What It Means To Be An Extension Of Your Customer's Brand

Jason Chan shares insight into how businesses can better understand their customer's needs and their industry.

What It Means To Be An Extension Of Your Customers Brand With Jason Chan
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Podcast Transcription

Speaker 1 (00:03): Welcome to the really know your customer podcast with your hosts, Betsy West heifer and Tony Botto joined Betsy and Tony. As they dive in with highly successful C-suite leaders who have grown successful organizations by creating a laser focus on listening to their customers and building deep customer relationships. Now it's time to join Betsy and Tony for the really know your customer show. Welcome to the really know your customer podcast. I'mTony buttockSpeaker 2 (00:34): And I'm Betsy West taper. We're so glad you're here today.Speaker 1 (00:37): Today. I'm excited that becauseSpeaker 2 (00:38): Jason chan here and Jason has been an entrepreneur for much of his career, but now he's moved into a new role. And that's exactly what we want to talk about today. That path from entrepreneurship to this new role and what he's doing in that role. Yeah, Tony, I'm so excited for this conversation. When we had a prep call with Jason, we got some really good insights on how they work with their customers. And so Jason, we're so happy to have you here. Let's get this conversation going and I'll just start off by saying that you are the vice president of sales and marketing at Rakuten, super logistics. So why don't you kind of walk us through how you got to this point in your career, and then we'll talk a little bit more about the company that you're with. I'll try to give you as much of the cliff notes as possible.Speaker 2 (01:23): So, uh, I mean, I I'm in this group on Facebook, it's theAsian hustle network. And as much as I enjoy the people, I joined half of it, just for the name, uh, because, uh, if you, I know we have our phones on silent, but if you called me right now, my ring tone is everyday. I'm hustling and it's, you know, it's this, it's not what you expect. You know, I'm in boardrooms. If we were in COVID, you know, 90% of the time. And then they were like, that's your ring tone? Not the standard or something. No, it's different. I marched to a different job and whether the deal's big or a small, uh, it's philosophical to me, it's always be hustling. And it's as simple as, you know,I still pick up, you know, despite the thousands and millions of dollars I've made, I still pick up pennies.Speaker 2 (02:07): And the reason why is it's most people don't do it. And it's not that, you know, penny materially changes my net worth, but it's a constant reminder to me of thinking doing differently. And so, you know, it goes back to high school. Yes, I hustled candy, but I realized that candy can make a couple bucks. But if you, at that time, you know, not to date myself too much it's before why do okay, uh, you know, computer networking, all of a sudden people didn't know how to network. They wanted, you know, once you got your computer talking to your printer, you wanted two computers talking to one printer. Well, that's networking. And, uh, you know, be able to share that internet connection that, you know, as a high school kid, you're making $50 an hour, a hundred dollars an hour. And you're like, wow. As long as you have a skill that other people don't have, they're willing to pay for it.Speaker 2 (02:51): And you almost can name your price. So from tutoring, I'll never forget in high school I delivered, this is the time. This really will date me a 21 inch monitor where all the rage and we're not talking thin 21inches, we're taking those big, heavy, a hundred pound ones that time they were about $1,500 a piece. Um, I found them at auction. I bought them for $300 apiece. I was so excited, delivered a pallet to my driveway at my parents' house. They said, what are these? And I was like, we're about to make a fortune plug one in and they're black and white. Oh no. What are we going to do with all these black and white water? No problem. You got gotta hustle. And you, you gotta realize, you know, yet pivot. I ended up selling to a security company.We added a tuner card and they turned it into black and white monitors.Speaker 2 (03:34): Uh, no harm, no foul, but it's those little life lessons that then, you know, kind of snowball into what is your life become? So when I graduated from college, that's when the real estate boom was happening and it made sense to go into real estate. You know, I, as a young, as a young student, you know, it was time to start trying to make some money. I'm seeing people, all of a sudden go from basically rags to riches. And they said, let's do it.Um, I hooked up with a developer of Chicago that did his first project in Vegas.Uh, he