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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I work for an FFL and this story is one most of you will recognize:

Saturday, a familiar couple entered my store. I remember when they were worried about Y2K and they came to me for advice. The man had his father's old Marlin 336 and a 12 gauge fixed choke. They wanted to learn to shoot handguns and have the long guns cleaned and inspected. The shotgun was a cheapie with a Mod. choke and both were in good order. I informed them of the capabilites and limitations of these weapons, and they said they really wanted handguns. I sold them a Buckmark, a Sig 229, and a Ruger .357, as well as some buckshot and rifle ammo. I also referred them to a club where they could learn gun safety and practice shooting.

In the last year, they developed a taste for our hobby (we need more like this, they're chemical engineers.) After a long talk, they wanted a target rifle and they were worried about black bear intrusions in our area (this is a real problem). I spent an hour explaining ballistics, recoil, ammo cost and availability, and capability and use against deer and bear. They wanted to shoot for fun, be able to hunt deer, and kill a bear if it entered their house.

The man had done his homework and the woman had not. Neither of them are big people. Finally, she was ready to write the check for a VLS .243 with a 6.5 - 20 Nikon, and a Guide Gun for the bear. He was ready when they came in the store. They told me what they can afford, and they can easily afford the purchases.

Then the idiot struck. He ran his mouth about his .30-30, his 6.5 Swede, and how he can load the .264 Win hotter than a .30-06. These people know nothing about reloading and less about rifle calibers. After 15 minutes of this moron running his mouth, they were so confused they left with my employer less $1500 in the till.

So how do you deal with people like this? After he did this, the idiot actually asked me, "I handled that rather deftly, didn't I?"

He is still alive.
 

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Well, if he is employed there, fire the fool. he obviously doesnt know anything about selling. If he is a customer, throw his ass out. If he's a customer, he will never spend enough money there to make up for all the business you are going to lose due to his mouth.

As for the couple that left with their money. You obviously spent a considerable amount of time with them. They should have trusted your advice by then. One thing to consider if its possible, try getting customers like this away from the counter, to a semi private place for consultation.
 

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There are shops that I avoid like the plague due to people like that. I'll bet all of you have at least one shop in your area that attracts the various weirdos, wackos, pseudo-experts and armchair commandos. And for some reason, the shop in my area that attracts that type is the highest price shop anywhere in a three-county area. You'd think that if they were so knowledgeable, they'd go to a shop that wasn't charging 25% more than anyplace else.
 

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I have seen this happen before. Been in shops where the groupies hang out and are always running their mouth and quoting load specs and velocities. These are the type of people that I really worry about.

I am assuming that the idiot was a groupie and hanging out and eaves dropping on your customer and sale. If this is the case next time tell him that the customer purchase is considered a private matter and move to another area of the counter. Most people will appreciate this, I do not want anyone to see my check, card, phone, address, etc when I am buying a gun. If he is an employee-fire him.

Or kick him out the store, he cost you $1500 and more in the future.

77Bronc
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Not an amployee. I know that many customers have been subjected to this kind of nonsense, but it is a business and I can't get nasty with anoter potential customer. He can bad mouth me and do more damge than I can prevent.

I like the idea of a seperate area to close sales. I've created retail layouts and I'll put my efforts into this. If I come up with something good, I'll post it here as a new thread. As to telling the guy to go away, my original intent was to find a businessliek way to do that, so if anyone has a good way to handle these kinds of customers (everyone is a customer), please post it.

Bob
 

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I think the most polite way you could or even should handle it is to on the spot state that a firearms purchase is a private transaction between the customer and the shop, and that you would like a bit of privacy at this time.

This would provide the buyers the chance to speak up if they actually like hearing the guy yammer on, and it would put the situation out in the open. You will probably miff the guy a bit, but if he is going to buy from you in the first place he will, if he isn't he won't. Odds are the guy hangs out there alot, probably due to the fact that he enjoys hanging out and talking guns. So odds are you are not going to scare him off.

As for a suggestion for setting up a semi private place to complete a sale. I would setup a table off to the side, either behind a counter or behind a large one sided display. This will alow a place the customer can sit and fill out all the forms, talk, etc, without feeling like they are intentionally being escorted away from anyone else.

I know when I walk into any type of shop I am scanning the room to see if there are unhappy customers, pushy sales people, sales people who may be full of it, etc. If I was escorted into a back room to finalize a sale I would feel a little uncomforatble. It makes a person feel like they are being taken away from outside influences. What a sales person says should be able to stand on it's own merits.

