Reflecting on 11+ Years at PoolDawg

On September 7, 2004 I officially joined the team at PoolDawg.com. What was then a fairly unknown brand is now one of the most trusted retail ecommerce brands in the billiards industry.  On February 12, 2016 I will be leaving the company.  As I enter my final week in the billiards industry, I can say without hesitation that I am extremely proud of what I helped build.

For most, leaving a company that you helped build and grow can be stressful. You worry about what will happen when you leave and how the company will do once you’re gone. Given the people I’ve worked with at PoolDawg over the years, I have no such worries and can leave knowing that the company will continue to thrive long after I’m gone.

For the past 11+ years, I had the opportunity and pleasure of working with some of the smartest and most talented people in the pool business. They are passionate about pool, but more importantly, they are beyond passionate about taking care of PoolDawg’s customers. It is a rare thing to be able to leave a company and know that the hundreds of thousands of customers the company serves will continue to receive the award winning level of customer service that they’ve come to expect when doing business with PoolDawg.

I can rattle off all sorts of accomplishments from the past decade, but ultimately this is the only accomplishment that really matters:

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This level of customer love doesn’t happen by accident and certainly doesn’t happen as the result of one employee.  These are not the BS reviews I wrote about a while back.  These are legit reviews from people who have purchased from PoolDawg. These are the types of real reviews you get when you build a company culture that is completely focused on blowing customers away with exceptional service.  No company can exist without customers, so if you’re not amazing your customers with exceptional customer service, you’re doing it wrong.

PoolDawg is not just an online store. It is a billiards destination. It is a place where people can learn to become better pool players. It is a place where you can shop and know that you’ll be taken care of. It is a place where a customer can ask for and receive honest opinions about products without ever getting a “hard sell”. It is a place that stands behind the products they sell on a level that is comparable with the most trusted brands in the world.

I look forward to bringing everything I’ve learned building PoolDawg to my new job (more on that another time). In the meantime, I wish nothing but the best for my soon to be former team, including the best mascot in the entire billiards biz – Mr. Frank T. Dawg (posing here with our 2013 Bizrate Platinum Circle of Excellence Award).

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Posted in Life, Pool.

#OptOutside Is A Truly Inspired Black Friday Campaign from REI

I’m just gonna say it – Black Friday sucks.  As a consumer, there is literally nothing I like about it.  This morning, I opened up my daily copy of the Wall Street Journal (yes, I still get and read actual newspapers) and saw a full page ad stating that REI would be closing their stores on Black Friday.  I headed over to their site and saw this covering their front page:

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This is the most daring and brilliant use of company culture in an ad campaign that I can ever recall seeing.  Everything about this campaign 100% resonates with the core REI customer.  The REI brand is all about helping you find adventure.  Hell, they even have a section of their site called the 1440 Project that does nothing but celebrate every minute of being outdoors.

For most, the first thought will be “why would a company close their stores on the busiest shopping day of the year?”.  The answer is actually quite simple.

Black Friday Is A Firesale in a Mosh Pit

 Companies aren’t making huge profits on Black Friday.  They are pushing product at prices that are marginally profitable at best in order to try and get people to buy other products that aren’t on sale.  People act like animals fighting for scraps of food just hours after they are done “giving thanks” for all the good that they’ve experienced in the past year.  This is not what REI is about.  This is not what REI believes.  This is why REI is taking a stand.

Will they lose some top line revenue?  Probably.  Does it matter to the bottom line?  Not really.  This is a love letter to their core customers and their employees.  It will drive loyalty to their brand in the long term, which is far more important than one day of low margin revenue.

REI knows who they are and they know who their customers are.  This is something that takes an extreme amount of testicular fortitude and I absolutely love it.

Posted in Advertising, Social Media.