Bow Financing: Risk vs. Reward

A pair of longtime pro shop owners and certified archery gurus provide their thoughts on bow financing.

Bow Financing: Risk vs. Reward

The world of archery retail is ever evolving. Retail shops are always on the prowl for ways to up their game to better compete with box stores and online competition. One thought that’s popped up is the idea of bow financing. Basically, a buyer comes into a pro shop and finances a bow, much like they would buy a new car or truck. While some shops do credit checks and the like, others set up less-complicated financing programs. Would it work for you? Only you can decide, but my conversations with a pair of top-tier pro-shop owners should weigh heavily into your decision.


There Are Other Ways

A certified archery coach and the owner of No Limits Archery in Denver, Colorado, Phil Mendoza has a list of accolades few can match. In addition to being the first-ever Train to Hunt National Champion, Mendoza is an accomplished bowhunter and one of the best archery coaches I’ve ever had. Additionally, he is a bow-tuning genius, and his shop has a no-nonsense reputation that keeps him moving product out the door.

“I don’t like financing a bow,” Mendoza said. “We will work with our customers in every way possible, and we offer layaway programs and the like that allow bow buyers to make direct payments to us over time, but I don’t ever see us going the financing route. It just seems too complicated and too dangerous.”

Phil’s list of reasons for the no-go on the financing route are many, but one of the biggest is the impact he believes it will have on his margins.

“In truth, our margins are better on our accessory items than our bows,” he continued. “There is so much that goes into financing, especially if you want to do it right. Who in your shop is going to be responsible for all the credit checks and the like? Where do you keep all of that information? If something goes awry and a customer’s data is compromised, a $1,500 bow sale could quickly turn into a $25,000 lawsuit. That’s not a risk we are willing to take, and it’s a risk you should weigh heavily when making your decision.

“Let’s say you decide to hire a second-party to handle credit checks to take the risk off your shoulders, you’re going to have to pay them. Even if you don’t decide to do credit checks, there is going to be a paper trail that you’re responsible for. I don’t want to deal with that. We don’t have the time. On a given Saturday, we may send 10 bows out the door. For us, it’s all-hands-on-deck to make sure those bows are perfectly tuned, and the customers understand all of the bow’s features. We want to sit down with them and give them a little education course. Plus, we want to paper-tune the bow. It takes time to do things right. We just don’t have the extra hours to do financing paperwork. Sure, a second party may work, but that second party, again, won’t work for free.

“Let’s say your profit margin on a bow is 24%; you’ll have to pay a percentage of that profit to the second party. I’m not sure it’s worth the hassle or the stress. I know of some shops in the South that make only a 12% margin on a bow sale. How can they afford to pay a second party some of that percentage? I don’t see how they can.”

Still, Mendoza realizes online sales and big box stores are cutting into his business. “Sure, I’m losing some money to these platforms, and in the coming years, it’s likely to get worse. My answer is to work with local big-box chains. I go in and chew the fat with their bow technicians. They let me hang up flyers about league and tournament events my shop is putting on. Also, they send a lot of clients my way. They often know they can’t provide the type of custom tuning we can, and after a customer buys a bow at their store, they send them our way for the set up.

“You need to focus your energy on areas you can control. You can toss your arms in the air and complain, which will make you a very negative person, or you can choose to get creative. We’ve created leagues, classes and tournaments that bring in a lot of business. We offer online classes, as well. These are ways you can grow your shop quickly and effectively.”

Not Interested

If you haven’t heard of the Bow Rack, you’ve likely been living under a rock. Wayne Endicott is an archery legend, and his Springfield, Oregon, bow shop actually gets put on people’s vacation lists. Endicott’s bowhunting accomplishments are too long to list, and his dedication to ensuring his customers walk out the door with a bow that fits them and is tuned to perfection is something to aspire to. Last year, Endicott talked to me for an hour about the lengths he goes to set a sight’s third axis setting for his customers. I couldn’t believe it. He gave me so much intel, I wrote an article about it.

“I’m a bow shop owner, not a car dealership owner,” Endicott said. “We offer lots of bows at various price points, and when a customer purchases a bow and accessory items from us, we work with them until everything is perfect for them. This goes a long way. They tell their friends about the experience, and viola, we get more customers. It’s not rocket science. Know your craft and become great at your craft. There is no room for a half-rear-ended effort in the bow tuning game. We even have customers that ship their bows in to be tuned.”

