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srtrax
February 21, 2008, 10:35 PM
Found this on another sight, and have seen where it could have come in handy here a time or two. A good read for someone wanting to get in the biz!
http://thegunsmiths.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=501

Crosshair
February 22, 2008, 02:15 AM
Good read, I'm looking to start a small gun store with a co-worker if he ever gets a permanent address so he can get his FFL again.

UniversalFrost
February 22, 2008, 10:06 AM
excellent article.

Also, if you want to get into the business I would reccomend starting both a storefront and online site. The store front will give you the walk in customers, but the online store will have a much larger customer base. Also, get a professional web site developer to design your site, because most of the gun and gear related sites I have seen are poorly thought out at best and even though some are utilizing some of the latest web techniques that are either not using them properly or just site design was not through and mapped out correctly.

Also, customer service is a must at a gun shop. I have seen many a shop go under, not because of higher prices and odd hours, but because the guy's or galls behind the counter were either incompetent or arrogant thought they knew it all. Personally, if I go into a shop and they person behind the counter is incompetent or arrogant i will not give them my business. One of the local gun shops here always wonders why i only come into look at their guns and then I order from else where and just have the local shop do the transfer.

When I did my last transfer the owner was in the shop and asked me why I didn't buy from them when they had the exact same rifle for sale that i did the transfer on . I told him that several of his employees had a problem that they thought they knew everything about guns and that they tried forcing their "wisdom" on me. The owner appologized and even did the transfer for free, but when I went in last week to possibly buy a new weatherby the exact same guys tried to push their "wisdom" on me again. So I just politely said I would keep on looking elsewhere and ended up buying the gun online and this time I am going to a completely different gunshop to do the transfer.

JOE

ssilicon
February 22, 2008, 11:01 AM
I'm just curious. Could you elaborate a little bit on what you meant by that, forcing wisdom on you? Did they try to convince you that you were wrong about something, or that you really don't want the gun you are asking to buy, or was it something harmless like just throwing in some information you didn't necessarily ask for, but isn't contradictory to you either?

Also, how could you think of someone as competent if they communicate no information? I'm supposing that comes about when you ask for information and get some which agrees with your own view? I think I see where you're coming from but I wonder if you are easily annoyed, or if these guys at this store are just that abrasive, simple as that.

James K
February 22, 2008, 02:19 PM
Amen to the business about learning to run a business. That is excellent advice, but permit me to add two points.

First, carry insurance, and plenty of it. If you have a fire or other disaster and lose your stock plus customer guns you will be bankrupt. Also you might need coverage if you are sued because you did something, even if it was legal, that someone thinks was wrong. (Example: You sold a gun to a campus killer; he passed the NICS check, but a victim's family says you should have known he was a nutcase.)

Second, don't operate out of your home, even where it would be legal to do so. Gun shops are magnets for burglars and you don't want your family endangered by druggies looking for guns. And you don't want to be wakened in the middle of the night by some nut who wants a gun to go hunting that morning.

Also, FWIW, I advise against a web site, unless you plan to do all your business that way. You can't be "on line" and at work at the same time. Plus, you don't want to get tangled up in endless e-mail exchanges with people who just want to show off their expertise or who want to spend hours telling you how cheap they can buy somewhere else.

As to transfers, it is your decision, but I see no reason a dealer should do a transfer on a gun when he has the same gun in stock or can order it. That is dumb and IMHO, the dealer should tell the "customer" to take his "business" elsewhere. Now, rare guns, or collector guns are another story, and most dealers will be happy to do transfers on those.

Jim

UniversalFrost
February 22, 2008, 02:59 PM
as far as forcing wisdom, the guys try to steer me towards what they view are superior weapons.

An example would be when I recently purchased a custom made surgeon rifle to my spec's. The guy that did the transfer for me was one of the know it all types that kept saying i should have gotten a 700p or a savage tactical model.

I didn't even say a word, other than I already have 3 700p's and more 700LTR's and I would never own a savage. This guy was going on and on about how his savage could shoot a sub-moa 5 shot group all day long. I asked him how far he was shooting and what his loads were. He said 50 meters and he was using WWB .223 and could keep it under the 5 inch for 5 shots. :confused: At that point I told him sub-moa is not a 5inch 5 shot group and politely told him i shoot at 1000 and his savage would be lucky to hit the target at 1000, especially using wwb .223 . I then asked did he even have a clue and to maybe think before he opened his mouth.

ssilicon
February 22, 2008, 03:26 PM
Read you loud and clear. Tried to talk you out of buying what you were buying, and spouted off knowledge that was grossly inaccurate. Yeah, that would annoy me too.

williamd
February 22, 2008, 03:33 PM
Applies to any business! I recently purchased a booklet on writing a business plan. A handy, coat pocket guide. You can buy sizable books but this helped me. Here ... http://leadingandlearninginc.com/ Look in the 'store'.

