Ideas can come from anywhere, and as a business owner there's no source quite like the fresh eyes afforded by your employees.
That's why shaking up your thinking can sometimes mean shaking up your employees, which is exactly what the founder of Stretch Event Tents—provider of large eye-catching custom outdoor structures—does every 3 months.
On this episode of Shopify Masters, you'll learn how Stretch Event Tents' founder Stuart Johnson breathes new life into his company by rotating employees into new roles on a regular basis.
- The benefits of creating a shopping cart for your customers over the phone.
- What is the most important contribution you can make to your sales team.
- Why you should pay more attention to industries outside of your own.
Listen to Shopify Masters below…
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Felix: Today I’m joined by Stuart Johnstone from Stretch Structures which is at stretcheventtents.com. Stretch Structures provides large eye catching outdoor custom structures and was started in 2005, based out of Sydney Australia. Welcome Stuart.
Stuart: Thanks Felix.
Felix: Tell us a bit more about your business and what are these tents that you sell.
Stuart: We’ve been manufacturing tents for the events industry now longer than 2005, we started around 2002 with a rental business based in Australia and designed and manufactured tents for customers locally and it’s growing out of that eventually [inaudible 00:01:47] the rental business and focused our attention in the last number of years on the manufacturing and design and growing from Australia to now export all over the world. We’ve got an operation in the U.K. and one in the U.S. and then have partners in various other countries throughout Asia and Europe and I think it’s from our design and specializing in making unique structures for some very key clients here in Australia that’s enabled us to grow off of those products to a much wider base of customers across the world. We then standardized on a number of off the shelf structures and we still do a large amount of custom structures. You notice that growing the manufacturing for the key structures seems very popular with a wide range of customers that has allowed us to expand as we have.
Felix: Cool, so this seems like a business that would be very much a locally focused and it sounds like that’s how you got started. What made you guys decide to to make more of a stronger push online?
Stuart: We were feeling much locally focused to start, now I think because we made such eye catching and unique memorable structures, we ended up with a lot of overseas clients coming to us and found ourselves manufacturing and shipping from Australia to clients all over the world. There wasn’t a lot of marketing and strategy in that growth, it was more they were coming across great images from events and tracking us down. Because of that it became more and more online, to the fact that we now find that many of our customers are quite remote from us. We’re not locally based at all, in fact Australia makes up a smaller part of our market than it ever did, and obviously the U.S. and the U.K. are far larger markets. The growth has made it, to service those customers, we’ve had get much more savvy with our online marketing and the ability to give product information and allow customers to work through what we do and how we can help them online. That’s really driven us towards being more of an online business than we were, certainly when we first started.
Felix: For a product like this which has a pretty high price point where, I’m looking through the catalog now, $900 up to, I’m seeing this page almost $2,000 for a product like this, US dollars in this case. Do you get many sales directly from just people coming to the site and adding to their cart and checking out or is there much longer sales process for something like this?
Stuart: There generally is a much longer sales process it’s probably not so much the driven straight through the website and ordering. I’d classify it more as an online catalog where people can access the price and product information easily and having the information handed to them will help too. Of course, orders that still come directly through, most of time we probably find it’s from customers that know the products well, and are reordering or comfortable with what they are getting but there’s still is a fair amount, that their sales contact with our sales teams in each country early on the online site just gives us a way to make it easier for people to edit, change, and manipulate your orders once they’ve worked out what they want without having to deal directly with a sales person.
Felix: It’s like a almost informational store essentially. They come on do some shopping, some customization, similar to how when someone might want to buy a car, they customize it, they look at what the options are, but then most likely they want to talk to a real person. Talk to us about this process and for other store owners out there that might have a product that is at a high price point or just a product that requires a bit more customization than just buying off the shelf. What’s the process like? They come on to your site, they discover that they are interested in a product of yours, they see the sizes, the accessories, the colors that they can pick. What do they do next, or what do you want them to do next?
Stuart: Generally they are contacting us and the way it works, using the social club platform website makes that easier we can have the online chat service. They can email us and use direct phone calls et cetera. It gives them a great way of figuring out how they want to contact us at any one time. Your reference locale are probably pretty close, it is that sort of thing where people don’t want to jump into these purchases, they do want to educate themselves and make sure the amount of money they’re spending that they’re making the right choice. We’ve found prior to doing this online, website or stopping by a store, that their clients would come back to us and often request the same information that we’ve already sent them several times and that’s just the case of, it’s funny that they want it at different times or either perhaps browsing at work or at home. We try to make it as easy as possible for them to go and get that information and go back to it when they wanted to. Then really only need the contact with the sales person once they’re a bit clearer on what they’re interested in and we can then guide them more easily towards the solutions or how they want to customize it for their particular requirements.
