“We receive numerous calls and walk-in customers daily requiring the services and knowledge of our gunsmith. Additionally, our existing customers greatly appreciate the convenience of having a gunsmith on site — at a business they frequent, are familiar with and trust.”
Bruce Piendl, general manager for a large, Pittsburgh-area shooting range and firearms retail store called Anthony Arms has found that offering the services of an on-site, full-time gunsmith has been a great boost to business. In addition to bringing business to the operation and providing needed additional services for its retail and range customers, Piendl’s gunsmith is a critical back-up person to the sales force and as a firearms expert.
Not that any American Gunsmith readers are surprised by this “revelation.” Unless the sales staff is blessed with competition shooting experience or have similar, active shooting backgrounds, its not likely everyone behind the counter is intimately familiar with the tools of the trade. More than one editor at other publishing companies has complained to me in private about having folks in the office with little to no experience with firearms. The needed resume items included skill with photo editing and magazine layout and shooting skill and firearm knowledge was a distant secondary requirement. A sales staff at a retail store would likely have the same problem. Having someone on-site intimately familiar with the internal workings of firearms is a huge resource. When that person can also do repairs for customers, for a profit to the business, its an additional income flow as well.
Even if a business can’t add you as a full-time staffer, your services are still useful to them. Bob Thacker, director of the Pennsylvania Gunsmith School, describes two additional arrangements a gun business can make with a gunsmith to provide services: Leasing on-site space to an independent gunsmith, or engaging in a relationship with an established off-site gunsmithing business. An on-site concession-based gunsmith lets the retail store or range bring repair work to you while remaining an independent, albeit an in-store one. An off-site arrangement lets you stay in your current shop, but set up an agreement with
Regardless of the decision made about offering gunsmithing services, it’s a facet of business that should be considered, debated and investigated by every range because it is better than not having a relationship with a professional who can provide additional customer service. Failing to do so is a loss of a potential profit center or customer service. If you remain an independent ‘smith, you can outsource your services to local businesses that can’t afford to put you on salary.
Many firearms businesses say, “Fix guns, build guns and customers will come.” Whether you’re full-time or an independent, be the reason why those customers return.