Author: Matt Kormann
Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation. Chronic wasting disease and epizootic hemorrhagic disease. Intellectual property and counterfeiting. Internet sales. Minimum advertised pricing. Target archery growth. Federal excise taxes. Bowhunting regulations. State and local legislation. Access issues.
At any given time, the archery and bowhunting industry focuses its laser on one of those 10 issues. For your business, the issue might be something else, but during my first year working for your ATA, those were the top 10.
Either way, we had no honeymoon.
I quickly got up to speed with IP and counterfeiting issues, which dominated my first weeks on the job. Those issues haven’t faded. They’ve accelerated. And we’ve worked hard to provide more resources to our members while fighting on your behalf here and abroad.
Dan Forster has been representing the Industry in Washington on important legislation such as the Pittman-Robertson Act. Photo Credit: ATA
Issues affecting the Pittman-Robertson Act and federal excise taxes came in waves as Dan Forster led the charge on your behalf in Washington, D.C. The opening weeks of the 116thCongress generated a flurry of positive activity.
Meanwhile, at the state level, we receive frequent requests for help. That includes assistance with new public ranges, which help boost access to our sports. States are also asking us for guidance on bowhunting specifications. Your staff, the ATA Board and your Technical Committee are providing input, too, which will make it easier to bowhunt everywhere.
The topic atop the list of many ATA members during and immediately after #ATA2019 has been internet retailing and minimum advertised pricing. ATA Connect participants have been discussing both topics, with retailers and manufacturers alike vocal in their opinions. That’s no surprise, given the growth of online retailing and the challenges that evolution presents for commerce.
Manufacturers and retailers alike must adjust to the tide of online shopping if they want to keep up with industry trends. Photo Credit: Patrick Durkin
Buying habits have also changed for consumers and business owners. We can’t turn back the clock and delete the internet – no matter how appealing that might sound, especially to parents. That evolution keeps MAP in a spotlight. With just a couple of taps on an iPhone we can pull up our competitors’ retail pricing. For pro shops, that means it’s easier to identify potential violations of MAP policies.
The first reaction might seem obvious: Manufacturers with solid MAP policies should be out there policing their retail channels. The reality is more complex. Doing so takes time and resources during a stretch in our industry where both are at premiums. It might be even more simple to assume every retailer should just follow those policies, but as long as we live in a free and competitive market, some business owners will make decisions others might not like.
Every discussion of our industry’s buying habits should also include a nod to the industry’s health. If you’ve read an interview with me or listened to a podcast, you’ve heard this already: The state of our industry depends on who’s asked. Some pro shops and manufacturers are struggling mightily. Others have never posted anything besides record years. Many fall in between those bookends.
Some of our most successful members credit their accomplishments to their business’s evolution. They’ve adapted to a changing marketplace. That’s another topic I’ve been vocal about in my blog and in interviews. It’s critical to our industry’s health that we design our own future. A solid plan is crucial to future success. But a plan isn’t enough. We must behave in ways that get us to goals we’ve agreed to achieve.
Although there’s no magic arrow to end those challenges, we can take steps address them. It’s important to recognize the future is coming. In many ways, it’s here. We cannot waste our efforts trying to put the e-commerce genie back into its bottle. Neither should we waste energy doing business the same way. My favorite quote plays well here:
“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”
We cannot do business in an era that no longer exists. We must adapt our businesses to survive.
We’re taking that approach with your ATA. Our approach to serving our members evolved over the past year. We rebranded our image to show you and the outdoor community who we are and who we’re becoming. Initiatives like those ensure we constantly assess our efforts, which ensures we remain vital and relevant to you. It’s hard work, but the alternative – as the quote above implies – is not an option.
Customer relations is especially important in retail shops, but any company in the archery space needs to be able to address their customers with positivity. Photo Credit: ATA
A critical factor in the health of every business is to take great care of your customers. I hope you’re seeing your ATA lead in this area. Everything we do – indeed, every decision we make and each pillar of our Strategic Plan we build – is based on better serving you. That isn’t just true for pro shops, where customer service is an obvious need. Serving customers is also critical for our manufacturing members. Enforcing MAP is a supporting element of great customer service for businesses that put those policies in place. Some of our members are working with Trackstreet for MAP-enforcement help, which is a great option for a complex issue.
Finally, our pro-shop members know it’s become vital to be more than a retail shop. Granted, adding services beyond selling equipment won’t guarantee success. But our pro shops that report success create a sense of community with their customers. Pro shops that provide great coaching and monetize that service make those efforts a central theme of their success. They don’t just coach great shooting form for bowhunters and target shooters. The key is coaching technical knowledge, which further reinforces the importance of pro shops to their communities.
I can guarantee one thing besides change: The issues I’ve mentioned won’t disappear. As long as our industry exists, we’ll work hard to overcome all those challenges. And if we solve any of them, another will come along. Your ATA is in this challenge for the long haul, and we’re listening. What you tell us drives how we work on your behalf. That commitment never ends. So keep the feedback coming!