Loyalty Isn’t For Sale: It’s Earned

As the saying goes, “employees don’t leave their job, they leave their manager.” You might beg to differ when it comes to your own employees, but think back to every job you left. What or who was the deciding factor?

Because loyalty isn’t something you can buy — though some managers make an attempt to — it’s still often treated like a luxury that can’t be afforded. But for managers who understand what it takes to run a thriving team, earning loyalty is something they can’t do without.

Last month in this column, we discussed how the success of your business equally depends on the happiness of your customers and employees, who we nicknamed “the other customer.” We explored the importance of emotionally and mentally engaging your staff in the way that you train, treat, and reward them — the goal being to encourage employee loyalty, because, after all, your profits are tied to their performance.

To better understand how business owners earn loyalty from their staff, I reached out to a few online forums playing host to gun enthusiasts across the country. I heard from a mix of managers, retail employees and retired law enforcement. They responded with their experiences in the workplace — both the good and the bad. As I read their stories, I noticed three repeating factors that played a role in fostering loyalty: employers who cared about their employees as people, who properly trained their staff and who recognized and rewarded good work.

Promote Loyalty From The Top

Richard, a dedicated manager who successfully operates a TripAdvisor top-10 ranked hotel and restaurant in Grand Junction, Colo., earned the loyalty of his 30-person staff with his “in the trenches” style of leadership. Richard is willing to lend a hand bussing tables, making beds and manning the front desk when necessary to show his staff he’s invested in their success.

Richard also allowed a few financially strapped staff members to live in the hotel temporarily until they could find permanent housing, setting them up with a tab and deducting small payments from their paychecks. When it’s been a particularly hard day, Richard treats the team to $75 worth of pizza — “A small price to pay to show people you care,” he says. “If you’re talking about three or four people in a gun store, one large pizza is a lot of good will.” His gesture is more valuable than the cost of the pizza.

Because Richard understands “good employees are worth their weight in gold,” he makes substantial investments into their training and personal lives, and has won their loyalty as a result.

Roger, who works for a 50-year-old, family-owned company of over 2,000 employees in Mississippi, credits his loyalty to the owner’s leadership style — which he calls “manage by walking.” Every month, the owner strolls the floors of the building, visiting with Roger and his co-workers. “With over 2,000 employees, he’ll still remember your kid’s names and ask about them and how they’re doing,” Roger marvels. “He never talks about business during these walks; saving that for specific business visits.”

In 50 years, the owner has never had a lay-off and is cautious when it comes to filling open positions, considering how that person will fit in with his team. Roger says, “That tends to mean we’re slightly understaffed, but everyone knows once you’re hired, you have a job for life if you so choose.”

Relationships Are Key

Proud Texan, Donald, remembers the day a local gun store lost his business. He was about to buy a revolver when a Ruger expert showing him the firearm placed it back in the case mid-sale while Donald had turned away momentarily. Surprised, Donald asked the man, “Are we through here?” The unperceptive salesman replied, “I guess so,” losing himself the sale. Donald promptly left the store and purchased the same revolver elsewhere.

In contrast, Donald’s relationship with Steve, a salesman at his local pawnshop, is drastically different. Steve knows Donald by name, has memorized which firearms he prefers, and occasionally calls when a gun arrives that might interest Donald. If Steve is out to lunch, Donald waits until he returns. Steve is the only person he’ll do business with at the shop. That’s because he’s willing to pay for Steve’s level of customer service and salesmanship. He’s earned both Donald’s business and his loyalty, in the process.

Richard, Roger, and Donald have been on both ends of the counter. They know what it means to be loyal to an employer and also what is means to earn the loyalty of an employee. If you’re unsure where your employees stand, it might be helpful to start a conversation, maybe over a slice of pizza, your treat. Although you can’t buy loyalty, your employees can tell when you’re genuinely invested in them. Join the discussion about employee loyalty, by emailing editor@nullshootingindustry.com.

Editor’s Note: Taylor Smithfield is in the midst of a four-part series on customer retention, employee loyalty and related topics. If you have a comment on how this plays out in your store, send us an email.

NSSF Career Center Provides Connections

The NSSF has revamped their job posting service to debut their new NSSF Career Center, which connects you to a network of potential employees. Located at www.jobs.nssf.org, the Career Center provides unparalleled exposure to professionals in the firearms industry for both NSSF members and non-members.

Join with an employer account and easily post jobs and search for employees. When you pay for a job listing, you can search the database and receive notifications when a résumé meets your criteria. Job seekers can easily upload their résumés, as well.

“We’re excited to launch this new platform to the benefit of both employers and job seekers alike,” said Deb Kenney, NSSF VP of human resources and administration. “No other job board out there is dedicated solely to fulfilling the hiring needs of the firearms industry, and we think our new Career Center will not only fill that gap, but provide a much-needed avenue for matching highly qualified industry professionals with the specialized jobs that require their skills.”