That sort of helped us get to a broader base of customers but also just ensure that our sales staff are able to dedicate more time to clients. We may have a better feel for what they’re after. It ensures that instead of starting the sales process quite fresh and don’t have as clear an understanding of all the choices available that they had the chance to look at that. We may find that they actually contact the sales team still several times but they have the ability to go back and then check on prices and work out what’s going to fit with their particular requirements and budget. Those sort of options in front of them by the time they’re actually talking to one of our sales team.
Felix: The kind of flow for customers is they’ll come to the site, come to the store, see what’s possible, play around with some customizations, but then typically will want to talk to a sales person just to make sure that all of the little nuances that they’re looking for for their particular event or their particular structure they want is going to be possible. It’s almost like the sales person is just there to help them get over some educational gaps or some objections but then they typically close. Are the sales people typically closing them on the phone or do they usually, do the customers usually go back to the website and then finish the order that way after talking to a sales person?
Stuart: It’s generally the latter, I didn’t generally work out what they need with a sales person clarifying it all, sometimes we’ll fill in the cut for them, or fill in the draft order for them and send that to them to check and pay. We found, I mean these are quite large high ticket items but being in the event industry most people are always in quire a rush, they’ve got a deadline to meet, a structure or whatever we have to make for them. We’ve found a lot of orders are coming through with credit card payments. Prior to doing the online presence, we would find that more and more of our sales were paid that way. Want to get the order in quickly, get the artwork, get the sign off through so we could meet the delivery date that they needed. We find now that, because they can pay for it online it makes it all very easy. You can send in the order to them through the shop site, they can check, they can add things if they need to or perhaps if they’ve forgotten a particular accessory or change that they want, then they put the order through and make sure that we get it into manufacturing quite quickly and out the door.
We have some products typically there’s a turnaround of under 24 hours and manufacturing and shipping, depending on what clients are after. It helps speed that process up really and ensure that. In the past transfers of payments, were making up the majority of the way people paid, again that sort of speed of ordering and manufacturing means that more and more are going directly through that shop or by site.
Felix: I see so your sales people are sometimes actually adding items to the shopping bag or customizing adding to that the cart are they then just sending a link to their particular customized cart over to the customer for them to finish off.
Stuart: Yes. The draft order function that [inaudible 00:11:09] enables us to do that. Basically they can make any alterations that they feel or that they may not have discussed with a sales person before placing the order. We found that an easier way and a quicker way for people to do it, to get the information they need and to make those decisions quickly. It’s probably one of the greatest enemies we have with our product range and that most clients are ordering them for a particular event or particular outdoor activation. They have a very short time frame often that they’re wanting these products made and shipped.
Felix: Yeah I like that approach of creating these cards for them and I think that it could work well for, even in industries or even stores that don’t have such a high ticket item where you are getting on the phone or getting these live chats and talking to the customer and actually creating that the cart for them. A lot of times, whenever I am shopping, I interact with somebody through a live chat is just you know explanation of answering my questions but they’re not actually putting the work of adding items to my cart for me and I think that that brings the customer way deeper into the funnel brings them way closer to the point of conversion by having everything that they’re talking about in the cart already ready for them to purchase, or maybe there’s going to be up sells for them after they received that customized cart from you too. I think that that’s a great approach especially for high ticket items, but also I think it would work for a lot industries that might not even have as expensive of a product as you’re selling. You mentioned, because it’s a high ticket item, because of the customization, or customize ability of your product, the customers want to make sure that they are making the right choice. What do you find helpful to help them with this process of making sure that they’re making the right choice.
Stuart: Again that thing about putting as much information about products out onto the shop so customers can see how they work with videos, images, instructions, sometimes it’s even dimension guides for packing. Perhaps go on road shows. That’s a particular issue for some customers where they maybe find the product around the country for various shows, having that all available means that when someone’s gone through quite a complex sale where they’re looking at multiple vendors and multiple products from different people that they can at least go back and check and make sure they haven’t misunderstood, have it all available to make that decision. Filling in the cart for customers it’s quite an important thing and it may be sometimes that we’ve sent 2 or 3 options to them so that they again can go look back through them, have the price in front of them and be able to click through from the cart back to the product just to ensure that they understand what it is that they’re ordering and have that product specific detail at hand it may even be at a later stage.
