Shoot Smart Indoor Range & Training Center has been working hard to redefine the recreational shooting experience in the Fort Worth area. Operations Manager Jared Sloane joined Shoot Smart in 2011 to open the company’s first location in Fort Worth.
Indoor shooting ranges are a high-growth business in Texas, but Shoot Smart’s own website describes the stereotypical atmosphere as “old, pale, and stale.” So Sloane and the Shoot Smart team decided to innovate and provide a fun atmosphere along with training and a flat fee to try any gun a customer desires, making visitors feel welcome rather than intimidated.
This customer-friendly approach paid dividends, and soon Shoot Smart opened a second location in nearby Grand Prairie. People flock to both locations, and within six months of opening, Shoot Smart started experiencing long lines – long enough to be a problem.
Runaway success can be a mixed blessing as Shoot Smart became so popular its customers were forced to wait in line for much of the day to take their turn in a lane or suite.
“We had people stacked up outside the store,” said Sloane, describing the situation just six months after Shoot Smart opened for business. During peak hours, visitors could face wait times of up to five hours.
“Our success was undermining us. Customers wanted to shoot at our range, and we had no way of accommodating them.”
The long lines also led to administrative and organizational backlogs. Like many responsible shooting ranges, Shoot Smart holds visitors’ gun licenses while they use a lane.
“We had so many licenses, they were spilling out all over the desk. We started cutting slits in a tissue box just to keep them in order,” Sloane said. The first-come, first-served walk-in policy with no option to book ahead of time resulted in frustrated customers giving up on Shoot Smart.
One particular customer was so frustrated he stormed home and returned with information about QLess. Having researched queue management systems, the customer claimed he would not be coming back until Shoot Smart had a system like QLess in place. The Shoot Smart staff shared their customer’s frustrations, so rather than dismiss the recommendation, they immediately looked into his suggestion.
“QLess sounded like a great solution for us,” said Sloane. “Way better than a tissue box.”
After implementing QLess, customers at Shoot Smart were able to sign up online through Shoot Smart’s website or with the QLess mobile app. Although the ranges’ popularity maintained with 4-5 hour wait times during peak hours, customers were now free to sign up early and spend their time socializing in the store or exploring shops and restaurants nearby.
“Finally our customers were free to wait where they want – they no longer have to stand in a long line and become more and more frustrated with us,” says Sloane.
Results have been dramatic and encouraging for Shoot Smart. Free to sign up online, customers no longer feel like they’re wasting their day waiting in line just for a chance to enjoy their hobby. QLess allows the shooting range to create an environment where waiting to shoot is effortless thanks to a virtual queue that notifies visitors when it is their turn.
According to Sloane, the Fort Worth location is close to shops, so customers are able to enjoy their time exploring the area, while the Grand Prairie visitors usually stick around and enjoy the store. Over the last year, Shoot Smart has processed more than 7,200 signups to the virtual queue.
Having solved their unsightly and stressful waiting-in-line problem, Shoot Smart is expecting to serve 120,000 shooters this and is opening a third store. Thanks in part to QLess, their team can go back to providing a warm and inclusive environment where people can have fun and learn about gun safety and maintenance, without having to wait in line.
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