Archive for January, 2010

A hiccup with Valpak

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

We just signed up in early January to advertise with Valpak, a coupon direct mailer. This is our first experience with something like this and with the first mailing going out this past week, we’ve found the response to be slow. This may be expected as a key to marketing is repitition.

The was a problem, however with the mailing. Valpak left off of the $30 coupon the most important part of the coupon, that it is only for first time customers. The problem is that whenever we do a customer for the first time, we give them a big discount, between $20-$30 off depending on various factors, for trying us out. When we do this, we make little-to-no profit off of the first job after paying a 2-to-3 man Certainteed certified crew with full worker’s compensation and general liability insurance to go to the home and use van, gas, and equipment to do a full service. Our hope is that the customer will be happy with the service and return in the future at what their price is before discount, or if necessary, with a negligable $10 discount that we usually offer if the next cleaning is within 6 months. We can’t afford, as a company, to do returning customers who have already received the first time customer discount once at a $30 discount now.

Luckily, Valpak has fixed this on the online coupon on their website and it will be fixed on the next mailing. In the meantime, luckily only 2 returning customers have tried to use the coupon. We’ve directed both to Valpak’s website and offered full explanation. One booked at $10 off their regular price, and the other hasn’t had time to respond to our email yet.

Part of writing this on the blog is to vent about Valpak, but the other part is to have a more detailed explanation on our website in case any more of our previous customers attempt to use the coupon.

It’s 10:26 so time for bed. More tomorrow.

4 Year Anniversary

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

February 1st is only a couple of days away now. In all honesty, it doesn’t feel like 4 years have gone by. They say, ” time flies when you’re having fun” but I’m not sure how much fun it’s really been. I work more in the last four years than I did the eight years before it. I never wanted this company to be successful, I just wanted it to pay the bills as I went on to do other things. I had no passion for “gutter cleaning”, and honestly, who would.

The game changer was the death threat. When my previos employer discovered I had made my own service, with a better website, they threatened to have me killed if I didn’t stop. It was all they could do as I had too much evidence of their illegal activities that they had no recourse other than illegal methods to compete. I never felt comfortable in their environment of cutting corners and taking advantage of customers. It was when I discovered they were taking advantage of me as well that I broke away and tried to do my own thing. I set out, from the start, to be everything they weren’t. I was going to price fairly, hire legal employees, pay taxes. What I wasn’t planning on was growing, expanding, and dominating.

The funny thing was when the death threat happened, it didn’t bother me in the moment. It was sitting around and thinking about it in the days afterwards that changed me. I thought about what would happened if they carried out their promise. I had a wife, I wanted a family. I found myself becoming obsessed with the threat. Finally, similar to in comic books when a normal person makes a vow to rid the world of evil, I made a vow to do everything I could to make sure homeowners were no longer taken advantage of by corrupt companies. This changed our mission statement, and mission in general.

My life became all about work. All my hobbies and interest fell by the wayside. I grew this company from no customers in February 2006 to 20,000 customers in February 2010. I started this on credit cards and made it into a 2.5 million dollar company in 4 years. We went from a staff of 4 to that of 15. We have one awards and received the highest rankings of any company in our industry. And we’ve been a Le to assist multiple charities, including Toys for Tots, local homeless shelters and women’s shelters, and the American Red Cross. I truly believe none of this would have happened had I not received that threat. As I sit here, 4 years later, it is so core to what we do here that it is the first thing that comes to mind.

I’ll be retiring soon, leaving the company in capable hands of people who care as much and are completely professional, but who do not have a zealot mission like I do. I am interested to see where that takes the company. I’ll be happy to move on and put my energy into a new business that is reflective of my personality.

Happy Birthday, Atlanta’s Best Gutter Cleaners.