Archive for January, 2011
Over the last few weeks we have begun to receive more and more calls about providing wholesale scrubs to a variety of different retailers, embroiderers, schools, etc.
I am inclined to think this is because of our in house SEO efforts around the key word “wholesale scrubs,” that have resulted in better organic search results for that word (if you have a website and want to link to our wholesale scrubs page to help us out I would have no issue with it!). I should probably write a little more about SEO at some point as this has become a major focal point for our company over the last several months. But I digress…..
I am coming to the quick realization that in order to be competitive in the wholesale scrub business (which is a key growth opportunity for us), we need to begin manufacturing our own “scrubadoo brand” scrubs. Otherwise, we just can’t get to a price point that is competitive. When we first started the company we actually visited the idea of our own brand but did not have the capitol, nor the demand for a product. Fortunately, things are starting to change.
Thus I began to contact uniform manufacturers. I have talked with a company in China, two in Haiti, and will hopefully have a call set up with a company in the US within the next week. Thanks to our friends at Forgetful Gentlemen, I was informed of a site named Panjiva.com. This site makes it incredibly easy to figure out who you should be contacting.
Basically, you tell panjiva what companies you are interested in seeing the import records for and they provide you with all kinds of data (apparently anything that you import into the US needs to be declared, along with where the goods were produced, who produced them, and it is all public domain).
I know the names of the companies that sell me scrubs, so I told Panjiva to figure out where they were sourcing from. Once I had the names I did a few quick Google searches and found contact information. While it would probably be better to do my own homework on these companies, I am assuming that A) The largest distributor of uniforms in the US has done their homework and B)It will probably be easier for me to have a small run of scrub sets done at a factory that is already producing scrubs. Plus one of the factories in Haiti is certified by WalMart.
We haven’t decided who to go with yet, but we are moving along. To be honest, I really have no idea what I am doing right now. I figure I will learn as I go. Oh, and I did call Haiti, I used Google Calling, it was a short call but someone did pick up. Hopefully, we have a high quality private label in the near future!
It is absurd what passes as “customer service” these days. I may not be an expert on the subject but for the last 2 years I have tried my best to live customer service through my company, scrubadoo.com.
What has my all piped up about customer service today??? Comcast.
I don’t know if you have seen their TV commercials about “customer service” but when I see them I laugh. You know what they consider good customer service? They won’t charge you for an appointment if they fail to show up. Ready for the cherry on top? If for some reason they don’t do the job right the first time they wont charge you for a second visit! Are you kidding me??? They actually advertise these two exact things on TV? What a joke! I have heard of setting low expectations so you can exceed them, but give me a break.
That is basically the equivalent of me advertising “If we don’t ship you any scrubs after you have ordered them, guess what? We will refund you in full!” I can see our add now: “Receive Maternity scrubs??? (As a young man holds up a pair of maternity scrub pants) don’t worry, we will ship you the correct scrubs at no extra charge!” How does Comcast have the balls to put that add on the air (don’t worry they take their boots off to make sure they wont track mud in your house).
Today I had an interaction with this Mecca of service here is how it went:
I was immediately brought to an automated answering service at which point you have to go through a series of steps prior to selecting the choice that will take you to the correct department (pretty standard, unfortunately not very “customer service” oriented). I went through these steps to talk to someone about canceling my service (outrageous prices!) and when the automated service attempted to transfer me to the appropriate party I was disconnected. This happened 4 times! I then went a different route and called the “new sales” people. The phone was answered immediately. Fairly typical. Unfortunately they couldn’t help me with what i needed! I was again transferred and then put on hold. They were experiencing a “longer than normal” wait time, but I stayed on hold. In the end my conversation lasted about 1 minute and didn’t really accomplish anything. Two thumbs up, I bet I wasn’t even charged for the longer than normal wait time.
The lack of customer service oriented companies is one of the reasons I started scrubadoo.com. Sure, we sell scrubs, shoes, and other nursing uniforms, but I figure if we can help change the perception of what good customer service is, even if it is one nurse at a time, then I am helping to shift market expectations and slackers like Comcast would never be able to claim “customer service” as a strength.
Would someone do us all a favor and jump in that market, start a company, and take Comcast down? They are ripe for the pickings.
I was recently asked “What is so great about running a company?” It really got me thinking. After some deliberation I came up with a multitude of reasons I enjoyed running scrubadoo, however I was able to narrow it down to 4 and thought I would share them.
Control your own destiny
Ultimate success or failure rests solely on your shoulders as a small business owner. At a large company it seems like there is always a scapegoat or someone else to blame. Here I have no one to hide behind or pass blame to. The successes of the company are also your successes and the company’s failures are your failures. This adds an element of pressure and excitement you don’t normally get at a large company. Entrepreneurship is a little like gambling, the major difference is that hard work, skills, and perseverance can tip the odds in your favor.
No Such Thing as “No”
From my own experiences and through the stories of many of my friends who work for major corporations, a common complaint is the inability/lack of support to try new ideas or new methods. Here at Scrubadoo we will try anything. If we think a new marketing strategy may work we can implement it immediately. There are no hoops to jump through or politics to deal with. We have had clients give us feedback about something they didn’t like on our site and we have literally made a change within hours. I would like to see a major corporation be that responsive.
I have flat out learned more about business, customer service, and operations (the list could go on and on) in the last 2 years than I ever imagined I would. Every day there is a new challenge. I don’t have specialized departments to figure problems out for me, so I either learn it or underperform in that area. You become a specialist in so many areas that you never dreamed you would. Some areas are more useful than other, anyone need to know specific details about Cherokee women’s flair leg scrub pants?
The Contribution of Friends & Colleagues
Scrubadoo.com wouldn’t be close to what it is today without the help of a multitude of people. I can easily name dozens friends and colleagues from my past who have no financial incentive in my company, but have pitched in and helped us. From legal work to selling scrubs off of a table at a school; lawyers, doctors, consultants, and a many other highly skilled individuals have helped us out. Why do they do it? My theory is, they get to enjoy the excitement of a start up without the risk, they love the passion that I have for the company, and they get the satisfaction of helping a friend out. Plus if we ever hit it big, drinks are on me.
I truly enjoy running a company and the many perks that come with it, (I didn’t even mention “no pants day” when you get to work from home).