Listen To Customers, Track Trends To Seize Add-On Profit.
There are millions of dollars to be made in selling handgun accessories — with profits just waiting to be taken. Are you getting your share? For every handgun sale, there’s the potential to add extra profits to your bottom line.
The opportunity for accessory sales in the handgun side of the firearms business is immense due to the wide variety of products available, including holsters, pouches and range bags, optic and sighting systems, custom grips, magazines, loaders and safety equipment such as eye- and ear-protection. By tacking on additional sales for every handgun you sell, it’s not at all out of the question to add 20 to 30 percent or more to your bottom line in the category.
At Hoover Tactical Firearms in Hoover, Ala., a handgun accessory program is an important part of its business plan, according to General Manager Kerry Bradley. Hoover Tactical has a 55,000-square-foot facility, with 20,000 square feet in retail space. The rest is dedicated to an indoor range, deli, members’ lounge, meeting rooms and a warehouse. The Hoover Tactical staff is constantly running special events — including basic pistol and rifle training, NRA certification classes and recently even sponsored an automobile cruise-in in their expansive parking lot.
No doubt you’ve heard the old adage “strike while the iron is hot.” Nowhere is this more applicable than in handgun accessory sales. Often, your customer is going to buy ammunition after a pistol purchase, but why stop there?
With 20,000 feet of dedicated retail space, Hoover Tactical offers free
mounting on all sights and lights. This touch of customer service will
promote customer loyalty and increase the likelihood of follow-up sales.
“It’s very important to offer accessories at the point of sale,” Bradley said. “This is the moment the customer wants to spend money and they trust our knowledge to provide them with the needed products to make their gun safe and practical.”
Most customers who purchase a handgun will need some type of accessory, but it’s important to train your sales staff to ask for the sale at this most critical point. You should assume the customer isn’t planning on making an additional purchase. They may be caught up in the excitement of their new handgun and only later realize they may need to augment it with additional accessories. Just as you’d typically ask customers if they need ammunition for a new handgun, inquire also about the need for a holster, extra magazines, range bag or any of the many accessories you have in stock.
Holsters make up 30 percent of Hoover Tactical Firearms’
handgun accessory sales. General Manager Kerry Bradley
(right) has trained his staff to offer in-stock accessories
for handgun customers at the point of sale.
Listen To The Customer
Bradley believes listening to the customer is the single most important factor in selling handgun accessories.
“Listen to the customer. The reason I say this is because they’ll tell you what the trends are. I always try to greet and talk with everyone who comes in our store. They come in and ask for specific items. If we don’t have it, we order it. After a period of time, if a lot of people are asking for the same product, it’s safe to say that’s what people want. What sells for one store in one area might not sell for another store someplace else. Customers will let you know — just watch what they’re buying and listen to what they’re asking for,” he said.
Big companies pay a lot of money to marketing experts for information on their customers’ wants and needs, but you don’t have to. You have your own survey team already on the payroll; you just need to put it to work. A weekly sales meeting is ideal for sharing customer requests and nuances, which will allow you to adjust your stock accordingly.
Demand for handgun magazines has increased and a variety of
manufacturers, such as Mec-Gar and ProMag, offer quality
options for consumers.
Track Sales Trends
There are so many types and brands of handgun accessories it’s impossible for one store to offer them all. By keeping accurate spreadsheets of best-selling accessories and brands, you should see trends in your customers buying preferences. Keep these in stock either seasonally or year-round depending on the type of business you have. Hunting and other recreational outdoor activities, which depend on good weather, are more of a challenge — but if you have accurate information from past sales, this can be your guide.
“Tracking sales is extremely important,” Bradley said. “Our most popular accessories purchased during the initial sale of a handgun are holsters. They make up 30 percent of all our accessory sales, followed by magazines, sights, weapon lights and Cerakote coatings.”
After an initial purchase, Bradley sees a lot of customers come back to his store later to further accessorize their handguns.
“Optics and lights are more of a handgun luxury. We see people evolve with their handguns after they make the initial purchase. A few weeks down the road, they buy more magazines. After awhile, they purchase a gun-mounted light. Then they may want to have a Cerakote finish to make it more personal.”
Don’t be afraid to test new brands and be sure to add updated products from your top-selling manufacturers. Keep it fresh, customers always want to see — and buy — the latest and greatest products just as much as the old standbys.
To provide an added service to customers, Hoover Tactical
offers Cerakote finishes — which are applied at the store’s
in-house gun shop.
Primed For Promotion
Because of their sheer breadth in selection and pricing, handgun accessories are prime for special promotions. Inexpensive accessories — such as protective earplugs — make useful giveaways. I’ve been in stores where earplugs are automatically dropped into a customer’s bag upon a purchase.
Lower-priced nylon holsters and pouches can also be offered as a free premium. Because of tight margins on higher-priced items such as factory magazines, high-tech lights and sighting systems, it’s tough to offer these with a handgun purchase. One thing you can do is offer combination pricing on the handgun with the accessory.
A little customer service goes a long way as well. Hoover Tactical offers free mounting of all their sights and lights, some of which require greater-than-average technical know-how, as an additional way to create customer loyalty. You should always strive to let your customer leave the store feeling like they got a good, honest deal. They’ll tell their friends about your store and shop there instead of the big, inflexible department store down the street.
By Pat Covert
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