3 Ways Small Business Can Play (and Win) Big

Why the little things make all the difference for upstart companies.

If we do business today the way we did yesterday, then we won’t be in business tomorrow.

That axiom always reminds me to keep an open mind to new ideas, trends and strategies. It’s part of the reason why, in 2014, after enjoying a successful career in banking, I left it all behind to buy a small business.

I wanted to see if I could succeed at entrepreneurship so my wife and I put retirement on hold, sold our homes and purchased PR Diamond Products, a diamond tool, blade and core bit company.

In this recent podcast with small business guru, Steve Strauss, I explain how PR Diamond is adapting – and thriving – in today’s disruptive business environment.

Since taking over the business, our sales have increased more than 60 percent (15 percent annually). We’ve added employees and expanded our product line. Business is booming this year, too, and my wife says that I’ve never been happier.

Ware2Go customer and PR Diamond Products CEO, Leo Schafer, explains how his business is thriving in the e-commerce space.

Our competitive advantage

Still, it hasn’t been easy. As clients kept pushing freight costs onto suppliers like us, we had to find ways to absorb such expenses. We also wanted to compete against larger companies by riding the e-commerce wave to new heights.

The easiest way to do that was with service. Our ability to provide a higher level of service created a competitive advantage. Service became our great equalizer – and ultimately, our great differentiator.

Here’s how we’ve used service to play and win big:

Personal attention: You can’t sell it if you don’t understand it so each of our account managers must test and use the products they sell. Then, we assign a dedicated account manager to each client – someone to contact and someone to trust. We have a 1-800 number, but a trusted employee always answers our phones during business hours.

This personal attention extends to me, too. I’m not afraid to do anything, and I respond to clients directly. I put my cell phone number on my card and if there’s an issue, our clients aren’t afraid to call me.

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Service became our great equalizer – and ultimately, our great differentiator.

It’s upsetting when an issue occurs because it could cost us a good client. However, the call means that the client likes our service and products enough to want the issue fixed. And that’s exactly what we do. We fix it.

Quality products: We opened our approach and created some innovative products with new and enhanced technology for consumables and equipment. We started making equipment again and built up our dealer network for equipment, landing two big clients.

We even teamed up with a larger competitor to sell their suite of equipment products and another that produces better, non-diamond blades for that side of the market.

We make our consumable products better by using a higher grade of diamonds and a proper matrix of diamond concentration in the segments. We then match that quality based on the expected use of the item.

On the equipment side, we make long-lasting, quality products, even as our competitors move to plastics and composites. We believe a higher quality saw will bring our clients back to us for the consumable products because they trust our reputation of producing quality.

Our suppliers and other equipment manufacturers that partner with us must share this level of quality.

We also hit home with a niche market of custom orders and core bit re-tipping. We attacked this market and picked up new business as a result.

We’ve grown from making bits once a week to making multiple bits most days. We’ve been so busy over the past few months that I’ve had to stop and help make bits myself.

Speed to delivery: Delivery speed is also a key differentiator for us. For custom items, we move very fast – in fact, faster than our competitors, which creates better service levels. It’s not easy, but we’re nimble so we can move fast.

We have developed systems and processes both internally and with suppliers to help us achieve this superior delivery service.

We partner with UPS, maximize our weight limits on ground shipments and maintain a personal relationship with our driver. We have his cell phone number, too, and he’s helped us avoid service delays.

For our industry, speed to delivery will continue to be a client demand we can’t ignore. At least that’s how I see it.

Our products aren’t like a head of lettuce – they don’t go bad – but keeping inventory on the shelf is costly. That’s why inventory management in our company is scientific. Having products ready to go, or prepped ahead of time, helps us achieve faster delivery.

Click here to learn more about Ware2Go.

An edge with Ware2Go

We continually look for ways to improve speed to delivery and recently found one with Ware2Go. This new technology company and digital platform matches available warehouse space and fulfillment services with merchants like us who need to get online orders to customers fast.

Our business is in Las Vegas, but Ware2Go found us warehouse space on the East Coast. This allowed us to position our products closer to more customers and get them shipped faster.

We started with one stock keeping unit and are now looking to add more because we’re confident we can move them. We’re also considering expanding into additional U.S. regions and Canada.

We’ve come so far since I bought this company: new products, new ways to support our customers and soon, new markets, even international.

Still, we remain nimble to meet e-commerce demands for better profits and less headaches. In striving for unparalleled customer service, we’ve developed our blueprint to play and win big.

Leo Schafer is CEO of PR Diamond Products.

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