Gun Buyers Place Your Bets – Frank Talk About Guns
Des Moines, Iowa --(Ammoland.com)- This is a most interesting time of year – those of you farther south of us here in the middle of Iowa in the middle of the Mid-West have already seen good indications that spring is actually going to happen.
I saw dog wood and red bud and pansies and azaleas when in Florida a couple of weeks ago at the Gator Nationals in Gainesville. (NHRA drag races – another passion of mine, shared by lots and lots of you folks out there!!) Up here, we’re just seeing daffodils starting out of the ground, and another major rain/ice/snow storm promised for the weekend!
As we head into the end of March, these last three months are traditionally the time in our industry to make many of your inventory and product commitments for 2011. It’s also the time of year when you probably have a good bit of your annualized/dating buying done – or about done. Depending on the supplier, a good many give you until the end of the first quarter to wrap that up. So you’ve probably already figured out what you want and have the order in place.
That being said, let me lay a few thoughts on you. What you probably do in your buying model is what we generally do here. We take last year’s number of units sold of an individual product, compare it to the deals the manufacturers are offering us this year, and place our bets. Not quite as bad as spending time in Reno or Vegas, but almost. Frequently, you’re betting on your “gut feel” about what is going to happen.
What you probably haven’t done is to actually try to figure out who your customer is, what they really are interested in for the up-coming year, when they are going to want to have it on your shelves for them to come in and buy, where they are actually going to use that product you want to sell them, and why they are getting involved in that particular product, shooting venue, hunt or event anyway.
Oddly enough, this outline of “who, what, when, where and why” is the same one I learned in journalism school as the outline for the first paragraph of a properly-written news story. Strange, isn’t it? But totally appropriate for you to use this same, easy outline for looking at your customers and what they might be buying this year. Last month I talked about how we see the market might shape up for 2011 – that it “is a-changin’” and going in the direction of a new emphasis on personal and home protection. Now, you have to make the determination if that is what you see your local/area customers moving towards. Or maybe your customers are putting their emphasis somewhere else. So – if you haven’t done so, really spend some time on the floor visiting with your customers. To come up with useful answers, you are going to have to sit down with your cup of coffee, a legal pad and write down what you learned from those visits. You want to be able to fill in the template I mentioned above, and you’re going to need that information to do it.
What you find out might make you want to change your buying plan for 2011. We hit some “if’s” here in making those changes which may govern your flexibility with your dating orders. If your supplier sets his dating rules on gross dollars you spend with him, you may be able to change the mix of what you ordered within those dollars. If your supplier sets your limits on numbers of units purchased, you might have less flexibility to change your order once placed. However, you may have dating orders on no more than maybe 3 or 4 lines, so most of your buying is going to be done on an “as needed” basis. This allows you really good flexibility, so you can update your buying model as you work through the year, based on what you see moving off the shelves – or not moving, as the case may be.
Thus, it’s not too late to do that really in-depth analysis using the template above:
- Who is your customer? Beginner, old, young, pro, active, learning, old-timer.
- What gun do they shoot? Black powder (flintlock, modern, antique); center-fire rifle (several hundred choices here and lordy so many calibers); pistol (even more choices from wheel gun to auto to big caliber to .380’s); shotgun (again all kinds of choices – pump, auto, single barrel, side-by-side, over-under, but only a “few” gauges) to the odd-balls (maybe drillings or Super calibers, or “grandpa’s old ??).
- When do they shoot or hunt? All the time, only during deer season, or duck season or pheasant season or prairie dog season, occasionally, only on a major out-of-country safari.
- Where does your customer shoot? Range, out West, local farm field or woods, trap/skeet field, somewhere exotic.
- Why does your customer own/use a gun? Pure pleasure, protection, harvesting food, perfection on the range, joy of the hunt.
Once you get a good handle on all the above – and be very specific with active customers in mind to whom you want to sell products as you fill out your template. Hopefully you’ll have a much better “bet” in place on the products you buy to drive your sales for 2011. Out of all of this effort you want to get a better cash flow, a better sales year, happier, frequently returning customers . . . and more dollars in your pocket at the stroke of midnight, signaling the beginning of 2012!
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