FILED IN: Behind-the-Scenes, M&G Happenings
Posted By: Jamie Kutchman
Whoa, 2020 was quite a year. And let's be honest, the things that made 2020 so challenging are still very much the same. Yet somehow, a new year brings a fresh perspective and that hopeful feeling that anything is possible. Kind of like hitting the reset button. As you may have read here, we've been very honest about the fact that we didn't achieve all of our 2020 goals but that won't stop us from setting new goals for 2021 just as we do every January. The business goals we didn't achieve in 2020 will carry over to this year since we've determined that these initiatives still matter to us!
Convert Operations to Fedex
If you follow us on Instagram and watch our Stories, you'll know that we've been USPS loyalists. Our "free shipping" option in our online shop is USPS Priority and in addition, we have traditionally shipped all of our custom projects via USPS. So, it's a lot of volume. (We offered rush shipping options via Fedex but these rush orders were a small percentage of our overall orders). The mail carrier assigned to our location has been absolutely incredible over the years, always going above and beyond for us, always telling us how appreciative of our business he is. In addition to this key relationship, USPS Priority delivers anywhere in the U.S. within 1-3 days at very reasonable rates. When you bump this service up against Fedex Ground and UPS Ground, for similar prices, the packages stay in transit several days longer than they do with USPS Priority. We've traditionally had very few issues with USPS Priority not delivering on time, and so it was a great option for us. Fast forward to holiday season 2020 when the increase in the number of packages being shipped combined with staff shortages due to Covid were unprecedented. ALL carriers were having issues delivering on-time. Widespread delays were occurring and still are. Even guaranteed rush services like Fedex 2-day and Next Day were no longer considered guaranteed and still aren't. So, you might be wondering why we are making this change if all carriers are having serious delays? Plain and simple, USPS was ultimately skipping the very important step of scanning each and every package upon pickup. This translated to thousands of our customers' packages appearing, according to tracking info, as if they were still in our local post office literally weeks after we shipped them out. The gifts would appear as if they weren't progressing and then all of a sudden they would mysteriously show up. In addition, if we contacted USPS Customer Service, they had zero clue where the packages were at any given time which put us in a terrible position as a small business. Our sales rep flat out stopped answering our emails, I guess because he couldn't help us either? Most all of our clients were understanding since the delays were so widespread and completely out of our control. However, some clients weren't so understanding and were demanding refunds, disparaging us on social media, and saying they'd never order with us again. It was heartbreaking. On the contrary, our shipments that went Fedex, even though they experienced significant delays as well, the tracking information was at least updated as the packages progressed and their Customer Service could actually give us updates and details about where the packages were located so we could at least offer our clients reassurance that the packages weren't lost, just severely delayed. If we want to continue offering our clients the absolute best client experience out there, we have to have a carrier backing us up with the infrastructure in place to, at minimum, scan EVERY SINGLE PACKAGE at the point of pick-up so we have full and complete tracking information to offer our clients from point A to Z. This of course won't prevent widespread delays from continuing but it will at least allow us to give our clients better information so they know exactly what to expect. And in these crazy pandemic times, that does go a long way. It breaks my heart to have to tell our long-time carrier Steve that we're leaving USPS, but we must do what's best for M&G clients. This conversion to Fedex appears on our 2021 goal list but truthfully, we have already made this switch. We did it as soon as we returned from holiday break. It was that much of a top priority.
Launch Charity Collection
This goal appeared was on our 2020 list and is transitioning over to 2021 because it's still very important to us. To be fully transparent, we simply ran out of time before holiday rush to properly launch this into the world. But it's a top priority and it's definitely coming! We'll introduce an entire collection of ready-to-ship gift boxes where a portion of the proceeds from each one will be donated to a different charity. Giving back is very important to us as a team and we're especially excited that this collection will allow a variety of charities to benefit, not just one. Stay tuned!
Expand the Team
We have more than doubled in size the last two years while our core team has more or less remained the same size. In other words, we are at the breaking point. It's time to expand and expand in a significant way. We need to do a few key hires at the same time. Traditionally, I have always been risk averse and wanted to hire only one at a time. But not anymore. Keep an eye out as we will be announcing some new open positions very soon.
Further Expand Add Your Own Logo Program
We listed this very same goal last year and we achieved it. But now we want to expand this program even further and offer a third way for our clients to add their own branding to gifts offered in our online shop. When they participate in this program, shipping in the US is included and the lead time for customized, branded gifts is far less than if they opt for our fully Custom Gift Design Service. Not to mention, the order minimums are much much lower.
Establish Outbound Sales Process
As someone who started Marigold & Grey after leaving behind a career in medical/surgical sales, I am ashamed to say that we do not have a formal outbound sales process. When we receive inquires, we of course have a process for communicating with these prospects and selling to them, but we're not actively targeting and going after clients. (I know this is not something to complain about and that we are truly lucky that the clients we get come to us rather than us contacting them.) Our ideal clients mainly find us through Google search, word of mouth, or social media. And while we do put a ton of energy into these channels, I know we're not even scratching the surface when it comes to our potential. This goal is long overdue.
Revamp Customer Rewards/Loyalty Program
We launched our current rewards program a year and a half ago. But like most anything, I always think we can do better! I think we can offer our clients more. Even though our customer return rate is considered to be quite good, we want to offer an experience (plus incentives) such that anyone who wishes to send another gift for any occasion WANTS to come back to us and gift again. There are many options for gifting these days, more so than ever before. We realize that it's privilege for clients to order from us and even more of a privilege if they order regularly. I'm not sure of the details on this just yet but this is definitely a focus of ours in this new year. Stay tuned!
So THIS one. This one I almost hesitate to put it on here. Maybe if I add it to the very bottom of the list, not as many people will read it and so if we don't achieve it, it won't be as bad? This was a goal I boldly put out there last year and with us being in survival mode amidst Covid and going through a lot of operational changes and crazy growth, it honestly just fell off the radar as all the podcast equipment we excitedly bought gathered dust on the shelf. In the last 6+ years of business ownership, I've experienced a lot of challenges, I've learned a lot, and I have a lot to talk about when it comes to starting a business from scratch and bringing an idea to life and all that that entails. I also know that there are countless other business owners who have important things to say and I'd love to bring their voices to the forefront. So yes, this one makes the list again. 2021, let's do this.
If you've made it this far, thanks for reading these goals and hopefully holding us accountable! What are your goals for 2021? Reach out here, we'd love to know!