Open Letter to Supporters: Reflections from Year One
November, 28 2015
As we near the end of the year, give thanks for our blessings during Thanksgiving, and prepare to celebrate the Christmas season with our family and friends, we also find ourselves reflecting over the past year. One year ago, we were less than two months away from opening Frontier Justice, and only a year into our dream of building a business based on our passions and faith.
Opening a new business (especially if it is your first new business) is a little like being a first-time parent. You try to prepare yourself, but honestly you have no idea what you are getting yourself into – even if you’ve been waiting for this your whole life. Here we are 40 weeks into Frontier Justice’s beginning of business and I, quite frankly, equate the whole thing to giving birth.
Before you give birth you’re on a “normal” schedule, but as soon as that baby comes – or opening day in this case – everything changes. No amount of research can fully prepare you for what is coming. The highs, the lows, the crying at all hours of the night, the knowing-your-life-will-never-EVER-be-the-same-again realization, but feeling proud and accomplished because you did it – you created something bigger than yourself!
Since opening our doors in January, we’ve learned more than we ever thought possible, and I’m sure we have much more to learn along the way. We’ve also made mistakes, but had stellar moments of brilliance in between. Out of all this, we’d like to share the following:
Thank you for being patient. We unexpectedly struggle with the concept of “mom and pop” versus “big box”. We worked extremely hard and put lots of thought into presenting a business that is unique and professional. We succeeded! When folks come through our front doors for the first time, they often ask where our headquarters are and how many locations we have. They assume we are a much larger company than we are. However, it’s made us realize that with that perception, people expect “big box” amenities, which can be difficult to deliver with the “mom and pop” team we actually have. The good thing is we’ve set the bar high and will continue to work towards it.
Thank you for being compassionate. We learned the value of having thick skins. Customer service is a core value of ours. We strive for perfection. We train with a concept known as E-squared. Executing Excellence. Truth is, we started with a handful of employees and we are all new. Our business concept has never been done before, and we are learning new ways to better serve daily. While the majority of reviews and comments about our customer service reflect our goal of excellence, we do receive the occasional negative post. Seeing posts like, “I wonder how long before they go out of business,” hits home – hard. So while we work on growing thicker skins, we hope that people remember we have feelings, too.
Thank you for understanding. The perception of pricing is a lot more difficult than one would think. Going back to the perception of “mom and pop” versus “big box,” we entered the water like a 5-year-old who planned to play poker against sharks. We compete against much larger companies that can offer lower prices because they have much larger buying power. Alternatively, the appearance of our store leads some people to believe that we are too expensive for them without ever actually comparing prices. Also, some people compare prices without comparing the quality of service and products. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. Our prices may be different than a range across town, but the quality of atmosphere is significantly improved. Customer service is top-notch, and air quality and sound control are the best you can find. It is dangerous to shoot indoors if filters are not changed (and recycled appropriately). We strictly follow OSHA and EPA guidelines to minimize the impact of gun smoke and lead can have on a shooter’s health. Once again, we have to balance the quality of our products and services versus our resources as a small business. Be assured we will always go for quality. (We’re working on the buying power.)
Thank you for the feedback. Service and product mix is another puzzle we are working on all the time. Archery, Firearms, Peacemaker Gun Club, Café, Boutique – who would have thought those all go together? But it works. Whole families come into our store. This is a happy victory. But we know we can always improve. So we listen to your comments and take them into consideration.
Months ago, we had a customer lean in and ask, “What is it that you think you are doing here?”. He came off a bit angry and seemingly questioned our core values of Faith, Family and Freedom. We asked him to look around the café and the range observation area to count how many women and children were there. 24 in all that day. There were 24 women and children in a gun establishment. When was the last time you saw that many women and children in a gun range? Never, but that’s what we’re striving to change. Shooting sports should be an activity the whole family can enjoy.
If we seek as Americans to preserve our freedoms and rights, then we need people to understand their Second Amendment rights, and that education starts with the children. Plus, shooting is a life skill and recreational sport that should be enjoyed by the whole family. The boutique makes ladies feel comfortable and at home; archery brings in kiddos with bows slung over their shoulders and everyone wins. Family is our middle name; Freedom is our last.
Thank you for making a stand with us. Faith is the belief that what you believe in is really real. People question their own faith and others’ faith every day. To truly stand up for what you believe in, you have to have faith. There is no instruction manual that tells us how that figures into the business equation. For us, it’s very simple. We believe in Jesus Christ. Our faith in Christianity guides us in our personal lives and how we run our business.
Truthfully, the only reason I ever wanted to do this business is because I believed that a) it was a calling and b) it would be so successful that it would generate Kingdom resources for real change in our community. We donated 10 percent of the equity of the company to the National Christian Foundation and plan 10 percent of profit to be a tithe for community change. We thank those who support us in this mission because running a Christian company is not always the most popular thing. We’ve come across people who have misconceptions about our faith, and those who refuse to do business with us simply because we are Christian. It’s not easy, but we stand by our faith and will continue to follow its values.
We know we still have much to learn, but on this Small Business Saturday – our FIRST Small Business Saturday – we wish to say thank you and celebrate our community. We have met loyal supporters by the thousands who love what we are doing and believe in our Faith, Family and Freedom. We absolutely would not be able to continue with our mission without the support of our community, members and every single customer.
We are thankful to be almost a year in and still setting our eyes on the big picture. We continue to build and make plans for a second location. We read every single post to our Facebook page, Instagram account, and reviews on Yelp and Google. They matter to us. You have spread love and encouragement there when it was needed most. We take the good with the bad and turn it into constructive criticism.
We look forward to seeing you and your families in during the CHRISTmas season and are appreciative. Thank you for the grace. Year one had a learning curve…I hear that won’t level off anytime soon – even up to year three. I may have the most tired eyes of any new parent you meet by then. But we are having fun and making a difference! See you on the range!