How to create a great preseason sales plan


What do archery retailers love more than archery? A successful business. And money. To get both, draft a preseason sales plan that manages inventory, creates unique sales opportunities and offers a well-planned calendar of events.

Ted Hurlbut of Hurlbut & Associates, a retail consulting and business advisory firm, put it this way: “If you don’t have enough inventory, you lose sales. (If you have) too much, you lose money to markdowns and clearance.”

And he’s right. To find that balance and maximize your profits, craft a smart preseason sales plan. An organized, efficient plan with sound advertising and marketing strategies helps you determine how much inventory to stock, when to promote markdowns and how to attract customers.

ATA’s Kurt Smith, senior manager of retail programs, and Nicole Nash, manager of retail programs, can help by providing tips on what your plan should entail. Here’s the rundown.

Review Your Sales History

To manage inventory, do some brainstorming to determine which products you want to sell. Review your sales history to determine the quantity of products you’ve sold to better predict future needs. This plan ensures the products you order and your inventory levels match expected sales goals. Just make sure you order products in time for your scheduled sale.

If your current software system doesn’t let you pull a sales history report, you should upgrade. Check out ATA’s ePRO software, which is designed by archery retailers for archery retailers. The software instantly tracks and updates your service work, range scheduling, and point-of-sales purchases and inventory.

Evaluate Margins, Factor in Specials

A margin tells you how much of every dollar of revenue becomes profit on your bottom line. Understanding your margins is vital to business, especially when running sales. Pull out your receipts and purchase orders to evaluate which products you bought as show specials. Offer those items at prices that maintain or improve your desired profit margin. Just because you bought products at discount doesn’t mean you must sell them at discount. Show specials just give you more flexibility with your margins.

Offer Services, Not Just Sales

Busy seasons are, well … busy. To accommodate high traffic during peak seasons, offer service specials in advance. Advertise and promote special deals on bow tune-ups or string/cable changes in June to decrease the number of service requests you receive in July and August. This strategy instills a sense of urgency and encourages archers and bowhunters to act on your time, not theirs, if they want to save money on service.

Consider Freebies

Everybody loves free stuff! Some pro shops give away free products with large purchases, such as a free case with a bow sale. This strategy keeps customers at your cash register instead of your downtown competitor’s checkout counter.

If you can’t swing giveaways, offer other freebies such as bow tune-ups, range time or a round on your simulated-hunt game.

You can increase customer loyalty and keep your customers away from your competitors by offering freebies, like a bow case or free range time, with every new bow purchase.

Use Several Advertising Methods

Target as many customers as possible by advertising on multiple platforms in different places. Promote your sale items on radio, social media and your website. You should also post in-store signs and hang fliers in the windows of nearby businesses or on public bulletin boards. Newspapers may be old-fashioned, but they work, too, especially in small towns.

Remember to adhere to minimum advertised price policies on items you sell. To ensure you understand MAP policies, contact the ATA’s business office at (507) 233-8130.

Use Local Resources

When you design your advertising materials, get creative and contact local resources. Colleges and technical schools often have marketing or graphic design classes with students eager for real-world experience. Use the students’ skills and creativity to ensure your ads capture your audience’s attention. Consider using students pursuing English or journalism degrees to write and proofread content, too.

If no nearby college offers such programs, request a meeting with the local high school’s principal. Can they help you create a project for students interested in marketing or graphic design to earn extra credit? For best results, create an outline of what you’re seeking before contacting educators. Plan far in advance, because cooperative projects take time to create, edit, review and produce materials. Although potentially time-consuming, these projects can be worthwhile for you and the students.

Investing time in a detailed preseason sales plan will likely improve financial planning and boost cash-flow projections. The sooner you get started, the more likely you’ll succeed.

To learn more and get help creating a plan, contact Smith at (717) 578-0736 or kurtsmith@archerytrade.org.

Featured photo: A smart preseason sales strategy is based on having the right inventory at the right time. Sales history reports, like those generated by ATA’s ePRO software, can help with this.