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Question For Dealers Re: Customized Detector Sales

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(Note: I singled out dealers but really anyone, past or present who's been in retail likely has some insight so this includes you.  I'm not about excluding anyone but think some people who have been in certain shoes are better able to give realistic answers as opposed to idealistic ones.)

This seems to come up all the time and although it sounds like a no brainer for the consumer, the fact that it doesn't (or seldom) happen makes me wonder if there is a good reason (besides squeezing every dime possible out of the users).  I'd ask the manufacturers but most of them don't seem too willing to answer questions.  I describe the ideal scenario for the consumer:

Select a detector control unit, a shaft, a coil (or coils).  If it's an option pick out a power source.  If you want/need headphones or boosters, transmitters/receivers, etc. find something to your liking.  Want a control unit cover, coil covers, arm cuff strap,...?  Go for it.

Is this practical or are there headaches for the dealer that would make this too much of a hassle?  (And of course that assumes the manufacturers would cooperate.)  Also, do you envision major problems this would create for the manufacturers that would lead to offsetting (trickle down) costs and thus be of little improvement for the consumer over current practices?

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Dealers can only do what they are enabled to do, and what customers are willing to pay for. As a dealer I can open up a new detector box, take it out, and swap parts as much as I want. So you want a different coil. I can do that, but what do I do with the stock coil I now have in stock? That nobody wants since it comes on the detector? I may have to sell it at half price, and take a loss. Who should pay for that loss? Correct, the person that just bought the detector. So I can do the coil swap, but I have to charge you for doing the swap, both for the labor involved, but also for the probable hit I'm going to take on this future coil sale.... assuming I can even sell it.

Or I can just sell you the detector, and also sell you the accessory coil.

If you put yourself in the dealers place, figuring they have to buy things the same way you do (in the box, as accessories, etc.), and then figure the logistics of sales and inventory losses, add in the fact that customers never want to pay for anything, and you will see why this does not happen with products sold in boxes. Walk into Best Buy, point at any item you want, and tell them you want them to take it out of the box, swap some parts for you, and keep the parts you do not want.

The only way this sort of thing works is if the manufacturer supports it by offering multiple package options. Which they prefer not to, to make things simpler for them also. Ultimately it all comes down to there being a cost, and in the end that cost must be paid by the consumer. In my experience selling detectors for decades, it's actually not an issue. People generally buy detectors as sold in the box, plus maybe an accessory or two. The current system works, with little or no demand that it change.

Some companies are very close to custom packages. Look at XP for instance. You can get their detectors in just about any package you want. So it can be done if companies want to do it.

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I've thought about this very thing before. I could see the customized order working IF the manufacturer is factory direct and there isn't a distributor that has to attempt to try and stock all possible variations in a preassembled box ready to ship at a moments notice.

In my mind, if the stock parts are immediately removed upon opening the box and replaced with something else better suited, than I wish I didn't have to pay for the unwanted stock part.

rich - 


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It would be nice if the manufactures would let you order a la carte.  This detector with this coil and that coil.  yea it would take longer and be more expensive but at least you are getting what you want.


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On 3/4/2021 at 2:51 PM, Swegin said:

It would be nice if the manufactures would let you order a la carte.  This detector with this coil and that coil.  yea it would take longer and be more expensive but at least you are getting what you want.


With the real expensive detectors, it would be nice for a la carte -   

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As a multi line detector dealer for 25 yrs, I can tell you this.  When I first started selling, I'd order all kinds of parts, knobs, coils, shafts, battery holders, and anything I think I could sell.  After some time the little things in boxes would get buried and I found myself ordering more.  I did whatever I could to keep the customers coming back to me and not going online.

Then about 13 yrs ago I moved and in the process of moving, I realized I had thousands of dollars of old stock inventory, since many of the detectors had changed.  I also watched as more and more folks walked away from us small shop dealers and started purchasing from Mail Order and online. 

Now, I spend most time and effort stocking the most popular detectors and a select few accessories and coils.  As mentioned by others, the detectors come to dealers all packaged the same way.  Many times, the coils have their own serial #'s and are sold with a detector control box that has its own serial #, but both are written on the warranty card or box.  Now I just offer it as I get it and not waste time trying to help each individual as so many people have an idea what they want different than the way it comes factory shipped.

Some dealers like to promote and sell detector accessories and others prefer to sell detectors.  At my stage of business and what I see with Amazon and such, it's most wise for me, to sell detectors and a select few accessories.  On a rare occasion, I get an email for a certain part or item and it's just easier for them to purchase it from Amazon.  I used to fight Mail Order Internet Sales, Amazons and such, but I realized I'm fighting a losing battle.

