A Word From The CEO…The Transition To A Direct Sales Model and Hunter S. Thompson

By:  Kirstie Pike
Prois Founder and CEO

It’s official.  We have transitioned into our direct sales model and have navigated this sales model now for over a year.

So how is it going?

All I can say is this…I wish I had made this move years earlier.  I honestly do.

As we ventured into this model change, we analyzed all foreseeable pros and cons.  We talked to other companies operating under the direct model.  We pulled all hands on deck and really discussed how this model would benefit Prois as a whole.  We made the decision and made yet another leap of faith.  That’s not to say it didn’t cause our blood to race a bit.

I am often asked what makes this model work so well for Prois, when other companies such as Robinson Outdoors are filing for bankruptcy.  Here it is in a nutshell…

  1.  Control over our inventory. This allows us to keep less inventory on hand.
  2. Control over customer service.  Prois offers spectacular customer service.  We stand solidly behind the company and our products.  While many retailers may offer good customer service, no one loves Prois as much as we do.  We will move heaven and earth to provide a good customer experience.
  3. Control over sales.  Often, a manufacturer can be bound to not running sales so as not to compete with their retailers.  This is tough for a manufacturer as we cannot capitalize on seasons, low cash flow periods or over stock.  Now we are free to move about the proverbial cabin.
  4. Control over pricing.  We are now only competing with ourselves.  Thus…our goal is to provide the best pricing possible for our customers.
  5. Knowledge of our customer base.  We now know who all of our end users are.  We can reach them.  Survey them.  Reward them.
  6. Improved profit margins.  There is no middle man.  There are no retailer co-op fees.  There are no chargebacks.  There are no high volume returns.
  7. No affiliate sales out the backdoors of retailers.  This means…retailers may from time to time place Prois on Ebay or Amazon to short sell it.  This was problematic not only for Prois, but for competing retailers as well.
  8. Reduced expense for sales support information, merchandising, etc…
  9. Reduced expense for dealer-based trade shows.
  10. We are able to remain nimble.  We can go where the market directs us rather than be pigeon-holed into one model.
  11. Grassroots.  We have blown up our grassroots efforts and this has been very beneficial.  And fun!  Getting face to face with our customers is so rewarding.  Many manufacturers never know who their end users are.  They don’t necessarily care either.  In my opinion…if you don’t know your end user, you don’t know your company.
  12. It allows this business to run on a smaller staff.  And by that, I mean in-house staff.  We have brought on 17 state coordinators who work remotely and work to bolster regional awareness and sales.

So with that, have there been any down sides to the changes we made in our sales  model?  The answer is very few.  When I look at the books and the overall fluctuations in the market, I am very pleased. Especially when it is a well known industry fact that the camo category has been very difficult for retailers over the last two years.

In the words of Hunter S. Thompson..’Anything that gets your blood racing is probably worth doing’
Amen to that.

 

A Word From The CEO- Things That Make You Say, “Huh.”

Kirstie Pike
CEO Prois

Now, I know that all of us at Prois have, well, very unique personalities.  Our office is ripe with oddities, inappropriateness and things I can’t really identify.  Over the years, we learned to pull the most offensive of these oddities out of the public eye because we may or may not have been responsible for some therapy sessions for a friend’s 11 year old son.  Additionally, we have to be cautious with new UPS delivery personnel until we can determine if they will turn me in to the Better Business Bureau.  (Fear not, within a week we have them trained to announce themselves as British royalty when they enter the building.  This is an especially fun game!)

I have become somewhat oblivious to the weirdness of this place as it is our ‘normal’.  Where I used to thrive in environments with rules, regulations and socially acceptable behavior, I now find that environment somewhat oppressive.  Ok, REALLY oppressive.  I feel that if an office does not have larping equipment, a human size Incrediball and a rabbit mascot who is losing his hair…then there couldn’t possibly be good employee morale.  We don’t even need to mention the benefits of a Pepsi machine rigged to dispense adult beverages.

HuhSo today I was walking into the bathroom and literally laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of our decor.  I have walked through this gilded door many a time, but today it struck me as funny.  Somewhere along the line I felt that Wonder Woman was perfect decor for the bathroom.  But why did I feel the need to put a clock in there?  Seriously?  I do like the way it compliments the Wonder Woman poster though.  I feel like it has a feng shui feel to it.  But then…the gargoyle at the door really TRULY makes a statement.  The fact that it was hung by Katherine Grand actually speaks volumes, but that indeed is a story for another day.

 

A Word From The CEO- Riding The Wave. Trends In The Women’s Hunting Industry…

By: Kirstie Pike
CEO Prois

 

It’s hard to believe that Prois has been kicking in the industry since 2008.  Nine years.  I never would have imagined I would still be here doing this fantastic job and working with so many fantastic people nearly a decade later.  Here’s to the power of the ladies!

