Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello, my name is Tom White and I’m the owner of Breeze Mobility, an eCommerce store selling a range of high-quality mobility aids & wheelchair accessories to individuals, health professionals, and organizations throughout Australia.
Breeze Mobility was created because the founder had two family members with mobility issues and he found it hard to source the products they needed to so support their independence. The founder was unable to run the business shortly after founding it for personal reasons and I took it over as I saw the potential for growth and the opportunity to create a business that can give back to the community and make a positive impact.
This business has been turning over around $30,000 a month for the past few years but in 2020 has seen significant growth due to increased marketing efforts, word of mouth, and the impact of COVID-19. 2021 looks to be a breakout year with opportunities to turn Breeze Mobility into a larger player in the industry.
The goal is to turn Breeze Mobility into a social enterprise to give a percentage of profits back to organizations that support people with a disability or those who are disadvantaged in some way.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I have a background in digital marketing and running online businesses. I’ve been buying and renovating online businesses for over 12 years, starting with a $50 website about natural toothache relief which I sold for a whopping $200! But whilst this didn’t make me rich it showed me what was possible and I went on to build a small portfolio of online businesses and buy, renovate and sell others.
Treating your existing customers as VIPs will encourage repeat business, reviews, and referrals and it's much easier than finding a new customer!
Before BreezeMobility.com.au I was looking for an opportunity where I could make a bigger impact and build a ‘real’ business I could be proud of. I’m excited about the next few years as I see where I can take the revenue, and the impact Breeze Mobility can make.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Many of the products we offer on our website are existing products from recognized mobility brands in Australia, especially larger and more complex products such as wheelchairs, walkers, and walking frames. However, we have also been launching/importing our own brand of wheelchair accessories. These are products that either didn’t exist in the marketplace or which we felt were lacking features and often overpriced.
We are still learning about product development and working with overseas manufacturers however we now have 3 of our own brand products performing really well and more in the pipeline.
The process has been to listen to what our customers have been asking for and to identify the best performing products and see what we can do to improve them / offer them at a lower cost. We also look at what people are saying in reviews to see what improvements can be made.
Then I look overseas to see if a product is available we can import to ‘test’ the market and often it is. We import a small quantity of this product to gauge demand and then if successful find an overseas manufacturer to produce an initial run of an own-brand product with some improvements based on feedback and our experience.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Many of the products are sourced from established Australian suppliers, however, we have recently started designing and importing a range of wheelchair accessories from overseas. This has been a big learning process dealing with overseas manufacturers and especially delayed freight during COVID-19!
However, we see our own brand products being a big part of the growth of Breeze Mobility over the next few years and we plan to increase the range of wheelchair accessories while continuing to source more complex mobility aids through our supplier network.
I learned it was important to be really specific with the manufacturers and organize prototypes and samples at each stage of the process to ensure things remain on track & to spot any potential issues before it was too late to fix them. This slows the process down a little but ensures the result is what you wanted.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Initially, the business focussed mainly on paid advertising, especially Google Adwords, but over the past 6 months we’ve increasingly focused on SEO and the results are starting to pay off. It's a longer-term process and requires some initial time and financial investment but it will help us build a more sustainable business in the future.
We’ve also had some success working with larger corporate clients who have health and safety departments, and also aged-care facilities and organizations who support people with disabilities and this has been successful as well.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We are growing and profitable, and after navigating a difficult period during COVID-19 which led to product shortages and increased delivery times, I am feeling really positive about the future.
Currently, the majority of our customers find us through search engines or referrals from existing customers or disability support organizations.
My focus over the next 12 months will be to increase our range of own branded wheelchair accessories (which have much bigger margins) and ramp up the SEO and Google Adwords campaigns we are already running. I also want to develop more relationships with disability support organizations, aged-care facilities, and hospitals to fulfill larger orders.
We are in the process of being accredited through the national disability insurance scheme (the NDIS) which will open up a new market and increase our credibility.
2021 is shaping up to be an exciting year!
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
It's been a massive learning experience since starting with Breeze Mobility. I already had years of experience in managing marketing campaigns and running content-based websites. However, this is the 1st eCommerce website I have run and I’ve had to learn quickly about the ins and outs of running an eCommerce website.
I think the biggest learning, which might sound obvious, is to focus on customer care. At first, I was focused on increasing traffic and new customers but quickly realized it’s better to focus on your existing customers first. Treat your existing customers as VIPs and go the extra mile to deliver quality customer service, and above all be honest when there are delays or problems rather than burying your head in the sand.
This will encourage repeat business, reviews, and referrals and it's much easier than finding a new customer!
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
My favorite business tool is my panda plannerwhich I use to keep my daily to-dos, weekly plans, and more. I find there’s something about writing down plans and goals with a pen and paper rather than an app. That said I also use Trello for project management.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Like many entrepreneurs, the 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris was such a powerful book for me. Many of the tactics are outdated now but the principles remain very true today and I try to keep my business flexible and to suit my lifestyle.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
My advice would be to just start! Don’t worry about getting everything perfect or completely polished, it will never be finished. Just concentrate on getting something out into the market, get feedback, and pivot from there. In my experience what you think is the final solution isn’t in the end!
I also think it's important not to chase money but to focus on fulfilling a need and creating a meaningful business. I got caught in the trap of focusing on creating money overvalue and ended up doing neither. Once I started to focus on making an impact the money also started to flow.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are looking to hire a part-time sales manager to help us build relationships with organizations and corporate clients. This will have a base salary and commission based on sales generated.
We continue to work with contractors to help us with SEO, Adwords, and design.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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