Lipsey’s Expands Flat Dark Earth Line G42

Lipsey’s has expanded their 33-model Flat Dark Earth pistol line, adding their Exclusive GLOCK 42 in the new color scheme. Molded with the FDE color at the time of manufacture (as opposed to an aftermarket coating), the G42 is both durable and resistant to chipping.

“The FDE line of GLOCKs have firmly entrenched themselves as a mainstream item,” says Jason Cloessner, Lipsey’s product development manager, who has been working with GLOCK for several months on the FDE model. “The G42 was a natural follow-up to what has become one of our most in-demand exclusive offerings.”

Visit www.lipseys.com

Blue Book, 3 Circle Announce Partnership

Blue Book Publications, publisher of Blue Book of Gun Values reference data, and 3 Circle Software, creator of Gun StoreMaster software for FFL retailers, announce a partnership to deliver information and productivity tools for dealers. Integrating Blue Book’s firearm information with Gun StoreMaster MarketView, dealers will now have access to a system that can quickly provide the information needed to better buy and sell firearms.

Gun StoreMaster’s software mitigates the risk of losing or misinterpreting vital customer information and helps owners to quickly acclimate new hires and increase their productivity. In addition, the software provides an electornic eSAFE Bound Book and built-in integration with QuickBooks POS.

“FFL dealers often need to support buying and selling decisions by researching the firearm marketplace. Our system speeds up this process by connecting to various information sources in one easy-to-use place,” said Steve Harris, 3 Circle Software CEO.

“We expect to leverage our unique information in additional creative ways with Gun StoreMaster MarketView, to further benefit FFL dealers,” said Adam Burt, Blue Book president.

Planned additions to the Gun StoreMaster family include the Gun StoreMaster Fast4473 and the Gun StoreMaster MarketView services which present a more vivid picture of the firearms distribution marketplace.

Visit www.bluebookofgunvalues.com, www.3circlesoft.com

By Taylor Smithfield

Kalashnikov USA’s New Website, Rebranding

Kalashnikov USA has revealed their new website and company rebrand, refocusing their message to “Russian Heritage, American Innovation.” Improved changes include a revamped product page, highlighting the features, benefits, and specifications of each firearm. Customers can locate you by clicking the “Dealers” button, which provides them with a search to locate nearby stores. You’ll also find a database of retailers and distributors and a downloadable PDF of the product catalog.

“An iconic firearms platform, revered the world over, with a history of intrigue and controversy, now reborn as the new American Kalashnikov,” reads the website’s home page. “Building on the battle-proven AK system, the new Kalashnikov USA models will incorporate functions and features made specifically for an American audience. Whether you are a sport shooter, hunter, protecting family, home and country, the new Kalashnikov USA firearms will exceed your expectations of how a firearm should perform.”
Visit www.kalashnikov-usa.com

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New Product Of The Day: CrossBreed Holster Glock

Hand-molded holsters for the GLOCK 42/43 with the Streamlight TLR-6 are now available from CrossBreed. The Streamlight TLR-6 is a subcompact pistol light with both an LED illuminator and a red aiming laser designed to attach to the triggerguard of the GLOCK 42/43. The CrossBreed holsters for the two GLOCK models with the TLR-6 include the SuperTuck, QwickClip, SnapSlide, SuperSlide, Ohai, Bedside Backup, Belly Band, Purse Defender, Pac Mat and the RAM Mount.


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New Product Of The Day: Excel Arms

The Kryptek Highlander Accelerator Series rifle is for predator and varmint hunting. It has a full-length Weaver rail integrated into the aluminum shroud housing the 0.875-inch diameter, 18-inch long stainless steel fluted bull barrel. The Kryptek Highlander comes as a basic model with sling studs and one nine-round magazine, or as a P-2 model with a 4-16×50 scope with illuminated reticle, slings, studs, tactical side rails and two nine-round magazines.



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Loyal Employees Go The Extra Mile

“Always put the customer first.” This phrase or some variation of the principle is more than likely in your employee handbook — and rightly so. Your customers deserve to feel like they’re your priority because your business thrives on their satisfaction. Your staff probably spends their initial training and the majority of their employment learning the particulars of your customers’ needs because you know happy customers make loyal customers. However, if your employees meet the needs of your customers, who’s meeting the needs of your employees?

When we talk about “putting the customer first” it may be helpful to broaden our definition of “customer.” Although you compensate your employees, they’re more like customers than you think, and their needs go far beyond a paycheck. Just as customers are motivated monetarily and emotionally, so are your employees. Pay, benefits, recognition — these are all motivations for your employees, but are they enough to truly meet their “needs”?

Would you believe the average company loses somewhere between 20 to 50 percent of their employee base yearly, according to Bain & Company, an international management consulting firm, and it costs a staggering 150 percent of an employee’s pay to find, train and bring their replacement up to speed, according to Columbia University? It’s a high price to pay to lose such a valuable asset.

