Equip Your Hunting Customers
Bill Carter Is Back With More Tips To Increase Your Sales.
Last month, Bill Carter of Carter’s Country Guns & Ammo in greater Houston shared his hunting business expertise — hard-learned knowledge gained over the past half-century. This month, we hear from “Ol’ Bill” again, as he shares how he equips his hunting customers, while offering tips on how to ensure consumers will buy their gear from your store.
Carter recognizes, as most firearms and outdoor retailers do, hunters are doing more product research online as they prepare for the hunting seasons. Carter’s Country has embraced this trend by providing convenient links on their website to their chief manufacturers’ websites. These information-packed websites provide consumers with a lot of information, which can challenge dealers.
“If we’re not careful, our customers will know more about the products they’re trying to buy than we will,” Carter said.
To ensure they are ahead of the education curve, all Carter’s Country sales associates take time to field-test the hunting products they sell. Some of the testing takes place during “Top Gun” incentive hunts, a reward for Carter’s Country’s top sales achievers.
“To be able to relate our experience on how a certain hunting product performs is a great selling tool. But we have to be real about it, because customers can tell the difference between being real or just being ‘all hat and no cattle,’” Carter said.
Of course, dealers and their sales staff can have outstanding knowledge on their hunting products; however, Carter warns, if there isn’t enough inventory on hand when the hunting rush begins, they could essentially be selling for another retailer.
“A lot of times, we only get one shot at this. We’ve got to have our ‘Sunday clothes on’ and be ready to present all of our products at that time. Sometimes you don’t get a second chance. We find the best way we can offer more than the big-box retailer down the street is with courteous and friendly service, hands-on product knowledge and having it in stock when the customer wants it,” Carter said.
Weatherby is one of the top-selling brands at Carter’s Country. New for
2013 is the Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 Synthetic Package, which includes
a Redfield Revenge 3-9×42 scope.
In ammo sales, Winchester is a top-seller at Carter’s Country. The Winchester
Varmint X line is available in .204 Ruger, .223 Rem., .22-250 Rem. and .243 Win.
Carter’s Country is focused on offering consumers the “rock-solid anchors of the firearms business.” These top-selling brands in hunting firearms have changed over the years, Carter says.
“Ruger has gained a bigger share of the long-gun market, as well as Weatherby. Remington, I feel in our area, has lost a little bit. Savage and Mossberg have gained ground. We worry a bit about some of the firearms companies merging into larger conglomerates, but we have no complaints. We get treated real well by all of our manufacturers,” Carter said.
In hunting ammunition, Carter says his top-selling brands are a close race between Remington and Winchester, with Federal Premium — especially its rifle ammunition — coming on strong. Hornady also sells well.
“Federal gains ground every year. We also do well in the specialized Weatherby calibers,” Carter added.
South Texas has some specialized needs when it comes to hunting. Snake boots are a must and a Southwestern-unique camouflage pattern in clothing now sells briskly. In addition to an impressive long gun and ammunition selection, Carter’s Country also offers the must-have array of hunting products and accessories. Carter is quick to credit his top-notch buyer, Jason Krezinski, who has been responsible for the stores’ successful product mix for 26 years.
Carter’s Country maintains its healthy inventory, in part, by having “very good distributor relationships.” If there’s a deal out there, Carter’s Country aims to be on top of it.
“We have found, when you pay your bills promptly, you go to the front of the line, and that’s what we’ve been doing for many, many years,” Carter said.
A major focus at Carter’s Country is hunting. “To be able to relate our experience
on how a certain hunting product performs is a great selling tool,” Carter says.
Visitors to Carter’s Country website (www.carterscountry.net) discover a
hunting center with plenty of information on products, including special
promotions for the week.
Sell To Your Strengths
These days, Carter mostly hunts on his three store-connected ranches. His major, far-flung traveling hunts — represented by numerous trophies on the walls of his four stores — are pretty much behind him. As he has grown older, he’s seen lots of changes in the industry that have provided hunters with better products.
