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Diversity Your Services Mix.

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If you want to remain in business, you will have to diversify the services that you will offer your customers. For example, if you offer skate sharpening only, you will need to consider offering a complimentary service such as Profiling. I tell my customers that profiling their skates is as important as finding the correct radius of hollow—they compliment each other.

Also, selecting the most profitable Retail items to stock in your shop is tricky: Market Trends are shifting year to year. What is hot one year, is cold the next year.

Here is a call to every Member of SSU: we need to work together to identify what is selling in our shops, what are the profit margins, do we have a reliable distributor that will deliver our orders on time; what do our customers want?

Howie’s Hockey Tape is a big seller in my shop. I only stock LS2 & LS3 Edge Blades in my shop due to the ubiquity of the Bauer Brand. I am specializing in Bauer products which leads to another opportunity to retrofit a customers older skates with the Tuuk Quikrelease Holders ( something I haven’t done yet, but I will consider it over the summer).

Lastly, the new Sparx Home Sharpener is set to launch in April. Their YouTube Channel has over 90,000 views, so we need to understand that they will be our competition. What do we offer our customers that will bring them back to our Shops? Do we have something unique that the other Stores/Shops don’t  ie, do we have products that are out of the mainstream? Do we need to focus on online sales or affiliate marketing eg. Amazon.ca. Why do our customers like our service? What do they dislike about our Service? How do we keep our customers loyal or is there such a thing?

I would consider diversifying your Services & Marketing Mix to stay current and viable into the future. I always appreciate your comments and your input.

David Carlson/Karlsson

On Behalf of SSU.

There is a new Group on Facebook: Skate Sharpening University or SSU.

543 Members.

Our mandate is to share our knowledge and experiences with other Group Members who own and operate their own businesses and to mentor those who may consider starting a business. However, our Group Policy is very specific on who we will consider for Membership.

SSU is very proud and honored to have two distinguished and recognized gentlemen who have very important roles in our Group: Mr. John Doolan who was the Head Equipment Manager for the Pittsburgh Penguins and has 38 years experience; and, Mr. Wally Tatomir who was the Head Equipment Manager for the Stanley Cup Champion, Carolina Hurricanes.

There is considerably more to owning and operating a professional skate shop besides sharpening and profiling our customers skates. All of us have to understand Marketing, Customer Relations Management, Accounting Principles and Point-of-Sale; the Sales Cycle, Merchandising and what motivates people to buy a particular product or service; Advertising, Financial Management and keep up-to-date on the newest equipment and technology.

Most of the People in our Group own and operate their own professional skate shop and skate sharpening is just one component of their business. Other services may include ‘Profiling’ or ‘Contouring’—grinding and shaping the ‘rocker’ radius of the skate blade, equipment repairs and skate maintenance, blade runner replacements and the retailing of Sports Accessories.

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Let me give you an example. A customer will come into our shops and drop off their skates. You may think that is all there is to it, but there is more ( this is where the ‘educational’ component kicks in).

There is more than one way to sharpen and profile a skate. In fact, there are multiple hollow grinds and dozens of profiles to choose from. An important part of our jobs is to educate and inform you on what may work best for you. We will receive multiple questions on when should I get my skates sharpened, why am I slipping on my skates, etcetera, and the purpose of SSU is to be able to answer any and all questions our customers and our Members may have. We have established an online community to help each other. I think most, if not all, of us have wondered if there was something we could do differently to tweak a customers skates and help them perform better.

Recently, we had a discussion on skate hones and honing techniques—a crucial and exacting step to finish the blade after sharpening. Other conversations include sharpening techniques, product reviews, profiling and equipment systems, blade runner steel and which sharpening stones provide the best results and finish; what hollow grinds tend to be favored by the Pros and our customers; and, what new technologies are available; social media marketing and shop promotion and more.

Our 539 Members are situated throughout the United States, Europe and Canada and we have diverse backgrounds with many years of experience working in our established shops or working as professional equipment managers for Elite Sports Teams. Several Top Level Coaches and interested parents are Members. All of us can add or contribute to the archived knowledge that we have access to. A new study on ROC ( RADIUS OF CONTOUR) AND ROH ( RADIUS OF HOLLOW) and the significance and effectiveness on the pitch of the blade will be out this summer—a study only OUR Members will have access to. Also, we have multiple files (pdf) on Duties of Equipment Managers—a 24 page document.

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We have a wealth of practical knowledge that will benefit the Group and, ultimately, benefit our customer/clients. We want to set the standard for our respective Proshops and offer our customers the very best skate sharpening and professional skating advice possible. As the Founder of SSU, I always emphasize that we want to help our customers with their skating and that is why we caught the attention of several skating experts and instructors.

Learning is a life-long endeavour in every aspect of our Lives and we are committed to it.

Sincerely,

David W. Carlson/Karlsson

JOIN US, Today!

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We also stay current or up-to-date on the latest research and skate technology and we have several members with PH.D’s who also contribute to the success of our Group.

