June 20, 2018
Range Training Development: Deliver the Class While Selling Product
As stated in previous articles I’ve written for firearms range owners and operators, a comprehensive range training program is critical to increasing your margins and profitability. In my last article, “Building a Basic Pistol Course,” I provided insight and guidance to creating a basic pistol class that delivers all the elements to be successful and support above-average growth to your training program. In this article, I’ll take up the process of delivering the class and selling inventory at the same time.
The process of delivering a comprehensive block of instruction while at the same time subliminally selling a product is worth your time and effort. I use the word “subliminally” only to provide insight to my method of selling — more on that as you read. This is where the skill and fineness of the instructor and your staff must work together as a team.
Product Placements — Obvious and Effective
Before any class begins, there should be some straight-forward elements to your marketing of training and education that promote retail sales. To me, the first would have to be the required equipment list for the class. At my range, this is conveyed to the students on our website with the course description and verbally from my staff during class registration. These required items are again shared with the student verbally when the class is confirmed.
The next level of retail influence is through product placement. For example, during a less-lethal personal protection class, we will position a three-sided rack of appropriate and related products right outside the classroom door. Students must walk past it on every class break.
We top off these basics with class-specific sales flyers and signage good only for class participants and only on the same day they take the class. We also have a sign in the classroom that offers students a 10 percent discount on their next class, and we increase the urgency of taking advantage of that discount by requiring that they purchase the next class that same day they are in the current class.
Timing Matters with Product Demonstrations
This level of selling has the greatest return but is definitely the method that requires the most skill. This is the “subliminal” method I talked about earlier. I believe I can best explain this by providing an example of how I use this type of sales presentation in a CCW class.
At some point in the CCW class I’ll explain to the students the importance of awareness. In that explanation, I tell them that if they are attending a boxing class, a knife class or any fighting skill class, etc., nothing will keep them safer than raising their level of awareness. During that statement, when I say “knife class” I pull a three-inch lock-blade knife out of my pocket, and it is opened in less than a half-second. (Obviously, I am using an Emerson hook-equipped knife to facilitate the very rapid opening.) We sell an average of three knives for every class as a result of that demo.
Did you notice that I never made one verbal attempt to sell the knife? Even my staff has come to know the timeframe in the class in which I make that presentation, and one of the staff is always at the knife counter when the class takes its next break.
Another example includes demonstrating the use of a small gun vault or another safe storage box for use in air travel or for securing the handgun in your vehicle. Our sales of gun vaults have more than doubled since introducing that conversation to the class
The effort to sell products as they relate to training is a critical way to leverage all the marketing and work you have done to fill seats. I love filling classroom seats, but nothing excites me or affects the bottom line more than seats filled with students who are also buying. The golden rule here is that the students must not feel they are being sold.
I’ll be examining more about firearms training programs in future articles, as well as other topics that affect today’s firearms ranges. Until then, and should you have any questions about your range, visit www.nssf.org and click on the “Ranges” heading at the top of the page. There you’ll find a number of resources, including information on NSSF’s Range Action Specialist Team, its Star-Rating Range Program and more.