Add 20% to Your Bottom Line With These Five Questions

A few key questions can lead to serious sales opportunities at your gun store — if you know what to ask.

Add 20% to Your Bottom Line With These Five Questions

Congratulations! If you are a business owner reading this article, you have survived what is likely the most significant challenge to your business and its existence — a global pandemic that changed not only how and where we do business, but also the way we will do business moving forward into the future.

Regardless of what you think your business is, if you own a business, your business is sales — and sales will always depend on numbers. Whether that’s in the number of prospects, the number of products, or, perhaps, most importantly, the number of sales transactions, the better the numbers, the better your business will do. The average closing ratio for a “cold” prospect is 2 to 3 in 10.

In addition to the already challenging prospects of running a retail operation, we are now facing challenges in the global supply chain, dramatic inflation and increases in prices, and a shortage of many of the products we depend on to pay our bills every month.

That makes each and every potential customer that walks into your establishment or that clicks on your website even more valuable.

Make the most of every interaction by asking and training your employees to ask (and, of course, putting them on your website) the following five questions.


1. “Can I interest you in a special savings on our daily/weekly special today?”

Always have something on the counter/at the checkout that can be a final attempt to upsell a customer on their way out the door.

This should be a smaller item, preferably under $10-$12, that is something people that patronize your business either use regularly or can use easily.

Some great examples of this are a small multi-tool, a pocketknife, hand warmers, gun oil, gun cleaning tools, compasses, hearing protection, eye protection, etc. Be creative. Also, the more often and more products you choose to offer, the more quickly you can determine what the best sellers are and choose more products like them, which will further increase your sales.


2. “Now that you’ve bought a _____________, can I take just a minute with you to look at a scope/cover/case/ammunition/cleaning kit/warranty/maintenance contract/any important accessory that you will need for your new purchase?”

Every gun or bow that goes out of your shop should have a case along with it if the customer didn’t bring one in with them. First, it keeps the gun safe from damage or improper handling. More importantly, in many states it is the law. Every pair of boots or shoes needs some high-quality socks or insoles to go with them. Jackets need matching hats and gloves.

Take the time and train your employees to set up this process while the purchase is happening. For example, if someone is filling out a form 4473, go and grab a case and some gun oil or a cleaning kit to offer them as soon as they are finished that your sales associates “highly recommend” as being excellent quality that will protect their purchase and keep it functioning for as long as they own it. The key to selling more of these, and all sales, for that matter, is to give your customer a compelling reason that benefits them. For example, “A great way to increase the effectiveness of your coat is to have high-quality apparel layered beneath it.”


3. “What is your phone number and email address?”

This can be slightly more difficult to get, but the vast majority of people will have no problem giving you their information at checkout. The importance of gathering this information is easily a topic for an entire article and something that I have worked with numerous businesses on. You need to know your customers and what their preferences and buying habits are like, and you need an easy and convenient way to communicate with them for things like your newsletter (What, you don’t have a newsletter? They’re just like trees — the best time to start your newsletter was 15 years ago. The next best time is today.) It is as much to their benefit as yours. There are many different customer relationship management software programs out there to help you with all of this, and many of them are even free.


4. “Where else do you like to shop/eat/patronize in town?”

You might be asking yourself, “How does this benefit me?”

There are actually two main ways this helps you make more sales and money. First, it gives you greater insight into the type of customer you’re dealing with. If their favorite restaurant happens to be the most expensive place in town, that can give you a head’s up on how to give them a more personalized experience when they next come in. You also will have a very powerful and compelling list of data and information that you can use to approach other businesses to help them help you help them. This is called co-branding or co-marketing.

There are dozens and dozens of ways to do co-market with another establishment, but can be as simple as putting their business cards or flyers in your entryway or at your cash register, buying a volume of discounted gift cards for their business or exchanging equal value of yours, or even partnering on a direct mail or local advertising campaign. The key here is to equally benefit both businesses.


5. “Would you like to save 10% on your purchase today?”

I’ve saved the biggest and best for last.

This last question can be a powerful tool when used in conjunction with an “insiders club” or VIP program. How you set up the program is up to you, as is whether or not to charge a menial fee for becoming part of the program. If you do charge a fee, you need to make sure you offer something of great value in return — perhaps several special discount days or special shopping days during the year just for members of the “club.” Perhaps you offer members access to products in inventory before the general public. If you have an onsite range, reserve a lane or give priority or a discounted rate to members.

The real power of this question, though, comes from the form that you have the customer fill out, which will include their name, address, telephone number, email address, and the answers to at least several questions that help you in your business, such as the above question asking where else they shop as well as what activities they participate in. Hunting, fishing, camping, backpacking, hiking, crochet, canoeing, video games, anything you can think of to put on that form, you want them answering. This is a rare situation where more is better. Remember, you are giving them value to fill out this form and become part of the club. Then, you can take that information and use it to hyper-target exactly the right customer for offers and events in the future, send out advertising pieces for only the cost of a postcard or letter, and more.

As a final note, you and/or your staff may feel slightly uncomfortable at first with some of these techniques.

The way to overcome that is to understand that in order to best serve your customer, you need to do what you believe is the best for them. If you believe in your business, the products that you sell, and the service that your business provides, you owe it to your customers to help them by selling them more.

If you don’t believe in this philosophy, you may want to rethink your business!


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.