Crosshair
February 22, 2008, 06:08 PM
First, carry insurance, and plenty of it.
Agreed.

Second, don't operate out of your home, even where it would be legal to do so. Gun shops are magnets for burglars and you don't want your family endangered by druggies looking for guns. And you don't want to be wakened in the middle of the night by some nut who wants a gun to go hunting that morning.
Get me a cot and an internet connection and I could spend a few nights a week running "security".:D (As well as playing video games and posting on online Gun forums.)

Also, FWIW, I advise against a web site, unless you plan to do all your business that way. You can't be "on line" and at work at the same time. Plus, you don't want to get tangled up in endless e-mail exchanges with people who just want to show off their expertise or who want to spend hours telling you how cheap they can buy somewhere else.
I disagree on some parts. Some gun store websites only give a phone number to eliminate the e-mail problem. You can also save time by putting a detailed listing of your inventory online so people don't have to call you to see "if you have something". They might call and ask and you can give them a basic description and then politely refer them to the website or come in for more details. If you do it right you aren't "getting rid of them" you are instead "better serving the customer" by pointing them to the website.

As to transfers, it is your decision, but I see no reason a dealer should do a transfer on a gun when he has the same gun in stock or can order it. That is dumb and IMHO, the dealer should tell the "customer" to take his "business" elsewhere. Now, rare guns, or collector guns are another story, and most dealers will be happy to do transfers on those.
Actually there is a market for transfers where I live. The only place locally and on the ND side of the river is a pawn shop. While their service is good, their knowledge isn't. Serve the customer good on transfers and provide helpful support and they will likely come back for when they buy new.

On another note, there isn't a "If it's legal to own, we'll order it." place in town. The Sheels just started carrying AR-15s and they don't do transfers or order outside "approved" makes and models. The Cabelas, aside from being on the wrong side of the river for handgun sales, also won't order certain guns. Again, I can go to the pawn shop, but you first have to find a supplier, go there, have the owner send that supplier a copy of his FFL, wait, order the gun when the supplier gets the FFL, then come back again to pick it up. If there is any trouble you have to go through the maker or supplier.

Most people want to walk into a store and say, "I want a 16" Flattop Carbon-15 9mm carbine." Then have the clerk walk into the back for 5 min, and come back out saying, "I can get it for you at XXX price with 50% down non-refundable."

ActivShootr
February 22, 2008, 07:23 PM
I recently visited a gun shop exactly like the one UniversalFrost described. The owners have moved into a new building and the quality of service has gone down while the quantity has gone up. The help behind the counter acted annoyed when they had to show me anything and what really ****** me off is the guy that tried to talk a bigger line of crap than me :D. The same guy tried to sell me a worn out Glock 26 for $500. I will not buy anything else from them. I wish one of the owners had been there. I have spent literally thousands of dollars there when they were in the old building. I was surely not expecting the kind of service I received. PM if you want to know who/where they are.

Hkmp5sd
February 22, 2008, 07:54 PM
As to transfers, it is your decision, but I see no reason a dealer should do a transfer on a gun when he has the same gun in stock or can order it. That is dumb and IMHO, the dealer should tell the "customer" to take his "business" elsewhere.

When looking for a gun, I always ask the local dealer for his best price on getting me one. If he is even close, I'll buy to support his business.

On the other hand, if I find a gun (mostly private sales) from out of state that he cannot beat the price, he might as well make a few bucks doing the paperwork for the transfer.

Were he to have a blanket ban on doing tranfers, I might consider taking all of my business elsewhere.

bobotech
February 22, 2008, 09:02 PM
As to transfers, it is your decision, but I see no reason a dealer should do a transfer on a gun when he has the same gun in stock or can order it. That is dumb and IMHO, the dealer should tell the "customer" to take his "business" elsewhere.
When looking for a gun, I always ask the local dealer for his best price on getting me one. If he is even close, I'll buy to support his business.

On the other hand, if I find a gun (mostly private sales) from out of state that he cannot beat the price, he might as well make a few bucks doing the paperwork for the transfer.

Were he to have a blanket ban on doing tranfers, I might consider taking all of my business elsewhere.

I will quite often order a gun online because I can get it much cheaper than the dealer. I would never do business with a dealer who refuses to do a transfer just because he happens to have the same gun in stock (for quite a bit more money I might say).

I just bought a '97 replica shotgun from Aimsurplus for 199 and having my local dealer do the transfer even though he has one of those guns in stock. His price is 350, why should I pay 350 for it when I can get it for 199+12 (shipping)+20 (transfer fee)? He is more than willing to do transfers for pretty much anything and doesn't bad mouth anything, hes my favorite kind of dealer.