“I think the industry has changed more in the last 10 or 12 years than it did in the prior 30 years in terms of new products and new calibers. The industry is giving consumers what they want,” Carter said.
In the hunting-products category, Carter says consumers want plenty of gear, and he and his staff spend a good part of the year preparing for the fall and winter hunting seasons.
For these highly active seasons, Carter’s Country’s customers are divided into two main groups. The first group of customers makes the majority of their purchases during Carter’s Country’s July hunting sale. The second group prefers to concentrate their buying during the somewhat larger September sale. Both sales are major events, with plenty of special deals, free financing for 12 months on purchases of $500 or more and manufacturers’ reps providing an abundance of product demonstrations.
Carter points out, however, the hunting business is active to some degree much of the time.
“Exotic species hunting is coming on strong here and that goes on pretty much year-round, although it tails off some in the summer. Then again, varmint hunting is getting big,” Carter said.
Predator hunting is also growing in popularity in Texas, and that draws in diehard long-range shooters. Carter’s son and business partner, Billy, holds a long-range record.
“Everything that long-range hunters feel will improve their accuracy sells well. And cleaning gear is getting bigger and bigger every year. People realize that part of their accuracy program is a good, clean barrel,” Carter said.
Bowhunting is big in Texas, and Carter’s Country offers Clarion crossbows for serious bowhunters. However, Carter says it’s not one of the big specialties for his stores.
“It’s a specialized field. We tried it years ago and found that if you’re not an expert in knowledge with it, then you’d better stay out of it. There’s so much technical knowledge involved in being a good bowhunter,” Carter said.
About the ongoing ammunition shortage, Carter admits he has concerns.
“We try to stay ahead of the curve on it. Right now, we’re staying pretty even,” he said. “We’ve had to put a limit on purchases to keep people from stockpiling, and that’s working. People understand. I took a tour of the warehouse a little while ago, and we’re looking pretty good. We’re a little bit worried about traditional hunting calibers right now, but we feel those orders will be filled.”
Bill Carter shared his hunting-business strategy in the August issue.
Click Here to read it now.
Bill Carter has built a business that’s an icon in Texas and a recognized name throughout the industry. His personal and business foundations are the same: hard work, honesty and unwavering patriotism — along with good doses of homespun wisdom. His “Ol’ Bill Sez” commentaries have run for 40 years in Texas newspapers.
All this has built a loyal customer base. Consumers converge on Carter’s Country’s four stores looking for plenty of inventory, great deals and honest advice.
“Sales counter BS has never worked for us,” Carter said.
That reflects Bill Carter and Carter’s Country’s slogan: “Straight Shootin’ since 1961.”
Visit Carter’s Country at www.carterscountry.net
Here are Carter’s Country’s top-selling hunting product brands, in addition to the firearm and ammunition brands:
• Bird Bags: Filson, Browning
• Deer Stands: Big Game Tree Stands, The Blynd, Dillon Manufacturing
• Decoys: Flambeau, Edge
• Flashlights: Streamlight, SureFire, Phoenix
• Game Calls: FoxPro
• Game Cameras: Moultrie
• GPS: Bushnell
• Gun-Cleaning: Hoppe’s, Birchwood Casey, Otis
• Hunting Clothing: GameGuard, Browning, Beretta
• Knife Sharpeners: Warthog
• Knives: Benchmade, Kershaw, Gerber, Boker
• Laser Rangefinders: Leupold,Nikon, Leica
• Reloading Kits and Supplies:RCBS, Sierra Bullets
• Riflescopes and Binoculars: Leupold, Zeiss, Nikon
• Scent Products (Deer and Cover): Tinks, Primos
• Shooting Benches: Big Game
• Shooting Sticks: Primos
• Snake Boots: Chippewa
By Greg Staunton
>> Click Here << To Read The Shooting Industry September 2013 Issue Now!