How can mountain guides support outdoor shops to do better?

Tomas IchasoNovember 17, 2015

Most people usually think of guides only when it comes to go to the mountains for an adventure. But hiring a mountain guide can be very helpful for people in the outdoor business, to improve the quality of their services.

When you go out shopping, don’t you appreciate the value of a salesperson who gives you good recommendations and knows what he is talking about? There are plenty of stores out there that compete for the same clients, so it’s important to stand out with a useful differentiation, which could be offering variety of products, reliable brands, or a quality service provided by well-prepared employees that can give good advice. This happens with tech stores, clothing stores, but also with outdoor shops.

Lecomte shop in Brussels
Lecomte shop in Brussels
There are plenty of brands and different technical products in the shops, which makes it difficult for clients to choose without the proper advice.

So how can an outdoor shop differentiate from the others? And how can a mountain guide help achieving this?

That was the question the people from Lecomte, a Belgian mountaineering shop chain, asked themselves. They realized that their clients appreciated when they stopped by the shop with doubts, and they went away with good answers. Which product to buy? Which brand to choose? What is the ideal equipment if I’m going to x place, in x season?

Technical gear in LecomteSo, after some thinking, they came up with a solution to improve the quality of the services they were offering to their clients: They would use the expertise of mountain guides to capacitate their sales teams to give the best advice to their clients. By bringing the guides to the store? No, even better: sending their employees to the mountains.

The best job training ever

In October this idea came to life. Colin and Catherine, two members of the sales team who had already experience in climbing, went to the Mont Blanc Massif for an advanced training with Elis, IFMGA mountain guide.

Lecomte team with IFGMA guide
Colin and Catherine, from Lecomte’s sales team, with Elis, IFMGA mountain guide.
They did two days of rock and ice climbing, in which they experienced and tested in real conditions the products that they sell every day in the store back in Brussels. Elis, who uses the equipment on a daily basis, showed them the strengths of the different brands, and taught them what is better to use for each different situation.

Colin, very happy with the experience, explained: “Elis organized very well the 2 days. He taught us advanced technics for climbing and how to use the technical equipment for this. Now I feel much more confident and qualified than before to assist people who come to the store”. And Catherine added: “Helping and convincing clients is easier when we use the products that we offer in the store. It’s not the same for the client to receive advice from someone who actually climbs and knows what he’s talking about, than from someone who just read the product’s notice”.

Lecomte team in action
Lecomte team practicing some advanced technics
Technical gear ready for climbing
Technical gear ready for climbing
The outcome of the first experience was that Colin and Catherine came back with plenty of new knowledge and key tips to give, that were very much appreciated by the clients. They had also a visible enthusiasm about the trip, and encourage people that go to the store to go to the mountains. And the positive effects are also seen in the motivation of the sales team: who wouldn’t like to learn to be better at their job, while enjoying one of their favorite passions?

The idea of Lecomte is to send 3 times a year different groups from their team. Elis is considered now as one the coaches of the sales team and will act as long term partner to help them doing better.

So the result was a win/win experience for all. Clients get good advices about the equipment they need and ideas for new experiences in the mountain; Shops improve their services and increase the loyalty of their team’s members; Sales guys learn new things and practice their passion; It diversifies the job of the guide and this allows him to better understand the evolution of the needs of the clients passing by outdoor shops.

About the project, Elis explained: “I’m very happy to be part of this. It’s a real pleasure for me to share my personal and technical experience linked to mountaineering and climbing; and enable the people of the shop to better understand the mountaineering environment. It’s also an excellent and stimulating opportunity for me to be updated about the equipment“.

At we are happy of having facilitated, through our site, the partnership between Lecomte and Elis. This reinforces one of our main missions, which is to value the job of mountain guides and the experience brought by them, and at the same time give them access to new clients.

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