ISC
February 22, 2008, 09:47 PM
I've got a guy that does transfers for $20 out the door. He's done 5 or 6 for me over the last few years. pure profit for about 5 minutes work per transfer with no capitsl expenses for him.

If he didn't do transfers I'd never have gone to his shop after the first time. I've been in his shop dozens of times and referred him to a dozen of my friends who have bought guns through him and referred him to their friends who....

You get the idea. If he had the internet and took a community college night class on web building he'd be able to market himself and his location (accross the street from the largest flea market within a couple hundred miles and on hwy 301, a very busy highway through the southeast.

Anyhow, transfers are fast easy money, and refusing to do them will lose you customers. They also bring traffic into your store and if a customer finds a good deal on a firearm from a wholesaler, he has just done your reasearch for you and you can order one for yourself at the same time.

Refusing transfers is BAD business sense.

UniversalFrost
February 22, 2008, 11:45 PM
Read you loud and clear. Tried to talk you out of buying what you were buying, and spouted off knowledge that was grossly inaccurate. Yeah, that would annoy me too.

he really wasn't talking me out of buying it because I had already paid surgeon the $5k for the rifle and these local guys were doing a lousy transfer to me. I even let the owner put the gun on display for a few days before I picked it up (he asked me), so that it could add some class to the joint. Of course no one was allowed to touch it and i told him he was responsible for the gun if any little scratch or ding would end up on it.

The guy behind the counter was a total waste of DNA and air. I later told the story to the owner and he said that they guy was at least trust worthy and did the paperwork correctly even though the guy thought he knew everything about shooting.

T. O'Heir
February 23, 2008, 01:25 AM
"...learning to run a business..." Exactly. And Mr. Keenan has tried to figuratively beat this into the wannabees on every forum. If you don't know how to run a business, your shop will fail. If you don't bother with business and liabilty insurance (that being part of having a business), you will have to pay for any losses. You can't think that the cash in the till is your's and take any of it either. Even if you put in an IOU or voucher.
"...I advise against a web site..." That I don't agree with. It's advertising. Choosing whether or not to sell on-line is a different thing, but having a web site is an extremely powerful advertising tool. Mind you, a basic web site can cost $500 plus. If you don't have the money to pay for it....

UniversalFrost
February 23, 2008, 09:55 AM
websites are no where near expensive.

domain name registration is usually thrown in the first year's hosting or runs as low as a few bucks.

Hosting for a business is cheap as well. I have several sites that are hosted by yahoo and they run me around 12-24 bucks a month, depends on the bandwidth and storage etc.... . Anyway, you can also use a website template for a site and add your own items and for yahoo thay offer a website editor and lots of basic sites.

otherwise if you design your own, you need to know how to do scripting languagues and other web based programming. some of the web site authoring tools (golive, dreamweaver, etc...) are great, but cost a lot and you need to know what you are doing, otherwise they are useless.

Also, if you want to actually start selling online that brings in a whole different ball o' worms. But still not difficult or expensive.

if anybody wants to know more about web design I will be more than happy to help out. NOw, I will not design your site for you, but will point you in the right direction for your own sight design or towards some very capable web developers I know that all they do is site design and can give you a very modern and professional site or just a basic html/css site to start your web prescence.

JOE

DBotkin
February 23, 2008, 11:42 AM
+1 on Universal Frost's post. I run an e-commerce site for my little sideline hobby (Amateur Radio kits). The total cost is well under $100 per year. Domain registration is under $10, and I believe web hosting is less then $5 a month with GoDaddy. The shopping cart software is free (OSCommerce), and required minimal tweaking to get it set up the way I wanted it. Of course for a gun shop, you'll need to take credit cards which will add a little to the cost -- but overall, the web site can be done at negligible cost.

What you need to do to make a web site successful is first to set realistic expectations. Tell your web customers that things may not ship within an hour of their orders being placed, since you're not Brownell's. Plan to spend a couple hours per day keeping the site up to date, answering email, and processing orders. Have a plan in place to ship quickly and efficiently. Of course, keep the inventory accurate so people don't get upset when they order something you say is in stock, then find out it's not. And of course, if you're completely computer illiterate OR if you can't spell and punctuate perfectly, FIND SOMEONE who does these things and let them do it! Nothing will turn off a potential web customer faster than an amateurish web site full of spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors.

I can speak from experience when I say you should work up a realistic business plan, then cut the revenue by half and increase the expenses by half and see if your model still works. If it does, great - now decide if you really want to work 60-80 hours per week with no vacations for a few years to see if it will survive. Now go find financing or investors to cover about twice your anticipated cash requirements.

Still, even as a recovering business owner you have no idea how tempting it's been for me to launch another business from time to time. We desperately need another indoor range in this town...

