Customer Experience — If you’re a small company, provide those “wow” experiences that bigger companies can’t focus on. Send a personal letter or surprise your customer with a free product. It is amazing what word of mouth and a true fan of your product can do for your business.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Feld, Founder of Fresh Patch, a patented real-grass delivery service for dogs. His company has been featured on ABC’s Shark Tank, Forbes, The Today Show, and Oprah. The company continues to give back to their customers and community and donates their products to animal rescues including Best Friends Animal Society, Paw Works and Vanderpump Dogs.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
When I was a kid I wanted to be a veterinarian because I liked animals. Then I spent a summer internship with my local veterinarian and changed my mind. It was great helping pets, but it was so hard when we had to put someone’s dog down.
I studied finance in school, and had planned on becoming a financial advisor. After graduation, I postponed getting a “real job” and accepted an opportunity to work as a model in Italy. What was supposed to be a two-month stint, turned into a full year overseas backpacking across Europe. I had some success booking commercials, so when I came back to the United States I decided to move to Los Angeles. I joined the Screen Actors Guild and was lucky to work on many films, TV shows, commercials and music videos.
There was one job I had in Los Angeles that left a valuable impression on me. I was hired to be the “fit model” for a new clothing line called Royal Underground. My bosses were fashion legend Kelly Gray of St. John and Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue. My job was to travel with the team and be their real-life mannequin while pitching the clothes to department stores like Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales.
Getting to spend time with these successful creators while they were starting their own company was invaluable. Even though I was hired to simply be a clothing model, I became part of that small startup team. Having that first-hand experience made me feel comfortable when it came time for me to start a company of my own. .
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
A couple years ago I got a phone call from a friend congratulating me on our Today Show appearance. I told him I had no idea what he was talking about. He said, “Hoda Kotb just did a segment about Fresh Patch on the Today Show.” I thought my friend was joking but It turns out Hoda was a real customer and decided to share Fresh Patch on TV as one of her “favorite things.”
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I remember sitting down with my Dad ten years ago, and telling him about my idea for this company. I was at a major crossroads in my life. My wife was pregnant, I was unemployed, and I had been recently offered a decent administrative position with a local company. Instead of advising me to take the sure thing, he encouraged me to go after my business idea. He also gave me the $10,000 I needed to order my first round of boxes. And it was not just my Dad — my Mom, Sister, Wife, in-laws, and all of our employees have been instrumental in helping grow Fresh Patch to where it is today.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Growth equals change. If you want to get better, you have to keep changing and improving. That means stepping out into new areas. -John Maxwell
At its core, Fresh Patch grows and ships grass in a box. But we are constantly making small changes to all of our processes to continually improve the product and the customer experience.
Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. We’d love to learn a bit about your company. What is the pain point that your company is helping to address?
The number one reason pets end up in shelters is because of bathroom accidents in the home. Before Fresh Patch, the only solutions were synthetic products like fake grass and paper pee pads. These products teach dogs it is OK to eliminate on synthetic materials. Oftentimes, what ends up happening is they start eliminating on other synthetic materials (bath mats and rugs).
With Fresh Patch, you are reinforcing that it is OK to eliminate on real grass (which is something they instinctively do already). We get emails daily from our customers — telling us how they couldn’t live without Fresh Patch and how it has saved their lives.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Customer service. Today, it is easy for companies to outsource from overseas calling centers or only handle requests via email. We have a full in house team based here in the USA. Our employees know our product and service inside out and are able to fully resolve any issues our customers may have along the way. Whether our clients need additional training tips or a package has been lost in the mail, we offer extremely fast and satisfactory resolutions for our customers.
When you first started the business, what drove you, what was your primary motivation?
We had just found out that my wife was pregnant. We were living in a one bedroom apartment in Miami and I needed a job! I really believed my idea had potential and I wanted to create a reliable income stream for my new family. Failure was not an option.
What drives you now? Is it the same? Did it change? Can you explain what you mean?
