You Are The Expert: Expanding Pro Shop Sales :: March 2016 Business Blog
It is no surprise to hear that the internet is having effects on our industry just like any other. The school owners I talk to every day complain that there is an increasing amount of competition when it comes to martial arts merchandise found on the web.
There are a couple of ways you can handle the situation when a student shows up in your location with equipment or merchandise they purchased on the web. However, I want you to understand that these are reactive strategies. Specifically these are just ideas of how to solve the symptoms of the problem, not the actual problem. To truly tackle this problem you have to focus your efforts on how the customer sees you and the services you provide for them. The goal is to set the table properly at the beginning so that the student doesn’t have any reason to turn to the internet without speaking with you first.
The most crucial thing to understand is that your customers must see you as the expert. The customer must feel like they shouldn’t actually purchase anything with out your expert opinion. You can do this by mentioning it to your customer the very first time they train at your facility, but most specifically in the sales process when you sign them up for the very first time. Also you can remind them frequently over time as they train at your facility. Remember this: how can a student know what product to purchase for your curriculum, when you picked/developed the curriculum used in the school? The products that are used should be the ones you have decided are needed for the particular curriculum you teach.
Here is an example of the same situation but in a different activity. Assume you sign up for golf lessons with the local golf pro at your nearest golf course. Let’s assume that after a month your golf expert recommends that you buy some clubs. Because they are the expert and have taught you everything you know, you take them very seriously.
At this juncture the golf pro can do two things:
- They can make a suggestion on what to buy and leave you to figure out where to get it;
- OR he/she can make a strong recommendation on what to buy, and then walk you into the pro shop, introduce you to the salesperson, and MAKE SURE you buy the correct golf clubs that fit your body type, your swing, and your golf game.
If the golf pro actually takes the time to walk you into the pro shop and goes over each of the items I just mentioned above, the customer will buy that product right then and there the majority of the time.
This situation is no different from your martial arts school. Your students should look to you for advice on what to buy and where to get it. You should be walking your students into your pro shop and explaining to them why the product YOU have is the ONLY product they will need. And if they decide that there is something that they must have that you don’t carry, then they need to understand that you will do everything in your power to get it for them. You owe that to them anyway if you want to provide them with the best customer service you can provide.
I don’t really believe that your customers have the time to do research on the internet when you carry the products they need. Your customers have to go to work, the dry cleaners, the supermarket, get their kids to school, martial arts class, and piano lessons. Don’t you think they would appreciate it if you actually SAVED them time by making it easy to get them the products they need?
In the eventuality that your customer found the same equipment on the web that you are selling at a price lower than yours, simply respond this way. Tell them that as their instructor you would feel more comfortable using the equipment you are providing them. Offer to sell them the equipment at the exact same price they paid, if they go ahead and return the product to where they purchased it. Here is the most important point: use this time to instill in your customer that you want to be the number one source for all of their equipment and merchandise needs. Make sure you tell your customer that if there is anything else they need or want, you will bend over backwards to get it for them. You want your customer to understand that you are going to save them time and effort by helping them get what they want as quickly as possible.
Paul Reavlin is the president of Revgear.com in Van Nuys, California. He teaches over 50 strategies to dramatically increase pro shop revenues for martial arts school owners. Revgear.com supplies martial arts equipment and products to over 3,000 schools across the U.S. Paul is a CPA and has a black belt in Krav Maga. He can be contacted with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-767-8288.