Selling Gun Lube and other small or consumable items in your retail store

Are you and your staff educated and engaging on the products you sell?

“Gun Lube and Cleaning supplies don't sell well in my shop” This is something I hear quite a bit when I talk to gun dealers around the country. For some, this also applies to other small ticket items they carry as well.

Knowing that disposables like lube and cleaning supplies, as well as add on items are considerably more profitable than the firearms themselves, you need to ask yourself some questions;

Does my store get the foot traffic I need?

Are these small and consumable items easily accessible in your store, or are they partially hidden?

Are you and your staff educated and engaging on the products you sell?

Those three questions can pretty much some up a lot of problems you could be having.

As for the first question of foot traffic, that is best left to another article. You probably got into the firearms business because of your love for guns. That sometimes is just not enough. Remember, business is business. Plain and simple. You have to adhere to tested and tried methods to being successful. Deep down you know if you are putting in the work, or maybe don't really know what to do next. Be honest with yourself and address the situation head on. If business is already bad, what do you have to lose?

The second question of accessibility and placement seems so obvious, but it is not. I see a surprising number of gun stores that have layouts with no thought to directing the customer. Most shops strive for a clean and organized look, which is great. Problem is, if the organization doesn't have a purpose and intent to guide the customer, you might need to rethink things.

Customers ultimately flock straight to the firearms first, unless they are looking for something in particular. You have engaged them and now closed a sale on a firearm. What about the rest of the package? They need ammo, maybe magazines, scopes, leather, cleaning supplies, etc, etc. Have you built the idea in the customers mind as you were selling them the firearm? Have you provided the package concept to them from the get go, giving them the option of purchasing more items? This may sound silly, but it is amazing how many salesmen want to close the deal on the firearm, only to skip the other items for fear of scaring the customer off, or sometimes out of apathy. Why avoid this? The customer needs those items. He is going to buy them. The question is, will it be from your shop, the next shop he walks into, or even the big box store that you know he is going to be in? If it's not you, then you are doing something wrong. Your layout needs to address this.

Once the customer makes the decision to buy the firearm at what is hopefully in the back of your store, they then have to walk the gauntlet of accessory and consumable items that can be bought as add-ons. Be sure to stock competing brands. The customer wants to be able to make choices or try different items. Inexpensive, high profit items like cleaning supplies should be right next to the cash register. If it doesn't slap the customer in the face as obvious, you need to be the obvious one and make the suggestion. Next time you are in a grocery market or big box store, pay attention to the layout. Everything I am talking about can be seen plain as day in these stores. Stop going against the grain of retail and embrace what works.

The third item can be a real killer for sales. Do you or your staff know anything about the products you sell? Don't laugh. Go to any gun forum online, or hang out anywhere guns are sold and you will hear the rumbling of customers about bad information, apathy amongst some counter people and even down right lies, based on the salesperson wanting to sound like they know what they are talking about. This is indeed a bitter pill to swallow and the reason I call it a real killer.

Evaluate the knowledge base of the entire staff in your shop, including yourself. Be honest! If you don't understand and know the product, how can you expect a customer to trust you enough to make the purchase? We all have our preferences when it comes to all things guns, but it is our job to access the customers preferences and work with them, not make them clones of your ideals. If you know something is garbage, simply don't sell it and it removes a certain equation out of the sales process. Other than that be open minded to all the products you carry in your store.

Your money is on the line. You stocked it, now sell it. If you are just waiting for the customer to buy an item, don't hold your breath. There are a lot of customers who know what they want, but there are also a lot of new people interested in firearms, that only have a vague idea of what they want or need. A properly educated customer is good customer. It is your job to educate yourself and the staff, thereby educating the customer in return.

This is just meant to be a compact viewpoint, based on years of retail and wholesale sales in the firearms market. It certainly doesn't touch down on the myriad of problems that present themselves in the retail environment, but it is on point to help you move those high profit items, that should make up the bulk of your sales. It can be uncomfortable to look at our own areas of inadequacy, but once we can honestly do this, you are on the right path. Don't be afraid to try new things in your approach to sales. Remember, if what you are currently doing is not working..... well, try something else. You have little to lose at this point.   Jim, Managing Partner

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