You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over.”
– Richard Branson
Can we all say intense? That is certainly how it felt watching our episode of Beyond the Tank last night on ABC. Mark and I were on Cyberdust the entire time (twitter too) going back and forth with:
M: “Are you ok?”
Me: “I’m ok. This is stressful. I want to tell them all the truth.”
M: “We will. How are sales?”
Me: Site is down. We went 20K over anticipated traffic! It should be back up soon.”
M: “Drink a glass of wine and relax. It will all be fine.”
And you know what? It was. Our site came back up after 15 minutes and stayed up the rest of the night. As opposed to our first appearance on Shark Tank when our site was down for about 18 hours. And do you know why?
Because we listened to Mark.
That’s right. The site we have now is the same platform (Magento) we have had for 5 years. What changed? The pretty pages. We made our images bigger, focused on a new home page and let an amazing tech team dig into the code and fix some of our biggest issues. Other than last night, the last time our site crashed was early March. And the “Shark Tank effect” can take down even the most prepared of sites with it’s initial surge.
We did go on Shark Tank to get a new website platform. The reason being is because we had never had a support team for our platform that could figure out why we had such bad issues with stability. And it was a really tough decision for us for a number of reasons. We knew our customers were frustrated with our current site, the company we were looking at to build this new site was going to charge upwards of 400K for platform and design of a new site (insert nausea at that amount of money here) and in five years we had never found a tech team that could fix the issues we were having.
But we found that team and through their hard work and Mark’s advice we realized he was right. We could fix what we have, give it a face-lift and focus on some really important aspects of the business that we had not had time to focus on in depth before: analytics and a killer advertising strategy.
The meeting in Dallas with Mark took place in late February. During that meeting (which was over an hour) we strategized on where Red Dress Boutique would go next, goals for the year and talked about opening more stores! Was it tough to hear that Mark opposed our vision for a new site? Yes. But tough love is a part of life and learning and we left with a lot to think about and some new goals. Mark is a GREAT investor and an awesome mentor. But what’s great about him is like a great mentor, he guides us with great advice but he lets us make the final decision. And with any big decision for a business you know it could lead to success or it could lead to failure. And after that meeting my gut told me what we have could be fixed and we could find a more useful way to spend our investment.
So what have we been doing since our filming of Beyond the Tank?
Being an entrepreneur is an eyes open to eyes closed job. We did a minor redesign of our site. We added some customer service features such as Live Chat, Amazon Payments (no more running for that credit card ladies) and through heat mapping we figured out where our customers were going on our site and how to drive them to other areas. We have spent the last four weeks with Mark and his team focusing on analytics, customer acquisition costs (how much it cost us to acquire one customer) and advertising.
Working with Mark and his team has been wonderful. And what you saw last night was a glimpse into some very real and very tough reality of being a business owner. Do business owners always agree with their investors? No! But what we do is listen to each other and find a common ground that is good for the business.
What’s next for Red Dress Boutique?
We will continue to do what we do best: providing our customers with affordable fashion that is the new, next and now, focusing less on a new website and more on new ways to connect with our customers. We are a company that LOVES to engage with our customers. Chat with us on FACEBOOK, hang out with us on Instagram & Snap chat (Shopreddress) or start up a conversation with us on Twitter!
And we are going to spend our time focusing on better ways to be who we are and who we have always been: a company loyal to it’s fiercely loyal customers. Because honestly, at the end of the day, it’s not about us. It’s about you. That’s kind of the whole point. We LOVE fashion, but we wouldn’t be anything without the women who make up our demographics. Our shoppers ARE our existence. We don’t *do* customer service. We are genuinely grateful, individually and collectively, for your business. We write, by hand, those little cards you get with each purchase for a reason.
At The Red Dress Boutique, we don’t base our business model around fluffy ideals or smarmy slogans. We know you. You have learned to love yourself through trial and error, and you teach that confidence to others simply by walking the walk. You love fashion, affordability, laughing with your friends, and your life. You don’t dress well only to impress others—you dress well for the thrill of it! You don’t need kitschy sentimentality to click with the right boutique, but you’ll smile when you see yourself in the description of a new dress online (that called your name the moment you saw it). You’re just good like that. You’re humble, but you know you’re made of awesome. You’re tenderhearted, but a ferocious protector of those in your inner circle. You’re graceful, smart, and industrious. You are not a mere customer. You are a Red Dress Woman. You are our constant inspiration. And we will keep learning and growing for you.
Diana Harbour, CEO
The Red Dress Boutique