Those of you who know me, realize I already offer more knowledge and education than most dealers, so I have strong points in that aspect of the business, but my weak points are small parts, accessories and stuff I don't move as often.  If it's a company that is always changing their products, then I need to make sure I don't get caught any more with old stock.  It's hard enough trying to keep all the advertising and website updated with price changes, let along new products and or promotion changes.  Each of those takes time to update and then I am taking time away from my customers or myself actually being able to detect.

Profit margins on detectors are no longer what they used to be 25 yrs ago when I first started selling. Back then, some were 45 to near 50%.  Now, it seems most manufactures offer 29 to 33%, with some of the models all the way down to 20%.  Who can make a living selling detectors at 20%, when accepting a Visa/MC is 3% and then pay for free shipping.  Don't even try to sell the same detector on eBay, as they get 10% and PayPal charges 3% more, plus I still pay for shipping.  Some higher end detector sales, the state sales tax is more money than the profit I actually make after the sale?

When I first started selling detectors, most of the manufactures told us, the product would never be sold in a store, that the manufactures wanted us to help the customers making the right decision and helping with their new detectors.  I did this for many years.  Then a few manufactures started selling to stores at the same price or sometimes even less and leave me scratching my head?  Now, some of the manufactures don't even care about the dealers anymore and just use us as a tool.  They sell direct to Sporting Goods Stores, and don't blink an eye about the customers service to those customers that did purchase from Cabela's, Dicks, Bass Pro and the likes.  We all know the people working in those stores don't know detectors that well.

I think it's just a matter of time and most of us dealers will wither away as some of the manufactures are already pushing for that exact purpose.  Oh well, I guess this old timer can say I road that wave for 25 yrs and had a blast while doing it.  I've been able to live a life of a modern day treasure hunter, have been able to meet and train thousands of customers and watch with pride as many of them have become proficient detectorists and make some great friends/memories along the way.



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   Between you and Steve, I think you all covered the changing times of detector sales very well! You all lasted longer than the mom and pop hardware stores and such, wiped out by the big box stores! But now some of that is catching up with them, due to Amazon,  and others! 

    It's a credit to you guys, and the mom and pops, that there are so many experienced detectorists trained by you all, that are still at it!

    Sad to see so many things that are called "progress" become so cold and impersonal! Add those to the list of things we wish we still had around! Life my be easier now, but definitely not better! But the younger generations can't miss what they never had or experienced! That's left for the rest of us! 

   Now we know how the "Greatest Generation" felt about us!!👍👍




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The ultimate loser in this scenario is the customer. When I interviewed Bud Guthrie for the "Treasure" Magazine article "$75,000 Rock Found," he condemned buying a detector from mailorder rather than a local dealer. "You might save $50.00, but if you lose a $1,000.00 nugget, it wasn't worth it." He felt that paying extra to the local dealer who included training and where-to-go information with the detector sale was money well spent. Consider rhe case of a potential customer whom I offered a package deal consisting of detector, full range of quality accessories, training, and where to go info. "I can beat that price on the internet!" he wailed. I then made it clear that the internet price did not include accessories, training, info, and goodwill. He scoffed, asserting that he would be successful without any of that. So he bought from the internet dealer. Sometime later i encountered him. He had spent 4 months detecting at two of Southern California's most productive areas, and hadn't found a single nugget. But he did save a little money...

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15 hours ago, Jim McCulloch said:

"You might save $50.00, but if you lose a $1,000.00 nugget, it wasn't worth it." He felt that paying extra to the local dealer who included training and where-to-go information with the detector sale was money well spent. Consider rhe case of a potential customer whom I offered a package deal consisting of detector, full range of quality accessories, training, and where to go info. "I can beat that price on the internet!" he wailed. I then made it clear that the internet price did not include accessories, training, info, and goodwill. He scoffed, asserting that he would be successful without any of that. So he bought from the internet dealer. Sometime later i encountered him. He had spent 4 months detecting at two of Southern California's most productive areas, and hadn't found a single nugget. But he did save a little money...

It amazes me of a high % of younger people who call and ask about a couple different detectors they have their eye on.  They are asking for my professional experience and knowledge if the two models they are considering are good.  I spend 45 minutes to an hour on the phone trying to tell them the Pros/Cons.  After the conversation I email them some knowledge.  A week later I'll touch base and they inform me found a killer deal they could not pass up.  What realize bugs me, is when they call back and want to know the best coils, headphones and how do I tell if their detector is working properly.  I've gotten to the point I really don't even like carrying sub $500 detectors, as my time is to valuable. 

I just had a free Metal Detector Basics class on Saturday for my 14 customers and at least they understand the value of purchasing from someone who actually uses the same product they sell.  I offer the same internet price as Amazon and eBay, but my knowledge and time I am willing to spend with customers is the real value.

Gold Detectors are even more detailed at needing to know the ropes to help become Successful and he said it well.

Why do I enjoy helping my customers become Successful?  Seeing the smiles on their face and experiencing the same natural high of digging their 1st gold nugget.  It's the feeling we all desire.



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