The success of your business depends not only on well-selected and well-trained employees, but also happy ones. You can teach your employees principles and procedures, but you can’t teach loyalty, passion or satisfaction. Loyal employees go the extra mile, passionate employees tell everyone about your store and satisfied employees invest in your brand and stick around for the long haul. Although it’s not all about money for your employees, happy employees make you more money in the end.

Allegiance, a platform that fosters customer loyalty and employee retention (a favorite of several Fortune 500 companies) explains the difference between dedicated employees and mere time-clock-punchers is their level of engagement and emotional investment in your business. Allegiance’s Dr. Gary Rhoads and Dr. David Whitlark, who the company refers to as “loyalty experts,” discovered four areas your employees need to feel engaged. They are: being helpful, feeling competent and improved, feeling accepted, and feeling respected.


Sources Of Employee Engagement

First, employees want to be helpful or feel like you’re utilizing their skill set. Maybe one employee has an extensive hunting background and you can capitalize on his knowledge, or another has a creative way with the in-store displays. Second, feeling competent and improved makes employees feel prepared in their role and secure in the future of their job. Continually training employees on new products, roles, procedures, and skill-sets provides them with plenty of reasons to stick around. Third, employees who feel accepted are more likely to help their fellow teammates succeed, as well as identify with your store’s overall mission and principles. Fourth and last, feeling respected is crucial to the success of your employees. The saying goes, “Employees don’t leave their job, they leave their manager.”

If you’re not sure about the level of your employee engagement, Allegiance’s loyalty experts suggest conducting a survey. You can measure the following by asking employees to report anonymously on things like: job satisfaction, productivity, quality of peers, likelihood to change jobs, likelihood to recommend company products or services, likelihood to recommend as a great place to work and satisfaction with compensation and benefits. This will provide you with feedback so you know where to make improvements.

Your employees will appreciate your broader understanding of customer satisfaction, when they realize you’re invested in them just as much as you are in your customers. Are you creating an atmosphere for success by engaging employees who, in turn, create happy customers? I’d like to hear from you about your programs. It would be great to hear from your employees, also.

Editor’s Note: This is the second look in a four-part series on customer conversion and related topics. Share your thoughts with us at editor@nullshootingindustry.com.


Eagle Imports Introduces 2015 Range Program

Eagle Imports has introduced a new 2015 Range Program. The program benefits nationwide range owners interested in teaching safety training and recreational shooting using firearms from the Bersa, Metro Arms and Grand Power product lines.

The program will offer Bersa’s Thunder and BP CC models, Metro Arms’s 1911s and competition guns, and Grand Power’s polymer handguns. Ranges may choose between three and six firearms on a single order every six months (with all three brands being represented in one order). Contact Eagle Imports at info@nulleagleimports.com or (732) 493-0333 to find out if your range qualifies for the program.

Visit www.eagleimportsinc.com

Kahr Debuts New Dealer Program

Kahr Fireams Group is rolling out a new Dealer Showcase Program. The offer will put more Kahr guns in front of consumers visiting the gun counter, while also reducing costs for dealers. Four Kahr Arms pistols, two Magnum Research pistols and one Auto-Ordnance pistol have been selected for the Dealer Showcase Program: the CM9093, CW9093, CW3833 and CT9093 from Kahr; the Desert Eagle 1911U and DE44BC from Magnum Research; and the 1911PKZSEW from Auto-Ordnance.

To receive this special pricing offer, dealers must purchase all seven models — which will save them $533 off suggested dealer pricing. Dealers who participate in this program will also receive catalogs from Kahr Firearms Group. One Dealer Showcase Program is allowed during the time period for each Kahr Firearms Group stocking distributor. Dealers can order direct from participating distributors or by logging in and downloading the Program form on the Kahr Firearms Group dealer websites. This program began July 1 and runs until October 31.

Visit www.kahr.com


Red Anodized 22/45 Lite

Davidson’s Releases Ruger Special Edition

Davidson’s, in partnership with Ruger, has released the Special Edition Red Anodized Ruger 22/45 Lite Rimfire Pistol, inspired by the classic 1911. This exclusive pistol, which is well suited for the range, is highly customizable with its Picatinny rail, threaded muzzle for accessory additions, loaded chamber indicator and 1911-sized interchangeable grip panels. The modernized 22/45 is 10 ounces lighter than the standard version 22/45, with a ventilated aluminum upper receiver. The 22/45 Lite is available in three finishes: Blue Anodized, Cobalt Anodized, and, now through this Davidson’s exclusive, Red Anodized.

Visit www11.davidsonsinc.com
By Taylor Smithfield


Mossberg Launches Revamped Website

Mossberg’s newly improved website merges both functionality with stunning video and images to create a refined viewing experience. With its responsive, mobile-friendly design, your customers can use their dealer search feature to locate your store wherever they are. The easy-to-navigate product sections feature high-quality and detailed photos of each firearm and accessory.

