Dealers Reveal Tactics For The New Business Year .
The firearms industry will continue to prosper in 2012, according to most company officials and dealers — this despite a continuing weak economy.
However, the new business year won’t be without its challenges, especially for firearms dealers. Face-to-face daily with increasingly savvy and value-demanding consumers, dealers play a vital role in the success of the industry.
What are the challenges they face, and what plans do dealers have to prosper in 2012?
“Understanding who the buyers are seems to me to be the big issue for 2012,” said Miles Hall, founder and president of H&H Shooting Sports Complex in Oklahoma City. “What we see is the audience has changed from the past. They have to be reached more often in an effort to get them back in the store.”
The new “audience” is worth pursuing, Hall says.
“This group is large, and was part of the first wave in ’08 and ’09, and they are now back in for the next step in their journey. They haven’t quite got ‘the fever’ that is the unique heritage and tradition of the shooting sports. Simply put, it is not deeply relevant to them, yet,” Hall said.
To pull in these customers, Hall is investing a significant amount of money in advertising.
“We are spending almost double the amount on TV and radio ads that we have in the past, along with enlarging our focus on social media. This group of customers gets inspired by TV first, radio second, then they go to social media and the web before heading into the store. We plan on continuing this promotional approach, plus adding whatever support we receive from manufacturers during 2012,” Hall said.
Spend Quality Time On Inventory
The significant jump in firearm sales following the 2008 national elections serves as a tough lesson for dealers in 2012, according to Richard D. Sprague, president and CEO of Sprague’s Sports Inc., in Yuma, Ariz.
“Trying to second-guess your inventory position is always a challenge heading into what was, last time, a real pot-stirrer of an election. That, world peace and the Mayan Calendar issue, could make 2012 a very challenging and interesting time in our industry,” Sprague said.
Many dealers, Sprague says, are preparing for another surge in gun sales.
“Most dealers I have talked to since last summer are hedging their bets with more inventory, rather than less. We have seen some deflation of prices in some gun lines, and that is a bit unusual for this industry — and something to beware of, too,” Sprague said.
Sprague, who offers the largest firearm selection in southwest Arizona, advises dealers to monitor all areas of their inventory.
“Keep a close eye on your slow movers, and make sure you are priced for today’s marketplace. Make sure you spend enough quality time focused on your inventory position and balance to keep your cash flow current and solid. That way, you’ll keep your vendors responsive to your needs when the time comes for excellent service and consideration from them on allocated and hard-to-get profit-makers,” Sprague said.
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