.
If you create the photo opp backdrop that we mentioned earlier, display the giveaway item there, and let people take pictures with it and post it online. Make sure to have them tag your company and check in at your location for an additional entry. When you select the winner (make sure it’s done randomly and fairly), make it a big deal!
Celebrate the moment with them, having them come in to the store to receive their prize if possible. This not only keeps the focus on your business, but also gives you the opportunity to take photos and videos for future use. A giveaway can be an extremely effective tool for building your marketing list, and it’s a lot of fun for your community.
Take one day out of the month and make it a Gun Safety Training Day. This is great because you don’t need a large facility to teach basic gun safety, and you don’t even need a range.
Teaching the fundamentals of gun safety is simple, especially if you’re already a firearms instructor, and if you really wanted to establish yourself as the authority in your community, you could host it at a local rec center or meeting hall.
You can also include a Gun Safety for Kids portion of the training, which will help bring in people who may not otherwise attend. Partnering with a local law enforcement agency for your regular gun safety course can also be a good way to promote your Law Enforcement Meet & Greet, if you’re doing that.
Consider having small pamphlets made with the gun safety information in them, and your logo on the title page. This builds in credibility for your business and keeps you top of mind.
Virtual Reality Training
VR is popping up everywhere, and this is a great time to start utilizing it for your business. Virtual Reality training is also easier and less costly than you may think, and will add an aspect of fun and education to your store.
With something like the Oculus Rift you can be up and running in under an hour for less than $400. Then, using a training simulator like the BSR Practisim system, you can charge people for time on the VR firearms trainer. Just as an example, say you have five people per day try it for $10.00 per 30-minute session.
In about a week, you’ll be profiting from your investment, and within a short period of time, you’re looking at an extra grand or two a month, for the cost of electricity to run the machine. Corner the market on this before virtual reality becomes a part of the common home entertainment system. Here's the BSR Practisim System.
Say Thank You
One of the simplest ways to bring existing customers back in to your store is by genuinely showing them your gratitude and willingness to serve them. When someone purchases a firearm at your store, you’ll have their address, and for the cost of a stamp you can send them a hand written thank you note.
In that card let them know that you appreciate their business, and that if they have any questions about their new firearm or something else related, they can visit you or give you a call and you’ll be there for them. Demonstrating your genuine care for your customers will go a long way in securing repeat business, and is another way to build a sense of community into the culture of your company.