We’ve found post order sometimes we’ve had clients where they’ve ordered and it’s going out to maybe a range of shops or if it’s a car yard where it’s been bought from our office and then being sent out to the distributors, sometimes the clients themselves that have ordered might not have even seen the product itself so the ability to go back through and check and have that information at hand and then pass it on to the people that are receiving the product really helps. It’s sped up our response somewhat in that instead of finding we have customers coming back to us asking us these questions after the product’s been ordered, we find that they can get that information themselves easily. It also means that they may go back and look at the other products that they were perhaps considering and purchase those for another set of events or another set of series of any activations that they have.
It’s a great way for us to help build particular or different scenarios for clients, send that out to them, have that to hand, whether they make their decision straight away or come back to us at a later stage, it gives it all to them in a way that they can click through and recheck or revisit particular products. Which works for us with such a broad range of offerings on our site really helps ensure that they get the most out of working through this with us and can see what broad options are actually available to get their brand out at these outdoor or trade show events.
Felix: I like how your approach of not just using the product page, the product description, just to sell the product but it’s also resource after they receive the product after they have purchased it, they can then come back and look at the specifications, look at how to install it, tons of details, and like you were saying it not only provides value for that customer but then they could send this around to other people that might be doing outdoor installation or actually the end customer and now you’ve got another eyeball, another potential customer, coming back to check out your site because of the value and because of the information being provided in the product description, again not just only sales focus product descriptions but then also informational after effect. I think that’s an important piece that maybe a lot of stores, a lot of different products, could add to their product descriptions just so that they can get more use out of the product descriptions and more use out of product pages. I want to jump back to the very early days you mentioned that you guys started off as a rental business first, what was that like? What was it like to run a rental business versus what you guys are doing today?
Stuart: It was quite a different sort of industry. We were renting products and would purchase from other companies and obviously then manufacturing and designing for customers. We have quite a large customer base, it’s smaller than we obviously have now. It was fairly locally based, it was a different sort of industry. The client service side of things I think is very similar in that we’re really dealing with the same sort of customer base, we understand there are challenges in what they’re looking for and what pressures have when making making these purchase decisions. We were our own customer really when we were designing and manufacturing these for ourselves. We understand the industry really well, coming from that background. It’s a different sort of industry really in the way it’s adapted now and some of that’s even the technology. Now those people are much happier using the internet to find information about these sort of products and to purchase from us. We find we have customers nowadays that, in the past we were meeting with them regularly, face to face, or sales people were actually seeing customers. Nowadays, there is still an element to that but there’s a lot where people are emailing and you know using the the internet, the chat, and the web site itself to educate themselves about the products.
We find we ship to the countries and to customers that we never would have imagined possible back when we first started and that’s an exciting part of it all. It opens up a lot of new challenges but it certainly made for quite a different business than the rental business. At the end of the day though the products, really to make them effective and make them useful for customers we have to make them as as robust and as hard wearing and as easy to use and install as we possibly can and that’s come from having been the end user from the very get go. We understand that side of things and it means we can focus our development of the products on that and ensure that we make it simple, so they order they know they’re going to get a structure that they don’t have any problems with. That anyone with no background in the events industry or in using these sort of products, can easily install and use. If they have any questions again having that information online means that they can get to it any time of the day from any part of the world rather than having to rely on some technical expertise on the end of a phone or through the sales representative.
Felix: It sounds like the experience that you had as a rental business was very valuable, but prior to you starting your manufacturing business because like you’re saying you guys were the customers at the end the day you were the people that are you’d eventually sell to as a manufacturer. When did you know that it was time to start making that process to become the manufacturer and move further up the chain outside of just being a rental business?
Stuart: Well almost immediately and from there from they get up starting around with that we made. The products for us. Still you know we looked at them and they weren’t really the sort of structures that were cast members really about the ball and so we started manufacturing them from a newly stage that we were really manufacturing and selling. And it was only half the town that while we were renting and were having people wanting to buy it from us that we realized that all the manufacturing is is a big part of what we do the same time I guess you know we background wasn’t in marketing and sales reentering the street and selling the products we did you know we are we’re out the fire and when we were actually installing them or setting them up the customers that was a great bit of empathizing for for our manufacturing. Side of this obviously see how wonderful they look and how easy they are. And how much attention to the brands that have been used for. So yes and the the it wasn’t there. Suddenly we you know sort of moved into manufacturing we pretty much stand by the pattern. I guess of this the fact that the manufacturing has proved it wrong to all the rental is is a locally based company it’s and the way it having clients all of the world wanting to rain from us.
