Hunting enthusiasts across Kansas have long known Ryan Pennock from appearances on the waterfowl hunting TV show he used to produce called Team DuckZone. But Pennock’s passion is working with people personally on an individual basis, and his real dream was to build and operate a state-of-the-art shooting range and training center. Knowing it would be an arduous journey, Pennock conducted extensive research on what it would take to succeed and then risked it all, borrowing money from family and even cashing in his own 401(k) to live his dream.
Beginning in 2008 with just 1000 feet of retail space stocked with a handpicked selection of firearms, Thunderbird Tactical became the second largest gun store in Wichita in just over two years. Attracting the best firearms trainers in Kansas, Pennock continued building his business and reputation until he collected enough resources to realize his dream.
Foresight is 20/20
Filled with big plans from the very beginning, Pennock knew that the IT decisions he made for Thunderbird would have long-standing consequences. That’s why he had scalability in mind before he even opened his doors for the first time and made it a top priority when selecting an initial POS solution. His journey to determine the best platform for his existing and future needs was calculated and deliberate.
“Even a budget retail management system is a significant investment to a beginning entrepreneur, so it makes good sense to implement something that will continue serving your needs into the future,” explains Pennock. “I talked to many people about what they used, demoed different systems, and decided on Celerant Technology’s Command Retail because it was by far the most forward thinking and class leading in terms of technology. I was confident that no matter how much I grew and what new directions I took the company, the platform would scale with me without a hiccup.”
And scale, he did. In July 2015, Pennock celebrated the grand opening of Thunderbird Firearms Academy, the largest indoor shooting range in Kansas with 27,000 square feet of shooting lanes, retail space, and classrooms. The $7.5 million facility offers an upscale shooting and shopping environment for any enthusiast or beginner. Before cutting the ribbon on the new facility, Pennock updated his Celerant system to Stratus Retail so that all of his retail management could be device and browser independent.
Three businesses integrated under one roof
There are really three core businesses operating simultaneously under Thunderbird’s roof: a shooting range, an education center, and a traditional retailer. Though each business unit has its own set of needs and requirements, customers move between them freely and a seamless experience for them is paramount to the overall success of the company.
“Customers can schedule and pay for classes using our online interface provided by Celerant, so it is vital we have real-time visibility into online sales at the point-of-sale because many customers want to make on-site purchases when they come in to the store for class,” says Pennock. “Stratus Retail integrates inventory, payment processing, and our CRM across all channels, and that saves tons of time when we run reports. We also only have to create new classes once, and they are immediately available to purchase online and in-store.”
Integration is also key to creating customer experiences that are flawless. Range scheduling functionality is built into Stratus, allowing customers to check into lanes and make purchases while they are shooting. So if a customer finds a product she enjoys using, it can be added to her invoice automatically and purchased in a single engagement when closing out her lane ticket.
“Inside Stratus Retail we set minimum and maximum inventory levels for popular items and the program looks at historic sales data and automatically creates purchase orders to get us back to suggested inventory levels,” says Pennock. “We still use our own business acumen to decide if we want to place these orders, but when we do, all we have to do is click approve and the PO is automatically sent to our distributor for fulfillment. If not, we simply delete the purchase order. It’s spectacularly simple.”
Compliance is a back-end functionality that is key to the success of any firearms merchant. Thunderbird uses Stratus Retail to automatically create acquisition entries and dispositions for every firearm that enters and exits its inventory, keeping its acquisition and disposition book in perfect order at all times. “We have been audited by the ATF four times over the past five years, and what could have been a time consuming and labor intensive process went extremely smoothly due to the digital records that Stratus Retail keeps for us.”
Powering the back-end of reliability
Reconciling receipts with inventory is time consuming, and conducting the process manually can easily miss important trends like which SKUs have started selling quickly, which leads to out of stocks. Pennock implemented Stratus Retail’s powerful automatic ordering capabilities that tie directly into distribution networks to ensure that popular items are always available. “Service that can’t be beat”
Smart retailers know that one thing they can never put a price on is customer satisfaction, and Celerant operates under the same mantra. Pennock notes that the service he receives from Celerant Technology is second to none. “Some business owners I talk to complain about bugs and problems that they have been living with for years, but I can’t even relate to that. Any problem that I report to Celerant is fixed the same day, usually within minutes. The support team is absolutely phenomenal.”
About Celerant Technology
Celerant Technology, a privately held Corporation, provides seamless multi-channel solutions to retailers across all industries As a mid-market retail system leader, Celerant provides solutions and expert advice to continually accelerate retail growth. A multifaceted award winning company, Celerant prides itself in the quality of its products, the capacity of its service, and remains the true multi-channel software provider. For more information regarding Celerant's system, Command Retail, go to www.celerant.com.
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