New Owners Reinvent Chicago Shooting Gallery, Raise Profits by 50%
QLess helps top shooting range alleviate unpredictable customer wait times and improve service.
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.
- Business felt stuck in the last century. Customers were signing in with pen and paper, leading to long queues.
- After QLess, customers loved being able to see their position in the queue, while staff was happy to insightful data about operations.
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.
“QLess has transformed our customer’s experience by eliminating the number one source of frustration while increasing the number of people who use our lanes more than 50 percent. QLess has been a game-changer for our shooting range.”
—Dan Eldridge, Owner of Maxon Shooter’s Supplies and Indoor Range
“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.
RETAIL QUEUE SOLUTION
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."
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.”
Shoot Smart is a Fort Worth shooting range with a very specific vision in mind: to provide a customer-friendly atmosphere and break the mold in regard to the stale and dated atmosphere of contemporary shooting ranges. To this end, Shoot Smart decided to implement a flat rate along with a highly attentive training program. This business plan worked almost too perfectly, and Shoot Smart was soon beset with longer lines than they could handle with their current system.
Runaway success was becoming a source of major frustration for the Fort Worth shooting range. Customers would be so plentiful that they might face up to five hours of waiting time. Even more of a problem began to develop in terms of documentation. Shoot Smart didn’t have the space to store all of the gun licenses that it held while the owners were shooting.
Because of Shoot Smart’s popularity, wait times would remain predominantly the same. However, with the consolidation of waitlists into the app, customers are now free to spend their time how they wish, whether it’s socializing or exploring nearby businesses, without the stress and boredom of waiting in a physical line. Thanks to QLess, Shoot Smart registered 7,200 sign-ins on their virtual queue during the year following QLess implementation. With original mounting concerns, there had been worry that the shooting range would have to alter their environment, luckily, however, they have been able to maintain their inclusive, friendly environment.