It’s not really practical to have the expertise of installation so flying around the world doing these things. There was a there was about element of let’s retire and we found ourselves doing a bit. You know all over the place and and everything sort of outside of a straight to install the structure is the reality was again we were making them so that they should be installed by anyone expertise and so they’re sort of how a group that says it did. There was no demand for that and we’ve had we’ve probably seen a lot of time dealing with I was these clients wanting that. But then obviously the cost of having installation people fly from from Australia to North America or Europe. To simply install a number of structures just just really didn’t make it all it feasible for the most past them. So any known in the in there would be not buying from us and we believed provide the service the least bit background expertise to ensure that they were in the trouble with the structures and mess that’s again at the ground that we realised that the pride in all of this information on my makes it easier and easier for customers to to use the products and stand them and you know they the early days of having to have and it’s their clients and once other worlds the other to install something sort of just doesn’t exist.
Now those we we can essentially may mean our structures and a lot of large cast and structures for millions from now we’ve done it into the super model city in San Francisco to lambaste all sorts of. Debian’s thing down to small clubs or small be news that you know they’re just in a few thousand dollars are a particular structure for the wanted a reason they need it. So there were and there were there were there are businesses that sort of grew up together the rental business I guess is somewhat being left not so much behind it was it became a smaller part of the business and it was sold on. To the other owner and so on in and still strikes the day. And it’s one of the customers on the island that. The manufacturing and expertise that we had and building these things thought it still says and in so many numerous large brands and small customers what it’s made of that was really we’re close because of our management team and most of the expertise that we build really is that they were spinning most the time focusing on that side of the business. So it made it a clear decision to the separated to eventually.
Felix: Net nowadays you don’t have these teams flying out to tune star. These are these are structures anymore. How does the distribution work today and how do you manage all that because and give us an idea how big can these structures go how much can they weigh
Stuart: you know have some large structures that are serious baritones clear feet in a market they can be imagined that you know some of the designs for instance three thousand plus people so that so that some of the some of the the I guess the in there are honestly the smaller structures that are near you know teams that are team thought or even the like pro se it’s been sales and it’s especially products that head down and into a small sort of career. So you know it’s a broad range of structures for for. Ones that you know clearly you know container a size to where it is just a small period sensual one of the products we manufacture here factories and various countries both Australia and China and so lucky it so we manufacture and those places have been on with the order isn’t what it is what you know time limits here are getting in May So the Mullard been driving though it seems if right and you know of course some of the largest structures would be would be secret or road freight that clients in and you know did it really depends on what they’re after.
There are a number of things they do that the conversion kits and so forth that are Ranger companies. That already have a number of stocks trucks or stock up structures. That help them to get the most area structures by converting and things that wonder structures that are a lot more where our factor to them and most of these are in the conversion kits picked and things that could be easily if rated around the country. So we’re in a world logistics is always a challenge is that we’re quite addicted. As we did in Australia we were a long way from a Brit we got quite used to getting good at it and since things long distances the you know if great service is nowadays mean that we can see things across the world and herald them there and only a out. We we can support classes as though we’re in the same city or same zip code. No matter you know we’re there to products be made the day
Felix: to you that you are shipping these big items potentially very big I amas a very heavy items they have customization and now. So there are certain scenarios where the cost. Need to fast they have a specific deadline to meet the half an hour and he’s coming up in how do you manage them so that doesn’t damage just disrupt the entire flow of the business.
Stuart: Yeah they can acquire really I guess that’s the thing it’s part of the business really we know the irrespective of the size of the structure or one of those the clients a little you know they’re sort of the same way. Really you know they’re all generally time critical. You know some task instructors may have taken us quite complex lab structures may take us a couple of months to build in the name and trying to force the trades to being aware it’s going to them. Well or oh friends to get that structure that we even fire some of the structures that they may be if rated. Around the place. You know often these are going out to the bins we don’t have a number of seriously in so logistics as again they’re challenging that they need to prove the structure. Maybe from really into an East Coast of America into the you know we play on the West.
So we design a ML’s of that and he’s the pectin transported in a in a way that you know that will accept. So it’s very very conscious of the size of packages ensuring things are modular and flexible so although a large structure. You know they say three thousand people will still be quite occupied haven’t the boxes or shipping. Cabins that they’re all quite easy to end up for most curious. That’s better than the most searched some of the classic sort of stripped ins I guess they designed it yet. Being picked down into a number of boxes a number of cabins all meeting the criteria of the curriculum is that the use of that can be airfreighted around a place.
