Author: Jackie Holbrook
Walking into an archery shop for the first time can be intimidating for anyone. Imagine opening the doors to a room filled with unfamiliar equipment and accessories. Perhaps there are people hanging out, swapping stories about leagues and bowhunting trips. This atmosphere is what draws many people into their favorite pro shop. But it can also be overwhelming for someone who is stepping through the door for the first time.
Shops need to make everyone feel welcome. This means tailoring the experience to the individual. Here are some ways shop owners go above and beyond to create an inviting environment of inclusivity.
Make time to say hello. Photo Credit: Adventures Archery
Say Hello, Every Time
The act sounds simple, but greeting every customer as soon as they walk through the door establishes an immediate connection.
“We have a front register with a cashier. Everyone that walks in the door is greeted by the cashier,” said Sandi DeLaski, the chief financial officer at Adventures Archery in Tampa, Florida.
Even if you’re the only person working and you’re with a customer, it’s important to acknowledge people immediately. It only takes a moment to say “hi” as they walk in the door, followed by, “I’ll be right with you.” This lets people know you value their presence and care about their business.
DeLaski said it also goes a long way to tailor the greeting to what the customer may have in mind. For example, if they look nervous, ask if it’s their first time in the store. Or try to pick up on the services they’re seeking.
“If they come in with something in their hand, like a bow, then either they are wanting to shoot or they’re wanting service,” DeLaski said.
Ask them questions instead of telling them what they need. Photo Credit: Buckeye Archery
Make Small Talk
Making small talk is essential to customer service. Casual conversation builds relationships and eases tensions. It helps you get to know your customer and their unique needs.
“If they seem like they want to be engaging I’ll ask about their day or where they’re from,” said Nathaniel Hatton, owner of Buckeye Archery in Chillicothe, Ohio. “I’ll ask, ‘Did you have any luck this year?’ ‘What bow are you shooting?’ These types of questions pique their interests and help you get more information about how you can help.”
Small talk is universal. It doesn’t need to be about archery or bowhunting. Asking open-ended questions about their day, interests or family creates a connection. This can be helpful for newcomers or people who feel like they might not belong in the shop.
Make sure your shop is clean and easy to navigate. Photo Credit: Bowhunters Pro Shop
Let your shop do the talking by creating a warm and inviting environment for customers. A dirty, disorganized shop might give the message that you’re lazy or too busy for their business. Keep the shop clean and clutter-free.
“Our shop is always neat and organized,” said Jeff Ledbetter, owner of Bowhunter Pro Shop in Maryville, Tennessee. “It makes people feel like we’re concerned about our appearance and taking care of our customers, and that’s how we’ll take care of their product too.”
Your appearance is important too. Some shops have employees wearing shop shirts or polos. This helps customers quickly identify staff members so they can approach them with questions.
Check out these interior design techniques that can boost your shop’s appearance.
Teach Don’t Tell
Pro shops provide more than products. They’re a hub of knowledgeable professionals who can improve the skills and abilities of their customers.
“If people have questions, don’t make them feel dumb because they’ve never done anything like this before,” Hatton said. “A lot of people come in and tell me other places didn’t tell them anything, they just said, ‘Hey, this is what you need,’ and then sold them something.”
Hatton believes in educating his customers about everything from the products to the services his shop provides. For example, when tuning a bow he will walk through all the steps of what he’s doing and the reasons behind them.
“I try to break everything down, so they learn and they know what they’re looking at,” Hatton said.
Customers appreciate this education. It makes them better archers. It also builds a trusting relationship with Hatton and his shop, which creates referrals and return customers.
Treat Everyone as Equals
The customer who wants a brand-new bow is just as important as the customer picking up some wind indicator. The passionate bowhunter is just as important as the occasional backyard shooter. Approaching every customer with the same attention builds relationships. Hatton said he never pressures customers to make a purchase.
“I make customers feel welcome whether they are spending money or just browsing,” Hatton said.
Hatton also said the size of the customer’s bank account should never influence the service they receive. But he always asks about the customer’s budget when shopping for bows and accessories because, he said, encouraging people to blow their budget is a great way to blow it with a customer. He believes that by helping the customer stay within their budget he’ll build trust. Creating this connection means repeat business and referrals.
Treating every customer as an individual who matters is important. A welcoming atmosphere will make customers comfortable and create a shop culture of inclusion and acceptance.
Learn more about creating a welcoming atmosphere by contacting Nicole Nash, senior manager of outreach, at (507) 233-8146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.