“What Makes a Pro Great?” – A Conversation with Eric Poore
Core outdoor professionals are the backbone and lifeblood of the outdoor industry. They guide, educate, train, keep safe, mentor and lead a wider audience in outdoor recreation. A pro’s experience provides credible assessment of gear quality – they are, afterall, the elite audience for whom it is designed. When a pro believes in a brand or piece of gear, their audience listens.
The proper role of a pro program is to leverage this influence, and position pros as the authentic mouthpiece of truly high quality outdoor brands. This influence impacts purchasing trends, shapes brand sentiment and drive MSRP sales with end consumers. Perhaps now more than ever, on the heels of the shuttering of hundreds of outdoor retail stores across the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pro influence is critical to the health of outdoor recreation and specifically, outdoor specialty retail.
With this in mind, we turned to veteran pro Eric Poore to find out more about what it takes to live up to the weighty responsibility of being an outdoor professional. Eric has perspective from both sides of the fence: he is both a Certified Guide and a Sales Representative for Dynafit, Salewa, Wild Country, & POMOCA. With 10+ years of outdoor experience, he is the perfect brain to pick when pondering how we, as pros, can step up to support the industry every day and especially now.
Eric, what does it mean to be a “great pro”?
A great pro is a true outdoor ambassador. They, like outdoor guides, look to inspire others to get outside and try new things. They lead via their actions both in person and online. Great pros are always looking for ways to improve their knowledge and skills, seeking advice and mentorship that they can pass along to their clients, students, family and peers. They take their status seriously, providing feedback on products they use to the brands they purchase and staying up to date on the latest and greatest gear and technology.
Why are local gear shops so important for the outdoor industry and for pros specifically?
Behind every cliche is a lot of truth. Local gear shops keep the industry going and growing. Where else can any person go to get advice on everything they need to play outside whether they are brand new to a sport or an experienced athlete? Shops also foster an incredible sense of community with like-minded individuals, providing places for friends to gather, make new friends or pop in and talk beta.
No outdoor business operates in a silo. Retail shop employees drive business to local guiding outfits and outdoor programs, in return, those guides and instructors send their clients back into the shop to purchase gear they’ve recommended, and on it goes. Outdoor brands recognize both of these components as critical to the success of their businesses. The fabric of what we call the outdoor industry is complex and interwoven in a way that makes each individual strand essential in its own way.
What can pros do to help promote their local gear shops even if they are purchasing their gear through a pro deal program like Outdoor Prolink?
As an outdoor guide, you have the power to support your local economy through your gear recommendations. By sending your clients into specialty retail shops in your area for their purchases, you not only help support these small businesses but you bolster the reputation of your outdoor business by associating with other experts in the industry. It goes further than just your clients: when you clock out every day, you are still on the clock as an ambassador. Use the knowledge and status you have worked so hard for in your career and put it to use whenever you can!
Yes, know your gear and sing it’s praises! But there is a code to being a pro…
Yes, know the code! The biggest thing to stress is that pro deals are not to be shared. They are not for your friends, clients or significant other. Abusing your pro deal privileges for others is just not okay, and it will eventually result in you getting kicked out for good. If you need to go into your local shop to try something on, be upfront with the employees who are helping you out. Let them know that you are a pro! If the shop is really busy and the employees are slammed, come back another time. Get to know the shop employees and develop a relationship with them! After all, they can be some of the best backcountry skiing or climbing buddies.
Have a favorite local gear shop whose praises you sing? Or more suggestions on how to support them? We’d love to hear from you! Join the conversation in our Facebook Community Group, comment below, or explore our local shop list for ideas on how to lend a hand in your community.