Take care of the customers your competitor is ignoring

Mike Crandall, Sandler Custom Growth Solutions

Miles Hall, Founder & President of H & H Shooting Sports sat down with me for a brief Q&A about how he and his wife, Jayne, built a highly successful business, and reinvigorated an industry that was stagnant.

This is part one of our two part session.

Q: How was H&H Shooting Sports started? What was the idea behind it?

Back in 1981 my wife, Jayne, and I were given a firearm for home defense. Looking to learn how to use the firearm, we visited an indoor shooting range.  Neither of us had owned a gun before so we wanted to become more familiar with how to shoot safely and responsibly.

As it turned out, we both loved shooting. However, we soon discovered that we didn’t fit in at the range we visited. Everyone else was much older than us and Jayne was usually the only female shooter there.

We knew there had to be other young people like us who loved to shoot or would love it if they had the opportunity to learn about it. That is what drove us to start our own range, to meet the needs of people similar to us, who didn’t feel comfortable at the existing ranges.

Q: So what was it that you did differently?

Our main focus was making the range appealing to people that the other ranges were not serving. At that point in time, shooting ranges were largely social clubs for older white males – and that is who they catered to. Not that there is anything wrong with that, however, we wanted to create a place to help everyone learn to shoot.

We also became champions of sport shooting and bringing people into the sport. That has helped us expand our guest base to include not only people who were already interested in shooting, but also those who might not have considered it before.

Today, the make-up of our guests is much different than most ranges. Forty-seven percent of our guests are female – most guests are married, educated, with upper middle income, and their median age is mid-30s. That’s drastically different than the crowd we encountered when we first started shooting back in 1981.

Q: I noticed you chose to use the word guest instead of customer or client. Was there any particular reason behind that choice?

Absolutely. It’s all about the focus of our team on the end user. The word “guest” keeps everyone focused.  We quickly realized that we are incredibly lucky that each and every guest that walks through the doors chose to visit our store. When you take a look at high-end retailers you’ll find that most of them refer to their customers as guests, because they realize the value of consumer relations. They’re not focused on product or services. They’re focused on the experience of someone visiting their store.

We view the people who visit us as our guests, and make the experience about them.  We also listen to everything they say. We respond to every e-mail, letter, and phone call we get and we consider the ideas our guests bring to us.

The guest surveys are what started our retail store expansions. Our guests at the range asked us if we could provide them with a buying experience that was similar to what they experienced on the range. So we listened to what our guests were telling us, and the retail side of the company has experienced tremendous growth

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