Mossberg has also redesigned its community sections, with new blogs as well as hunting and shooting instructional videos. With this revamped design, Mossberg is able to showcase promotions on the website’s homepage.
Visit www.mossberg.com.

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Handgun Accessories For All

Use Point-Of-Sale Connection For Additional Profits.

Competition among firearms dealers is fierce, especially with the well-documented “race to the bottom” pricing technique to move inventory — pinching profit margins and forcing retailers to look elsewhere to make up for the deficit. The accessory end of the handgun market presents a stable revenue stream for dealers, and it’s here where savvy retailers can make up for decreasing margins on firearms and add handsome profits to their bottom line.

Brick-and-mortar storeowners have the unique, overwhelming advantage of personal contact with their customers. Are you using this incredible benefit to its full potential? Beyond the realm of ammo sales, you have an excellent opportunity to enhance profits off a huge selection of accessories — including holsters and gun cases, magazines and loaders, aftermarket sights and lasers, plus range bags and concealment purses.


Thanks to an increase in women’s concealed carry, holster manufacturers have
responded with women-specific models. CrossBreed’s Women’s Appendix Holster
is designed for compact handguns, like the SIG P938, and has no cant.


Hogue Inc. recently announced a line of automatic retention carry holsters
for a variety of semiautos and revolvers. Most models can be configured for
straight, FBI angle or cross draw positioning and all feature a contoured,
low print profile.

The “In-Store” Advantage

In-store customer contact is your ace in the hole for added profits, but only if you use it to your best advantage: at the point of a firearms sale. This is when your handgun customers are in a buying frame of mind, but they may be so enamored with a new firearm they forget the ancillary items they’ll need so it meets their demands.

“By far our best opportunity to sell handgun accessories is at the point of sale,” said Clay Simmons, president of Simmons Sporting Goods in Bessemer, Ala. “Handgun accessory sales make up approximately 25 percent of our overall accessory transactions, so they’re extremely important to our bottom line.”

To capture your in-store advantage, it’s important to train your sales staff to ask questions pertinent to their purchase at the point of sale. If it’s for personal protection, will they need a concealed-carry holster or a safe for home storage? What about grips and lasers? For your women handgun owners, are they in need of a purse to carry their new gun safely? These are questions your sales staff can ask to get customers to think about their needs and how you can help them. Once they leave your store, you risk losing out on the opportunity to fulfill their accessory needs.

Another way to grow handgun accessory sales is to make sure you stock what your customers need. Facing tighter margins, it’s important for dealers to carry products to fit their customer demographic and in proper quantities. The fast pace in new product releases adds additional pressure for dealers to get their inventory right. A recent case in point: When the GLOCK 43 was introduced, a host of aftermarket manufacturers’ offerings — including holsters and lasers — were released simultaneously. In cases like this, Simmons listens to what customers are saying and observes what’s selling in his store.

“When new products come to market, we watch everything closely and, in order to respond to the needs of a customer quickly, we rely on purchasing from a distributor for a rapid turnaround,” Simmons said.


(Above) Select Smith & Wesson J-Frame models are now available with a
factory-installed LaserMax CenterFire laser. (below) Ideal for new handgun
customers, Birchwood Casey’s Shoot-N-C 12-inch handgun trainer target provides
instant feedback with each shot.


What Sells Best?

Simmons serves a large segment of tactical shooters, which impacts the offerings at his store.

“The biggest single selling accessory for us is a concealed-carry holster. Our top-selling styles include IWB, paddle, belt slide and push button polymer holsters,” he added. “We adjust our stock selection by looking at the most popular styles and factor in the best value for the money. Holster sizes are determined by what fits the most popular handguns. The brands we sell best are BLACKHAWK!, Tagua and Uncle Mike’s.”

Simmons notes extra magazines are still near the top of handgun accessory best sellers.

“Extra magazines are very important to handgun customers. However, many guns now come with two magazines so we’ve noticed there are fewer magazines sold at the point of sale. The few guns with one magazine present the best opportunity for add-on magazine sales, compared to guns with two or more. The best selling magazines for us are models for GLOCK, Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Springfield Armory and SIG SAUER handguns,” he said.

According to Simmons, advances in technology have prompted customers to purchase aftermarket optics, flashlights and lasers for their handgun.

“Optics and flashlights/lasers are important to a small but steadily growing group of handgun customers. Our biggest selling item in this category at the point of sale is a laser grip,” he added.

If you’re a Class 3 dealer, you’ll be encouraged by the growth of the suppressor market for additional handgun accessory sales. Handguns with threaded barrels are becoming more and more popular, with Springfield and S&W recently adding threaded barrels to the XD and M&P lines respectively. In addition, SilencerCo has partnered with XS Sights to produce suppressor sights on handguns.