The nice thing about a table setup is besides giving a place for the customer to sit while filling out forms, any listeners are going to have a real hard time of butting in without being completely obvious that they are not directly listening to your conversation.

Just my thoughts.
 

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Was the guy an idiot because he blew your sale or was he an idiot for confusing your customer with wrong information, or both?

If you let the 'idiot' control the situation, that is your fault. I mean no offense, but it is your store (or at least yours in that it is where you are employed) and you need to be in control. You should have asked the 'idiot' to back off nicely and that if the couple wanted his opinion that they would ask for it.

Another manner you may have done this is to directly question the 'idiot' as to what he was looking for, handled him, and gotten him out of your store.

Remember, it is YOUR store, not the idiot's.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Unfortunately, it happened too fast and the guy wouldn't shut up even when I told the customers that what they were being told was informed, but inappropriate for them because they don't reload, don't want to buy a custom benchrest rifle, etc.

The point of this thread was supposed to a request for polite words to stop someone from interfering with a sale without making the sales staff look pushy, overbearing, or intolerant of dissent. That will chase away more customers than anything. Of course, I could have just said, "Will you shut, you idiot?"

That's not the way to run a business.
 

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On 2001-09-19 16:06, Sig 226 wrote:
The point of this thread was supposed to a request for polite words to stop someone from interfering with a sale without making the sales staff look pushy, overbearing, or intolerant of dissent. That will chase away more customers than anything. Of course, I could have just said, "Will you shut, you idiot?"

That's not the way to run a business.
It is if you are dealing with an idiot.
If you would have firmly said, "Excuse me, but I am trying to help these people and that information you are offering is not what they are interested in." Then shut-up and look directly at him, as if waiting for him to reply. Trust me, he wouldnt have. He would have felt the center of unwanted attention and moved away. You then could have quietly apologized to your customers for the interruption. Your mistake was letting the blow-hard direct the conversation which he should not have been in, in the first place.
Dont be so afraid of losing potential business that you lose *actual* business.
If he had gotten angry, went to your boss, you could have easily explained what happened. After all, you would not have been being rude. But showing that when you are helping a customer, you give them your full attention and dont divide it on the off chance you might get a future sale.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you for providing all of us pros with a good answer to this situation. If I had those words, I would have used them. We are working on creating a closing are conforming to the other replies I recieved, and we'll let you know how it works out.

People think I make a mint from commissions, and I don't actually make anything from them. I could sell a Bushmaster or an Armalite to a wealthy customer who wants a gun for home protection. Instead, I ask them to point their fingers at which of their neighbors they would like to kill, because that's what will happen when they fire that rifle indiscriminately. I sell them a $250 870 or Mossberg instead, so they can protect themselves, and thier friends.

Almost all gun dealers will side with me here - we know what we sell, and we do our best to ensure that it is used properly.

Bob
 

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The one issue I dont like about a special closing area is that it reminds me too much of a car dealership. After talking with the salesman and looking over the merchandise, you then are led into a different area or office. I prefer to deal at the counter out in the open.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Yes, we're not going to build a seperate room for this, but a table with a partial barrier on one side, similar in concept to the low barriers used to segregate bench tables at McDonald's, can offer the sense of a private space. It also makes it fairly clear that someone is intruding on the conversation when they poke their head over the barrier and run off at the mouth.

I like that and your other suggestion.
 

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Hi Sig,

Sounds like you were really in-between a rock and a hard place in that situation. It also sounds like you did the best you could, but it just didn’t work out. As a customer, I’ll offer my take on the situation.

If you had interrupted the idiot, and as the customer I had wanted to hear what he had to say, then I might think you were trying to keep me from hearing something because you wanted to sell me something else. This would make me wary, and I might not trust you. So, interrupting the idiot might not be the best thing to do. If I was an inexperienced customer and couldn’t understand the pros and cons of what the idiot said, I would want you to talk to me about what the idiot said and tell me why you agree or disagree with his comments. (But it sounds like you did this.)

I think that, as hard as it is, you have to let the idiots shoot their mouth off. My only advice would be to control the anger such that you can listen carefully to the idiot’s speech and then offer your opinion to the customer why what the idiot said was wrong, or not applicable to their situation. Perhaps, in order not to loose the idiot as a customer, you could start your rebuttal with, “Mr. X has some valid points, however I don’t think they are applicable to your situation; here’s why I believe that…” or something like that.

