Author: Cassie Scott
This monthly interactive series opens the lines of communication and allows industry members and the archery community to explain and discover what’s working – and what’s not – to help build thriving businesses. Check out the first month’s article here.
When we talk to ATA members, one of the most important issues they face is how to grow sales in a rapidly evolving market. Further, retailers, distributors and manufacturers all want to know how to leverage those changes to their advantage. This month, we interviewed Teresa Williams, vice president of operations at 3Rivers Archery(Distributor); Tim Checkeroski, marketing specialist for G5 Outdoors LLC (Manufacturer); and Lynda LeCompte, owner of X10 Archery (Retailer). Here’s what they had to say:
“Our main focus continues to be the quality of our products,” stated Tim Checkeroski, marketing specialist for G5 Outdoors LLC. “We aim to produce the most technologically advanced broadheads in the industry by looking at what doesn’t work and what our customers want, and then manufacturing something that is superior to our competition and even, in some ways, our own older products.”
ATA: What’s your main focus when it comes to growing your business in 2017? Are your efforts paying off?
TW/3Rivers Archery: Our customers are always our main focus. Connecting with them personally, socially, virtually and economically is twofold in that it allows us to provide optimum service, while learning how we can improve their entire experience.
TC/G5 Outdoors: Our main focus continues to be the quality of our products. We aim to produce the most technologically advanced broadheads in the industry by looking at what doesn’t work and what our customers want, and then manufacturing something that is superior to our competition and even, in some ways, our own older products. This may not be the fastest way to win the race, but it builds the strongest foundation and our sales numbers continue to show our efforts are paying off.
LL/X10 Archery: We are a target-oriented pro shop and academy, so our focus is on membership retention and training. We have a regular customer base of archers who come to our shop to practice, take lessons, buy gear and have their equipment set-up or maintained. We accommodate all those needs. For 2017, I am leaning less toward managing inventory and more toward focusing on service-oriented income. Why carry a lot of inventory when most target archers want specific items that can be ordered quickly and easily? Also, as we develop training plans, we want to add services that complement our existing ones, such as nutrition and mental management coaching.
“We have an online store that links directly to our inventory management software,” said Lynda LeCompte, owner of X10 Archery. “People who browse our products online know what to expect when they come to our store. Customers can also book lessons through our website, which saves us time.”
ATA: With the internet having a major role in sales, what qualities do your customers seek from you the most? Why?
TW/3Rivers Archery: Technical expertise and an all-encompassing premium customer experience set us apart from the internet-only companies.
TC/G5 Outdoors: The quality our customers look for the most is better service. The internet has made it much easier for consumers to contact the manufacturer about the products they purchase, and in return they want a quick, detailed response to their questions and concerns. We make ourselves available to answer these questions on public forums and social media, as well as through the old-fashioned method of answering phones. Additionally, we create videos to explain our products to help answer probable questions. These videos address what we think are the most common potential concerns.
LL/X10 Archery: People want to access information they need instantly, without having to walk through your door, so it’s important to have a clean, easy-to-navigate website. We have an online store that links directly to our inventory management software. People who browse our products online know what to expect when they come to our store. Customers can also book lessons through our website, which saves us time. We receive numerous referrals through social media, as well. Although people may shop around online to save money, I’ve found if you have an established reputation for excellent service, people may be willing to pay more for the personal touch of a brick-and-mortar business because they know they’ll have the support they need with their purchase.
“Change is something we’ve always embraced,” said Teresa Williams, vice president of operations at 3Rivers Archery. “Quite honestly, it is part of what makes us tick. If we’re not changing, then we’re also not improving opportunities for our customers.”
ATA: How are you adapting to change in the industry? E.g. crossbows, social media, rise in archery participation, fall of bowhunter numbers, etc.
TW/3Rivers Archery: Change is something we’ve always embraced. Quite honestly, it is part of what makes us tick. If we’re not changing, then we’re also not improving opportunities for our customers. Whether it is adapting to social media, innovating products, or servicing new archers, welcoming future opportunities is a recipe for success.
TC/G5 Outdoors: Our focus continues to be on broadheads, a bowhunting-specific area inside the archery industry. But, the most notable change we see is in the buying season. We once saw a boost in sales in July from bowhunters who were preparing for the season, but in recent years we have noticed an increase on the retail level later in the year. We have been using rebate programs with specific purchase date requirements to encourage consumers to buy the products they will eventually use earlier in the year. This move helps the retailers and sends foot traffic to their stores during a time when business may be slower.
LL/X10 Archery: We don’t sell crossbows, nor do we offer a target for bolts. The overhead of range targets is big enough as it is, without a handful of crossbow archers chewing up the bales with their high-velocity arrows. We send folks to other local ranges that support crossbows.
Social media works well for us. We have created our own hashtag (#x10experience) which gets blasted across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We try to stay relevant. Pop culture references, like memes, are well-received. Social media also keeps us on our toes with customer service. Many people race to Facebook or Google to leave a bad review if they aren’t satisfied. While not everyone who had a good experience leaves a good review, many do. Remind your customers to leave reviews. It’s free marketing!
The rise in participation has been perfect for us as we already cater to the type of archer that is coming into the sport (recreational and potential target archers). The fall in bowhunter numbers has not hurt us.
Lynda LeCompte of X10 Archery stated, “Better collaboration across archery organizations would be very beneficial when it comes to rules, tournament formats and dates. Having conduits to allow archers to shoot with different organizations, without having to make changes to their bow to suit different rules, would be nice.”
ATA: If you could play king/queen for a day, what needs to happen in the archery industry to benefit your company the most? Why?
TW/3Rivers Archery: Implementation and enforcement of Minimum Advertised Pricing (MAP). MAP protects dealers from getting undercut by low-to-no overhead entities, primarily online-only stores, and assists in their security of success in an ever-changing marketplace. Although we live in virtual times, where even groceries can be ordered online, some services (such as archery lessons) require a physical storefront. If we can’t protect our physical storefronts, I’m not convinced we are protecting the optimum future of archery.
TC/G5 Outdoors: I would probably detain all the trolls, uninformed critics and self-proclaimed experts that exist on public forums. Actually, I think this would benefit the whole industry. It is unfortunate, whether these posts appear on forums or social media, to see negative comments that exist for no other reason than to be disruptive. It has always been my understanding that these places were created to improve communication. I think when someone decides to attack (or make fun of) another person for asking a question, or having a different opinion, they push more people out of the sport, which hurts sales and the industry.
LL/X10 Archery: That’s a tough one. My answer is more applicable to the sport of archery in general, than my business. Better collaboration across archery organizations would be very beneficial when it comes to rules, tournament formats and dates. Having conduits to allow archers to shoot with different organizations, without having to make changes to their bow to suit different rules, would be nice. This is mostly applicable to barebow and compound archery. How does this help me? As a range owner and a coach, I would have less questions to field!
If you have questions or want to voice your concerns, please contact the ATA’s business office at (866) 266-2776 or (507) 233-8130.