In our December newsletter, we gave kudos to a team that sold 1400 orders in 2 weeks and there was an overwhelming request from dealers to learn more. So we’ve chosen the Yolanda Meador, Gladys Sanders and Nita Arrington team as our newest “Dealer of the Month” spotlight!
We had a fantastic interview with Yolanda and team over the phone, but before we get to the exciting stuff, like how their promotion’s total orders have now exceeded 2,200, I want to first tell you about a situation I experienced a few days later that proves just how committed Yolanda and her team are to the advice they shared with us.
A customer contacted Create-A-Book to find out how to redeem the promotional voucher she purchased during the holidays. Her computer had crashed, and she was desperately trying to find out if it was too late to receive the book in time for her for her niece’s birthday…in two days! We helped her track down which dealer was responsible, which turned out to be Yolanda. I immediately contacted Yolanda, who then immediately reached out to the customer and offered to overnight her order. Yolanda didn’t have to do this, but she describes below how she’s learned great customer service is the cornerstone to building a business with repeat customers. The customer was thrilled and we were proud to see her “walk the walk” she described just a few days earlier.
So how did you get involved with Create-A-Book?
Yolanda: I came across your products back in 1998, and at the time I as trying to find ways to get my son interested in reading because he didn’t like to read. We loved the books and thought it was an interesting way to contribute back to society and make a little extra money.
Your son must have enjoyed all the personalized books
Yolanda: When we first got started, his name was in ALL the books and we used them as samples. Now that Gladys has twin grand-babies, we’re using them in the samples.
Have you been working Create-A-Book since 1998 or have you taken breaks?
Yolanda: We’ve been active since the first day, but we normally only did it during October-December. Those were big months for us. We would get a few orders throughout the year but our biggest time was the fall because that’s also when the festivals were and we’d sign up to do it in schools, book-fairs and places like that. We’ve always worked the business every year, but this year took us to another level. It’s interesting because we’ve been doing it for so long that I told Gladys this Fall that we either need to take a break or step it up. It was time for a change. Well, low and behold when you say things they tend to come to pass!
You definitely took it to a whole new level this Christmas!
Yolanda Yes! Actually the total number ordered was 2,200 and so far we’ve made around 1,200 books.
For the readers out there, can you explain what you mean by 2,200 orders?
Yolanda: That’s the total number of deals [coupons] purchased in our promotion. So out of those orders, we’ve had 1,200 books ordered through our website.
That’s incredible! Who came up with the idea to run a promotion on a daily deal website?
Yolanda: Oh, that was my bright idea. I buy from the different sites and I kept saying there has to be a way that we can promote our books for Christmas and for people to know about us. The key is a lot of people have bought these books for their kids and now they have grandkids, and when they see Create-A-Books they instantly want it. There’s a massive clientele out there, especially the grandmothers, who know and appreciate the personalized books.
Are you creating any routines/systems to keep up with the orders?
Yolanda: Yes, we just put our new process in place as to how we’ll get books made. When the deal first launched, they [the orders] were running us, we weren’t running it [the business], and that’s just bad. Now we have a system where we ship twice a week and I start my day going through the emails and looking to see what new orders have been placed and I get those printed and prepped and ready. It definitely forced us to improve how we were doing things, and now we’ve split up responsibilities into departments for shipping, invoicing, etc.
So you’re setting aside two days a week to work the business?
Yolanda: We ship twice a week, but I go through orders every day. What I found in this process is some people order books for next October and November. Well those don’t need to ship right away, but I still go ahead and print everything. I have a folder that is indexed by month so I put them in the month they are due and they’re mailed the month before. So everything for February just got prepped and put together and will be shipped tomorrow.
That’s interesting, I didn’t think about customers placing orders for future deliveries.
Yolanda: It also helps me manage inventory because that was another thing that caught us off guard when the orders started pouring in. So now that I’ve made all the books for February and I’m looking at March, if I’m short on something I know what I need to order.
There’s a lot of debate on the long-term benefits to these daily deals, do you think you’ll repeat this promotion?
