So I completely underestimated the complexity of the logistics when applied to this product. In fact, I would say that I had completely ignored this facet of the business until I could no any longer get away with it. It’s actually just as complex and detailed as designing and developing the mask itself. First, we had to figure out what bank to use because every self-respecting company needs a bank account right? that was quite challenging – you would think all banks are equal but they are not. It certainly pays to shop around and find out what each of these fine upstanding institutions and credit unions might provide a small company right out of the gate. I would say some are just out to suck the marrow out of you and your business while others are genuinely interested in helping as much as possible. I ended up reaching out to my contact at the Williamson county chamber of commerce for some suggestions. After trying each and every one of their 7 strong lists, leaving messages, listening to their interminable Robo-options (you know, the press 17 if you suffer from vertigo, press 97 if you were born in Botswana…you get the idea) it was infuriating. leaving messages didn’t really help because out of 10 banks locally i called and added to my list I received 2 return calls – one of the banks required for me to place $5000 in an account or I would be charged monthly “maintenance” fees and the other wanted paperwork to the moon and back before they would even consider me. Out of desperation I looked at local community banks and found 2. One was where a friend of mine already employed and I felt that would be a good option. The advantage I felt I would have through a “friend” I could call on when I needed just evaporated because she had been promoted and asked me to call her colleague, which I did. However, I got the Robo-option again and felt that it sounded like the bank had grown too fast and I would be treated like a number, something I didn’t want to have to experience after my early years in the USA (30 odd years ago) with the likes of BofA or USBank. They were great then got too big for their boots and you felt that they were doing you a favor to look after your money. On a last-ditch attempt, I left a message at Reliant bank, in Franklin. Within 15mins I received a call from Michelle and she let me know about what they could offer. Their location was literally 6minutes away, less if there was no traffic and I was driving like an Italian formula-1 driver (without the Ferrari). We opted for their account for the great service I received, as well as the fact that I didn’t have to put anything in the account (i opted to put $100 in ) and I didn’t have to keep $1500 tied up just because the bank felt they needed it. we ended up with
Free Debit Card
Free Online Banking
Free Online Bill Pay
Free Mobile Banking
Free Mobile Deposit
So we were “legit” with $100 in the account and no one sticking a straw into our account so that it would be leaking money on a monthly basis. They say, “cash is king” when you are running and operating a small company so why would i want to be giving some of what we had to a bank to look after our already tiny amount of funds. I didn’t so that’s why we picked Reliant Bank.
It pays to take a few days to take a good look at what banks and credit unions will provide for you as a small business – you could save a ton of money.
Now, what to do with online sales and how to deal with the logistics of selling a product (5products in our case = 4models plus a kit).
I had spent a whole afternoon worrying how to deal with providing our 2-part product to a customer, what would that look like and writing and rewriting the customer jouney. the problem was i kept driving myself into very large potholes and there didn’t seem to be a simple way out. Talking this through with Gareth we felt we had a solution but it was still a but clunky so it was not until a whole day and sleepless night later that my wife (how probably could have a PhD in online purchasing) came to the rescue and put me straight. Smart woman, what can i say….
The piece that was wrapping me up into a pretzel was that we had a two part product – the mask body (which was the SMART mask component body) and a second piece that “plugs” into the body which is the Customized piece that requires someone to scan their face and send us the scan.
the chicken and the egg… would the customer fill out the order then scan, or scan…then fill out the order? OR….?
There was no easy or satisfactory solution with either the first or second option and it made everything very clumsy and risky. it wasn’t until my wife came to the rescue that the alternative “OR” came into view.
we would offer the entire mask with a generic small, medium, large (non-custom version of the mask) ship it out and provide the buyer with a request to scan and send us the scan if they needed the customized version of the mask at no cost because it would have been included in the overall product price.
That approach just made everything easier and felt that it was simple and scalable.