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Posted: 6/27/2022 10:54:18 PM EDT
Hey guys, I recently got my FFL, and have been trying to brainstorm ways to market my business.I am very experienced in social media marketing, but that is a major no-go when dealing with firearms.

You can’t run google search ads, IG or Facebook, Twitter ads, nothing!

So I was wondering if there are any marketing gurus out there with some other clever marketing methods to increase sales.
Link Posted: 6/28/2022 12:24:57 AM EDT
[#1]
Have ammo in stock is always a winner. If there's a state specific forum, like California has calguns.net, become an approved advertiser on there and list up your special of the week. KY has no shortage of heater stores so you will have to solicit some cold hard feedback from people about what they don't like about your shop and address any correctable issues.
Link Posted: 6/28/2022 7:37:01 AM EDT
[#2]
That’s a great idea, and one I haven’t considered.

I am a home based, and don’t keep any inventory. People are coming to me with things they want, and I order. I would give anything to turn this into a full time job, just gotta spread word around.

The only thing I have going for me is im in BFE ky, 45 mins from the closest Walmart or gun store, so I’m hoping people will transfer to me so they don’t have to dedicate a trip to town.

Obviously though, I know my population isn’t large enough to sustain me, so I’m trying to expand to online sales but that’s hard with no marketing.

Hence why I made an account on this forum.
Link Posted: 6/28/2022 7:58:43 AM EDT
[Last Edit: Bladeswitcher] [#3]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Kyfriedfirepower:

I am a home based, and don’t keep any inventory. People are coming to me with things they want, and I order. I would give anything to turn this into a full time job, just gotta spread word around.

The only thing I have going for me is im in BFE ky, 45 mins from the closest Walmart or gun store, so I’m hoping people will transfer to me so they don’t have to dedicate a trip to town. . . .
View Quote



One of the first lessons I learned working at a retail store years ago, was "sell what you have, not what you don't have." With no inventory, it doesn't sound like you have a business to market, other than transfers. The ONLY thing people MUST use you for is the blessing of a NICS check on a gun purchase. Everything else they can order themselves online. Other than firearms, why would anyone mess with you? Do you assume your customers don't have internet access or a shipping address?

So, how to market transfers?

First thing is make sure your FFL is listed in the online seller's FFL directories. Make sure you're signed up  with Gunbroker, Bud's Guns, Grab-a-Gun and every other internet gun seller you can find. I'd suggest signing up with SHIPMYGUN.com also. I suspect most of your transfers will come from people just trying to figure out how to buy online. It will be a lot easier if you're listed on the sites where they buy. As for getting local customers in your BFE location, I suggest you run a cheap classified ad in the local newspaper in their sporting goods section that advertises your transfer/special order services. You only reach old people here -- and they won't buy online -- but you might pick up a few customers. You should also post fliers at every public gun range you can find in your area.

Basically, it doesn't sound like you have much to offer. That's going to be hard to market.

Serious question: Did you write a business plan?
Link Posted: 6/28/2022 8:53:03 AM EDT
[Last Edit: Kyfriedfirepower] [#4]
Great ideas, thanks alot!

No, did not write a business plan at all, this is merely a side hustle. Since I don’t hold any inventory and assume any risk, I order for customer, make roughly $70-80 per transaction, and get it ordered/do the transfer. I’m making roughly $100-150 a week from it at the moment, I also sell some accessories on gunbroker.

What I’d like to do is use the data I collect from collecting orders for people to eventually hold inventory and sell online. I have a ton of warehouse space at my home, just no capital to get any of it.

Gunbroker is my primary source of sales at the moment, I’d like to expand my items for sale on gunbroker, just can’t really afford to pay listing fees for a few hundred products that may not sell.

So essentially at the moment, I am very slowly profitable, with no risk involved. If I can pay off a previous $5k line of credit I took out for a different business attempt, I’d consider using it again for inventory, since it is backed by an Asset.

Edit: also thank you SO much for all those other places to register as, I am already with gunbroker but I was unaware of the others.

Edit edit: I also wanted to add that I have not actually yet done a transfer. ( by transfer I mean bought somewhere else, shipped to me )All 5 of my customers came to me asking for a specific gun, or asked what I recommended
Link Posted: 6/28/2022 9:07:27 AM EDT
[#5]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Kyfriedfirepower:
Great ideas, thanks alot!

No, did not write a business plan at all, this is merely a side hustle. Since I don’t hold any inventory and assume any risk, I order for customer, make roughly $70-80 per transaction, and get it ordered/do the transfer. I’m making roughly $100-150 a week from it at the moment . . .
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That's actually a good return on most new guns, from my experience. Now you just need to do that a bunch more times each week.

Link Posted: 6/28/2022 9:57:49 AM EDT
[#6]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Bladeswitcher:



That's actually a good return on most new guns, from my experience. Now you just need to do that a bunch more times each week.