bought the project for something like 200 million ended up selling for700 million. And it just seemed like this is everyone so easy. He business business is incredible. And there I am really nothing about real estate, but we're selling like, uh, you know, our last month I thinks we're 41 condos in the month.Speaker 2 (04:17): And, uh, you know, as the market then downturn, I'm looking at it. I'm like, wait. So to sell real estate, you might have to show them 10 houses and they may not buy well, that sounds like a waste of gas, a waste of time, man, that sounds hard. Whereas, you know, during the boom boom time you show one house, there's a hundred offers on it. And if they don't buy this one, they're buying the next one. And it was just a frenzy. So I realized, you know what, I didn't want to cart families around trying to do real estate.There are other people that are much wealth overstated. It had a passion for it. And, uh, you know, what's the next hot thing. And at that time was energy drinks. So I had a friend, uh, that was doing very well in the energy drink space.Speaker 2 (04:54): And I said, you know what? I'd love to join your company.He said, I've got enough partners, but I've got the distribution, the infrastructure I can make and manufacturer drink. So if you go raise your own money, you do your own sales and marketing will be your manufacturing, distribution partner. And, uh, I said, why not? And not knowing much about energy drinks, but a lot of passion, a lot of, uh, this context, uh, 30 days later we had raised the money to do it. Me and four other partners created this company, all an energy drink, uh, very shortly thereafter, again, being based in Las Vegas, uh, I was actually born here. So, uh, you know, the all-in vibe, you know, it's a poker theme, but, uh, you know, we've had friends that are at the Caesars, the MGMs of the world. So, you know, in a world of red bull andCoke, uh, you know, how do you differentiate yourself?Speaker 2 (05:40): And we figured that, you know, poker was hot at the time, energy for hot, uh, people were working their own normal nine to five and then going to play poker in their after hours. We said, well, that means you need a great energy drink to do it. Uh, should we said, how are we going to be able to brand this? And, you know, we went to the Caesars who owns the trademark, uh, in the total event for the world series of poker, uh, quickly struck a deal.Uh, again, we're not a national brand, we're a homegrown brand at this point, but we told them, you know, we've got great promise. We've got great branding.Uh, the drink was amazing, you know, especially, you know, in a world full of caffeine, sugar, et cetera. Uh, we had no sugar at 80 milligrams of caffeine.What's important about that is, is, uh, you know, parents would come to us and say, what if little Timmy drinks, four of them we'd say, well, he's going to have to urinate.Speaker 2 (06:27): Uh, that's, that's, what's going to happen, but it's not a matter of, you know, as long as you have your water and your nutrients, you're going to feel pretty good. And so when you have a product that tastes good, that the market likes, it's, it's relatively easy to sell. And, uh, we had a good run. Uh, you know, we were all over ESPN. We ended up, uh, doing a NASCAR deal. So you saw the Olin car and, uh, unfortunately things you can't time or the recession then came. So through the recession, I was still selling the drink. People were signing up for it left and right. The problem was people couldn't pay for it. And so I learned real quickly about cashflow and despite the incredible sales and momentum we had, we unfortunately were a casualty of the recession. And so at that point, you know, I had a couple, couple of coins in my pocket and I said, uh, winning real estate investing, uh, TV shows were talking about flipping houses and my wife and I have flipped, I don't know, 50 or 50 or so housed at this point, we we've lost count.Speaker 2 (07:22): And, uh, around then, uh, I had my first son and at that point, uh, you know, my, my dad had worked hard his life. Uh, we, he, unfortunately, you know, as a result of his travels, wasn't around all the time. So it was very important to me, uh, from a lifestyle perspective to be home, especially when my kids were young and, uh, you know, I tried being home all the time and I'll be honest, uh, the stay at home moms and my wife included, there's a state Oman, uh, they're my heroes. Cause I couldn't do it. I had to tap out. I said, you know what, let me go to an office, let me go do something because I can't do all of this. And, um, you know, I didn't have my next kajillion dollar idea or my next just good idea. And, uh, I had a friend that was running century link at that time.Speaker 2 (08:05): He said, you've done great in small business. Why