Tennis Industry magazine

 

2016 Racquet Selector: Find the Right Frame!

Use our exclusive selector tool to help your customers find their perfect racquet.

By Bob Patterson

With hundreds of current racquet models available, it can be a daunting task for even a seasoned dealer to choose which ones to carry in inventory. Think about what your customer feels like when they go shopping for a new frame — the choices can be overwhelming. If you are not considering their perspective, you may be losing out on sales.

As a dealer, you obviously cannot stock every racquet on the market. So how do you choose? And, are you missing sales because of your choices?

Long gone are the days when your customer would never look beyond the models hanging on your wall for his or her selection. Information is readily available today — most consumers are going to hit the internet before they hit your store to shop. But that doesn’t mean all is lost. They are, after all, in your store, so don’t waste the opportunity.

They have some information, they have prices, and they probably have an idea of what they think is the perfect racquet for them. But they don’t have your knowledge and expertise. It is up to you to make the sale and not let them peruse your wall and go home and order a racquet elsewhere, or worse order from their phone or tablet right in your shop.

Know Your Inventory, Know The Marketplace

If you’ve done your homework, you have a great selection of racquets to cover all the various player needs. Even with a small inventory budget, you can cover a lot of ground. Utilizing our Racquet Selector Tools can ensure that your inventory covers all the bases. If the customer asks to see a particular racquet that you don’t have in stock, you can simply explain and even show them another model or two that have the same or similar specs to try. To do this you have to know your inventory, but also have a good working knowledge of what is available, even in the brands you don’t stock.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. In order to help the customer select a racquet, you have to know about their game and what they feel is important. The customer will usually appreciate that you are truly interested in helping them and not just trying to get a quick sale.

Try Before You Buy

Offering demos before customers buy is the best way to close a sale. This is another area where you have the upper hand over online dealers. The ability for your customer to walk out of your store with a couple of demos that you have helped them select will increase their loyalty to you. This is especially true if you explain that they should come back after the test-drive with information that you can use to help them choose something else or even customize that one by helping them choose the right string and tension to enhance their play.

If your budget or shop space severely limits your on-hand inventory, be sure to carry a lot of demos and special order exactly what your customer needs. This can sometimes even the playing field with larger stores and online outlets.

Use our Racquet Selector on the following pages to boost your knowledge, and then pass that along to your customers to help them choose a racquet that will elevate their game.

— Bob Patterson

Racquet Selection Map Key

  1. Power/Control (columns). (formula = length index × headsize × flex × swing weight) ÷ 1000. Length index calculation: 27" = 1.0, 27.5" = 1.05; 28" = 1.1, etc.
  2. Maneuverability (rows). RDC (Babolat Racquet Diagnostic Center) swingweight units.
  3. Racquet ID. The number in the grid correlates to the accompanying racquet list.
  4. Headsize. Midsize and midplus (≤104 sq. in.) have no indicator. Oversize (105-117 sq. in.) = •. Superoversize (≥ 118 sq. in.) = :.
  5. Length. x = extended length. Standard length (27") racquets have no indicator.
  6. Flex (RDC). a = < 60; b = 60-64; c = 65-69; d = 70-74; e = > 74. The higher the number, the stiffer the racquet.
  7. Company. Coded by number and color. See accompanying racquet list on the following pages.
  8. Racquet Quadrants and the Center of the Racquet Universe. The center of the racquet universe is located at the intersection of the two red lines. Approximately half the racquets lie to the right and left, and half above and below these lines. The lines divide the racquet universe into four color-coded quadrants — clockwise from top left: (1) quick power, (2) quick control, (3) stable control, (4) stable power. These characterizations provide a general vocabulary for comparing racquets.
  9. Racquet Finder List. The racquet list accompanying the map identifies all the racquets and gives additional information. The map provides specific (very narrow ranges, anyway) swing weight, flex and power statistics, and general size and length characteristics. The racquet list specifies the length and size and further specifies weight, balance, and price.

How To Use It

  1. Ask questions. What are you looking for that your current racquet does not provide? What do you like most and least about your current racquet? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your game?
  2. Locate current racquet on map. If the racquet is not in the list, take measurements.
  3. Locating potential racquets. Depending on the answers to the above questions, draw an imaginary arrow (a wide or skinny one) from your present racquet in the desired direction for power and maneuverability.
  4. Narrowing the field. Shrink the choices using the length, headsize, and flex codes to match customer preferences.
  5. Selecting racquet demos. Once the choices are narrowed, locate the racquets by number in the racquet list.

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About the Author

Bob Patterson , the founder of the RacquetMAXX customization service, is a Master Racquet Technician with more than 20 years of experience. He was RSI's Stringer of the Year in 2005. He is Executive Director for the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association.

 

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