View Quote View All Quotes
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Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Bladeswitcher:
Originally Posted By Kyfriedfirepower:
Great ideas, thanks alot!

No, did not write a business plan at all, this is merely a side hustle. Since I don’t hold any inventory and assume any risk, I order for customer, make roughly $70-80 per transaction, and get it ordered/do the transfer. I’m making roughly $100-150 a week from it at the moment . . .



That's actually a good return on most new guns, from my experience. Now you just need to do that a bunch more times each week.



Now we have come full circle and you see why this post was made lol!

Right now I’m just grinding, messaging anyone on Reddit who seems half interested in buying something, joining this forum to try to do the same.

Because I have no overhead expenses I can typically be cheaper than any internet price, still make good profit, and try to deliver the best customer service possible. I’m not afraid to admit I don’t know the answer to a question a customer asks, or won’t lie and tell you I know everything about the gun I’m selling you, I’ve never even touched the gun most of the time.

If I had a “long term” business plan, I’d like to build up sales and save capital and buy a shitload of inventory, and sell it to local gunstores as a wholesaler meanwhile still selling at retail online. My location is not fit for a gun store, but I do have the space and resources to become a wholesaler and mix it with a little retail.

So again, back to brainstorming marketing ideas lol! I know influencer marketing is big, it’s just hard for me to even think what I’m advertising. It’s almost like a “call for quote” type business at the moment. I like to think of myself as a decent salesman but i have no training in the matter, I just try to be as honest as I can, and never pressure someone to buy. I think that will do me more good in the long run than it will even if I make the sale
Link Posted: 6/28/2022 10:49:17 AM EDT
[#7]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Kyfriedfirepower:


Because I have no overhead expenses I can typically be cheaper than any internet price, still make good profit, and try to deliver the best customer service possible. I’m not afraid to admit I don’t know the answer to a question a customer asks, or won’t lie and tell you I know everything about the gun I’m selling you, I’ve never even touched the gun most of the time.

If I had a “long term” business plan, I’d like to build up sales and save capital and buy a shitload of inventory, and sell it to local gunstores as a wholesaler meanwhile still selling at retail online. My location is not fit for a gun store, but I do have the space and resources to become a wholesaler and mix it with a little retail . . .
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I was a brick-and-mortar FFL for eight years as I operated a small pawnshop. Personally, I think going into the gun business as a mom-and-pop (or just pop) operation is a fool's errand. I simply don't see any future it. Knowing what I know now, I don't understand why anyone would WANT to do it. I get that most guys get into because they really enjoy guns, but (for me anyway), the juice isn't worth the squeeze. It would be OK if you only had to play with guns all day, but unfortunately, you also have to deal with customers!

Honestly, when you do the math, you're probably just as well off sticking to transfers. That doesn't sound like much fun to me, but a lot of guys build semi-successful side gigs just opening boxes and shuffling paperwork. I'm sure Downtown Tom will come along and share his experience. He seems to be one who's making a living primarily doing transfers.

I've been out of it a few years, so I don't really know, but I imagine it's hard for small volume FFLs to even get anything to sell right now. When guns are on allocation, the little guy gets the dregs, if anything.
Link Posted: 6/28/2022 11:04:37 AM EDT
[#8]
Yea you’re exactly right, and that’s kinda how it is. My dream is to be a business owner and work for myself, I couldn’t care less what market I’m in.

I chose guns because it’s one of the most consistent things I’ve done, I’m passionate about it, and since I can’t advertise it forces me to grind. I’m doing it to mostly pay off that line of credit without dipping into my own pockets,

This is just my placeholder to build a little capital, would love to build it to something great if possible, but like you I have my doubts on the long term future.

Even if this thing goes down in flames I’m glad I pushed myself to get my FFL and have learned how creative and Grindy I can be to make some sales
Link Posted: 6/28/2022 11:08:15 AM EDT
[#9]
If your Facebook account is a gun store you can post ads about guns and ammo.
Link Posted: 6/28/2022 12:45:25 PM EDT
[Last Edit: Bladeswitcher] [#10]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Kyfriedfirepower:
Yea you’re exactly right, and that’s kinda how it is. My dream is to be a business owner and work for myself, I couldn’t care less what market I’m in . . .
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I really do think you'd benefit from writing a business plan. A real, proper business plan. It's a royal pain in the ass, but it will force you to really think about your business idea BEFORE issues come up in the natural course of growing your business.

When you do that, I suggest you give serious consideration to two things that I did not think about when I wrote my business plan:

1.) How to scale your business up to the level where it's not a six-or-seven-day-a-week/52 weeks-out-of-the-year grind for you. If you're not large enough to support employees who can carry the load in your absence, you'll never get a break. That was probably a bigger issue with my pawnshop than it would be for a gun shop. With a gun shop, you can hang a "gone fishing" sign on the door and nobody gets too mad.