Much like Mendoza, Endicott notes time and complications as reasons for his decision to stay out of the bow financing game.

“We are here to help people find the right bow and outfit that bow with the right accessory items that are right for them,” said Endicott. “I can’t be on the floor helping people if I’m in the back running credit checks or filling out piles of paperwork. That’s not why I became a pro shop owner. I guess you could go on the good-faith system, and while I believe people are inherently good, I’m not willing to let people walk out the door with a bow they have not fully paid for. Then, what if they stop making their payments? In the world of car and home loans, someone comes and repossess the item. Can we do that with archery equipment? I imagine it’s possible, but the costs would be outrageous. Then, of course, again, is the element of time. I see too many problems, and the risks, for me, simply aren’t worth the reward.”

Endicott also pointed out that it may be a bit embarrassing for the consumer. Since his focus is centered solely on his customers’ in-store experience, he isn’t willing to put consumers in that position, or imposition.

“It’s not embarrassing to go into a car dealership and ask for financing,” Endicott said. “That is the norm. Most people don’t have $50K in cash to lay on the table. Other customers inside the store expect to see salesmen running numbers to someone tucked in a little corner office with the shades drawn. That’s not the case inside an archery shop. What about that customer that comes into a busy shop and feels the need to take you aside and visit with you about financing a $1,000 bow? Think about that. Most of them will be a bit embarrassed, and I don’t want that. Frankly, I worry about how financing would affect the overall mood and feel of the shop.”

Like other successful pro shop owners, Endicott is continually looking for ways to improve his bottom line. His idea on the subject is refreshing. Endicott knows a lot of the world’s consumerism is happening online, and he as a theory that should seriously be considered.

“So many people shop online these days. Heck, some people don’t even go to the grocery store anymore. Those that do often have a store employee shop for them, and then they drive down and pick things up. It’s gotten crazy.

“Today’s bow manufacturers have so many design features. They have throngs of color options for limbs and risers. Not to mention the fact that they offer various modules and aftermarket accessories. Look at Mathews. The new-for-2020 VXR can be purchased in an array of colors, and with accessories like QAD’s Integrate MXT and Mathews’ SCS (Silent Connect System). They can add bow ropes and bow slings as well. It would be awesome if shops worked closely with manufacturers to improve the bow buying process. Consumers could shop online and design the exact bow they wanted, purchase the bow online, and then have the bow shipped to the pro shop of their choice. Mathews does this to some degree with their bow-builder, now. Think of the time it would save. We would get the bow in, call the consumer, and they would simply come down and pick it up. The manufacturer would pay the shop their percentage, and that would be it. We could spend more time helping the customer choose accessory items and educating them about the features of their shiny new penny. Besides, it would give us added tuning time and the like. It would eliminate a customer coming into the story and having to order a specific bow from us with all the features they want and then waiting weeks for it to arrive. Of course, shops would still carry bows on the shelves, but I see this as a way to battle the online craze and keep making money.”

In the end, the decision of whether or not you decide to develop a bow financing system is up to you. In truth, when I first heard about the idea, I thought it would be great. With that noted, I’m not a pro shop owner. After having long discussions with Mendoza and Endicott, I know for sure that if I dipped my toes into the pro-shop-owning waters, bow financing would be out of the question. Just food for thought.

Sidebar: Klarna Financing

Several bow shops and even a few bow manufacturers use Klarna as a bow-financing tool that allows consumers to spread the cost of their purchase over time. Additionally, Klarna accepts the risks of financing,  protecting businesses. A few of their Klarna’s financing terms follow.

Flexible Month-to-Month: Flexible Month-to-Month purchases are standard purchases with no fixed term commitment, similar to a traditional credit line. You decide what’s best for you; you simply need to make at least your minimum monthly payment. These are also sometimes called “standard purchases.”

Planned Payments: Planned Payments is a promotional offer which allows eligible orders to be purchased with a reduced APR. With planned payments, you will have a fixed monthly payment. The APR varies based on the current available promotions.

No Interest If Paid In Full: No Interest If Paid In Full is a promotional offer in which interest is deferred during the promotional period. If the entire balance is paid before the expiration date, no interest will be charged. Keep in mind, you still need to make at least your minimum monthly payment. These are also sometimes called “deferred interest purchases.”

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Photos by John Hafner


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