At Simmons Sporting Goods, handgun accessory sales are frequently made at
the point of a firearms sale — where the customer is in a buying mood.

Create Your Business Plan

An overall game plan is critical to maximize your handgun accessories program. There are several reasons Simmons Sporting Goods has created a sizeable chunk of their accessory sales centered around their handguns.

“To optimize handgun accessory sales, the following factors are important: A sales staff that promotes the sale at the point of purchase, stocking the right products and keeping them in inventory, taking advantage of any special promotions being offered by a manufacturer and providing your customers with good selection, friendly service and fair pricing at all times,” Simmons said.

Profit margins are much more comfortable on handgun accessories than they are on firearms themselves. You can expect anywhere from 25 to 50 percent markups on the majority of accessories. Take a hard look at your handgun accessory line-up and make sure you’ve got all your bases covered. Is your stock current with the rapidly evolving trends in the industry? If not it may be time to blow out the old stock and bring in the new. With measured adjustments here and there, you may be surprised at how easily you can grow this segment of your business.
By Pat Covert

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Click Here To Read The Shooting Industry September 2015 Issue Now!

One-Shot Trill

Capitalize On Love Of Tradition In The Muzzleloading Market.

Black-powder aficionados have long been an interesting segment of the firearms market, giving their enthusiasm for muzzleloader shooting and hunting a definite footprint in every region of the country and in many independent dealers’ stores. Muzzleloaders also have a growing following among younger firearm enthusiasts, and this is always welcome news.

While many Americans may own antique flintlock muskets passed down to them by their forebears, others become avid collectors/shooters of both traditional and modern muzzleloaders of their own volition. The fascination with frontier lore may be only slightly exceeded by the love of seeing newer black-powder technologies form modern hybrids with the older firearms.

To that end, modern muzzleloaders have seen some significant upgrades in recent years, prodding many enthusiasts to continue trading up their well-used black-powder guns.

“Most people only own one black-powder gun at a time, but they also buy a new one every three to five years. They may keep their deer rifle their entire life, but with black powder, new technologies, new guns come out every few years,” said Robert Rosenberger, owner of Shenandoah Sporting Goods in Brook, Va., which maintains a solid muzzleloader clientele.


CVA’s Muzzleloading Outfit is compatible with any inline muzzleloading rifle.
Its contents include Powerbelt bullets, breech plug grease, three speedloaders,
cleaning patches and an instructional video.


Hornady combined its Super Shock Tip (SST) premium polymer tipped bullet with
a sabot for improved accuracy in inline muzzleloaders. The raised InterLock
ring is embedded in the bullet’s core to ensure the core and jacket are
locked in one piece during expansion to retain mass and energy.

Enthusiasm Sells

The value of the black-powder market to dealers is evident in its highly engaged hunting and competitive shooting populations.

HuntingNet.com’s black-powder forum currently has 1,015 full pages of discussion about every aspect of black-powder shooting imaginable, for example.

There’s also lots of crossover between the archery and black-powder markets. Primitive hunters love to draw out the hunting season by getting an early start with their bows and muzzleloaders, carrying both to the field, where practical and allowable. They enjoy the thrill of getting closer to a prized buck for that one, good shot. And if a hunter misses with his bow, he can sometimes still get a kill with his muzzleloader.

“I was up in a tree two years ago and only had my bow. A nice, eight-point buck came by, out of bow range. The next year, I made sure I also had my black-powder gun with me,” said William Harrison, a longtime Virginia hunter hailing from Lynchburg.

Harrison says he started out black-powder hunting years ago with an older CVA Mountain Hawken, using a No. 11 percussion cap.

“I use a modern in-line rifle today — a Thompson/Center Omega with a 30-inch barrel. I can reload within 30 to 40 seconds, and get a second shot, if needed. Deer will sometimes run a few yards and stop, or run 30 or 40 yards and stop,” he noted.


The Vortek StrikerFire LDR from Traditions is equipped with the StrikerFire
system and a 30-inch Chromoly barrel. It’s chambered in .50-caliber and
features Realtree Xtra Camo and a 3-9×40 rangefinding scope.


With a 28-inch barrel, the Thompson/Center Triumph Bone Collector is available
in .50-caliber and comes in a variety of finishes. The model pictured above
has a silver weather-shield finish and Realtree AP camo stock.

Dealers Have The Edge In Muzzleloading

Shenandoah Sporting Goods is but one example of a well-stocked store for black-powder enthusiasts. Virginia has a long tradition of black-powder hunting and shooting, as well as a committed community of Civil War buffs and re-enactors. Other states can make similar boasts.
“We sell muzzleloaders year-round. We’re the most competitive of any dealer anywhere with our muzzleloaders,” Rosenberger maintains.

A March-April 2015 survey from Southwick Associates, “Summary of Hunter and Shooter Trends” (Media Report), indicates nearly all purchases of black-powder supplies come from local dealers and outdoor specialty shops. The muzzleloader market is somewhat unique, but as with other segments of the firearms market, consumers may do some of their homework online while choosing to get their real questions answered in your store.