And this is what separates SSU members—the small, independent skate shop— from our competitors: We believe that we offer more personalized and specialized service and a great deal more hands-on experience and commitment.

By striving to be our personal best, we help our customers achieve their best!

Snipers Skate Sharpening Routine.

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If you have ever had the opportunity to observe your skates being sharpened, you may be interested to know why some Skate Shops sharpen heel-to-toe and some sharpen toe-to-heel. Well, the answer is: it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference; it’s the results that matter.

At my Shop in the Agrena Complex in Spruce Grove, Alberta, I have been following a routine taught to me by the World Leaders in Skate Sharpening Technology—Blademaster—and, I have using their system ever since because it Works! I am Blademaster Trained & Certified.

During a Junior Hockey Showcase held several years ago in our City, I happened to walk down the hallway towards the dressing rooms and observed the Equipment Managers sharpening their players skates. About half did the skates heel-to-toe and the other half, toe-to-heel. According to an Engineering Study, it was reported that the heel-to-toe method helps eliminate micro-fibers and creates a better finish on the blade. If you look at a finished blade with a microscope, it looks like fish scales; these ‘scales’ line up using the heel to toe method.

Now, how many passes along the length of the blade does it take to get a good hollow? Provided that the blade is not too badly damaged eg. deep nicks, it should only take about 4 to 5 slow, even passes to get the desired hollow. If you watch YouTube, you can observe the Pittsburgh Equipment Manager sharpening Sidney Crosby’s skates: he does 5 passes on each blade. Remember, however, that Sid may get his skates re-sharpened in between periods. Note to the Wise: if you ever observe a skate sharpener doing 15 or more passes on your skates, get your skates and get out of there!; they don’t know what they are doing.

Also, be careful with new blades and take them to a shop (Snipers) that will take the necessary prep time to get them ready for play. I have seen new skate blade runners where the contour or profile is already ruined due to aggressive cross-grinding to remove the coating on the bottom of the new blades. You don’t want to overheat the blades, either, as it will weaken the temper of the steel and it will be difficult to hold or maintain a good edge.

Lastly, it is just as important to get your skates profiled or contoured/rockered on a regular basis. Over time, the rocker radius will be altered due to the movement of the skate sharpeners method during the sharpening process. I always try and follow the natural contour of the blade as I move the blade across the grinding wheel. New steel is not always of the same radius on each blade; that is why new steel should be profiled prior to skating.

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Snipers uses the above CRM6 Custom Radius for profiling.

Lastly, if you are a current Skate Shop Owner or Skate Tech., you may wish to join my New Facebook Group: https://www.Facebook.com/groups/skatesharpeninguniversity/ This a a closed Group and is reserved for the above constituency. Your application will be reviewed.

Thanks. Stay Sharp.

The Times: They are a Changin’!

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I remember as a small boy growing up in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan the many times I would put on my skates at our house on 42nd Street and literally skate down the road to the local outdoor rink. You can imagine that, by the time I got to the rink, my edges on my skates would be toast but I never really paid much attention.

We all went to Hunters Sports Shop on Main Street (Meridian) and got our skates sharpened. I never asked them what hollow grind they applied to my skates and I never knew about profiling, either. We would sometimes get our skates “rockered” as the term was known, but as far as I and many of my hockey mates were concerned, we either knew our skate blades were sharp or too sharp.

I played Bantam and Midget AAA in my days and it wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I knew that there were multiple hollows and profiles that could be applied to my skate blades. Times are—indeed—changing. And, they have changed.

There are a half-dozen reputable companies that manufacture profiling systems and machines. As a result, there are literally dozens of profiles that can be applied to your blade runners. It is important for every skater to understand this and find the best profile and hollow to suit their needs and their game.

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At Snipers Skate Sharpening, we use the Blademaster Mark VI CRM or Custom Radius System to do our customers ( and our own ) profiling; it works very well and I have used several different systems in the past such as the CAG One Profiler and was in attendance at a Prosharp Demonstration over this past summer. I tried their Quad, the 10 foot, the M-Zuperior 11 foot and the13 foot. The Prosharp M-Zuperior ( which I liked ) is very similar to the 11 foot radius at + 2 that I presently use on my skates. I experimented with my own skates and tried 5 or 6 different profiles, skated on them, changed the hollow grind and finally came up with my personal choice: an 11 foot radius at +2 and a 7/8ths hollow; I bet I was skating on a 1/2 most of my playing career.

Every Manufacturers skate has a stock radius or profile on their proprietary blade runners. Come on in and See David Carlson at his shop to discuss your skating needs. Thank you and enjoy this Season of Hockey and Ringette.

If you are a Proshop owner and/or a Skate Tech, be sure to check out my Group: Skate Sharpening University on Facebook.

https://www.Facebook.com/groups/skatesharpeninguniversity/

Skate Sharpening Tips for Parents and Players.

