There was a time when Ford and General Motors focused more on duking it out over automotive supremacy, and less on the customers buying their cars. This abandonment of the consumer created an opportunity for Toyota to swoop in and steal profits with an entirely different approach.
We may be entering a similar dynamic in the accessory/rangefinder space where industry stalwarts Bushnell and Leupold are in danger of repeating history rather than learning from it. Because the two companies have enjoyed a virtual duopoly in the marketplace, neither has needed to concern itself with value pricing. As long as each keeps its sticker price close to the other, everybody – except the consumer – wins. And without a viable consumer-focused competitor, customer service has become a hit or miss proposition at best.
Precision Pro, started by co-founders Clay Hood and Jonah Mytro, aims to disrupt the market by giving golfers a reasonably priced rangefinder with all the requisite features, sans the bloated price.
The company officially launched four years ago in May 2014, but truthfully the concept had been in the works for some time. Working his way up the golf professional ranks, Hood routinely dealt with warranty requests and came to the realization that, at some point, the consumer always gets the short end of the proverbial stick. Hood felt that this erosion of basic customer care was becoming all too frequent, so he decided to take a shot at doing things better. While he wasn’t positive he could make a better rangefinder; he was entirely confident he could provide better aftercare for golfers who chose to spend hard-earned money on his products.
Before long, Hood and Mytro developed a $199 product which, while not the technological equal of market leaders, was long on value. Through little more than cold calls and optimism, they pre-sold 300 units.
Four generations and four years later, Precision Pro has gross revenues in the mid-seven figures and shows no signs of slowing down. Year-over-year growth in the triple digits has been the norm for the company, which suggests consumers might be ready for a change.
By market share metrics alone, Precision Pro isn't going to garner much attention, but such analysis fails to fully recognize the brand’s place in the market. Chiefly, that Precision Pro offers real technology. Precision Pro isn’t peddling some grey market Chinese knock-off. It’s a bona fide rangefinder option which seeks to capitalize on the shortcomings of the industry’s two heavyweights.
The Precision Pro Product
Value can be thought of as the performance a consumer receives per dollar spent. It’s within that context that the Precision Pro Nexus ($149) received our Editor's Choice as part of the 2017 Rangefinder Buyer's Guide. While it is larger and slightly slower than some competitors, at the given price point, it's a no-brainer value proposition. Admittedly, the optics and overall functionality aren't on par (ugh, bad pun) with premium priced models from Bushnell and Leupold but, as it is in other areas, the technology gap is closing. According to Hood, "The current NXPro is closer, and by 2019 it will be really close."
Bushnell empirically makes a more complete product. For that matter, so does Leupold. However, the most significant difference between comparable products is the price, not the performance.
The Precision Pro Nexus ($149), Bushnell Tour V4 ($299) and Leupold GX-1i ($389) sit in the same class. The Nexus has greater magnification (6X) than the Tour V4 (5X) and is accurate to 1/10 of a yard, whereas the V4 is accurate +/- 1 yard. The GX-1i measures in ½ yard increments. All three models utilize a target lock or pin-seeking technology but do not offer slope measurements.
Comparing more advanced models, the story repeats with the Precision Pro NX7 Pro ($249), Bushnell Tour V4 Shift ($399) and Leupold GX-2i ($429). For the more price conscious consumer, it can be argued that neither of the higher priced models offers a performance benefit commensurate with the 60%-70% jump in price.
The Precision Pro Advantage
One could posit any differences in quality and performance matter less than the total customer experience, so long as the lesser product offers sufficient quality and comparable features.
On some level, it’s reasonable to ask, "What does an avid golfer absolutely need out a rangefinder?" Clear optics and accurate yardages are a must. Features which ensure distances are based on the flagstick and not some patch of shrubbery in the distance are no doubt helpful, and the ability to factor in slope is something golfers have come to expect from any company's premium model. Beyond that, my hunch is that many consumers would be willing to give up a couple of bells and whistles to buy from a company where people answer the phone, warranty requests are handled in days instead of months, and your current model is always good for 30% off a newer one.
Creating an experience where the consumer feels valued takes effort. It's as much in the tone of the message as it is in the language of the guarantees. Maybe it's because "first and foremost, we're golfers," says Hood. "We're not so much a rangefinder company as we are a golf improvement company. We want to see people play better."
Now that Hood and Mytro are business owners, sustained growth and profitability will always be a concern, but don't expect Precision Pro to start jacking up prices just to see how much people will pay. Having a viable product in the $200 range is sacrosanct. This is, and will likely remain, the core of Precision Pro's business. Come hell or high water, Hood would much rather build a reputation based on how he takes care of consumers on the backend rather than how many units he sells on the frontend.
In the absence of competition, companies can pay as much or as little attention to the customer experience as they choose. But give consumers an alternative, and one never knows what will happen.
For additional product information, visit the Precision Pro's website.