The leading brands in muzzleloaders continue to be Thompson/Center, Traditions, Knight and CVA, and everyone has his or her favorite. Dealers doing a good muzzleloader business also stock an array of powders/propellants and bullets. Pyrodex, Hodgden, Goex, Hornady, Barnes and Knight are all leading brands. Primers, patches and cleaning supplies round out the chief accessories for the muzzleloading market. Diehard moderns or folks with visual impairments also mount optics on their rifles, unless prohibited by state hunting laws.
“Hunting has become a brand promotion thing so much now,” Rosenberger said.


Hodgdon’s Pyrodex Select RS muzzleloading propellant powder can be used in
all calibers of percussion muzzleloading rifles, burning cleaner with less
fouling than standard black powder.

Know The Basics

While the latest Southwick survey shows more black-powder gun owners had purchased standard (sidehammer) muzzleloader models, many hunters these days prefer the in-line models (a modern rifle configuration in a muzzleloading package). Experienced hunters and shooters say there’s little or no difference in reliability or accuracy between the two models. It’s a matter of personal preference, so dealers would do well to offer both kinds of muzzleloaders.

Most modern in-line muzzleloaders are in the .50-caliber category because of the desired firepower and flexibility it offers. They’re designed to shoot plastic-encased, saboted bullets or larger soft-lead projectiles. There is a good array of projectile types available for black-powder shooters, however, including expanding bullets that help ensure a quick kill.

Dealers can look to manufacturers’ educational tools to help train sales staff. As an example, CVA’s website features “Muzzleloading Basics,” a 10-chapter video series on how to load, shoot and clean a muzzleloader, and more. Visit www.cva.com/blackpowder-basics.php.

Traditions Performance Firearms provides both consumers and dealers a handy reference page on its website to explain muzzleloading terms. Visit www.traditionsfirearms.com/technology.

Learn what muzzleloader enthusiasts are discussing, and how to meet their needs, on Knight’s Muzzleloader Forum. Visit forums.knightrifles.com.

Unless you’re in a state where primitive hunting is more restricted, there’s no reason for a dealer to shy away from the muzzleloader market today.


Surging Youth Market

The growing interest in muzzleloader shooting and hunting in the youth market is good news for all dealers. Most young hunters focus on bagging a trophy buck with their muzzleloaders, but 16-year-old Clayton (Clay) Monarch has been going on safari with his family since he was 10 and needed his grandfather to shorten his rifle stock.

Safari Club International and Cabela’s recently named Monarch their 2015 Young Hunter of the Year. He takes many of his game trophies with a Knight muzzleloader.

“My muzzleloader means more to me than just a well-placed shot. It is a style of hunting that speaks of sportsmanship. It requires me to pull closer to the animals I’m hunting, to more carefully consider my shots, and to depend upon a firearm and bullet I know will take them down in one shot. I credit my grandparents with teaching me to be an ethical hunter, and I credit the accuracy of my muzzleloader and bullets with putting a challenge into this sport that reinforces that lesson,” said Monarch in an article on Knight’s website.

Monarch hits on a key point with many black-powder hunters: the desire for a clean and ethical killing shot. This is one way, as Monarch suggests, in which the traditions and values of bygone eras are becoming new again. While many youths are indiscriminately “killing” figures in some of the more violent video games on the market today, young men and women like Clayton are enjoying the outdoors responsibly and ethically, and advancing America’s longtime hunting heritage.
By Greg Staunton

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Glock’s Blue Label Program: Is It For You?

For some time now, GLOCK’s Blue Label Program has been available to selected dealers. According to GLOCK, the purpose of this program is “to support those who protect and serve communities across the U.S. and around the world.” Those who qualify are able to receive a discount on any GLOCK pistol of their choice. Some of the advantages for participating dealers in this program aren’t obvious, so let’s explore some of the benefits of being a Blue Label dealer.

To be eligible for this program, your establishment has to already be a GLOCK Stocking Dealer. There’s no specific minimum or maximum number of GLOCKs that can be ordered under the Blue Label program. Blue Label dealer status is determined in part by whether or not your area is already serviced in this respect. Blue Label pistols are the same as ordinary GLOCKs — all models and calibers allowed in the U.S. — with the program named after the distinctively colored box sticker, which marks the given pistol as designated for this program.

The public safety professionals listed below can purchase two GLOCKs at Blue Label pricing per calendar year — typically $75 to $100 off the retail price, depending on the model. In addition, private citizens who belong to the GLOCK Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) can purchase one gun a year at the same price. To be eligible, a GSSF member has to sign up for a two-year membership; new members receive one coupon per year.

