Archery Shop Advice: 6 Tips for Summer Busy Season

Veteran archery shop owner Josiah Richards of Ross Outdoors in Phoenix, Arizona, provides insight on how his business dominates the summer busy season.

Archery Shop Advice: 6 Tips for Summer Busy Season

In the archery business, summer is known as one thing — the busy season. With the coming of the fall hunting seasons, most folks are scrambling at this time to buy new gear and get their bows worked on, tweaked, and tuned in preparation for their anticipated tags. This means a huge influx of business for archery shops. And while business might be good during these times, it doesn’t change the fact that this is a hectic time of year. Staying on track is key for year-after-year success.

With summer upon us, I sat down with Josiah Richards, owner of Ross Outdoors, to chat about this very thing. Josiah has run his successful archery pro shop for the last 12 years in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about when both the temps and business rise. Below, I will break down six tips from Josiah for navigating the “summer busy season.”

1: Get an Early Start

The very first thing Josiah brought up to me during this conversation was how important it is being ahead of the game. While business indeed ramps up in the summer, the busy season should really start mentally during the slower months ahead of time. And more particularly your preparation for the busy season.

Before the heat hits is a great time to prepare for what’s to come. Use this time to run ads and ramp up your social media game. This all helps set the scene and create awareness. You may not see numbers translate right off the bat, but if your business keeps popping up in front of someone before they really start thinking about the fall hunting season, you’ll be fresh in their mind.

And speaking of the digital game, ensure your website is up to date during this time. You don’t want people to get a bad impression when they go to the website. This could result in them not even coming into the shop, to begin with, and doesn’t set a good first example.

Taking inventory is also vital here during the slower months. Josiah is adamant about knowing what he’s got in stock and knowing what he needs beforehand. Maybe run a sale during this time to try and make room for newer and fresher products that folks will want, too. Once the busy season starts, getting products is harder and harder due to the increase in demand. Figure out your inventory ahead of time.

Lastly, take the time to create and refine an organization system for taking in bows that customers bring in for work. It’s one thing working on a bow here and there when things are slow. It’s entirely another when you’ve got 30 that show up all at once. This situation begs for structure — not only for you but for the customer. Imagine telling someone their bow got lost in the chaos and didn’t get worked on in time for their upcoming hunt. That’s a customer no more.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Figure out what you need ahead of time given the trends and customer demand. This will alleviate possible inventory issues.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Figure out what you need ahead of time given the trends and customer demand. This will alleviate possible inventory issues.

2: Bulk Up and Watch the Trends

We mentioned taking inventory, but this deserves a little more attention to detail. Not only does Josiah take inventory before the storm, but he’s also paying attention to the trends, his sales history, and sales numbers.

You’ve gotta know what’s cool and new. Each year it seems that something is “the new great product” that people are longing to buy. And if you don’t have that item in stock, guess what? You’re missing out on the trend of the day. Josiah likes to pay attention to what’s buzzing on social media and what bowhunters are excited about. This helps him anticipate what to have in stock for when the crowds come. And if you’ve got what they want, it’ll not just satisfy them then and there, but it’ll increase the chances of them coming back in the future.

Along with paying attention to relevant trends in the market, refer back to your own sales history and numbers. It’s a record of what your customers wanted year after year during the summer. Maybe you sold a bunch of releases or a truckload of arrows. Use this knowledge to your advantage and have the bulk of these things in the shop about a month ahead of time. The proof is in the pudding.

3: Be Honest About Timelines

Timelines are huge during the summer. People are in a mad rush to get their bows ready for hunting season and need that work done ASAP. Not only that, they want to know when their precious belongings will be ready for pick up. Josiah highly recommends being honest about your timelines in these situations. Underpromise and overdeliver.

Right off the rip, you need to be honest about your timelines for getting work done. It may be standard for you to say a few days at other times of the year, but when it’s busy, things are just different. Even if it’s longer than the customer was originally thinking, it’s better to be upfront. 

Give them the date you are absolutely certain their bow will be done. In the back of your mind, you might know it will be done a few days earlier, but this gives you wiggle room. At the very least, you’ll have the bow done on time, just like you said. If it’s done sooner, then you’ll be the hero of the day.

This is especially true on string replacements. Strings and cables oftentimes need to be ordered on the spot most of the time for a customer. While the actual work might not take that long, you need to be open about the gap there will be in shipping time. Some string manufacturers offer a rush charge, which you can give the option for, but the fact remains.