 

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Yes! Your little skater will need to get their skates sharpened on a regular basis. I see many little tots and beginners slipping and falling on the ice during learn-to-skate programs at the twin rinks where my shop in located. Some parents are unaware of the importance of a good skate sharpening. Think of it this way: your child will get discouraged if they are falling down a lot; they will not enjoy their skating experience. As they progress and get older and more skilled, they will be able to identify and expect a great skate sharpening. This is even more important if they progress to more elite levels of playing and when it is critical to get noticed by those Scouts and College/University recruiters. Who do you think they will notice, more, someone who is confident and great on their edges, or someone who is falling on the ice?

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The best way to determine that best radius of hollow (ROH) is to experiment with several until you find the best one that works for you and/or your child. Never assume that—just because a Big Box Sports Store advertises ‘Professional Skate Sharpening’—they know what they are doing or have been professionally trained; they want you ‘In-the-door’ so that you may purchase their other products.

So, with that being said, here is the rest of the article:

Before you lace up your skates, make sure you do the following:

  • Look at the edges of your blades. Do you see a reflective shine along the length of the blade? Yes? Then you have lost your edge;
  • Lightly run your fingers or thumb along the inside and outside edges. If you feel any nicks or rough spots, you need to get them sharpened;
  • Place you skates on a flat, level surface and take a look at the shape of your skate blade. If you notice that you have a very short length of blade in contact with this surface, you will probably ( depending on the size of the skate and length of the blade and the height of the skater) have to get them profiled or contoured. Remember, if there is not enough blade-to-ice contact or working radius, it won’t make any difference how deep a hollow you put on your blades, you will still be slipping out of your turns and losing your edges;

We have the best profiling system: the Mark VI Custom Radius Profiling System.

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  • If you want the BEST performance out of your blade runners get them profiled/contoured every 10 to 12 sharpenings or every two months; it will be worth the money. Most shops will only charge you $20 to $30 per pair;
  • Bring your skates in early! No one likes to wait too long for a skate sharpening and Snipers Skate Shop @ The Stu Barnes/Grant Fuhr Arenas in Spruce Grove, Alberta will always try and get your skates done, promptly. However, we do not like to rush the sharpening process; it takes a certain amount of quality time to get the best results for you. Also, forget about jumping the queue: we will sharpen them in an emergency, but we will charge you more;
  • Know your personal hollow. There are 20 different hollow grinds and dozens of Profiles/Custom Radii, that can be applied to your blade runners. Experiment and try 2 or 3 different hollows and profiles to determine what works for you. Different brands of skates will have their particular Stock Radius applied to new skate blades and their replacement blades. For example, the LS3 Edge Blades by Bauer has a 10 foot radius or about one and 3/4 inches of working radius. Also, consider different ice surfaces. Softer ice requires less or a shallower hollow; harder ice—more or deeper hollow.
  • Beginners should skate on a shallower hollow until they learn to stop properly eg. 5/8ths. Once they learn to control their edges, they may decide to go with a deeper hollow. Also, you want more blade-to-ice contact or a larger radius on beginners skates. This assists with stability. Little Johnny or Jane can learn all the fancy tricks once they learn the basics.
  • Invest in the best pair of skates you can afford. Less expensive skates sometimes come with sub-quality steel and are difficult to sharpen and they need to be sharpened more often.
  • FEEDBACK, PLEASE! One thing that drives me crazy ( sometimes ) is the lack of feedback from players and parents. If you try a particular hollow or profile and you don’t tell the Skate Tech how it felt or if you think you want something with a little more edge, please, please tell us. We are not magicians or psychics—although some of us like to think we are. On several occasions, I have had new clients come in and they have no clue about what hollow they are presently using. I will recommend one—say a 1/2 inch to start—and ask them to let me know how they performed. Some will come back and others will assume that—since they didn’t like it—we can’t correct it. WRONGO, BONGO!
  • Look at the Bottom of the freshly, sharpened blade. Is there a nice, shiny, smooth finish? If you notice perpendicular marks across the width of the blade, this means they were not finished properly. If you can, watch the Skate Tech: are they rushing through the sharpening, doing multiple passes ( I mean, 10 or more on each blade?); you need to go elsewhere. It doesn’t take many passes to get a good hollow.
  • One last trick: Balance a coin ( a quarter, loonie or toonie if you are Canadian, eh?) on the freshly sharpened blade—in the middle portion—and see if there is a perfect 90 degree angle. If there is, then your skate sharpener deserves a Cookie! Or, at least, a pat on the back for a job well done.
  • For Your Safety: ALWAYS CHECK FOR LOOSE RIVETS, BLADES AND THE OVERALL CONDITION OF YOUR SKATE!!
  • One last, last thing. Ask you skate sharpener if he is a Member of Skate Sharpening University (SSU). If she or he is, then you have found the RIGHT PERSON.
  • If you have any additional questions, please feel free to visit David at my Skate Shop and I will be very happy to answer your questions.
  • Thanks for reading and sharing.