Felix: God just so you just have that experience of May. Ensure that everything is in a size or modular enough that it won’t be an issue when it comes to ship but I think that’s important too because one of the biggest most common piece of advice for anyone to starting a business for the first time is that when it comes over a local just overlook shipping a lot and one of the easiest way to get started is to sell something that you can pick up with one hand and obviously your your product is not the case obviously there’s tons of experience is required when you get to this level where you’re shipping such a large and heavy items. So one of the keys for you guys like you’re saying was that the location of the factories the they’re making these are strategically placed so there you have great covers of the world but then you also mentioned that yes sales team spread throughout different countries as well tell us about that we how did you get started. Which countries were you were you putting sales teams in first.
Stuart: We grew into the U.K. You’re really are on there that was just a natural sort of growth but actually moved from the U.K. up to the strategy before starting a business recently recently changed so we started the year with the team running the you know they were the release that we were servicing us from that U.K. and from Australia and so the current times and it’s only really four or five years that we realize that we realize we need people on the ground to help the car. So you is probably in you a little seven and US now almost they weren’t really that young for us the you never say I was rebels changed. They’re around early days we used to have more time at this it incarnates weird thing with them. You know that sort of thing.
Now days even because they got better at providing that information and learn from how and what trust that there are and trying to make sure that they can get to that twenty seven. Let me their sales teams become distributed almost the base the me and although they’re all of the time zones. They’re not a miracle. They are spread around and that way. I think they can service the clients and they still go out with the same time necessary but you know that as we grow and we go. We’ve been able to bring on people you know more and more of this knowledge than having to find people in a particular location which will just help us grow a great team. That way and get good at it. Ensuring that they are all the supporting tools they need to help clients but that they are theirselves decisions.
Felix: So at this point you have a globally distributor sales team but not because you know Sarah need a presence in those countries but because you’re looking for the best sales people around the world you don’t have to just focus on people who are local to you in Sydney. So what are some difficulties there of managing a globally distributed team Nover gars of sales or not but how do you make sure there you are able to manage your globally distributed team.
Stuart: Yeah there are some challenges there with the technology that uses some of them out there isn’t wasn’t so the ability to do video conferencing calls with the cells to all of the. Information any online. They all fall into twenty four but we use a lot of good Syrian tools and other things that everyone. And see what’s what. You know what other people are doing if we involve ourselves in the market things isn’t as much as they can’t stand you know that’s loony. You know learning what clients are looking for what we can help with it and so yeah everyone sort of is fairly open beseen to everyone to date to ensure they understand how it all works and a bit faster is the fact that although the team this hour. Seem to be quite remote from it.
I mean it’s actually production. Dealing with them on a daily basis and you know and many ways feel as though we’re in the room next door. So it’s literally great that you know the production marriages and then just actually know all this out stuff intimately and you know they they they all feel comfortable spinning time online or on the phone or on video conferences. So what are you now what only working through the process of ensuring that clients. Can’t. Or is deluded but throughout the process. It’s quickly as efficient as possible so that we can meet those types of time part of the understory.
Felix: So as a as a manager or a leader of the company when you’re working with a globally distributed sales team what do you find is the most important contribution there you have to make to to enable your your team members the sales people to do their job well.
Stuart: I do still if you get a one on one time with each person and that’s just it to work through. You know what that what I will if you know I’m We have both a lot of tools like the sun and so forth. We project based tools we are the ones contributing to the programs and the company to prove what we’re doing. That you know the the challenge I guess is is that from an early stage of making sure that people are going to fix the camp and you know that. That it’s a great wind wind and we have a very clear Company dollars and a mission statement about what we do and how we do in there. Focus on our making you know principle and you know wonderful structures forecasts and then say you had said during the days when it was doing that we try and ensure that you know that I understand that part of it saying that they feel an ownership of the whole process that we do and you know the key really is that they did it at a bit of time each week to each post and run through those things we ensure that alongside the sales program that they have that they’re involved in the product improvements in the process improvements and other bits and parts of the company so that it’s not just the south roll prison.
a they may be worth not how we did document things how we look at the tank bit feedback from customers and so forth. Alongside the status rug. There are no it isn’t just that the violence that is legal or drive and sells through it is from the get go. When it passes contact him of being out to understand what the client wants and how it is to help him and to do that. You know the more they know about the whole way the business Woakes. And what we do it to me to meet these demands from customers. The bigger they are you know find solutions that suit in fit particular class so it is. It’s almost like and ensuring everyone’s seen that the in a lot of the. Smaller sort of factions and scenes that work together across countries so that you know that everyone really does spend time i guess that they see each other in some way shape or form. Whether it’s just pick sides.
