Archery Business: How do you work at growing your customer base?
Tim Cherok, Ultimate Outdoors, Plum Boro, Pennsylvania:
“During the earlier stages of our business we struggled at trying to grow our customer base simply because we were a new establishment. As long as you do an exceptional job for every customer, word of mouth will have no choice but to treat you well. We have worked tirelessly to create such a positive name for ourselves that some of our customers travel extensive distances to have us work on their equipment. Those customers are reminders that we must not become complacent. We need to take care of the people who take care of us.
“We realized that there is no better advertising than to simply treat your customers well, and they will reward you with more customers. We’re finding out at this stage of our career that if you follow this business model long enough the next logical step will be to expand your building due to your customer base becoming too large due to years of excellent service.
“Keeping your established customers should be easy at this stage of the game. These customers will almost always come back to you because there has been a trust established.
“For the first-time buyers, they have yet to experience the follow-up service that your long-term clients have had in the past. We encourage them to return with any questions if they arise or problems if they occur. When the sale is coming to a close we simply want them to know that we will be there for them after the sale is final. For us, it’s not necessarily final, just finished for the day. Knowing that you will be there for them if something comes up gives most customers some reassurance. To us, if someone is going to spend their hard-earned money with [us] we want them to know we’re going to bend over backwards to take care of them if there is a problem. I believe our customer base appreciates that about us.”
Jason Kindzia, Ultimate Outdoors, Plum Boro, Pennsylvania:
“From the beginning we have used several types of print advertising to help grow our customer base, and I am sure (or at least hope) it has helped. We have put ads in newspaper sports sections as well as coupons in local flyers, but it was always difficult to tell how effective they were. It has been a while since we used those types of advertising. We continue to run ads in several consumer directories. During two recent summers we invested in billboard advertising along a local highway showing our major bow brands along with our name.
“Now in the computer age, we have an informational-only website (no e-commerce) showing product and service that we offer. In addition to the consumer directories, we have added our listing to those directories’ Internet pages. Most of the manufacturers have nice websites today, which include dealer listings, so we make sure that we are listed accurately. Lastly, we use Facebook to help promote the shop and new product.
“Most importantly, though, the number-one form of growing our business has undoubtedly been customer word of mouth advertising. It is so common to have a new customers tell us that ‘so-and-so recommended you.’ We hear this more than any other form of advertising. Best of all, this great advertising is free. But it stresses the importance of maintaining the high level of product knowledge and service.”
Jon & Jennifer Walterscheit, Little Jon’s Archery, Marshall, Wisconsin:
“Growing our Pro Shop customer base can really be attributed to one thing, and that is satisfied customers. Our service is second to none. We guarantee everything we do from product selection to bow tuning and setup. We have the largest selection of archery equipment in the Midwest. In the past we have only used one billboard on the interstate to advertise our store. For the last couple of years we have had the website. But our opinion is that word of mouth has been the most successful form of advertising we have.
“Growing our customer base for our websites has been a little different but not by much. Online, price sells. We have always tried to be competitively priced online. We are incredibly fast at filling and shipping orders. Because of that, word of mouth has worked very well online as well.
“I think doing right by the customer is key to both of our businesses as it relates to keeping customers.”