This is a follow up story for Total Home Supply. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 4 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Total Home Supply was founded in 2010 by a group of disgruntled people working for other Internet companies. We decided to create a company based on customer service and support rather than trying to be the cheapest price. We make a conscious effort to do things differently such as reusing boxes, buying used pallets, saving packing material, etc. We try to run a green company.
We have basic guidelines. Treat others the way you would like to be treated. We always answer the phone with a human, not voicemail. Although we use modern technology such as chat and email, we still encourage calling us. This philosophy has worked out well for us and made us different.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
When we last wrote about our company, the pandemic was in the beginning stages. We were lucky to be an online business in that we benefited from people staying home and shifting their purchases online. We also benefited from people working on their houses and apartments. Selling HVAC equipment, our products are needed, especially if you are now working from home and had to convert a spare unused room into an office. We saw a huge uptick in purchases, both for short-term solutions such as window air conditioners, and long-term solutions such as mini-split systems.
This increase in sales meant we needed more help. We added another person to our staff to help with the additional workload. We also were growing out of the new warehouse we had moved into. We started looking for additional warehouse space which became quite a challenge as warehouse space in our area was hard to find and going for a premium.
We decided to go to a permanent work-from-home environment for most of our employees. This allowed us to find additional space with most of the space being a warehouse, instead of a lot of offices. This move allowed us to save money on rent which we used to pay our employees more.
Because of the supply chain issues, we have had to stock much more products than we normally would have. This has changed the way we operate but it has also led to an increase in sales. Currently, we are up 30% over the same period last year.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Selling during a pandemic has been quite a journey. Dealing with unprecedented price increases is hard, but dealing with unprecedented price increases multiple times in a short period of time is beyond belief. We have had vendors raise prices as many as 5 times in one year. Some of these increases have been massive, upwards of 10 to 12%.
If you can find a way to add value and make yourself different, that can be the secret to success.
These increases have taught us that you have to do what works best for your company and not always watch what the competition does. Because we are not able to warehouse endless amounts of products, we have to pass along the price increases to our customers as they happen instead of trying to delay the inevitable. Just be fair and honest and enough people will appreciate that and purchase.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
We will be looking to add to our product mix in the new year. To keep the growth, we feel we need to broaden the product mix we offer, but we will remain in our core business. One of the avenues we feel will help would be to carry more accessories. The second area we feel strongly about is replacement parts.
We will be watching the trends as we go forward. With so many unknowns in the supply chain, it will make the next several years anything but normal. The key will be to allow your business to make changes as necessary. Don’t wait too long to react to change. You may need to reinvent your business again and again.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
In the past year, one new podcast that has helped is from Google called Search Off the Record. It is a great way to learn more about how Google Search works and debunk many of the myths about SEO that are out there. This helps us to focus our marketing efforts on strategies that work.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
The key to growing your business is to follow the trends. You must watch your competition but don’t let them dictate your strategies. If you can find a way to add value and make yourself different, that can be the secret to success. The best advice I can give you is “Don’t make your business rely only on being the cheapest.” This philosophy can work for the short term, but it never lasts.
You hear a lot about “Value Added” today and I will say there is some truth to it. Many consumers will pay for support and customer service. These are great value-added services.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We will be adding another position to our staff. Due to the increase in volume, we have decided to add support to our purchasing team. We are currently interviewing for that position. Adding here will allow us to get back to focusing on growth and away from the time-consuming daily operations.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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