Professionals Eligible For Blue Label Pricing (Courtesy of GLOCK)

• Sworn L.E. officers, including Federal, State, County and City*
• EMTs, firefighters, volunteer firefighters and paramedics
• Military personnel, including reservists and National Guard with I.D.*
• Corrections officers, including parole and probation officers
• State licensed security companies (Loomis, RAM, etc.), state-licensed armed security officers are also included
• Court judges, district attorneys and deputy district attorneys
• L.E. academy cadets with enrollment documentation from the academy
*Includes L.E./Military personnel with “retired” credentials

Discount Rates And Profit Factors

I recently sat down with Bob Radecki, GLOCK national sales manager, and Chris Edwards, GLOCK range manager/instructor, to get more information on the program.

“Blue Label is a sub-distribution program. It’s mainly offered as a courtesy to our law enforcement customer base, and to all others who serve as emergency first responders. It’s also a benefit for members of the GSSF,” Radecki explains.
Eligible customers get a significant discount thanks to this program.

“A normal Gen4 GLOCK 17 would carry a suggested retail price of $639. The retail price for the same pistol in the Blue Label Program would be $425. Wholesale cost to an FFL dealer for the same gun would be $475 for commercial sale, and $385 for a gun to sell to police,” Radecki added.

Some dealers have declined to explore the Blue Label program because of the lower margins. Using the figures above, gross profit on a standard purchase GLOCK sold at retail would be $164, and only $40 on a gun bought and sold through the Blue Label program. Not exactly appetizing, especially during times when you can easily sell every GLOCK you can get into your shop at MSRP.

However, there are also those times when gun sales lag. There’s also the fact probably every local dealer you’re competing with can buy GLOCKs at wholesale. If you’re the only dealer in your area giving the Blue Label discount, this means you — instead of your competitors — will be selling and making a profit on guns to the Blue Label market. Suddenly, this makes the Blue Label option more attractive, and of course, it comes with the goodwill generated among the public safety market.


GLOCK offers its Blue Label program for sales to police, military,
other first responder professions and GSSF members.

Benefits Of Blue Label From Dealer’s Experiences

At The Gun Store in Conway, S.C., co-owner David Floyd says his store has been a part of the Blue Label Program for the past three years, with good results.

“My business partner Jason Wallace and I entered the industry five years ago from military and L.E. backgrounds, and thought this program would be a natural fit. It’s a pretty small percentage of our business, less than 10 percent of handgun sales. For us, Blue Label isn’t mentioned in our ads and they’re not on display with the other firearms. Frankly, I’m not sure whether they’re supposed to be,” he said.

Floyd said his store uses the Blue Label Program as a way to honor local public service professionals.

“We have it as a perk for L.E., military, fire and EMS. Our only advertising for Blue Label is through word of mouth locally with all the departments. It’s grown from where we started, from three to five guns a month to now over 20 sometimes. The margin is really low. I tell my sales guys to offer it to known ‘guardians,’ but to not ask everyone what they do. We worry someone who doesn’t qualify may ask his eligible buddy up the street to buy it for him, and generate a straw purchase,” he said.

Dave Floyd says he would recommend Blue Label to other dealers who can get approval. “It’s kind of like selling hunting licenses: In our state you only make a couple of percentage points — and it’s a wash on credit cards — but you’re hoping the guy will buy something while getting the license. With Blue Label, we’re hoping the customer will shoot at our indoor range or buy some ammo for his new GLOCK.”

Marsha Rath, manager at Midwest Sporting Goods in the Chicago suburb of Lyons, Ill., said she’s had Blue Label for three or four years.

“It’s working pretty good so far,” she said. “In order: L.E., security and some military are our largest buyer groups eligible for the Blue Label program. We also get occasional TSA, EMTs and firefighters. GSSF customers make up a small percentage of Blue Label sales. We think it has brought in customers we might not have had otherwise. Many are referrals; typically, a recruit will spread the word to the rest of the class.”

Occasionally, Blue Label sales rise to the level where Midwest runs out of stock and has to re-order.

“There’s no real downside to the program,” Rath said. “GLOCKs are our biggest seller in general. About 20 to 30 percent of the GLOCKs we sell are Blue Label. The G19 is probably the most popular since many departments around here make their new officers start with 9mm, and many security companies limit their armed personnel to 9mm. Some of the security companies will help them pay for the gun, taking money out of their check every week.”

In the end, while the Blue Label program may not fit every dealer’s business plan, there are obviously many who are happy with it. If you think it might fit your business model, you can look into the details at www.us.glock.com/bluelabel.
By Massad Ayoob

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Supporting Cause Campaigns Brings Benefits

Reaching out to a younger generation is one of the major challenges in the shooting industry today. As a whole, the Millennials population is projected to surpass the Baby Boomers to be the largest living population today. They’ve proven to be a bit elusive as consumers, and older business models have struggled to catch up to their lifestyle and values. A core value of Millennials as a whole is they are passionate about making a difference in the world — and this is one of the ways the industry can attract and retain Millennials as customers.

