Archery Business: What are some hard lessons that have made you a better dealer?

archery retail shopTim Cherok, Ultimate Outdoors, Plum Boro, Pennsylvania:

“The one hard lesson that I learned long ago is not to allow anyone to take advantage of you. There is a saying that I am very fond of which makes the point: ‘Don’t confuse my kindness for weakness.’ With information at the fingertips of everyone via the Internet, consumers can educate themselves as much as humanly possible. Information is a beautiful thing, but the one thing most consumers lack is the confidence to make decisions about a product purchase without being told by someone experienced that their thoughts are correct.

“In saying that, the one thing I refuse to do is give out too much information to a ‘new,’ indecisive consumer until there is an agreement between us that their intentions are to purchase the product in question from our business. Before you start spilling your guts to try to make a sale, let the consumer talk to you for a few minutes so you can get a sense of where they are coming from. Without the subtle agreement of sale between the two parties, there will always be the possibility that you’ve armed that consumer with all the information they need to walk out of your establishment and purchase the product elsewhere. These customers are rare, but they exist, so beware.”

Jason Kindzia, Ultimate Outdoors, Plum Boro, Pennsylvania:

“In the early years we did not track our inventory accurately enough. Poor inventory recordkeeping lead to poor purchasing practices. We would order product as we needed it. Some product has to be treated that way. But, a lot, if not most product can be purchased in quantities that allow for better pricing levels and payment terms. Also, there was a lot of product that we should have been buying direct from manufacturers.

“Now, we know our inventory very well. We keep very accurate records of the product; that provides opportunity for effective high-profit purchasing. We take advantage of manufacturer specials and dating payment terms. Also, we don’t as often run out of inventory at the wrong time, which prevents loss of sales.”

Jon & Jennifer Walterscheit, Little Jon’s Archery, Marshall, Wisconsin:

“I think the hardest lessons are the expensive ones. In a business that is seasonal like this one, it is easy to get too much or too little of a particular item, and either one is a problem. We have made a huge investment in our websites for this reason. It is the best predictor of where the trends will be in the ‘rush’ season.”