Or packaging or any of these things they want to have a bit of an end. And every three months we do a new program we sort of shift focus groups and on to under the mix of the challenge for the next three months and it gives us a chance to return to the try and get involved in another business in some way shape or form. So you know this is there were I guess a minute a little bit. There’s a lot drives. You know some of that stuff is quite remote drives a team and they can see that there is a big. Machinery but to support them. How in customs.
Felix: You’re almost seem like the the connector of all the knowledge within the company right because your goal when you sit down with these people these are salespeople these team members that are remote one on one you are making sure that they are not necessary course correcting but you’re making sure that they understand or are have a top of mind or culture or the mission of the company but the same time you get information from them a very valuable information for the market back into the company and making sure that all of that stays connected to everyone is communicating sometimes through you and you mentioned there every three months one way to two where you run this company is by shifting the focus every three miles by moving people from a program to a program so you say more about this. What do you what do you mean by a program
Stuart: where we think for five years key areas that we want to see improve the next three months and we focus people. Now it takes you know role will. It’s just even managing it something that wrong may not be that they have an active involvement and it appears in the south in the north america may be put in charge of helping improve their logistics process or you know they in the process we have all it’s have been made and tracked through to Gaston it’s now they may not be the ones actually physically doing in this thing but if they are given the responsibility of of working out what challenges Bay Area. What we can do to improve it then those who are committed to that business obviously have to we’re out of the business to try and prove it. So you know we have a bit of the brain still only every three months and then sit some targets and goals on around us programs and allocate them around that. So that everyone sort of has some involvement in it and I guess what I keep parts of the business.
You know not tell you some time to clean or three months and family man up and prove the way I wanted to or at least one of the challenges but that gives us a chance to reset and decide how if I was that Jim if I missed this that or missed it works well it was a focus for a brief period of time that we can actually see some real change and real improvements often you know there’s a case of we can if you if you stay there longer Tim garlands which we still do that they can get lost in the day to day with their people have displayed a very short time frame to try and actually see some real improvement or try to scrape and crew and out of the business. So today it worked well and I mean you know we won. Buyers and in a great way they take on board that responsibility but it’s given to them. To then try to improve and Allison was understand some of the challenges that the business may head. So it’s very easy when you’re it perhaps dealing with the sounds focused goes in it that you know that they don’t sometimes understand what. Challenges there may be to get things through very tight time frame of manufacture.
And we know you’ve been involved and it means that they you know they can they can appreciate that and they can bring their appreciation to dealing with clients to ensure that they work out the best solution for them and their own to understand how to sort of man for what. Otherwise you know. May it may cause problems at the best in the promising or don’t or presenting things that we know may have some untoward challenges when it is holidays. You know just trying to manufacture all here or whatever it is that is that’s likely to cause a particular solution to take a little longer and didn’t enjoy as of the health generally various kind of range of options that clients heads when it within our product range so it means that they understand it at the front end and so business able to service customers and guidance the ones that are going to sort out or solve their problem in the best possible way
Felix: that i like they’re there. You put these put them on these are projects it is now Mickey their main focus are the rights are something that they can work on on top of or I guess alongside their their I guess their main job.
Stuart: That’s right yes. So that we actually dedicate some time to it. So you know they have some time blocked out the calendar that they’re being spend time on that means that they will perhaps they inherit more communication with there’s this that. They wouldn’t have otherwise they may know it’s there may be dealing with that not not for that little so if it ensures it doesn’t show that they get a bit of a well rounded understanding they don’t have to become a needs that in this part of the business. Produce and have spent time trying to resolve problems. Cruden Miria it or understand it and I don’t think in brain areas of business. Where it’s a manufacturing just excited. It’s been so focused on the role that sometimes a suspect and crew quite seen it was still just a different perspective.
Felix: But then also I think one one a great benefit from this is to is just the empathy that it builds to because you know like you’re saying a salesperson gets a chance to work closer with the manufacturer distribution side and gets a better understanding of what it’s like in the limitations of why you know things might not be as fast as they like and I think that just because a lot more camaraderie with them within a company that’s a great idea. So I want to go to something day I think you have you or someone from your team and mention in the shop of a suster I was covered of you guys were mentions that one of the key exercises there was that what they used to just do early on is to get to know what your competitors are doing there. We did you go through this exercise was your experience like when you wore try to understand better about what their competition was going.
