Keeping Customers Happy – The Art of a 24-Hour Turnaround

In 1980, when Craft-E-Family was founded, we didn’t have much to worry about in terms of turnaround time for our blocks. Mom and dad were getting about 1-2 orders a week. You actually have to work NOT to get a quick turnaround when you’ve got that few orders coming in a week.

Our company started off by doing craft shows. Our ordering system was less than efficient compared to today. All forms were filled out by hand at the craft fair or they were mailed in. As business increased, we were always on the lookout for ways to streamline our processes. We’ve gone from hand varnishing blocks (with endless hand cramps) to finishing with a more natural product – bee’s wax. We’ve made numerous mistakes, we’ve done things the hard way when in reality – the easy way was staring us right in the face. But – we have learned.

As time went on, we streamlined our ordering process as well. The hand written forms trickled in as we released an online ordering form. We weren’t taking credit card payments online, but we tried to make it a little easier on our clients. Instead of having to keep tabs on a physical form, we put a form online. They could fill it out online, print it out and mail it in. To be honest, our eyes needed a little reprieve. Apparently we have a lot of doctors out there ordering blocks! Only kidding, but it did make the process easier on us as well. It was a baby step… we weren’t quite in the age of the Internet then like we are now.

One of my most vivid memories about the business is the day we released our online store – a REAL one, complete with credit card acceptance and everything. Mom, dad, Cory and I were all at a craft show in Rochester, NY. It dawned on us all that the Sundays that were once free of orders were a thing of the past. Forever.

We know that continually improving our products and our processes is important to our customers. GrooveHQ lists “continuous improvement” as one of the top 5 customer service skills and we agree!

We’ve learned to listen to our customers. When we started off, we were turning our blocks around quickly just because we had time. Gradually, we started getting feedback that they loved how quickly they got our blocks. We heard our customers saying that fast service was important to them, so we made sure we kept that at the top of our priority list through the years. As orders increased and demand… well… demanded, we went from lugging bags of baby blocks to the post office to doing computerized shipping from our office. Truth be told, we got kicked out of the post office. Nah. We didn’t, but we could tell that the block shipping was becoming a little too daunting on the USPS guys and gals.

As we got more and more feedback about how much our customers appreciated our quick turnaround, I really began to pay attention to the service I was receiving from other merchants. We are producing custom made items and shipping them out the next day while larger warehouses take a week to pull sneakers off of a shelf, another day to package them – then they finally get them shipped off a week after the order was placed. Our aim is to never be one of those companies.

The longest we have ever taken to ship an order was 3 weeks, but that was due to our travel to China to meet LeeLoo, our daughter. Even then, our customers were more than understanding. They were so supportive. We’ve said many times over that our lifeline is our customers. For them, we will consistently try to improve our processes. There’s always an easier way to do things and we will do our best to work smarter – not harder, so to serve our customers in the most efficient manner possible.

A Day in the Life of Super Sarah

Making sure our clients are happy is only one side of our business. The pulse of Craft-E-Family is our workshop of elves and we want to take some time to recognize them all individually.

The super star we’ve coined “Super Sarah” started working for us in March 2012. She’s something of a super hero, hence the nickname. She wears so many hats for our business and juggles those tasks like a real champ.

One of the things that we love about having Sarah with us is that she does such a great job fostering relationships with our customers. That’s one of the things she loves most about her job. She hears some really awesome stories from customers that we’ve had return to us for years. They call in and specifically ask for her now. It’s a great feeling knowing our customers are in her capable (and caring) hands.

Super Sarah is truly an all-star employee. Forbes did an article a few years ago acknowledging the traits of a successful employee and we are so blessed to say she meets every one of these.

Sarah has worked for larger businesses before, but one of the things she loves most about her job is that she gets to come in and work with our business mascot – Petunia. It’s not just anywhere that allows a Dalmatian to roam around and bark orders. See what we did there?

Coming to work for Sarah is more than just a job. Her day starts off with her drive to work. With a business in the middle of the woods, she adds, she sees things she would never see working for a larger employer in the city. Inevitably, Sarah is greeted in the morning as she pulls into the driveway at work with “an array of critters.” It’s hard to start your day off on the wrong foot when Bambi greets you!

One of the unique attributes of our business is that we’re a very tight knit group. Sarah makes clear that while she loves her responsibilities at work, what she loves more than that is the fact that we all work so closely together. She says, “It feels like I get to work along side my family members, which is really nice.” It warms our heart that we were able to create this work environment for all of our employees by hiring such superstars.

Sarah is fantastic with our shipping and our customer phone calls. She’s also super about keeping things clean and organized around the office. She is looking forward to what the future holds at Craft-E-Family. Her favorite product that we sell is the personalized family coasters. There are some new products coming out soon and she’s excited to see customer reactions to those. We’re also getting some new machinery to make all of our jobs a little more convenient and we’re all anxiously awaiting its arrival.

Outside of work, Sarah loves taking care of her “fur babies”. She and her boyfriend (who is also her co-worker) have a 3-year-old cat, Sophie, and a 2-month-old beagle puppy, Oakley. Sarah is very active. When the weather permits, she’s out hiking, spending time at her boyfriend’s family’s property in the woods or working on projects around the house. She also loves spending time with her niece and nephew.

We are so pleased with our employees and are proud to introduce Sarah to you formally. I know she looks forward to serving each and every one of you.