It has almost been a full year since we first ventured out to start scrubadoo.com. Looking back on how we have gotten this far, one step that stands out as perhaps the most important was initiating our relationships with major manufacturers.
We originally planned on carrying only Softscrubs brand scrubs but quickly realized that this would significantly limit our target market. In order to be a major player in our industry we need to sign up the big boys, Cherokee, Landau, and Dickies. Early on I thought that this would be one of the easiest tasks, looking back on it, it was one of the most pivotal. The first time I contacted Cherokee I was pretty much laughed at. Dickies and Landau were not much better. It was your classic Catch 22, I couldn’t get any uniform suppliers to sign with me until I had other uniform companies to use as a reference. Once you broke into the circle it seemed like it would be easy to sign everyone up, but breaking into the circle as an online provider is extremely difficult.
I was finally able to sign up Gelscrubs, a much smaller company in the uniform universe. My references: a screen printing shop in Charlottesville that I had done about $200 worth of business with, a buddy of mine who had done some pro-bono legal work for me, and my friend Frank who I was starting Conrohl.com with (another one of my ventures). They were willing to give us a chance early on, but we weren’t really doing any business with them, making it difficult to use Gelscrubs as a reference.
As we improved our site and a few sales I again decided to attempt to contact the big boys. However, if it wasn’t for a bit of luck I don’t know if we would have a signed anyone up. That luck? In the next entry I’ll let you know how we signed our first big one.