4 Rules

For Enhanced Safety Sales

By Mark Kakkuri

Technically, the four rules of gun safety have nothing to do with your efforts to market your store or increase sales.

But the four rules of gun safety are so integral to the shooting industry there will be many times where they come into play and affect the decisions customers make in your store or on your range. So it makes sense not only from a safety standpoint, but also from a store management — and even marketing — standpoint to proclaim and practice the four gun safety rules. This results in safe customers and a confidence-inspiring store environment.

Additionally, while marketing and sales remain separate from safety, your efforts to promote and enforce safe gunhandling can be yet another means of educating and persuading visitors to become first-time customers. This can also ensure first-time customers become regular — even lifelong — customers. Just like there are four rules of gun safety, there are four rules for enhancing safety sales.

With a 24 NRR, Safariland’s Liberator HP features Electronic Noise Compression and Active Noise Cancellation technology. It runs on either two AAA or one CR123 battery.

1 Offer a wide variety of safety-related products.

It stands to reason: If you and your employees insist everyone in the store follow the gun safety rules (and you should!), then you should offer several products to help customers follow these rules. Consider all the safety-related products on the market today: eye and ear protection, trigger locks and safes, chamber blocks, “blue guns,” anything in blaze orange and so on.

Just focusing on personal safety items such as eye and ear protection offers myriad means of educating customers on these products — especially the technological advances available in today’s market.

Like virtually every gun store in the nation, Williams Gunsight in Davison, Mich., offers eye and ear protection products — key products in the safety category — to customers. The options in ear protection alone range from packs of foam earplugs to more sophisticated electronic, noise-canceling headsets that not only enhance normal-decibel sounds, but also pair with a mobile phone allowing users to listen to music or take phone calls.

Williams Gunsight’s COO Brian Wright believes while safety-related purchases like these are primary for customers, it’s worth it to pay attention to customer behavior.

“Most customers are aware hearing protection is a necessity when shooting, some less so on the need for eye protection,” he said.

Even though it’s fairly common shooters visiting the Williams Gunsight ranges bring their own ear and eye protection (and are fairly well versed on safety basics), store employees watch them carefully to make sure customers are safe on the range, and also to keep them aware of replacements or upgrades for their gear. Most shooters tend to find a safety solution that works for them and stick with it, but they don’t always stay up to date on technological advances that may result in greater safety as well as a more enjoyable range experience. This is where offering a wide range of products creates a context for additional sales.

2 Cover safety comprehensively.

Before a customer even steps foot in your store, they should know your commitment to safety.

Williams Gunsight posts signs around the store and in plain view on the ranges concerning safety practice, something most gun stores do, so there are static messages about safety in the store. But before a customer enters Williams Gunsight they see signs that read, “No unholstered firearms – unless on range” and “No uncased firearms beyond this point.” This of course provides a safe environment for anyone in or around the store or range in addition to a context for safety gear sales.

An unholstered gun needs a holster. A holstered gun may need a new or updated holster — one with advanced retention features or one meant for concealed carry. An uncased firearm needs a case. A cased firearm may need a new or updated case — one made from metal instead of plastic, maybe with an electronic lock of some sort and perhaps one for a different storage location in a home.

Clearly employees should ensure customers are following all store safety rules, however they should also watch for opportunities to tactfully help customers upgrade or enhance their safety-related gear. Store employees should, for example, be able to articulate the advantages of using a Kydex holster over a leather holster (or vice versa), or how a fast-access handgun safe works and why it is superior to more traditional safe.

In addition to the static signage inside gun stores, store websites should clearly identify the commitment to safety and be consistent with in-store policies. Moreover, a customer visiting a gun store’s website can be informed and educated in additional ways.

At Williams Gunsight, Wright said the store produced a small video covering proper range etiquette and posted it on YouTube and Williams’ website.

Finally, customers who have any questions about safety gear are always free to ask the sales staff. Additionally, customers who take the concealed pistol classes learn extensively about safety and related safety equipment.

3 Address safety violations with urgency and clarity.

Wright recounted an incident at Williams Gunsight’s indoor range when a customer removed his handgun from its case, which was loaded, with his finger on the trigger. In the process of doing so, the customer accidentally discharged the gun. According to Wright, “He quickly learned avoiding an accident like that is the reason we ask all shooters to uncase their firearms on the firing line. He also learned (or was reminded of) the gun safety rules.”

Thankfully no one was hurt, but several people got a real-life lesson on the importance of gun safety. The store’s prompt attention not only underscored the need for safety but also its commitment to safety.

4 When safety topics come up in conversation, offer sound advice — not a sales pitch.

This rule may sound counterintuitive to sales, but it isn’t. In fact, the promotion of safety may do more for sales than many other more direct methods. Something to consider: Your sincere efforts to promote safety in the store and on the range contribute directly to the physical well-being of your customers and employees. It creates a healthy environment. It keeps safety top of mind for all on the premises (and even those who make their way to your website). When your customers feel safe and protected — i.e., they don’t have to worry about harm coming to them — it eliminates obstacles to considering and making purchases.

