For some, gunsmithing is a job. For others, a hobby. But for Kip Carpenter, it is a way of life. The ever-savvy gunsmith is a master of his trade and has the experience to back up all his learning, both in the classroom and in life. As a young man, Kip got into gunsmithing with a friend and learned from his friend’s father, and learned how to shoot from his own father. He was also instructed by his god-father, a gunsmith and professional shooter. Kip began gunsmithing when he was just 14 years old, an age where most haven’t even fired their first pistol. At this time he split his love for gunsmithing with another hobby, playing the guitar. Shortly after this Kip started reading up on anything he could get his hands on about gun repair, and ever since then we’ve been witnesses to history in the making.
Kip has amassed a treasure trove of certifications during his time as a gunsmith. His credentials include being a certified pistol smith, shotgun smith, rifle smith, rimfire rifle smith, and advanced glock armorer. He also earned Armorer’s Certificate from Barrett Firearms on all of their long range rifles. The accomplishments don’t end there, as Kip is also a certified NRA instructor. Eventually, his passion and expertise came together and Kip opened up a shop in Colombia, Tennessee, where had moved to in order to help take care of his ailing father. While in the small town, Kip quickly noticed that the they were in dire need of a gunsmith. From enthusiast, to student, to businessman, Kip’s gunsmithing career has completed the cycle, as he is now not only an instructor at SDI, but also our Master Gunman. SDI’s VP of Academic Affairs Mike Olson perfectly summed up what Kip means to the institute.
“As a member of our faculty, Kip Carpenter has guided and mentored SDI students for years. His dedication to our student body has been demonstrated time and again by his willingness to work one-on-one with his students, help other faculty members, and answer any ‘gun question’ under the sun. In his new role as Master Gunsmith, Kip will lend his 30-plus years of experience in the firearms industry to guide the Department of Curriculum and Assessment in the development and revision of our courses while still bringing his expertise to SDI’s students in the classroom.”
If you haven’t been able to tell by now, Kip really loves what he does. In fact, the only thing that Kip may be more passionate about is teaching. Being able to share all the knowledge he’s gained with the next generation of gunsmiths is what Kip loves most about his job. Their inquisitive nature and desire to learn as much as they can about the craft of gunsmithing reminds Kip asking as many questions as he could in his beginnings. Don’t take my word for it, Kip sums it up perfectly himself.
“What I love the most about being an instructor is passing on the knowledge and history to a new generation of future gunsmiths, so the art of gunsmithing will continue long after I am gone. I also love the questions these young men and women ask me it reminds me of me; I would ask all kinds of questions to gain any knowledge I could and I see the same desire in our students and it makes me so proud of them! I tell you I have the greatest job in the world being at SDI”
So what advice does this Master Gunsmith have for those interested in getting into the trade?
- Learn all you can learn from reading books to hands on to just asking question. The master admits that he’s still learning till this day.
- Have confidence in yourself and do not be afraid to mess up it happens you learn from it and move on!
- Don’t commit to anything you are not trained to do it will just get you in a bind with the customer and damage your reputation, also be completely honest!
- Always obey the laws!!
- Enjoy what you do and take pride in your work and work space! No one wants to leave their firearm with someone who seems unprofessional or disorganized.
SDI gives Kip the ability to share his love and knowledge with young up-and-coming gunsmiths and he couldn’t be anymore grateful. Kip has been with SDI for three years and sees the school as one big, happy family. Everyone from SDI from the faculty to the students are thankful to have Kip on the team and hope he’ll be with us for many years to come.
Yes, the holidays are here. The weather is cold and people are staying inside. So, how do you take advantage of the season to benefit your business, gain new customers, and stay on top of the potential increase in business? We have some suggestions for you!
Christmas and New Year’s bring out consumer spending in droves. According to the National Retail Federation, the holiday season represents nearly 20 percent of total yearly sales. While gunsmithing itself is more of a service industry, several gunsmithing businesses do have retail as a part of their business. Service industries, such as restaurants, can also be an indicator of an uptick in business for the overall service industry during the holidays (USA Today). So how do you use this to your advantage without going crazy during the process?
Nothing can drown a business like not being prepared to take on new business. If your tools are not in order, your retail is not stocked, if you run out of paperwork, or if your filing system is not organized, you could find yourself swimming and overwhelmed. Get yourself together down to where your paperwork is filed. Do you have a stack of paperwork you haven’t filled out yet? Now would be a good time to take care of that. Clean your shop, stock any retail you wish to sell, and make sure you have effectively tracked your backlog for any outstanding work that should be completed before an influx of business.
You are the face of your business. If Christmas gives you a case of the grumps, you should probably brush it off in lieu of a friendly, outgoing demeanor. It might seem unnecessary, but your primary duty as a business owner, especially in a business where you work on firearms that carry emotional attachment by your customers, is to make your customer feel at ease.
Have a Sale
In the spirit of Black Friday and post-Christmas, hold sales during the holidays. And the firearms industry is in a special position for the post-Christmas season. As a potential customer, after that special someone gives you a brand new holographic site or a new walnut stock, you’ve got to find someone to make sure it’s installed correctly. Try running a promotion as simple as giving a discount on service that provides a referral, or offer something a little more straightforward like discounted engraving, a deal on firearms seasonal maintenance, or maybe double down and discount all your services for a limited period. Make sure the sale inspires your audience to make a move by limiting the time your deal is offered.
Update Your Website
It’s 2017 and your website is as much of an indicator of the quality of your services as your experience itself. If you have a website that looks like it was designed in the 90’s by a teenage relative, you are most likely missing out on potential business. Consumers will take a hard pass on a service that looks like it does not care how it presents itself. People like bright and shiny, and your website should be able to provide it. Your website is also an excellent place to post your seasonal sale!
Marketing can be daunting, but without getting the word out, nobody has any idea you exist. For those of you that can afford it, you can place ads in local publications and on local websites. Make sure they are high-traffic publications and do your research to make sure they target your consumer audience. For example, if your local gun club has a newsletter, it may be a good place for an ad. On the other hand, if your local gardening store has a newsletter, it may not be the best use of your advertising budget.
Let’s pretend you have absolutely zero budget for any kind of special holiday ads. You still have resources available. If you’ve performed your due diligence and gathered the email addresses of your past customers, you can send a bulk email to them advertising your service. Try to use a service like MailChimp or Hatchbuck to do this. If your past customers get annoyed, they may report your email as spam. If that goes back to your business email, it can affect future emails and potentially blacklist your email address. Using one of the services mentioned can prevent this from happening.
Or maybe you’re not tech savvy. You can accomplish advertising your business by sitting down and simply calling your past customers. This is where offering a discount on referrals can help. Finally, get social. Most of us have social media. Most small businesses maintain social media of some kind. This is the cheapest way to reach a large consumer audience.
Christmas time can be stressful for consumers and business owners. By using just one of these steps, you can eliminate some of it. Are these the only things you can do to help your business during the holidays? Absolutely not. There’s always the possibility of parachuting over your town while towing a banner with your sale on it. The key is to pick your pace, get the word out, and participate in the spirit of the season. Have any ideas for increasing business during the holidays? Post them on our Facebook page: https://business.facebook.com/SDIschools/.