Bass Pro Shops: Customer Experience, Employee Engagement


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Bass Pro Shops attract over 60 million visitors per year. Why? For the outdoor enthusiast it is an adventure, an experience on par with kids going to Disneyland.
Each store is designed to reflect the unique fishing and hunting heritage of the region. They don’t just have shelves of products for sale. The Bass Pro Shop experience enhances customers’ ability to pursue their chosen sport. Take the giant fish tanks found in each store. Each one is stocked with the native species of game fish found in that region, and it is designed to simulate the fish in its natural terrain. The glass sided tanks let fishermen observe their worthy opponents in a way they could never see them in nature. Several times a day one of the guys in the fishing department goes fishing with hookless lures. A crowd always gathers to see how the fish react to the latest piece of tackle.
Bass Pro Shop customers are engaged. And, they exert a lot of effort just to get in the door. It is not uncommon for customers to stay for 3 hours and some commute over two hours just to get there. Customers become immersed in the experience, develop greater interest in their sport and—spend money.
The stores are like a theme park for the outdoors, right down to the unique fixtures and artwork. But there is more to their success than fish tanks and deer antlers. There are the Employees. Don’t expect to get hired in the fishing department unless you are an avid fisherman. The same goes for every department.
All floor clerks are involved and passionate about their sport. But, Bass Pro Shop management doesn’t stop there. Employees get steep discounts on the products in there department and they are expected to put them into use. In fact, before they get the discount they are required to demonstrate they know how to use the product and know its virtues. The key element is they have to have personal experience using the product in the outdoors. Why? So they can relate to customers.
The store attract customers, the employees get them engaged and their experience in the store and their subsequent experience in the outdoors brings them back time and time again.
And, the employees keep coming back also. Turn over of floor clerks is very low compared to typical retail stores. It is also very low compared to the people who work the cash registers or work in the warehouse. Bass Pro Shop management is working at getting these people more involved in the experience.

John Todor
John I. Todor, Ph.D. is the Managing Partner of the MindShift Innovation, a firm that helps executives confront the volatility and complexity of the marketplace. We engage executives in a process that tackles two critical challenges: envisioning new possibilities for creating and delivering value to customers and, fostering employee engagement in the innovation and alignment of business practices to deliver on the new possibilities. Follow me on Twitter @johntodor


  1. About May 19,2011,I had occasion to visit one of your stores in Hampton, Va. My wife was looking for an owl to ward off some pesky robins.We found the owl but there were none left in the storeroom. The most congenial clerk quickly offered to let us have the display model(if we didn’t need a box). I didn’t think to get his name but he certainally made a positive impression on meas a person who understands customer service. Kudos to this salesman.

  2. In March 2011 I purchased a new 25 foot Tracker Regency tri-toon from the store in Branson, Mo. The 1st time out it shut down. The next 2 times out it run fine for awhile and then run ruff and powered out. I called and left messages at Bass Pro in Branson on 3 consecutive days beginning on Monday without any callback from them. We took the boat out on that Saturday and it died and wouldnt start and had to be towed. On Monday I called the Springfield store, the Lebanon plant where the boat was made, a customer service number that the operator at Lebanon gave me after the 2nd call to them, and finally called and talked to the lady at Branson that did the final paperwork on the boat when we bought it. She went back and got the service manager (that I had been trying to talk to for a week now) to talk to me. This was a week ago Monday. He told me he was busy and it would be the 1st of this week before he could possibly get to it. Tomorrow will be Thursday and still no call and almost 3 weeks since I started trying to get warranty work on this new boat. I finally called Mercury and they adviced me to take it to a marina with a certified Mercury mechanic, which I have and the boat is still at. I myself will never purchase another item what so ever from Bass Pro. I would suggest anyone that is thinking about buying a boat from them that might need serviced or warrantied to look somewhere else. Probably a smaller dealer that still cares about customer satisfaction and wants and needs your business. The boat season is only a few months in Missouri and I have already lost almost a month of it with this new boat that I shouldnt have to worry about. The most aggrevating thing is that none of these Bass Pro people has ever returned a call of mine. They have wasted alot of my time and money on phone calls. Evidently they dont want or need my business. Please pass this on to all your family and friends so they dont have to experience the same frustration I have!

  3. On late May 2012 (3 days ago), I bought goods from the BassPro On-Line fishing store.

    Smooth transaction. Easy to become a on-line customer. Ordered goods.

    Website worked out total cost including shipping/handling and printed invoice.

    Paid by credit card. How easy is this??

    Next day I received a confirmation e-mail of prices and stock availabity. Great. Just sit back and wait for delivery to Australia.

    Received a demand from BassPro for more money for shipping. Another $30!!
    The e-mail claimed that the BassPro demand was in response to a request for assistance I had made of their service centre.

    I had made no request. I’d only been a client for 20 minutes!!

    Then it went on to tell me in no uncertain terms that if I didn’t accept the demand with a short timeframe, my order would be cancelled.

    Furthermore there’d be no refund if duties and taxes were the reason for me rejecting the demand!!

    You make sense of that.

    What’s obvious is that BassPro is practicing “bait” sales. The website calculates all costs for you and you pay on that basis.

    Then (before shipping but after the sale goes through) comes the demand for more money or cancellation of order and no refund.

    Intervention and the demand for more money must have to be triggered by some sort of fabricated request for assistance.

    How’s that for great customer service!!!

    Do not deal with BassPro. Do not buy from them. Do not have anything to do with them.

  4. On Nov 18 2012 I called your store in Manteca Ca to check on the availability of a Beretta handgun and was told the gun counter was too busy to answer the phone. Fair enough, it was a Sunday so I decided
    to call the next day. I looked at your web site and found that store “opens ” at 9:00 am. I waited and called at 10:00 and was told ” they’re busy checking guns. (strike 2). Called 1hr later, the same reply.
    (strike 3, your out) As someone who has owned and /or has managed
    many businesses, let me give you a bit of advice. Have the staff check inventory before the store opens or at least have someone on duty to handle customers. Good luck to you,I have to leave now for Cabella’s.


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