Founded three decades ago by a master gunsmith with a passion for quality firearms, Maxon Shooter’s Supplies and Indoor Range is Chicago’s premier gun shop and indoor shooting range. Entrepreneur Dan Eldridge had been a loyal customer for many years before buying the company from its original owners upon their retirement. Although the business was successful and had built a loyal following of firearms enthusiasts, Eldridge wanted to take the company to the next level.
“It was a great operation, but my goal was to modernize it and create a much better visitor experience,” Eldridge says.
A core part of this transformation was using the QLess technology platform to eliminate lines of people waiting to shoot, which was a major source of frustration for Maxon customers.
The indoor range offers a retail store and 20 shooting lanes, but visitors often had to wait up to an hour in line before they could shoot. Moreover, there was no systematic way to estimate wait times or tell a customer where he or she stood in the queue. In order to grow the business, the new owners needed to either build new lanes – which would have been impossible due to size limitations – or find another way to eliminate queues that were so long that customers would often leave in frustration.
“When I bought the business in 2015, range check-in was a pen and paper operation,” says Eldridge. “We didn’t have much technology, we had no way to manage the wait, zero transparency for customers as to their place in line, and staff resources consumed with managing the range check-in process. One day while getting my winter tires at Tire Rack, I experienced the QLess system and it was an epiphany for me. I was able to do what I wanted with my time until receiving a text message that it was my turn. It was obvious that this queuing system would be a perfect fit for our customers, too. I asked the manager about the system and he told me it was called QLess. A month later, we were also a customer.”
When customers come to shoot at Maxon they are required to complete paperwork before renting and buying equipment for their shooting sessions. Previously, visitors who had completed all of the pre-shoot paperwork and purchased whatever supplies they needed mill about the shop and lobby, waiting for their turn to get on the range. They had no idea of where they were in line and no real sense of progress up the line. With QLess, Maxon customers to join a virtual queue until it’s their turn to head into the shooting range. After customers join the queue, they are then free to shop, run errands or just enjoy their time elsewhere until they receive a text notification to return to the range.
"With the QLess text notifications, my customers can spend time browsing our retail shop, go get a cup of coffee or get gas, and they won't lose their place in line," says Eldridge.
Additionally, Eldridge was impressed by how QLess is able to display the customer’s position in the virtual queue, creating a focus on progress and motion rather than on the delay.
"Rather than having an employee walk around updating customers of their wait times, QLess has been enormously useful by informing customers of their place in line and estimated wait time. We found that customers don’t mind waiting as long as progress in the queue is visible and their wait expectations are met – QLess makes that possible."
Waiting in line makes people feel the pressure of passing time so removing the wait with QLess provides a more leisurely and satisfying experience at the range. Meanwhile, a reduction in crowding enabled the range to fill lanes faster and efficiently, improving service flow and customer satisfaction.
These improvements also dramatically impacted Maxon’s bottom line.
“QLess has been incredible from a customer experience and relationship standpoint, but it has also affected our bottom line because we can turn lanes more quickly and we don’t lose customers who run out of time waiting to shoot. We’ve seen our profits rise more than 50 percent year over year,” according to Eldridge.
“The QLess reporting tool is a benefit, too, because we get real-time visibility into our workflow so we can disseminate data and continually improve customer service.”
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