Successful Strategies for Selling More Safes

More reasons exist today to own a safe than ever, including protecting personal documents, jewelry, family heirlooms and firearms. Learn these successful strategies to sell more safes.

Successful Strategies for Selling More Safes

According to some sources, a home burglary occurs in the U.S. about every 18 seconds and one in 36 homes will be burglarized in a given year with more than $2,000 in property stolen in most of those burglaries. Other crime estimates report that more than 2 million homes are burglarized in the U.S. each year. Those are big numbers, no matter the source. Most home burglaries also occur between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., the times when the homeowner is at work or out running errands. In case you are wondering, yes, firearms and shooting equipment are often stolen along with other valuables.

The great news is that homeowners — your customers in the retail shop or on the shooting range — can take steps to protect themselves, their family and their property. You can help them stay safe and secure with the sale of quality safes or vaults. Are you and your staff prepared to master safe selling strategies?

Discuss The Details

On a more regional level, recent criminal events such as home invasions, brazen burglaries and similar crimes capture the public’s attention. These reports can cause many residents and owners to assess their personal and home security and take action. You and your staff should take note when customers begin mentioning these type of crimes and be prepared to offer solutions. 

It’s important, however, to not center conversations with customers on the fear factor, but more on serving solutions to help them protect what’s theirs. You can make that conversation more local in nature by obtaining home burglary numbers from local law enforcement agencies, state crime bureaus or federal sources with state-by-state statistics on crime and home burglaries. Posting those numbers on a board in your shop could also help start the safe selling conversation with customers.

Customers always want to protect their valuables — and especially firearms. There are many options for securing valuables, and for most customers, a safe is a major purchase they will live with for the rest of their life. You and your staff should be prepared to guide them through this important purchase decision. Safe ownership normally lasts longer than ownership of a vehicle and will probably be for a longer period than ownership of the home the safe is delivered to. Safe purchase decisions are long term. 

To best serve customers, be prepared to also ask questions, keenly listen to the answers and give advice or options to guide them. Does the customer travel and want a way to secure firearms in their vehicle or motel room? Do they own several firearms and are now thinking about purchasing their first gun safe? Those are two real, but different customer security situations, and the reason why you need to listen to what customers want or need.

Gun safes are big ticket items — on so many levels. Size, weight, protection levels, security, opening methods, door hinges, fire ratings and many other details down to the exterior color and delivery options need to be addressed with the customer.  You and your employees should be able to talk about gauge thickness of steel in the door and sides, construction and welding, durability of hinges and how they open the door, plus cover fire ratings and inner storage options. Most gun safe manufacturers now offer great brochures to hand to customers with all the details. Most manufacturers also provide hang tags to use in the store or valuable informative details on their websites. 

Much like many firearm transactions, the purchase of a safe happens because the safe is present and the customer can touch it and imagine it in their home with their property inside. A safe available on your store floor can be immediately picked up by the customer or moving service — or delivered by you. When it comes to safes, brick and mortar locations have the advantage. Weighty safes are generally not ordered online and drop shipped because trucks often require a business with a high loading dock ramp — and fork lift — for delivery. Home street addresses are often not a delivery option.

Learn The Customer — And Their Needs

Gun safes are a purchase that customers could be buying for the first — or a second — time. You and your sales team just need discover the customer’s motivation to buy. During the contact, casually ask about how many firearms, valuables and documents need protection and other items that need to be stored. With those answers, you can begin helping them reach a decision.

“Does the safe have convenient, versatile storage options in order to customize the interior to fit their current storage needs as well as the ability to change as their gun collection grows?” asks Nate Chambers, Product Manager with Browning Safes. “Gun collections (and valuables) have a tendency of increasing over time and storage needs will change. Finding a well-engineered safe that offers flexible storage options will prove beneficial time and time again.”

Remember also to move the conversation with customers beyond firearms to cover valuables such as jewelry, art, cash, insurance papers, home inventories, cameras and other items. Once you determine what needs to be secured, begin offering suggestions. When discussing safe sizes and options, help customers plan ahead. Will they need shelves or more upright space for firearms? How many firearms and what type have they bought in past year or five years is a good starting point in the conversation of future needs.

For paper protection, note that a standard house fire can last approximately 60 minutes and will reach an average temperature of 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit at the peak of the fire. Some manufacturers rate safes for 90 minutes or up to two hours. Not only should fire protection and Underwriter Laboratory ratings be discussed, but also mention door seals and other ways a safe can stop or reduce fire damage. 

“Is it a UL rated safe?” Chambers suggests pointing out the benefits. “There are many cheap cabinets built with thin steel that are pretending to be UL-rated gun safes. Check the label to ensure it’s UL rated — and let the customer know this.” There is a difference also in fireproof and fire resistant. That is critical information for customers in much of California, the upper Rockies and over in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, where huge forest fires have removed entire towns and many homes.