Joe D
February 28, 2008, 06:44 AM
Most don't understand Business 101. If you want to pay yourself a salary of just $6000 per month you will need sales of $40,000 at 15% just for that.

James K
February 28, 2008, 02:21 PM
Web site ease of setup or expense is not the issue.

I still don't recommend a web site for a startup business, unless you either want to 1) have no retail store, 2) hire some people to do the site business, or 3) are willing to spend hours each day tending the site, answering e-mails, packing and mailing, keeping track of payments, etc. plus hours behind the store counter.

Most of the folks who talk about opening a gun shop seem to want to be a one-person business, at least to start, and IMHO you can't do that with both a "brick" operation and a web site, and have enough time left to do things like sleep.

Jim

dakotashooter2
February 28, 2008, 05:47 PM
Many "new" business owners think that developing a business plan is for the benefit of the bank when it is actually for their benefit. I've been told that the business plan is developed to show you why you SHOULD NOT start a new business. It's said that if most failed businesses really considered their business plan they would have have realized they should never have started in the first place.

In regards to doing transfers I think shops that won't do them are just shooting themselves in the foot. By NOT doing transfers it is unlikely you will force those people to buy from your shop. So you can make 0% profit off no sale or 100% profit off a transfer. Note that the gunshop has 0 cash, interest or inventory tied up in a transfer and it can give them a good feel for what the "market" will bear for price.

Another note: turnover is good. There is a fine line when it comes to profit but products that sit on the shelf for long periods of time cost money. It usually works better to take a reduced profit (by marking things down) than have something sit on the shelf for an extended time. I have been in shops where the owners refused to discount anything and sat on small merchandise for years all the while losing interest on that merchandise to the point that when they finally sold it, it cost them money. One is probably best off to work from a viewpoint that everything is perishable. I have noted that a local chain store does that. Every once in a while you will see discount stickers on 1 or 2 items in a row of a particular product. As explained to me those 1 or 2 items have been "on the shelf too long" and are being reduced to move them.

James K
February 28, 2008, 08:08 PM
A big mistake I have found with hobbyist gun shop owners is stocking based on their own preferences. This is usually expressed in words like, "I know a lot of people want [fill in brand] guns, but I don't like them and won't have them in my store."

That might be justified with guns that have a lot of problems and come back for repair or return to the factory. But I have found it in cases where the guns were of reasonable, even high, quality, but the owner was just prejudiced. One fellow refused to carry Remington guns, saying they were "stamped out pieces of junk" and would sell only Winchesters. Another "didn't like the grip" on S&W revolvers and wouldn't stock them. Still another wouldn't sell "plastic pistols" or "military junk" or any rifle or shotgun with a pistol grip or a plastic stock.

Need I mention that all of the folks I quoted are now out of business?

Jim

Crosshair
February 28, 2008, 08:52 PM
That is a problem Jim Keenan. Though sometimes those view are justified. The Scheels in town flat out won't take Remington 710/770 rifles on trade in anymore because of the poor quality and large numbers of problems with them. The Cabela's offers people a fraction of their book value for the same reason.

NAVET
February 28, 2008, 09:47 PM
I picked up a part time job at a local gun store and I have no problem telling anyone I don't know and the other guys who work with me are the same way. We were all told when the store owner hired us he was hiring a team and that as a team we should be able to answer ANY question that comes our way. If I don't know, someone else will/should. That is what customers remember and why they come back.
I also have opinions about guns and calibers. If you ask me, I'll tell you what I do know and what I think. But I can assure you that I have never tried to dissuade anyone from buying a certain gun. It's your money, spend it how you want. But by the same token, I'm not going to sell someone who has never fired a gun a snub nosed .357 Magnum because they want a carry piece.

James K
February 29, 2008, 01:19 PM
One shop where I worked had a problem. He was a very nice guy, but he was a salesman. He was selling guns at that store, but he could as easily have sold furniture, cars, womens' underwear, appliances, or antique golf clubs. It didn't matter what he was selling, he was a salesman.

If a customer asked if a .25ACP Beretta or a .22 RG10 was a good elephant gun, our guy would assure him that there was no better gun made for doing in elephants, or brownies, or anything else the customer wanted to bump off. (OK, I am exaggerating just a little there, but not much.) Of course the customer would find out he had been had and the rest of us had to take the heat when he came back. But the boss liked our guy, as he had a great sales record.

I was the bad guy. I once waited on a guy who went duck hunting every year and came back with no luck and no duck. So he thought that a longer barrel gun would help, and wanted to buy a 30" barrel to replace the 28" that was on the gun. He asked me what that would do for him. I replied that it would put the end of the barrel two inches closer to the duck. He left in a huff (actually it was a Buick) and I got hell for losing the sale on the longer barrel.

Jim