don't you come try a work for a big company and see what you can do there. So about eight years ago, I joined, uh, century link as a, as mid level manager. I ran the marketing in the Las Vegas market and soon was promoted to a regional market marketing manager, uh, had a great run there, uh, launched one giginternet, uh, with century link. So that's my claim to fame get started out with, uh, I made the first pitch to get $20 million investment. Uh, they weren't sure they weren't sure they weren't sure the CEO finally said, you know what? You're kind of crazy. Let's take a shot on it. They do it. And now they funded it. Uh, I can't even count how many billions of dollars now they spent in the network to bring one gig to people's homes.Speaker 2 (08:48): So if you're on that one gig connection one, you probably love me. And two, you probably love your internet connection even more, uh, cause you could stream, I don't even know, 500 streams in Netflix at a time and you know, full HD video conferencing, et cetera. But, uh, you know, as much asI enjoyed, uh, my time at century link, um, I got very good. I got very good at that. Almost became a day in day out being almost became too routine, uh, thatI realized that entrepreneur or entrepreneurs was still kind of ticking within me. And um, I still didn't have my next big idea. I still don't yet. I'm still looking. But, uh, at the same time I had another friend that was the VP of ops over at this company. So racks in super logistics. Uh, she said this company is going to explode.Speaker 2 (09:31): And when I hear explode, I say opportunity. And when there's opportunity, as long as you have the right talent, the right luck, the right mix of things, you can make incredible things happen. And I like to be in the middle of making incredible things happen. So, uh, she's a better salesperson than me, even as the VP of ops. Uh, she brought me in as the VP of sales and marketing, and now I've been here two years and, uh, we are exploding, uh, again, not, not even pre COVID. We were doing very well. We're on a growth plan. This originally started as a small mom and pop business Rakuten, uh, bought it about five years ago and has now scaled it. So we went from like four warehouses to 15 warehouses within the matter of a couple of years and had, COVID not happened as she, as a result of COVID we may one, we were going to continue to grow, but actually COBIT actually has been an impetus because people are obviously shopping online more.Speaker 2 (10:22): That's how we're going to continue growing the business.Now we're looking at more sites on which to place locations that were inevitably closer to that end user. So when you click buy, everyone wants that instant gratification of my new socks or my new swimsuit or my new pills or whatever they are. And that we want to make sure that we're able to deliver those as quickly as possible to you. So I have fun. I look at e-commerce products daily. I solve, you know, our client's needs to make sure whatever headaches they have. We try to alleviate those for them, do it at a fair price.And, uh, inevitably, uh, the way this company has grown, even though I obviously am an employee of a much larger company, uh, we run like a small business. My only boss and person I need to answer to is the CEO of this company.Speaker 2 (11:05): And otherwise he really, as long as I'm able to deliver the numbers, I run the business, uh, run my teams, you know, run our pricing, etcetera. So I like the flexibility, but I just liked the benefits, which is why when we were originally talking, I was, it took some, it took a PTO day and was in a national bark and a, you know, no cell service beforehand. It was my own company, no cell service. That's scary that you never know. There could be a new client calling. There could be an issue, whatever. And you're almost like taking a chance. You're, you're, you're rolling. You're walking on eggshells.Whereas the beauty, again, working in a company, um, I've got a full team that as soon as my phone goes off, it either rolls over to somebody else or there's a chain of command. Uh, I love the spirit of, you know, entrepreneurs. I love the business entrepreneurs. Um, but you know, with, I made a lifestyle choice that with my young kids right now, I'm in a good spot working for the company.So don't be surprised. And if you've got a great idea and another big opportunity, let's go make it happen.Speaker 3 (12:02): That's great. Jason, what a journey that's so exciting and, and hats off to you for prioritizing your family when you have so many opportunities to go different directions. So I always love to hear when, even when you got an incredible hustle in your spirit and entrepreneurial spirit, just making sure you don't lose sight of the family life. It's so good to hear that. Tell us