My motivation today is our customers. We’ve created a product and service that people and their pets depend on. At the end of the day we keep our customers happy which is why we continue to grow year over year.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We have built a strong brand which has made it easy to vertically integrate with new products. This year we introduced Fresh Patch Small Batch Treats and our own Grass Freshening Spray. These are both strong value- added products that compliment our core offering.
The topic of this series is ‘Five Strategies I Used To Grow My Business To Reach Seven Figures In Revenue’. Congratulations! Seven figures is really a huge milestone. In your experience what was the most difficult part of being able to hit your first million-dollars in sales revenue?
I can agree with the common saying “the first million is the hardest.” It took 5 years of hard work and dedication for Fresh Patch to hit that milestone. When I started out, no one knew that anything like Fresh Patch was available. I had to educate new customers about our real grass service and why it was better than alternatives like pee pads or synthetic grass.
Ten years later, Fresh Patch has been featured on Shark Tank, The Today Show and Oprah. Our happy customers are ambassadors who tell their friends about our product and service.
Could you share the number one sales strategy that you found helpful to help you reach this milestone?
We listen to the feedback from our customers and have slowly evolved the product over the years.
Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Strategies I Used To Grow My Business To Reach Seven Figures In Revenue”. Please share a story or an example for each.
- DTC (Direct to Consumer) — We focus all of our efforts directly towards our customers. Getting your product on the shelves of Target or Walmart can be a big milestone for a company but it adds an extra layer between you and your customer. The big box stores are not going to follow up to see how the product is working and offer any training tips.
- Subscriptions — With over 80% of our sales attributed to subscriptions, we have a reliable revenue stream in place. When you sell someone a watch, it is a one time sale. Most likely they are not going to buy a watch from you every month. I always tell people who are thinking of starting a business to try and find something that is necessary and needs to be replenished.
- UGC (User Generated Content) — We are lucky to have a product that people enjoy sharing. Photos of cute dogs and puppies often go unnoticed. Not only is this form of marketing generally free, it is also the most authentic and effective.
- Amazon — While some companies have walked away from Amazon, we embrace the platform. Amazon takes 15% of the sale, but there is no better way for new customers to learn about and try a product.
- Customer Experience — If you’re a small company, provide those “wow” experiences that bigger companies can’t focus on. Send a personal letter or surprise your customer with a free product. It is amazing what word of mouth and a true fan of your product can do for your business.
What would you advise to another business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth or sales and “restart their engines”?
We’ve been fortunate that the business has grown every year for the past ten years. Facebook and Instagram marketing have been big sales engines in the past, but it now looks like those ads are becoming more expensive and less effective. For us, nothing is better than authentic user generated content. We use stamped.io, a third party company to acquire and feature the UGC on our website.
Based on your experience, can you share a few strategies to give your customers the best possible user experience and customer service?
Fast and helpful resolutions to customer inquiries are crucial. Our in-house team is reachable via chat, phone, and email. We try to go above and beyond for our customers. If a package is missing, we send a replacement immediately. Many times the original order was accidentally delivered to a neighbor or shows up a day or two later. It doesn’t matter. We take the opportunity to show our customers that we really care and they appreciate us for it.
As you likely know, this HBR article demonstrates that studies have shown that retaining customers can be far more lucrative than finding new ones. Do you use any specific initiatives to limit customer attrition or customer churn? Can you share some of your advice from your experience about how to limit customer churn?
Fresh Patch is a replenishable product that is sold via subscription. Some subscription companies make it difficult to cancel their services, thus keeping customers in the funnel for longer to boost profits. I hate when businesses do that!
We make it easy to cancel our service, but we try and find out if there is something we could have done better. Sometimes offering a simple training tip at the right time will mean the difference between a lost customer and someone who uses our product for life.
Wonderful. We are nearly done. Here are the final “meaty” questions of our discussion. You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
We are living through a period of enormous wealth inequality and it seems like it is only getting worse. I’m all for business and capitalism, but I think wealth needs to be distributed more efficiently. It is not right that a few individuals sit on such a large percentage of the world’s wealth. There are too many people out there struggling to put food on the table.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
I just read the Almanack of Naval Ravikant by Eric Jorgenson. He has such an interesting perspective on business and life in general — I’d love to meet him.
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!