Prois CEO Kirstie PikeWhen we first stuck our toe into the hunting industry, it just so happened that the timing couldn’t have been better.  There was an absolute lack of any performance hunting gear for women.  The industry was just taking note that women were a powerful purchasing force.  Outdoor television was just taking off and there were soon to be women on nearly every show on the various channels.  The women’s hunting industry was now the buzz.  It was determined that women made up about 11% of hunters  and this was really the first time the industry took note of the women who had long been involved in hunting and the outdoors.

Reatailers  and manufacturers became very eager to cater to this emerging hunting population.  Retailers rolled large purchase orders for women’s products.  Manufacturers began to ‘shrink and pink’ everything from knives to A/R’s to boots to bows.  Everyone wanted to capture this huge, untapped market.  Women were everywhere.  Every ad was now catering to women.  Every product line now had a female spokesperson.  Everyone was set to capitalize on this demographic.

As Prois continued to ride the female hunting boom, I became more and more confused by it all.

  1. If the demographic was so large, why did 4 of the other ‘women’s only’ companies fold?
  2. If the demographic was so large, why were big box stores underselling and returning shipments?
  3. If the demographic was so large, why did men’s companies who tried to dabble in women’s gear cut those lines?
  4. If the demographic was so large, why were big box labeled women’s brands also ending up in the discount caves?
  5. If the demographic was so large, why were specialty stores unable to move much in the way of women’s apparel?

Then it began to happen.  Retailers began cutting back on their purchase orders of women’s products.  There became an overall “we just can’t move that much product” feeling.  A dose of reality for all of us, as it would be.  It was at this time we saw a few of the women’s only companies drop out of the market.  It was at this time Prois began to consider the need to move to a direct model.

I had been watching the trends and watching for this huge onslaught of incoming female hunters.  Now, it is noted that women were indeed being considered the fastest growing demographic in the hunting industry, I was not seeing the predicted Prois Staffer and Owner of Arrow Ridge Ranch , Lisa Pike!onslaught of numbers first predicted back in 2008.  In fact, I didn’t see those numbers at all.  Additionally, I have not seen updated numbers of women in the hunting industry since 2013.  At that time, women were still considered to be 11-13% of the overall number of hunters.  And, food for thought, this number is determined by number of hunting licenses purchased.  Invariably, it is not inconceivable that a portion of tags purchased may be purchased in a woman’s name but not necessarily by a woman.  It is, unfortunately, a variable in the mix.

Now, there is NO denying that women are definitely a strong demographic in the industry.  We watch closely for trends.  While it is difficult to put a number or percentage of female hunters out there, here ARE some things we have noted.

  1. The numbers have been consistent, with little variation.
  2. Purchasing patterns are changing.
  3. Women are becoming gear junkies. They are true to their preferred brands and are fiercely loyal customers.
  4. Women, while always passionate, are taking hunting to a whole new level. I find their stories remarkable and am thrilled to see the professionalism and growth of this sector.
  5. Women are searching for gear specifically for them. But they are not looking for men’s equipment that is smaller and covered with a slathering of pink paint.  They are looking for the very best equipment/gear that fits their frames, their hands, their strength and even their height.  It is a great trend to watch as many manufacturers are finally seeing female hunters for what they are.   Hunters.   Not female hunters.

So with that, hats off to the ladies!  I am eager for the next numbers to emerge and cannot wait to see those numbers knocked out of the park.  I am proud of the women’s industry and all of the ladies who flourish in it.  This sisterhood is something to behold and I am humbled daily by each and every one of you.

Now…get on out there and prepare to knock down some turkeys!  The season fast approaches…Thank God!!

 

New Prois Website Live!

New Prois Website Live!

 

Annnnnnd…WE ARE LIVE!
We are thrilled to announce that our NEW Prois website is now operational! After several months of work and re-work we are thrilled to offer efficient shopping experiences, enhanced speed and optimized viewing on devices. The new Prois website truly offers our customers what they deserve in a website- perfection!
Perhaps you are asking yourself, “What could be so fantastical on the new website?”
Perhaps you aren’t.  But either way we are going to tell you!
1.  New Prois Outlet showcasing all clearance and close out items in an easy to shop format.
2.  New Shop By Hunting Prefrerence.  Are you shopping for your upcoming turkey hunt? Simply click our Turkey Hunting icon and you will be handsomely rewarded with a showcase of all of our preferred turkey hunting gear.
3.  New Shop by Product Weight.  No longer will our customers be forced to pick through all gear systems to find the performance weight gear they require.  Simply click through our Baselayers, Light Weight, Mid Weight, Heavy Weight and Rain Gear options.
4.  New Shop by Camo Pattern option.  In efforts to create a smooth shopping experience for our customers.  Looking for that perfect jacket in Realtree Advantage Max 1?  Now you can find it with the click of a button!
5. Streamlined processes for Pro-Staff applications, Pro Discount Program application, Membership Rewards sign-up and Donation Requests.
6.  Live Chat!  Who doesn’t love that??
7.  Clean new blog with the most recent posts from our staff, our CEO and our Social Media Coordinator!
8.  Prois has had a banner year in terms of show and event attendance!  Wondering where we will be next?  Simply click the EVENTS tab!
We hope you enjoy the clean new look of our website.  Go on over and take a gander!