real quickly, just a little bit about Rakuten, super logistics.Um, they're known as the Amazon of Japan, is that correct?Speaker 2 (12:30): Yeah. Let me start with Rakuten. So Rakuten as a whole, uh, probably is more known as that Amazon in Japan, but they're really in 70businesses and I'm not just saying interest. I'm saying they actually operate a run and make these businesses happen. And, uh, you know, in, in the States the probably most well known one is Ebates. Um, you know, that's a cash back site, you know, with millions of users, uh, but even, you know, some of the passive investments we've done Lyft, uh, in ride sharing are Mickey made a Tawny. OurCEO, uh, met with Uber, met with Lyft, uh, decided to make a big investment inLyft. And obviously it's paid off as Lyft has grown, but outside of the bigDame successes, uh, we even have other things that are startups. So there's, we're creating a brand new mobile network in Japan.Speaker 2 (13:13): Uh, there's a Rakuten medical, that's working in cancer drugs. Uh, there's an Airbnb type service in Japan and, you know, service after service. You're like, but that's hospitality and that's medical and FinTech.And e-commerce you name an industry? There's a large chance in it, uh, that we're in it as a company. But my business specifically is logistics. And you know, the logistics, what that means to us is we're in third party logistics, uh, AKA, we do the pick pack and shipping of e-commerce goods that are shipped across the country. So if you're a merchant selling something that needs to be shipped, uh, we probably should be talking. And you know, the reasons why people choose to do business with us are, you know, one, we obviously have the brands, Frank, we're not shutting down tomorrow or a few years. We're going to be here today, tomorrow and long into the future.Speaker 2 (13:56): Um, but to, you know, we need to give credit where credit's due in Amazon, especially when they introduced prime. I dunno, is it five, 10 years ago? Uh, everyone, all of a sudden got used to two day free shipping. And if you were not with Amazon, you're like, how do I do that? IfI'm at, you know, Tony's t-shirts dot com and I want to ship that out of my garage and I'm based in, let's call it New York. It's going to take me five to eight days to get over to LA. And so there's no way I'm really competing withAmazon. Well, the way that Tony is able to do that is basically by partnering with a company like us, because I've got warehouses in New York, I've got warehouses in Texas, LA, Pennsylvania, you name it a meaning that you ship your goods. Tome, I'll have them in as the order comes in through whatever market place, whether your own website through Amazon or any other marketplace, uh, it'll flow into my system, we'll see the order and we'll ship it on your behalf. And you're using my labor, my resources, my technology, basically the smartly route that, uh, as quickly and as cheaply as possible. And by the way, because I usually ship more than you, uh, usually have better pricing than you. So we pass along those shipping savings to you. Uh, you add in the us based customer service, the brand strength, the number of vocations, and you could probably get a birthday card and a hello for me. Uh, and we've got a very, very strong, uh, you know, sales proposition to the market. What I love about this,Speaker 4 (15:15): Tying it all the way back to your story as an entrepreneur, even in high school, you're always looking for, what's going to grow next and, and what's going to take off in that. And so understanding that customer almost sounds like it's something that comes naturally to you. Um, you just, you just pick up on what's there and you see the opportunities and you go for it, which is something we try to do on the show is to break it down to what are some of those core principles that really, um, you look for when you're moving from company to company or opportunity, opportunity like that. So we've talked a lot of different CEOs, a lot of different industries. What would you say are maybe three of the top things that, that you're looking for to really know about your customers, um, you as an individual, how do you, what do you look for to see? Is this going to explode? It's going to take off, do I want to be part of this?Speaker 2 (16:05): Yeah. Um, one, I buy a lot of product, so I'm a consumer myself, so I know there's good stuff and there's bad stuff like we all do. And inevitably you try to get better. So you don't buy as much junk is, you know, you look at your last garage sale and you're like, why did I buy all this stuff? And you go, man, they had really good marketing, horrible product. And you know, part of it is, is, you know, if you look at me versus 20 years ago, I bought more stuff. So you, you have, you know, that beauty of hindsight, uh, the