Yolanda: Yes, I would do another deal, but it wouldn’t be the same one. A helpful tip for distributors looking to do this is not to include shipping as part of the deal. Everything is negotiable and if the company you’re talking to will not negotiate you need to walk away and look somewhere else. Another tip is only allowing a customer to purchase one coupon [deal]. We had one person order 10 coupons.
Are you seeing orders where the customer spends more the coupons value on your website?
Yolanda: We just had a lady who enjoyed her book so much she’s already signed up as a club member and ordered more books. Overall we’ve only had 3 customers, out of the 2,200, who were unhappy with the delay because we were simply unprepared to handle the first wave of orders. So I think we’ve done a pretty good job and should get some repeat business.
It sounds like you’ve learned a lot, is it ok if we share these specific details about the promotion?
Yolanda: Absolutely, this is important information!
What type of marketing will you do for new and repeat customers throughout the year?
Yolanda: Well, let me first say our database crashed and we had to start all over again [13 years of past customer data]. We had some great customers that came looking for us but when you lose that kind of information that can really hurt your business, so make sure you have backups.
But back to your question, aside from the daily deal promotion we did a marketing campaign on Facebook and that worked. What I’d like to see for the future is maybe having different sales opportunities for our Facebook customers. So if you “like” us then you’ll know about the savings. We’re also looking at doing one of the big shows in town. It’s an event that yields around 20,000 women. It’s totally different for us, but we’ve always wanted to do it and now that we’ve got some momentum we’d like to grow it even more. Also, Nita is about to go through our customer database and start looking for things like birthdays so we’re able to segment our customers and know when to send reminders and coupons.
That’s very smart. We’re actually planning to add a feature to the [SaviSites] websites that will let customers save profiles for their family members and friends. How are you getting the additional information from customers? For example, if they ordered a Christmas book, how are you finding out their birthdays?
Yolanda: We’ve started doing a “book of the month” where we feature a book in a newsletter. So every month we’ll promote something so that way they’ll get a feel for “Yes we have Birthday and Christmas Books, but we have other great books and hopefully this will drive them to our site.
Are you using an email marketing service handle these newsletters?
Yolanda: We just set up Constant Contact so we plan to start using that, but up until now we’ve just been using Facebook and regular email.
What’s the most important aspect of your business, now that you’re growing and putting systems in place?
Yolanda: Customer Service. What I’ve learned is even if they started off upset, because you responded and answered their questions and let them know you’re going to resolve their issues, you’re now the best thing since sliced bread. So that’s really what we’ve learned. We put a huge emphasis on making sure we give the best customers service. In the morning, I right down all the voicemails from the night before, and at 8am I hit the ground calling. I also immediately respond to all emails because they come to my phone or I’m at the computer.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Yolanda:Having the resources to be able to handle this many orders. Everybody wants those orders, but until you actually get them and realize what you need to manage the process, that’s more of a reality check. A gentleman recently called and wanted to order 5,000 books. If he called a couple years ago we would have said no problem. Now we’re more realistic and we realized it would take too many people to produce the books.
Actually, you might want to call him back! We’ve many helped dealers work out logistics for large volume orders. One dealer brought us a deal with Juicy Juice and we helped produce 20,000 books, and we helped another dealer produce 100,000 books for a promotion with Huggies diapers. If nothing else, we can help you find dealers interested in making books, so call us and we’ll brainstorm with you.
Yolanda: That is great to know!
And finally, any advice for someone just getting starting with Create-A-Book?
Yolanda: Have a plan, be consistent and don’t give up! It just came to a point where we needed more money and said “Create-A-Book is a business, it’s time to get serious, how can we do it.” It took us a little longer than normal, but we like where we’re headed.
Congratulations once again to Yolanda Meador, Gladys Sanders and Nita Arrington for thinking outside the box on how to use current trends to promote and build your business. And thank you for taking the time to share your experiences so that others may learn from you and follow in your footsteps. Keep up the great work; and we look forward to hearing about your local big event!
If you’d like to learn more from Yolanda, Nita and Gladys, you can visit their website or post a comment on their Facebook page.