Calling My Competitors Leads to Dramatic Changes in 2012

The Wannabe Rocker

I could have been a rocker. Based around my only stage performance (yes: big hair, zebra striped tights), I’m glad I didn’t. Instead, I began working in the soccer business in 1990 – over twenty years ago – and have spent more than half my life in the business. I have literally traveled the world for the game, been certified as an expert in the US retail soccer market and have outfitted a ton of teams through the years. I know soccer. I don’t know music quite as well.

When I started TotallySoccer.com, I aimed to solve the headaches buyers faced and strove to achieve a simple, guiding principle:

Totally Soccer makes buying soccer gear easier, cheaper and faster for our buyers.

For the last ten years online, I believe we’ve achieved that promise. But, while having a business conversation with a friend at a dinner party, he asked a simple question about our business: “Are you still easier, cheaper and faster?”

Boink.

I thought we were…but it had been quite some time since I had “checked in.”

For a month straight, I called every one of our “competitors” in the Top 50 search results from Google. I learned so much. Talk about industry blindness! As I listened to the explanations on the phone, I was struck by how hard we, as an industry, make it for buyers to purchase custom soccer uniforms. It is insane! Some of the pricing explanations required a PhD in mathematics and industry jargon like “availability” and “life span” left me with a headache. It made no sense. I truly felt sorry for soccer buyers.

I also hopped on the phone and spoke with our customers – and non-customers. I wanted to learn why people loved shopping with us. And, perhaps just as important, I wanted to know why potential customers selected another vendor. People were brutally honest. And, being from Philly, I really liked that in my calls. I appreciate everyone who took the time to speak with me.

This experience dramatically changed my view of our business – for the better. I want to share with you five of the changes we’ve made at TotallySoccer to ensure we continue to lead the soccer market: easier, cheaper and faster.

Guaranteed by Game Day

The #1 headache that team buyers face is receiving their uniforms by Game Day. During my calls, no one would pin down exact timelines of when I could receive my uniforms. The best answer most companies gave was a timeline of, “It takes about two to three weeks, so you should be good.” If I was a buyer, this isn’t good enough because it provides me with no certainty.

Our manufacturing processes are so good…so tuned into exactly what we do…that we’ve rolled out “Guaranteed by Game Day.” We know our production cycles as a manufacturer of the product and the printer of the product. We control every aspect. And, unlike other companies who will take your order and hope, we’ll tell you exactly when you can expect your uniforms.

There is no other company that packs this promise and puts their money where their mouth is. If we tell you you’ll have it by game day, then you’ll have it by game day. Guaranteed!

Free Means Free

Personalizing your team jerseys is confusing. It’s the reason why I include a free team logo and back number with your purchase. Since teams need it, it just made good sense to include it for you. Including a free number and logo saves teams about $7. In time, we also added a collection of 200+ stock soccer logos to help teams that didn’t already have a logo.

In order to print a logo, you have to prepare the logo and setup the machines. As a result, there was a $25 fee to complete this process. And, then you have to print the logo – which is included for free.  While this setup is a real and tangible cost, it is hard to explain to customers, negates the concept of free and confused buyers. After listening to some of our competitors try and explain it, I decided to drop it. You flat out needed a PhD in Physics and Aerospace Defense to figure it all out.

Ultimately, I figured that if I couldn’t understand how other companies price their products than you couldn’t either. And, even though it would cost us money, I wanted the process to be easier for our customers and cheaper. So, we dropped the art setup on your free printing of your pocket sized logo. This saves teams an additional $25 – and more importantly, it makes it easier on buyers.

We’re the Experts & Better Act Like It!

One of the first postcards I ever developed included, “We specialize in first-time buyers!” I wanted to sincerely convey that we really understood how to outfit teams and clubs and would take you by the hand to explain the process and make it easy. Buying soccer uniforms shouldn’t be hard! Even though I think we have the best-trained salespeople, we’re investing in additional training. We’re the experts – it’s what we do everyday. And, our goal is to make it as simple and easy to understand. Unlike selling other people’s products who we’re unfamiliar with – we can guide you to the right soccer uniforms for your team. Additionally, we’ve invested a ton of resources on the website to help better explain and show our products. We realize that most of our buyers are volunteer moms and dads or part-time coaches. You don’t do this for a living; we do. Let us help guide you.

Investing in Manufacturing Decreases Costs

With a difficult economy over the last few years, customers have been focused on squeezed budgets. Our business is laser focused on selling soccer uniforms to teams and clubs. We don’t sell retail product; it isn’t our business. With unemployment rates hovering at 10%, it means that 1.5 kids on every soccer team of 15 players have parents who are unemployed. We get it.

As a result, we dug into our manufacturing systems. We re-worked our product flows and crushed  inefficiencies.  We are able to pass those savings along to you. We’ve invested internally and it enabled us to lower prices to teams by more than 10%.  Our uniforms, packages and volume pricing represent savings of more than 25%. 25%!!

Through rigorous production testing we lowered our price breaks too on volume orders. Instead of price breaks being at 51, 201 and 501, we’ve pounded them down to 10, 101 and 251. There are no additional economies of scale we can achieve over 250, so smaller clubs receive our best pricing.

Not only were we able to lower prices in total, we were able to lower the price breaks too. When it is all said and done, teams can buy jerseys with free team number and for around $20 including delivery and uniforms land in the $30-40 range – delivered and packages in the $45 – $55 range (best value!). We’ll put that up against anyone in the industry for quality, delivery and value.

Published Business Hours

As stupid as this sounds, we’ve never had published business hours. We’re on the east coast and “normal” office hours are from 9:30 am – 5:30 pm. But, since we work with customers around the country, lots of times we’re here much later than office hours. As a result, we left it as an “open” item. It was stupid. I didn’t realize how frustrating it was to customers – but I sure did hear about it when calling customers. I’m sorry. And, I promise that we’ll return your call when you leave a message. We want your business!

Color Customize your Jerseys

Teams want unique looks on the field. We pioneered custom color soccer jerseys back in 2009. Due to our manufacturing capabilities, it’s become a significant part of our business because of the cost and the short lead time. We’re going to expand this program in 2012. As always, there are no surcharges and team uniforms can be delivered in about two weeks. You can check out our “Customizer” where you can design your own soccer jerseys.

On top of all the other great aspects of our business, we believe these 5 changes place us ahead of the pack when it comes to fulfilling our promise to you:

Totally Soccer makes buying soccer gear easier, cheaper and faster for our buyers.

We will continue to work as hard as possible to be the best choice for your soccer uniforms. Thanks, as always, for your support!


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  • Testimonials

    My U-12 team's parents decided to treat the kids to custom jerseys this fall. The parents then tasked me with finding them! I found Totally Soccer on the internet, and it could not have been a better experience. The sales representative guided me through the process of designing the jerseys, and he was extremely helpful and courteous. Even though we placed our order just a few weeks before our first game, the sales representative told me the jerseys would arrive in time for the first game. Sure enough, they arrived right on schedule. The jerseys are great, and the kids absolutely love them. I would highly recommend Totally Soccer to anyone looking for uniforms.

    Thorne Barrett

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