Stuart: Yeah you know it’s probably a little bit of a program we continuously You know it’s very easy to get sort of the focus of focus on your customers and what you’re doing and then to sort of look at and around and see improvements and trauma it’s not just computers but other industry related industries and sometimes even under like street doing things in a way. You know we take a look at them realize that we really improve the way we. So so here. It’s a case of from a third from looking at computers we reserve the task of getting people with going out and in contacting and builders and go through this the sales process for them to see how they handle it and whether these things and do that we could improve from. It is a very to the industry although we do see quite unique structures.
You know there are no end of the other companies that don’t offer past my structures or you know structures that functionally can compete with what we do so we are going out there and understand how they price what they do is manage the whole program and process just ensures that we ensure with we delivering as high quality sort of services as we possibly care there that that as it is not just a let’s build a Sundance it’s a case of putting another industry with there or it could be something like the power of the street we know there are so many other industries that sell i ticket items. And we can learn how they handle the whole sales process their classmate occasion and so forth so that we didn’t we can now you know just use their expertise or things that we think we’re well for them and try and work out how best to live and implement something similar in our business there. We’re still a very small company can be to some of these say so all the parents agree that you know there’s clearly things that they do that if we did we can learn from and and.
Data to our industry will hoot well so it is something in an afternoon that will be part of that three month program will pick something that we really need to look at whether it’s a product range that we need to get better at the industry and just ensure we’re with a living. You know the right product right price. You know the least product sometimes we know about the space. Maybe if we do it will bring a hot quality product in the markets willing to pay for it and you know maybe some of the cases just didn’t understand it. In general we obviously when it goes to make sure can’t be getting the best value in and so so there’ll be part of it. That’s three month program. So we can. What what it is that we want to try and solve or try and learn about someone team going out and working out. What they are what. Well what to do from there. What we should have learnt from it and. And yeah it’s not. I think trying to continuously improve the business that you’re you don’t find it so to you to focus on your own business and your own classes to not sort of get out there and learn from from my experience in other industries.
Felix: I like that you do go to other industries too I think that’s so important because a lot of it’s almost an echo chamber a lot of times when you are just focusing your own industry where one is just learning and sometimes copy from each other when you can look outside to see what effect that in other industries and you might not take exactly what they’re doing but it might give inspiration to see how you can apply for your specific business for your specific industry and if you have an example of a change that you made maybe recently or based on research or competitors or other industries there has had a big impact on the business.
Stuart: This is kind of you know if you come to marketing or customer feedback and then that’s the one that we count working on we cannot have other companies approach that and we go out and shipping cost and structures that to clients and we get some great images sometimes. But you are trying to get more of a whole picture means that someone’s you know the Sea of a man not captured and they would have a lot of time I guess in this in this regard to families things. So I mean looking at how other industries sort of sort of solve it that feel that process that was at the state really important to us that I’m sure that we can improve what we do that you know we get an understanding of you know things that we may not have seen we would customize to what will come up with something completely new that we get great feedback from clients that we know what we need to do to make it easier or better or whether it’s instructions of LEOs and these sorts of things and you know if it’s a little bit of a challenge that you know they move on to their next to the intern although a lot of the products often enough in a candidate to come back to us so that the suggestions are net.
There are times when they’re just too flat out that the next they’re being. And they mean to you know it can in get to the point where it’s it has come a while before we get information back so. So you know we’ve been busy the moment looking to see how other countries handle it. What they can do to try and get good data feed bet. And more timely for their product while their particular program was still sort of active
Felix: and hunches yet on on how you might be or do that.
Stuart: Well we’ve we’ve tried a few different things. You know looking at power to make it entices for customers and you know it’s not a case of previous of the discounts it’s just trying to again feel maybe I’m feeling like the process of their program and some value to what they need. It’s called very early days in the law and that is looking at this is this come out with a few ideas we’ve probably got the brain still a bit and. So the testing to see if there were there. She’s done. After all this the other industries and look at Hell they do the. I guess market sales research and and we’re trying to you know it’s a small program there are lots of other ones starting right you have to think of a good example. That’s not the complicated by product range.
Felix: You know we so so when it comes to actually marketing now because you get a high price point. I don’t like or say it’s highly competitive. It’s that their customer base is in on them in a right because he’s a people they’re putting on events. What’s been the most successful sales show market channel for you guys wanted in this kind of scenario where you have a large price point that you know requires more touch points from different sales people and discuss position of all the what works well for this kind of start up.