Mark Kakkuri is FMG Publications’ online editor. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.

From The Manufacturers: Expanding Sales Of Safety-Related Products

By Jade Molde

Whether or not your store has a range facility, offering safety products represents a profitable add-on category. (Pictured: Radians Lowset Range Combo Kit – Aqua)

To supplement this month’s coverage of safety products, we spoke with three manufacturers deeply entrenched in this segment. Here is a collection of observations from these industry professionals on tips for expanding sales in this important category. (Answers edited for brevity: For full responses from our panel, visit www.shootingindustry.com.)

SI: How can storefront dealers better market their safety products?

Wes Miller, Radians Director of Sporting Goods Sales: Many dealers do a fantastic job of marketing our products today; Radians attempts to work with our dealers, sharing ideas on what works best. (Insights on signage, events, product placement, internet-direct marketing and print, direct mail and radio campaigns represent some of these approaches.) Safety products are often impulse buys — so strategic placement of shooting glasses, earplugs and earmuffs by the checkout counter is always a smart move.

Andy Eschbach, Pyramex Retail Division Manager: Education and merchandising are key. Dealers can benefit greatly by educating their customers about the features and benefits of their safety products (or any products they carry), both in-store with informative signage and through digital platforms. Product reviews on social media and in-store demos are a great way to engage customers and be the expert they rely on. Providing try-on samples is also a great way to allow customers to see if the product fits properly before they make the purchase.

SI: Should dealers offer more than one price point, color option, etc. to customers?

Andy Eschbach, Pyramex: It’s very important that they do. A dealer wouldn’t sell one type of firearm or one brand of ammo. Why do that with hearing and eye protection? Customers want a variety of style and functionality options at various price points. With so many different facial shapes and head sizes, a good selection of eye and ear protection ensures your customers find their solution in your store and not somewhere else.

Doug Fletcher, Peltor Sport Product Development Specialist: One muff or brand doesn’t work well with everyone, and this is true in the safety segment. We focus on fitting smaller heads, particularly women. Often, it’s difficult for them to find equipment that fits well. It’s important to carry a wide variety of product and brands because they fit differently.

Wes Miller, Radians: There are several variables that drive and influence the need for multiple price points — product safety rating (NRR), shooting location (indoor vs. outdoor), desired comfort level, promotion and the consumer. Black earmuffs and glasses with black frames remain the number-one seller, but sales of the other colors warrant us fulfilling them. Radians launched several new colors — including aqua and coral — for women in 2017; these products are in our top sellers now.

SI: Some dealers have shared they don’t carry safety equipment because there isn’t a range on-site at their facility to demonstrate them effectively. What would you say to these storeowners?

Andy Eschbach, Pyramex: Eye and ear protection can be demonstrated without a range. Customers want to know how a product looks and feels when they wear it. This can be done anywhere. Don’t miss the opportunity to carry a high-margin product category every shooter is required to have when they go to the range.

Wes Miller, Radians: We would say they are missing opportunities to increase sales. Dealers may not have an indoor range, but they still sell guns and ammo. Guns and ammo are drivers that bring consumers to dealer stores. It is very easy to sell safety gear to a consumer who is buying a gun. Dealers should look at trying to protect the consumer to ensure the consumer returns to their stores.

Danielle Schreppel, Peltor Sport Marketing Manager: For electronic hearing protection in particular, anything dealers can do to invest in a couple demo pairs will pay dividends. It’s really compelling technology; its functionality can be simulated by clapping. The proof is in the pudding: Being able to put electronic hearing protectors on and test it is incredibly helpful to drive home the message of how this product will protect hearing and make a customer’s experience more comfortable when they’re on the range or hunting.

As noted above, this is only a snapshot: More online-only insights on the topic of expanding safety sales are available at

Focus: Sales Of Hearing Protection Products

Peltor Sport Tactical 300

Brian Wright, COO of Williams Gunsight in Davison, Mich., shared other practical applications for increasing sales in this category. For starters, know how hearing protection technology changes and be able to show how it practically affects a customer. (Have samples on hand.)

“There have been some noticeable technological innovations in hearing protection,” he informs. “Whereas it used to be just a cushy foam set of earmuffs, now there are models equipped with electronic sound-activated compression and are frequency tuned — it muffles the sounds of gunshots, but you can still hear the guy next to you mumbling about missing the target.”

Wright advised you should find out the customer’s specific area of interest.

“A lot of customers are interested in the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of the hearing protection solutions — in other words, how many decibels they cut out. This varies between 20 and 31 dB, depending on the product,” he lends.

And finally, be familiar with what sells.

“Of the various safety gear we keep in stock, we tend to sell a lot of Walker Razor electronic earmuffs over other hearing protection options,” Wright said.

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