Picture this; you’re new into archery and walk into your local shop with some questions about your set up, the bow tech at the counter laughs at your gear and questions if you’ve ever even shot before and then continues to try to sell you something you don’t need or want. Unfortunately this has happened to a lot of us. I recently ran across a post on one of the Facebook groups I’m in about archery, The Mathews Brotherhood, from a Pro Shop owner asking people some of the things they look for and would like to see in a Pro Shop. This post really got me thinking, these ideas pertain to archery but could really be put to use in any context.
I’ve lived in Wisconsin, Colorado, and now Minnesota; I’ve been to multiple shops in each state, some good and some not so good, so I know what I look for in a shop. The shop I currently go to is the best I’ve ever been to, Not because of size or the ridiculous amount of new gadgets to try, but because of the service I get when I go there. Just saying service doesn’t really elaborate because people might be really nice but that doesn’t make them good at their job, so I’ll elaborate in this next paragraph.
- Kindness: The first day I ever walked into this shop I had my almost 3-year-old daughter with me who got sent home from daycare. I wanted to see the new bow and had already taken off work so I figured we could stop in quick. We walked in, looked around for a few minutes before they asked if they could help me with anything. I asked if they had a left-handed Mathews Triax, the hottest new bow on the market at the time. He said “No, we don’t have a bare one, but this one is mine, what’s your draw? You can shoot mine.” He didn’t have to do that, most places wouldn’t. That was his personal bow, his release, his arrows. As he changed the draw mod to fit me, he brought me back behind the desk with my daughter so I could see what he was doing and take a look around. I told him I can’t afford to buy but wanted to try it and he was all for it without pushing sales on me. My shop has never pushed me to buy anything. Being new to the area, he even invited to come shoot the league one night for free to try it out. Simple kind gestures like these are crucial in bringing customers back.
- Knowledge: I went and shot a week later at league and one of my arrows blew up causing the string to derail, peep sight to come out, and rest to break. The tech took it in the shop and fixed it immediately, FOR FREE! I was expecting to pay $30-$40. He checked it to make sure everything was safe and even drew it back himself. I was super impressed. A few months later, I came across a smokin’ deal on the Triax and actually had the money to make it happen. I went and bought it. I usually set up my own sight and rest and everything on my own but when you order through them, they do it for free so I figured why not. He set my rest up for me and within a few minutes, was shooting bullets through paper. The last 2 shops I had been to had my rest set wrong on my old bow until I spent an entire day learning how to fix it, he did it in a matter of minutes. He watched my shoot, and I’m not a rookie but definitely not a professional either, offered a few tips and answered a bunch of my questions without making me feel like an idiot. Knowing what you’re talking about and being able to prove it is a huge part of any business. You have to be able to prove that what you’re doing is correct.
- Honesty: Being who I am, I’m always looking for suggestions to get better at everything I do. Every time I go in I have a couple of questions that I can ask and know I will get a straight answer. Usually it’s on gear I’m thinking about trying that they probably already have, or even a hunting scenario that I value their opinion. If they know something doesn’t work, they’ll tell you, even if it means a lost sale. Being honest with customers is so important, even if it means you don’t make a sale and might even disagree with their opinion. A majority of people will appreciate the honesty and sincerity, so long as you’re knowledgeable and aren’t just making things up.
- Stock: You can have a great shop but if there’s never anything in stock you’re going to start going somewhere else. A lot of people, myself included, will spend a few extra bucks to support a good shop. If a shop never has a product I’m looking for but everything else is good, I’ll still go but probably not as often and obviously won’t spend as much money there.
- Value: This get misconstrued a lot, I don’t mean always having the best prices, although that helps. I mean the shop has to provide value to the consumer and customer, so much so that they want to come back. My shop provides value to me by not always charging my for everything little thing, they don’t charge me to shoot every time because I buy a lot of other things there to support them. It’s only a couple bucks savings for me but that isn’t the point, it’s them telling me that they value me as a customer. The normally charge a dollar per arrow to cut them, I usually get it for free or a significant discount. The biggest thing I get from them is their knowledge, they don’t hesitate to give me tips they’ve learned that might save me a trip into the store. That is value! Because I value what they say and what they do for me I’ve decided to try out some of the products that they sell instead of the ones I’ve used for a while. It’s a trade off, they provide me with value and I support them by buying their products and services, even if I can get it cheaper on Amazon.
Having a good Pro Shop is awesome! It really is, but if you don’t spend your money there and support them, they won’t be for long! Unfortunately archery numbers and hunting numbers are on the decline and continue to be, that means fewer and fewer people going to support the shop owners. Yes they have to provide value to you, but you have to give them a reason to continue to do so. Yes it might cost a few extra bucks but to me, the value provided is worth it.
I guess if you’ve made it this far and gotten anything out of me babbling on, I hope it’s this: If you have a good shop, please support them and buy local. Spend the few extra bucks to put food on their table and keep them around to provide value for yourself and others in the future. Good Pro Shops continue to lose business because of the internet and ease and availability; if you like your local shop, go support them.