Stuart: Yeah I guess it’s a continuous improvement that what worked well you know two years ago. It’s quite different. Now we got a period of the news that subscription base and they did a lot of topical articles and you know try and show we can provide a lot of useful information. So that still works but it was cloned it’s probably I guess everyone’s find themselves inundated with Leno and time to read. It’s probably not as. Well you know only look at some of the steps of open rates and really I mean and it has gone down a bit. We doing a lot more social media obviously than we used to do you know trying to find things that are topical there are interesting how the clients with the other parts of the business not just things that pressure of interest to them. Outside of well so yeah it’s a it’s a constant challenge we’re lucky enough with the programs that we do that every being it is a great show. It’s. Great product and that seems to market. You know and it the more clients see of us the the big that that moves it’s all quite quite quickly. We had until it was a copywriter and you know she’s busy. Constantly we internally ever so if they get too resource clear when a client’s Christians are being.
So alarmed and limited We’re going to have our ear to answer those have to put the information at the hunter in Europe labs where our laws and try to fight sites themselves and I think that that’s probably now for us. One of our better marketing tools and that the more we spin into me on improving the more we find customers the finest natural because they’re searching for those answers those questions already are and means that you know we’re we’re we’re providing a resource that they can come back to us about Apple structures or indeed structures ill or some of the challenges that have been people help with with was putting on these sorts of explanations. So maybe that that’s certainly an area we want focus more on and so far it’s certainly seemed to be a way that I think bitterly generated and you know that it is it is a time. TIME So that goes into debt. I think it’s time well spent because we’re going to tell one customer with a problem.
It is generally you know thousands of others that have that same issue or need that same information to hit. So it’s a that is it is probably the primary thing it’s almost a growth from the news there. We used to include the news that it’s now looking at how big is it to get out of the Internet it. It’s clear that they’re actually just looking for naturally next line in the answers they need.
Felix: I think education a great way to market and you don’t have to only educate them on your particular product like you’re saying help them get bring in value in other aspects of your product you know you’re saying that you might talk to my Vance’s have to be specifically on how to set up your structures or how to how to you know pick a pop product of yours it can be you know Jason topics. So you know being in business for over ten years in the these markets How’s your focus and he gives an idea of how successful the business is that day.
Stuart: Yeah I mean we we’ve got as a graph from being in many industries you know in the U.K. and U.S. and the only element to distributors in Europe and Asia. Yeah look at we don’t think it’s there you know we’re career five or six coms the size merely that we’re three to four years ago. We’re expecting the same sort of growth in the US market is still very new for us and clearly it’s much larger than the little ones that were established. Well established and now we’re probably stagnate not stated that the growth is slowing here because we we have a very I guess mature client base that knows that this has been using us now seventy years so yes so the focus for us is as. It’s growing in those places and knew it too and that’s me a lot of that focus is is on the year is and the stuff over the copyright is based on all their miracle. You know we we focus things in ways that suit. There are differences that we blew in over the years between Americans and how things were eerie because stand ins too just just there are the challenges that people are living a straight face in different countries and so that’s you know that you know the experience of head of dealing with one country translates pretty well to a Celebrity Get Me you know challenges and showing customers.
We have solutions the customers yet unexpected or hyped to see that we grow in a similar if not quicker route in the next few years is the immense industry we did take not with E.G. if see which is quite a while now but we you know it’s quite evident that stage in the U.K. and a year in Australia are things for our particular industry would slow down quite dramatically that that’s long gone and that’s where we’re well back into the days where we’re. You know there’s a lot of demand for this sort of product and I think to customers. These are the products giving them a real point of difference and a memorable customer experience. There are key products that use them and then if the. Get well it’s getting busier and busier and harder to stand out some companies even for the article and so the and industry or near it. And yes most larger businesses and marketing businesses realizes as it’s quite crucial. But at the same time they obviously need to get over to NOT the investment into cities and history of doing these things mean we can we can clearly help them understand what their children is and ensure they get the most value or the basics
Felix: and very cost so yeah it looks like or sounds like where you want to go next. It’s just more expansion into these. Different geography so you know thanks once again for your time. Stewart’s a stretch event dot com is a Web site looks like some you know great opportunity for anyone out there that is looking to do local events there are starting up their pop up shop or something or at different events there where you want to put up your products for sale. I think that might be a great fit for a lot of listeners out there you were also you recommend that they check out they want to see more of what you guys are up to what you guys do
Stuart: great galleries and interest and then there is a Court Street structure and it’s the sites for each country through through getting to a street against any script that will get a good feeling for what we’re doing and silly contact in a very friendly staff to help you.
Felix: Awesome thanks so much to our.
Stuart: Thanks again. Felix.
Felix: Thanks for listening to Shopify Masters e-commerce marketing pod cast for ambitious entrepreneurs to start your store today business Shopify dot com slash masters to claim your extended thirty day free trial.