Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bailing Out A Friend

Robin and CalvinI received a call today from a dear friend. He was in jail!

His name is Robin Ross from Costco Wholesale, and his crimes are being too aggressive with his wit and silver tongue.

Actually Robin was at the Port Coquitlam Costco, locked up in a makeshift jail until he raised $4,000 for BC Children's Hospital.

I have known Robin for years, and when he rang me to come bail him out, I couldn't resist stopping in to see Robin actually standing still for any period of time. He recently was promoted to the Costco head office in Issaquah, Washington to run something important for the corporation, we're still not too sure what. We just know that when you fly on the Costco jet with the CEO, then you must be important.

Robin was the one who invited me to sit on the Retail Wholesale Council for BC Children's Hospital, and I am grateful for the opportunity. He was in town for the big Miracle Weekend fund raiser that the hospital and Global TV put on each year.

Although we email each other, it was great seeing Robin in person again. I offered him a choice of a Costco hot dog, or a nice donation to bail him out. He choose well, and met his goal.

All the best!


Miracle Weekend!

What a weekend!

It was a busy time at the BC Children's Hospital Miracle Weekend. The end total raised was an amazing $15,607,607.

Steve Darling goes for a rideThe show on Global TV Saturday night started out with the presentation of our Retail and Wholesale cheque. It was great television, as Steve Darling rode on the side board of one of our Costless Express Trucks wearing a super hero cape as we drove into camera view (that's me driving).

Here comes the cheque!On the side of the truck was a huge cheque for $3,527,022! This money was raised through out the year from all sorts of fund raising efforts. The main supporters included Costco, Overwaitea Food Group, Thrifty Foods, Best Buy and more.

Calvin makes calls My other highlight was sitting on the Miracle Maker phone panel and raising money on live TV. This was my second year, and it was a privilege to be hand-picked to raise money for the hospital. Sitting on the panel was my friend Robin Ross from Costco, Glen Antonuk from Sleep Country, and others. We really had a great time, and raised some good money towards the weekend's total.

It was an amazing experience to see the effort and coordination from everyone to pull off this incredible event.

Watch for some fun things Costless will be doing over the next year to raise money for the (NEW!!!) Hospital.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Welcome, New Customers!

Flyers!Recently we sent out 55,000 flyers to businesses in the Lower Mainland.

I'm happy to say the response has been exceptional, with over 190 new customers in the past few weeks. Welcome to all!

Our staff does a fantastic job of tracking all sorts of statistics in our business, and I wanted to know the main reason customers were joining Costless Express. All new customers to us come from a competitor, since businesses will always buy office supplies. It is just a question of from whom do the buy from.

During a brief meeting, my sales staff explained there were several factors as to why customers switch to Costless Express. Factors such as our environmental position as Carbon Neutral, being local and BC owned for 18 years and more. But the number one factor, unanimously, was our prices. Customers love our low prices. But there was more. It was us showing them proof they will save money in a cost comparison that the new customers enjoyed the most.

When a customer switches suppliers, they want to know they made the right decision, so we have a program where we will take a customers top 10 items they have been purchasing from their current supplier, and match them up with our Costless prices. We show them how much they will save, and offer alternative items to save them even more. We also give the customer a free one pound bag of Starbucks Coffee as a thank you for their time.

Once we show customers our prices and they get to experience our fantastic customer service, I see why we have so many new customers.

Thanks so much to all our old and new customers, we promise to never take your business for granted.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Poem

We try hard to differentiate ourselves from our impersonal big box competition. How we do that is with long lasting real life relationships with our customers. Customers get to know us, and we get to know them over years of service. Some customers we have had for 18 years! We get to know the names of their children, their pets and their personal ordering preferences. I love seeing our sales people read their caller ID on their phone and answer the call with the customer's name. Thats a relationship!

Kathie, our call center manager, recently shared this lovely poem from one of her customers. The customer was leaving her company for other opportunities, and wanted to show her gratatude for the years of wonderful service Kathie and Costless had provided. Kathie welled up with tears, if I recall, from the emotion. To understand the last line, Kathie had sent over a giant cake on the customer's last day to say farewell.

Here it is:

On My Last Day
What can I say?
It is my last day.
It has been almost two years,
I really have to shed tears.

My colleagues and friends
who have helped me along the way,
You will never be forgotten,
This is a promise that I make.

For it has been a pleasure working with you,
It's truly inspiring;
It seems I have been working hard and felt down and yet
others are still very caring.

And now as I move on, I wish you all well.
What an unforgettable experience, in my heart this will dwell.
I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart.....
And hope that this is not the end, but just the start.......


Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Letter From Starbucks

Mmm... Starbucks coffee!If you have ever received a letter from a lawyer, you know whatever's in the envelope is probably not good.

Recently, we received a letter from a lawyer representing Starbucks Coffee. Of concern was how we used the Starbucks logo. I was quite perplexed, since we have been a Starbucks Preferred Supplier for 10 years, and never had a problem. I worked with the lawyer, and we agreed on how the logo can and cannot be used. I received a nice response from Starbucks that they were now a happy corporation, and can continue their quest for global domination of every street corner. (I hope I don't get a letter for that!)

Something still didn't sit right with me about why Starbucks' lawyers came calling. I made some calls throughout the coffee industry, and found the reason. One that made me so proud to own Costless Express!

It seems there are several of our office coffee competitors who called and complained to Starbucks that we sell our coffee "too cheap" and this makes them look bad. Hey, its true; We sell our case of Starbucks Coffee for as low as $49.99, while my competition charges $69.99 (up to $79.99!) per case for the same thing. I guess the only way to get to us was by complaining about our use of the logo.

Well, it didn't work. I'm glad to say Costless still has the lowest price on Starbucks in town. I think I'll put it on sale for $45.99 soon. Keep an eye out!

Having fun and saving customers money, one cup at a time :-)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Recycle Those Water Bottles!

Recyclable bottlesDuring my research on water bottles for the April 27th Calvin's Corner I found some interesting ECO info on the bottles. Consumers seem to feel torn that these bottles are bad for the environment. Here is some stats to help "quench your thirst" for knowledge.

  • Did you know? A water bottle may become your new living room carpet... or it may keep you warm as your new coat or sleeping bag on your next camping trip.... PET bottles are easily recycled into many polyester based products...
  • Bottled Water is an environmentally friendly product in British Columbia and Alberta for two reasons; There is a recycling system that has kept up with consumer demands, and that system has a proven track record of keeping used beverage containers out of the landfills by supplying post consumer plastics to manufacturers that make non-food-related products, like carpet or polyester fibers for clothing. Recycled plastic containers further reduce the demand for new petroleum based resins.
  • In 2006 in BC, 813 million non-alcohol plastic beverage containers were returned to recycling depots last year, 72% of the total containers distributed. Alternative recycling systems including curbside blue box and office recycling programs could increase that number closer to 90%.
  • Beverage Container Stewardship Program awareness campaigns continue to improve the recovery rates. (In some US markets it is estimated that fewer than 15% of plastic beverage containers are recycled ...boooooo!)