Hard-wired to trust his gut feeling, Randy Phillips of Archery Headquarters in Chandler, Arizona, believed equipment rentals would be bad for business. But once this longtime archery-store owner dug into his sales data, he realized his intuition was wrong.
Two years have passed since Phillips first rented bows and arrows at his full-service archery store. He now averages $704 per month from this business add-on.
Early in that decision-making process, Phillips thought it best to steer new archers to Archery Headquarters’ lessons and classes. After all, letting them experiment with rental equipment on their own with little knowledge or training risked a bad experience.
He relaxed his policy a bit when archery students asked to shoot equipment outside of Phillips’ classes. He decided to rent equipment only to folks enrolled in his programs.
Rental equipment increases archery’s access and availability to the public, which allows existing customers to bring friends in to shoot. It also makes it easier for people who want more archery experience but aren’t quite ready to buy a bow of their own. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo
However, he soon noticed two problems:
- Folks who just wanted to shoot a few hours, but weren’t interested in classes or lessons, never returned after being denied rental equipment.
- Students brought friends and family with them to try archery, but these guests were denied archery’s fun because they hadn’t taken lessons or enrolled in a class.
In both cases, Phillips’ rental policy prevented newcomers from trying archery at his business. As a result, he watched money walking out his door. Something had to change.
“It’s important to know businesses are forever growing and changing,” Phillips said. “I knew my strategy was limiting growth opportunities.”
When Phillips expanded his rental policy to include everyone, his sales numbers jumped. Even so, he still encourages newcomers to take a class or lesson so they can work with certified instructors to master the equipment and learn proper form, which ensure fun, positive experiences.
Phillips said he learned his gut could steer him wrong. That’s why he advises all archery businesses to collect data and study it before creating policies based on assumptions.
“Archery shops need to track everything,” Phillips said. “Having data is the most important thing you can do for your business. Data help you make sound business decisions, and ultimately impact your finances in a constructive way.”
Randy Phillips of Archery Headquarters in Chandler, Arizona, currently keeps 20 recurve bows and 15 compound bows available for rent. He suggests starting small with about two or three of each and expanding as necessary. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo
Rental equipment further benefits retailers and boosts their profits if they use the ATA’s new ePRO software to help run their range and pro shop. It also serves customers more efficiently. ATA ePRO stands for (electronic) Proshop Retail Organizer, and that’s what it does. Phillips developed the program for ATA-member retailers. He said it works for him, and he is certain it will work for you.
For instance, Phillips’ rental program grew tremendously the past two years. He currently keeps 20 recurve bows and 15 compound bows available for rent. He suggests starting small with about two or three of each and expanding as necessary. He also recommends buying equipment in the $400 to $500 range to ensure customers buy good, high-quality products at a decent price. After all, folks tend to buy equipment they know and like.
“It’s a matter of starting and letting things grow naturally,” Phillips said of his rental program. “Watch what’s going on and be open to change. Market it with inexpensive advertising methods, like social media, and you’ll see your rental program slowly take off.”
Renters often become buyers, so provide good, high-quality products at a decent price. That way, customers can get familiar with the equipment and, when they’re ready, buy equipment they know and like. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo
Phillips concedes rental programs can be inconvenient at the height of a pro shop’s busy season. Employees must help new customers set up their equipment, which takes them away from existing customers. Still, he’s convinced the pros outweigh the cons.
“Bow rentals can be a little burdensome at times, but they’re very profitable,” Phillips said. “Rental equipment also increases archery’s access and availability to the public, which allows existing customers to bring friends in to shoot. It also makes it easier for people who want more archery experience but aren’t quite ready to buy a bow of their own. Plus, most renters become buyers.”
Still, Archery Headquarters sets firm ground rules. It does not allow customers to take rental bows off site. Anyone using rental equipment and the indoor range must sign an electronic range sign-in, and agree to a disclaimer. This ensures Phillips won’t need to buy extra insurance.
Phillips is confident this program will greatly benefit other archery retailers for the price of a few bows, a little extra time to process rentals, and few overhead costs. If your gut is telling you to try it, we suggest listening. Just be sure to back your decision with data.
For more information about ATA ePRO, visit the Member Services Area at the ATA Trade Show, Jan. 10-12, 2017, in Indianapolis (Exhibit Hall F). Contact Nicole Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or to connect with ATA ePRO at the Show.
For general questions about ATA ePRO, contact Emily Beach at email@example.com.