Chuckals Office Products
Chuckals is not your ordinary office products store. Yes, they offer pens, notepads and toner, but what makes Chuckals original is the way that co-owners Chuck Hellar and Al Lynden approach business. “We realized early on that the most important people in our business are not our customers, it’s our employees,” Lynden said. “If we can keep our employees happy by providing them with the tools to be successful, our customers’ happiness will follow.”
Celebrating its 10th anniversary in business and its 10th year of continued growth, Chuckals is a company that dares to think beyond traditional sales and support techniques. It incorporates customer relationship management (CRM) software with a fun work environment to propel employees to new service and sales heights.
* Batkground Info
Chuckals began when Lynden, a former copier dealer, bought a small retail office supply sLore catering Io Taeonia, Washington businesses and residents. “It didn’t take me long to figure out that while I’m great at sales and marketing, I needed help when it came to financial matters, ” Lynden said. “That’s where rny friend Chuck came in. With his financial mind and my unique take on sales and marketing, Chuckals was ready to grow.”
Today, Chuckals Office Products employs 26 people in sales and sales support roles. Chuckals’ also serves over 4, 000 customers locally and in 27 states each year. Chuekals maintains a large Web presence with a websitc that is a model for eCommerce businesses and has been GSA certified for more than a year. With $ 1.3 million in revenue to date, Chuckals expects a 3.5 percent increase in the first quarter of 2004 and a seven to 10 percent increase in sales this year.
An estimated 79 percent of Chuckals’ business revolves around traditional office products including toner and computer supplies. Another 12 percent of revenue is from the sale of office furniture, one percent irom major office equipment and five percent from commercial printing. Chuckals has aligned itself with a number of local businesses in order to become a full service provider to its customers. “We offer the services and contract with local businesses to provide that service, ” Lynden said. “This way, we don’t chop up the market. We help local companies to thrive and, in return, we keep our customers happy and gain referrals for the products we sell. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”
Lynden has always believed in maintaining a near stockless inventory and considers United Stationers to be a key partner for supplies. “Our job is to sell products, riot to buy them, ” Lynden said. “Ninety percent of products can be typically shipped next day. The only items we slock are more for the convenience of our customers.”
* Getting Behind Technology
According to Lynden, the key to Chuckals success is through the use of a systemized approach to business that utilizes advanced customer relationship management (CRM) software as the backbone for both sales and customer service. Expanding on Goldmine CRM software, Chuckals created Golddex software to interface with DDMS and streamline data transfer between the two. “Goldmine software wasn’t specific to the office supply business, ” Lynden said. “By synchronizing data transfer, we create a seamless and more productive operating CRM tool that allows our employees to access and utilize sales management reports, purchase histories, and order reporls more effectively.”
Chuckals use of technology extends to into every aspect of business to constantly market its products and services. Chuckals websile, www.chuckals.com, is a model for the independent dealership with product information, eCommerce capabilities, promotional offerings, email newsletters, company information, and local community news. “We pride ourselves on always being ahead of the game, ” Lynden said. “Our website is not just for ordering, it’s an informational source that our clients can enjoy and look forward to exploring.”
“One of the most interesting ways we have found to showcase new products, is though our ‘Sample Tuesdays’ promotion, ” he added “This involves working with manufacturers and providing qualified customers with free samples of products each week. Participating customers are asked to fax back a small survey that comes with the product and if they return the survey they are qualified to win an office products basket from us. The motivation for manufacturers to provide the products is that through the survey, we are able to give them invaluable feedback on what customers liked and didn’t like about the products. Everyone loves to get something (ree. It keeps our name fresh in our customers’ heads, and the manufacturers gain new insight. What else could you ask for?”
Sales and Marketing Matters
Chuckals employs seven inside sales reps, who are responsible for an estimated 300 accounts each. Utilizing its CRM software, reps are able to identity, classify and act on changing purchasing patterns to retain and keep track of accounts. A nine- step process that combines personal contact with marketing materials helps secure new business and a built- in automated system that calculates the profitability of each account allows sales reps to effectively and ei liciently manage customer relationships. In addition, the reps position goes beyond the sale as reps are also responsible for bill collection.
More than 90 percent of Chuckals business comes from referrals. The other ten percent comes lrom direct mail pieces that are sent out two times per year and followed up with phone calls. “There is no cold calling here, ” Lynden said. “Through sales motivation and oui- nine- step process, we are able to attract and retain customers with little problems.”
Because all Chuckals sales reps work primarily over the phone, keeping them motivated is of top importance and rewarding them for their efforts through creative initiatives is key. “We give our salespeople a lot of leeway when it comes to their sales approach, ” Lynden said. “Because of our use of technology, we are able to effectively predict how much in sales each rep should be bringing in each month. As long as these goals are being met and they don’t abuse the system, we’re happy.”
As an example, Lynden explained about a top producing sales rep that was à huge basketball fan and wanted nothing more than to watch the playoff games. While some disagreed, Lynden had the rep’s cubical wired for cable TV so that he could watch the games and make his calls. The result was a happy employee who could watch the games and rack up $150,0(XJ in stiles for the month without a problem.
Motivating the reps isn’t the only goal ol Chuckals who truly sees a customer’s happiness through the eyes of the stafl. “We have a number of fun things we do here that are simply to keep everyone feeling good and getting along, ” Lynden explained. “Every Monday morning we start the day off with a half-hour of games. Nobody wants to be at the office on Mondays, but some fun and games always picks things up.” Each week, someone is charged with picking the game Io play. Whether it be a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit or seeing who can putt the best, the winner is charged with coming up with next week’s game. In addition, all employees attend a weekly training meeting that ends with Lynden asking if anyone has anything to discuss. “This gives anyone who has a problem or needs to point something out the opportunity to do so, ” Lynden explained. “Even the smallest things can drive people crazy and it’s better to get it oil you chest.”
In addition to little perks, Chuckals understands that money is a huge motivator. But Chuckals didn’t want to just reward the reps, they needed to come up with bonus programs to get all the employees on board for the common cause. This involved bonuses lor drivers and non-selling employees to produce leads and bonuses for sales support personnel, who work with the sales reps to keep customers happy. Sales reps also are encouraged to “out do” their best with $100 bonuses if they better their sales figures for one month. They receive $200 for bettering the second month, $300 for improving the third month and up to $500 for the fifth consecutive month of improving progress.
Lynden and Heller believe so highly in their business model that they have come up with Chuckals Consulting, which is designed to take independent office products dealerships to the next level. Utilizing the technologies of Goldmine and Golddex software, Chuckals Consulting offers a variety of solutions for virtually every aspect of a dealer’s organizational processes. From software installation and training to contact management and call center support, Chuckals’ network of solutions can provide consulting, training and technical expertise to ensure success.
For more information on Chuckals, call 800.334.5769. Visit Chuckals Office Products at www.chuckals.com or Chuckals Consulting at www.chuckals.net.
Copyright Imaging Network Co May/Jun 2004
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