Products supporting a cause are a win-win situation for female Millennials. TOMS’ shoes have become enormously popular because people know when they buy a pair of TOMS, they’re helping provide needed resources to struggling populations. The self-defense industry has also taken on this challenge. SABRE Red has partnered with Kuros! — a company dedicated to providing women in developing nations with personal-defense tools — to make pepper spray a part of womens’ self-defense plans across the globe.

Kuros! founder Kuro Tawil was inspired to make a difference while traveling the world and he became aware violence against women is a worldwide problem. Tawil determined pepper spray was legal in many countries, but most women couldn’t afford to purchase it. The idea for Kuros! was born, and he began raising funds by selling products to support pepper spray “drops” in developing nations. Kuros! coordinates with local non-profits to make sure the pepper spray reaches the women who need it most. Successful product drops have already been completed in India and South Africa, and more are planned for the near future.

Once SABRE Red learned of Kuros! goal to protect and empower women, the company knew they could support Kuros! by creating a special key case pepper spray with a quick release key ring. The unique teal color of the Kuros! pepper spray makes it stand out, and proceeds from each Kuros! pepper spray sold will go to help provide women with pepper spray who otherwise couldn’t afford it. So every woman who buys Kuros! pepper spray will not only be taking steps to protect herself, she’ll also be helping a woman in another part of the world be more safe.

To order Kuros! in bulk for your store, contact Aimee Johnson, SABRE Red national sales manager, at ajohnson@nullsabrered.com.


SABRE Red partnered with Kuros! to produce a pepper spray keychain to benefit
women around the world. Proceeds from each purchase will provide women with
pepper spray of their own — so your customers can protect themselves while
empowering others.

Use Your Store To Promote Local Organizations

Sponsoring a specific charity promotes your business in a positive light to your community and will allow you to reach a new audience. Sharp Shooting Indoor Range and Gun Shop in Spokane, Wash., chooses a different local organization each month and asks customers if they would like to round up their change to support the group. Jeremy Ball, Sharp Shooting sales and merchandising manager, said it’s easy to do and customers have been very supportive of this round up program.

This is a great way to focus support of local organizations and zero-in on your specific community’s needs. When selecting a group to support, be sure to choose what appeals to a broad base of customers. For example, a local children’s hospital, Wounded Warriors, service groups or public service organizations appeal to everyone. Also, because Millennials are avid users of social media, post how much money was raised on your social media accounts so your customers can see the difference they’re making in their community.

Another option is to host a charity shoot to benefit a cause your women customers would like to support. Bill Pellegrino’s Archery Hut teams up with Karen Butler’s Shoot Like a Girl to hold an “I Shoot For The Girls” Fe-Mail-in Tournament, which starts in October and lasts several months. Hosted by clubs, leagues and businesses across the country, archers have a chance to compete on an international level in a fun, mail-in tournament. All of the proceeds go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF). New for 2015, I Shoot for the Girls will also incorporate firearms into the tournament.

When hosting an event for charity, if there are product tie-ins to support it, be sure to have those products on hand. For example, if you host “I Shoot for the Girls” at your range, be sure to stock products to support Breast Cancer Awareness. Victory Archery offers VAP, VForce and Pink Bolt arrows which are part of the Pink Arrow Project and a portion of the proceeds go to NBCF. Pink Lumenok lighted nocks also donate a portion of their proceeds to the Pink Arrow Project. Both would be perfect to sell during the “I Shoot for the Girls” tournament.


Look to carry products that benefit charities, such as
Spyderco’s Squeak Lightweight Pink SLIPIT.

Pink Sales Power

Pink products that support breast cancer awareness are another way to reach out to young women. Almost every woman’s life has been touched by cancer in some way, and women are more than eager to support organizations that help fight the disease. Since next month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a plethora of products will be available to donate a portion of the proceeds to breast cancer research. Most of them will be pink or sport the pink ribbon, and some will only be available for a limited time during October.

Some products you might consider highlighting are pocketknives from Benchmade and Spyderco. The Benchmade Pink Griptilian sports their AXIS locking system with ambidextrous thumbhole or stud and a 2.91-inch stainless steel blade. Benchmade donates a portion of the profits from the sale of this knife to the Oregon Health and Science University Breast Cancer Institute in Portland, Ore., to benefit their breast health education program. The Spyderco Squeak Lightweight Pink SLIPIT sports a 2-inch non-locking blade, a thumbhole opener and a wire pocket clip. A portion of all sales of this knife is donated to Pink Heals, a charity providing direct support to women battling all forms of cancer.

Actively supporting organizations that reflect the core values of your business, whether it’s through charitable purchases or events, creates an image of your business as a positive influence in the community. In addition, it reflects the values of Millennials who strongly believe in making a difference. Women will feel good about their purchases or participation because they are helping someone else and building a community.
By Lisa Parsons-Wraith

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