Being honest about timelines isn’t all about the customers; it’s also for you and your techs. Quality over quantity is vital here for return business. So, make sure you’ve got the time to do the work right. It’s better to get fewer bows done the right way in a day than more at a lower standard. This is a long game. Be proud of what you do and let that pride show through your work. It’ll return tenfold.

When things get busy during summer, turnaround time is naturally going to be more lengthy, especially because good work takes time.
When things get busy during summer, turnaround time is naturally going to be more lengthy, especially because good work takes time.

4: Encourage Customers to Come in Sooner than Later

Archery pro shops are no strangers to the busy season. They know it’s coming and do what they can to prepare for it. While this is true, more times than not, the customer is not familiar with it. They aren’t aware there is a busy season and that you won’t be able to get their bow worked on a few days before their hunt starts. Josiah Richards really tries to educate his customers about this rush. He encourages them to bring things in sooner than later. Not just for the customer, but for the business.

By encouraging customers to get work done as early as possible, you’re saving their bacon from the mad rush and getting their bow to them well before the season. It will also potentially jump-start some cash flow when things are slow.

The rush is going to happen, but if you can try to spread it out, things will go much smoother, and more folks will walk away with a smile on their face. This also will help alleviate stress from the workers. Consistent work is much more smooth sailing than slow followed by everything hitting all at once.

A surefire way to get the word out about this is through social media. Josiah leans into this quite a bit and has seen great results. With the tap of a finger or the click of a mouse, he can reach a mass amount of people with very little effort. Running an ad on this will kick things up a notch, too. And of course communicating to folks in your shop that if they are going to need anything done, it’s best to get it done early. With any hope, they’ll take the advice, but also tell their bowhunting buddies and encourage them to get in the shop as well.

5: Good Relationships with Manufactures

Being ready for the busy season isn’t all about inventory and the customers who are sure to walk through your doors. Don’t get me wrong, customer service is paramount, and you 100% need to stay on top of inventory. Josiah also sees himself as a customer here and a question comes about: “Are you being a good customer to your vendors?”

You’re not the only one that will get slammed during the busy season. Demand goes up at this time, so manufacturers are working round the clock as well, not just for you, but for everyone they supply. They are fulfilling orders and also tackling the rise in customer service needs. 

Because of this, having a good relationship with your manufacturers can help in a pinch. Amidst the chaos, when you need something done quickly, a good relationship is a key ingredient to getting just that. Being the pro shop nobody wants to deal with, the one that’s always complaining and never has anything good to say, is never going to do you any good.

I know I said this wasn’t all about the customers, but in the end, it kind of is. This right here comes full circle right back to customer service. Being the folks who “get stuff done” through their manufacturers smoothly and efficiently is only going to look good on your part. So, be a good customer for your customers.

Creating an A-Team will ensure your customers get the best experience. You’ll also be much more prepared for the coming influx of the busy season.
Creating an A-Team will ensure your customers get the best experience. You’ll also be much more prepared for the coming influx of the busy season.

6: Create an A-Team

If one thing is true about running a successful archery shop and being prepared for the busy season, it’s this: You can’t do it alone. There are only so many things that one person can do. When one starts spreading themselves too thin, quality begins to suffer. So, not only do you need help, but you need the best help you can get. An A-Team that can handle anything and do it with a smile on their face.

Josiah Richards is very big on creating this A-Team. He wants his workers to want to be full-time and isn’t too interested in seasonal help. Seasonal puts an end date on a relationship, which can affect the quality of workmanship. So, while getting seasonal help is easier to do, it’s all about quality over quantity in the long run. This also establishes a more concrete relationship between the workers and customers. It also builds trust.

Things don’t look good when someone different is working every time a customer walks in the door. It says one of two things: One, that individual clearly wasn’t qualified, which shines badly on you the owner for hiring them; or two, the owner must be a pain in the neck to work for, which also shines badly on you.

An A-Team is what you want in play whether it’s busy or not. A crew that cannot just work on bows and that excels in customer service, but also people to help with things such as social media. It’s a team effort. Choosing A over C will yield in your favor every time.

Bring on the Heat!

If I had to grasp one thing from everything Josiah had to say it would be how important it is to stay on top of things on all fronts. Whether it’s keeping track of inventory and not settling for inadequate workers, or having a good relationship with your customers and vendors. It’s a long game, and setting yourself up for success takes calculated forethought. Do the homework. Set goals and set out to achieve them.

Summer may be a hectic time of year, but it doesn’t have to be absolute chaos. You should be enjoying the increase in business, not pulling your hair out over the stress. With the right mindset and preparation, you’ll be ready for when business ramps up and the heat hits.

Photos by Josh Kirchner


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