Most customers will also have concerns about burglars using drills, torches and saws to break into a safe. In most cases 10-gauge steel (the higher the gauge number, the thinner the steel) thickness is a starting point to deter thieves. When discussing door and wall thickness (normally different than the sides) is a great time to also cover hinges, bolts, tumblers or dials, and other details about the safes you offer. 

There are also alarm systems that let the owner know via an app in their phone when a safe has been opened or the tumbler dial or key-pad has been activated or moved. With children in the home, more and more parents want that feature. Offer it. And for access, those spinning tumblers work well for some, or the keypad is preferred by others. Sometimes keypads can be quicker to open for safe access. Offer both options when you can, and let customers try them.

Become A Security Solution Center

Safes are big ticket items that demand a lot of floor and wall space — in your store and in the customer’s home. But safes can provide big returns on investment for you. Recognizing the growing need to secure firearms and valuables in the home, business or office, many leading retail shops now have entire areas or walls devoted to gun safes — and other secure storage solutions.

The best displays let customers see the thickness of a door, interior options, construction features and other details. It’s much like kicking the tires on a car — they need those touch points to become connected and engaged. Some shops offer one brand of safes, others offer more than one brand and numerous models. And while many retailers only stock big vaults, consider also offering the small handgun safes for placement in nightstands, vehicles and other places.

A word of caution on displaying open safes and vaults in your retail store — cover the front or make the door so it cannot be closed and locked. Unsupervised small children have become locked inside of safes in stores and that creates an emergency you do not want to be a part of. Some manufacturers provide clear plexiglass inserts that provide easy viewing of the interior while keeping humans out. Another easy solution is to purchase a C-clamp at a hardware store and securely attach it to one corner of the safe’s opening to prevent the door from being closed. Don’t take a chance. 

Next, while solid fireproof and high-security safes can cost more than $2,000, the less secure metal gun cabinets or gym-type lockers to hold firearms can cost a couple of hundred dollars. Some homeowners take this less costly and easier-to move route to secure firearms and store valuables. You and your staff should be able to discuss the pros and cons of a heavy safe vs. a thin steel cabinet. Many of those less costly cabinets do, however, provide more options on where they can be located, such as in a night stand or between wall studs in a closet and then hidden behind clothing. Cabinets, lockers and these type security systems offer far more models and solutions to meet customer needs, so also make space to display and sell them along with the heavy safes. 

One safe option growing in interest is a safe door that covers the entrance to a safe room or firearm room in a home. Several manufacturers now offer them, and when on display in your store, customers stop and take note.

It’s important to note that safes for firearms and valuables have two major peak sales periods in a calendar year — Christmas and Father’s Day. Plan your advertising, marketing and promotional activities ahead of those dates to reach customers and draw attention to your inventory.

Accessories Often Make The Sale 

The standard construction of most safes are three steel walls, a thicker steel door, and those are welded together at top and bottom — then finished and painted. These are the construction basics. Inside is sometimes carpeting, sometimes shelves and slots to hold gun barrels in place so firearms can be leaned into a space and stored without being damaged. Then come the many safe options.

Educated customers could have questions about adjustable shelves, lighting, inside-the-door storage racks, dehumidifiers and other accessories. The more of those products or upgrades you make available, the more you can help customers discover a safe that fully meets their storage needs. No two homes, or shoppers, will have identical security needs and spaces.

Another safe storage option garnering much attention in today’s market place are the fashionable furniture, mantels and shelves, unique wall displays including clocks, that hide firearms. There are also tabletop items such as tissue boxes that appear standard, yet hold a firearm out of sight. These type firearms storage solutions offer near instant access, but they are definitely not as secure as a hefty safe. Since consumers seek these, consider stocking them.

In yesteryear, safes were only offered in black or gray. Today, most manufacturers offer a wide assortment of colors ranging from white to silver or burgundy and blue and beyond. Offering colors can help make a sale when a spouse could object to the amount of space the safe requires in a home. More acceptable colors can transform a heavy metal gun safe into fashionable “furniture” item that sits in the open in a den or bedroom. If you don’t have the floor space in your store to display numerous safes, do have a chart or brochure that shows the many color options and have that on display so shoppers know they have many options.

To simplify shopping and increase the odds of making a safe sale, consider also selling the bolts, drill bits, expanding anchors and other hardware that could be required for securing a safe to the floor or other surfaces. These inexpensive items could be offered as a bonus to shoppers or freebie to buyers that increases the odds of a safe sale. Also consider renting hand-trucks, pipes and moving pads for those DIY customers. For the remaining customers, get ahead and contract with local moving services for pickup and home delivery. The easier you can make the home set-up of a safe complete, the easier the sell.

Final Points To Ponder

While some cities and regions now lawfully require firearms be “secured” in a home, there are many other reasons to own a safe. Remember that businesses, hospitals, jewelry stores and other common public places have needs to secure items. Those could be possible customers, so branch out when you create a safe center in your store. Plan for long-term customers also. Consider offering customers a written trade-up period option when they make a safe purchase. Repeat business is always good!

Is your retail business ready to meet the safe sell?


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