2.) How to get OUT of the business. Seriously, assuming you do grow a business, what's your transition plan for getting out.

I took an evening class through University Extension that focused on writing a business plan, but I got most of my guidance from The U.S. Small Business Administration's website:

https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/write-your-business-plan
Link Posted: 6/28/2022 1:51:09 PM EDT
[#11]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Bladeswitcher:


I really do think you'd benefit from writing a business plan. A real, proper business plan.
View Quote


That is something I have always heard about but never even thought about doing. I appreciate the very solid advice, I might work on one whenever I am home! I’ve never had a previous business owner to talk to these types of things about, I’ve just read book after book, listened to podcasts to learn what I know now. I truly appreciate this advice!
Link Posted: 6/28/2022 2:07:17 PM EDT
[#12]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Kyfriedfirepower:


That is something I have always heard about but never even thought about doing. I appreciate the very solid advice, I might work on one whenever I am home! I’ve never had a previous business owner to talk to these types of things about, I’ve just read book after book, listened to podcasts to learn what I know now. I truly appreciate this advice!
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It sucks, but writing a business plan forces you to be honest with yourself. Your goal is poke holes in your business idea. Imagine you're trying to convince a skeptical lender that you've thought about all the angles.

The SBA site will guide you through it.
Link Posted: 6/28/2022 2:42:47 PM EDT
[#13]
Might be a good idea to look into getting on the "Preferred FFL" listings for all the major shippers.  Buds, MidwayUSA, KYGunCO, etc.  Maybe even try ordering from them to see how you are listed/ranked and what a customer would see.

If your name is the first one that pops up when a customer of one of these major retailers orders a gun you'll probably get the transfer.
Link Posted: 6/29/2022 9:23:52 PM EDT
[#14]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By GraboidHunter:
Might be a good idea to look into getting on the "Preferred FFL" listings for all the major shippers.  Buds, MidwayUSA, KYGunCO, etc.  Maybe even try ordering from them to see how you are listed/ranked and what a customer would see.

If your name is the first one that pops up when a customer of one of these major retailers orders a gun you'll probably get the transfer.
View Quote


Another great idea, thanks man!
Link Posted: 6/29/2022 9:29:43 PM EDT
[#15]
$20, or whatever for your market, transfers, free if you buy $30 worth of product.

Drive business to you first.
Link Posted: 7/6/2022 5:00:38 PM EDT
[Last Edit: K1rodeoboater] [#16]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Bladeswitcher:

I was a brick-and-mortar FFL for eight years as I operated a small pawnshop. Personally, I think going into the gun business as a mom-and-pop (or just pop) operation is a fool's errand. I simply don't see any future it. Knowing what I know now, I don't understand why anyone would WANT to do it. I get that most guys get into because they really enjoy guns, but (for me anyway), the juice isn't worth the squeeze. It would be OK if you only had to play with guns all day, but unfortunately, you also have to deal with customers!

Honestly, when you do the math, you're probably just as well off sticking to transfers. That doesn't sound like much fun to me, but a lot of guys build semi-successful side gigs just opening boxes and shuffling paperwork. I'm sure Downtown Tom will come along and share his experience. He seems to be one who's making a living primarily doing transfers.

I've been out of it a few years, so I don't really know, but I imagine it's hard for small volume FFLs to even get anything to sell right now. When guns are on allocation, the little guy gets the dregs, if anything.
View Quote
Your experience mimics mine.  I'll home base and shuffle paperwork but I'm not ever going back to brick and mortar.  The margins are shit and the overhead is immense.  I never dealt in enough volume to get primo pricing and priority orders.  I only lucked out because of Obama being in office that I made big profits pretty quick.

I'll do transfers, consignments, selective gunsmithing, restoration, and refinishing.  Also offer reasonable shipping services (Cost plus $10-$20.  Like drop it off ready to ship, just not sealed up so you can log it, slap a label on it and schedule the pickup.  That's easy money too, and with how ridiculous shipping policies for carriers have gotten for non FFLs it might be a good market to dip into.
Link Posted: 7/8/2022 1:38:55 PM EDT
[#17]
There is an ARFcom Hometown Forum to introduce yourself and location.

Maybe find re-enactor group pages. Not sure if you need a separate C&R if you have a full FFL. Re-enactors not only need weapons for their re-enactments but are usually gun enthusiasts beyond.
Link Posted: 7/8/2022 2:49:56 PM EDT
[#18]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By ShermiesRule:
There is an ARFcom Hometown Forum to introduce yourself and location.

Maybe find re-enactor group pages. Not sure if you need a separate C&R if you have a full FFL. Re-enactors not only need weapons for their re-enactments but are usually gun enthusiasts beyond.
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Of course not.
Link Posted: 7/23/2022 7:36:17 AM EDT
[#19]
It seems like I'm seeing ads for gun stores on social media. You're also allowed to post content. Grow a following, not just ads.
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