It sounds like you did something like this, and the customer just wasn’t appreciative. Nothing you can really do. I think you did your best.

Sorry, this more a showing of support than advice. I wish you worked in my town.

- Don


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: don Puffer on 2001-11-12 14:53 ]</font>
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Unfortunately, the guy ran his mouth way too fast and loud for me to stop him without actually telling him to shut up, or something like that.

When he was done, the customers - relatively new shooters - boogied out the door. I think they were put off by the interruption as much as anything. I put the rifle together as a package in case they returned. They didn't, but we sold it Saturday. It was a good deal and we built another one as soon as that one sold.
 

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Several years ago a shop opened up near me and it was the best gun shop I have ever been to. It was well stocked and a broad product line with lots of access and ammo. So why did it go out of business? He hired as help only retired cops or off duty cops and it became a cop hang out. Now cops are not the problem but it was not uncommon to go in and there be 10 or 12 on or off duty including employees sharing "war" stories and they would just ignore you for the most part when you needed help. Also (and this is why I stopped going in) a couple of times I was looking at something and one of the cops in there would make some remark in the direction of a customer that was in appropriate. Such as someone looking at a combat type shotgun and one cop snidely says if you buy that we will have to follow you home and note your address and licence plate. Another words regular cash paying customers were made to not feel welcome. I told the owner that one day and he said he was sorry but that the cops were also customers. I only ever saw one of them make a gun purchase. I think my point is no business needs people that just hang out as it makes other customers feel like outsiders.
 

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Try this line, Excuse me but this customer is about to start the paperwork and I will have to ask you to give them some space so as to protect their privacy. A store near me has a desk behind the counter that they often invite customer who seem new and nervous to the paperwork required. Especially if they are doing a credit application.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
On 2001-11-15 16:08, slidelock1 wrote:
Several years ago a shop opened up near me and it was the best gun shop I have ever been to. It was well stocked and a broad product line with lots of access and ammo. So why did it go out of business? He hired as help only retired cops or off duty cops and it became a cop hang out. Now cops are not the problem but it was not uncommon to go in and there be 10 or 12 on or off duty including employees sharing "war" stories and they would just ignore you for the most part when you needed help. Also (and this is why I stopped going in) a couple of times I was looking at something and one of the cops in there would make some remark in the direction of a customer that was in appropriate. Such as someone looking at a combat type shotgun and one cop snidely says if you buy that we will have to follow you home and note your address and licence plate. Another words regular cash paying customers were made to not feel welcome. I told the owner that one day and he said he was sorry but that the cops were also customers. I only ever saw one of them make a gun purchase. I think my point is no business needs people that just hang out as it makes other customers feel like outsiders.
I tossed - rather angrily and nastily - the war story crowd. They would bs with the sales staff, never buy anything, and belittle anyone who came in as a new shooter or hunter. My favorite was a worthless weasel fire inspector. This fat, ugly loser was so full of himself, he wore his badge on his belt like he was the chief of the state police.

He would talk endlessly about his Mauser, how his rifle was better than anybody's, no matter what you had, his toy was always better. He was a first class jerk.

One day, he bragged to me how he got a pristine Winchester 52 from the fifties. He entered a hardware store, where they had it hanging from the roof. The owners were immigrants, been in the US for decades.
He wanted the 52. He flashed his badge and asked if they had paperwork for the rifle. They didn't need any for it, but they panicked. He said he was going to turn them in.

He finally bought it for fifty bucks.
I looked him in the eye and walked away. A few more times, he came in to spin his bs and inflate himself, and I looked him in the eye and walked away. He got the message, he no longer bothers us.

Personally, I hate the bastard, and I hope some investigation gets him convicted of corruption. Meanwhile, he's exactly the kind of arrogant POS that started the American Revolution.
 

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Ambush!

...There was nothing you could have done differently.
If I had been watching the thing, I would have been impressed by your professionalism and probably bought somethin' on the spot.
Customer service is a real tricky item...Having been in service businesses for the last 8 years and dealing with a few "no-win" situations, I'd say you are doing the right thing NOW and...you did the right thing then...
The customers that have already bought from you know this, and after having time to consider it, they'll be back. If they don't, it was still worth it to get a new take on your approach and some handy "damage-control" ready and waiting. Hang in and keep it up...I miss havin' gun shops to visit. I find nothing attractive at all with buying in warehouses and from people that Sam Walton would have killed if he knew how they were acting in HIS STORES!!!


G
 
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