second part of it is, is literally just being in their shoes. You know, I'm always trying to be not only from an empathetic standpoint to know what struggles they're going through, but to if I'm their consumer, if I'm them, ifI'm constantly evaluating, you know, as you go around this radius of different roles and positions, what are you portraying?Speaker 2 (16:49): What are they seeing and what experience are you trying to deliver nonverbally? And do I have the tools in which that'll either alleviate that or help that or whatever. And so, you know, we do discovery like anybody else, but, uh, we probably take it to the nth degree and that will actually, we're really loving to know how do you do it now? And if you're happy with what you're doing now, can I do it better or is what you're doing really good. And can I save you money one way or another? Um, so that, you know, pre COVID that meant we'd actually fly to your facility. If you're with a competitor, always happy to look at that, but if you're doing it by yourself, you know, we help a lot of people that have gotten into logistics, uh, not by choice it's because they had to, you know, you're selling a bracelet and all of a sudden it ends upon Island and now you're selling a million a month.Speaker 2 (17:34): How do you handle that? There's no, like textbook on that again, you know, e-commerce has been around less than 20 years, really in any kind of fashion. And so what people do is they go find their friend. That's areal estate person, they get a warehouse, they find some software. If they have software at all, might just be doing paper and pen. Yes. We run into that a lot. And, uh, you know, they make the best of it. And, you know, they don't necessarily, usually if you're in that kind of a hustle, you don't go find a logistics professional. You say, mom, dad, friend, whatever you do, what you have to you hustle. And as a result of that, you probably don't have time because you're continuing to sales and sell and market your product, um, to take a step back and say, is this the best way to do it?Speaker 2 (18:13): The beauty I have, again, hindsight, I do this day in and day out, you know, one package, 10,000 packages or million packages. It's another day to me. And when we look at it and I also have the beauty of looking at how other people do it, to be able to say, Hey, here's the best practice. If you have a special way, if you like to kiss each box, uh, that may mean something to you, but really once it's then thrown into ups truck or USBs orany body the client doesn't know. So make sure that whatever effort you're putting in and whatever cost you go in, uh, is creating a result. That's valuable.Uh, we do this a lot, even though not in the packaging material business, I'min the e-commerce consulting business. So, you know, I had one client that use six different types of paper to do their box.Speaker 2 (18:56): Uh, and I didn't even know there were that many types of, to paper, but now I know, so paper crinkle, paper, wrapping, paper, craft, paper, et cetera. And they were doing all of these things because they felt it was such a personalized touch. And I suggested to them, you know, no, no other client is doing this. So you're either the most genius to have gone with the most special packaging ever, or you're wasting your time and money. And the way you should find that as literally talk to the talk to the customers, see if they talk about it, is, is Instagram giving you extra props because this amazing packaging experience, and we look through it and it takes 10 seconds. And you know, the beauty of social media is you get, it's not quite instant, but it's pretty dang close to instant gratification, either instant gratification or instant negative feedback, uh, on what you're doing.Speaker 2 (19:39): And, you know, as we scrolled through that, we realized, no, one's talking about your packaging. They're talking about a great product. And so whether we put it in a Brown bag versus a, you know, sparkly, mirrored, you know, with glitter, et cetera, uh, we're just there, we're just wasting money. So not only were we able to help them save money from a shipping scale, uh, and you know, just being able to all flow that process to us, we were also able to consult them and say, Hey, here's what we're seeing in our business. Make sure it's a best practice. We'll always give you advice. Obviously you, as the owner of the company always can make that decision. Um, but I try I and my team just try to be non knowledgeable experts. So whether that's attending conferences, whether that's talking to peers, we talked to, I was about to say enemies, but they're always frenemies.Speaker 2 (20:27): Cause it ever way, the way the business goes, uh, you know, we just did an acquisition last year of a company called first mile. And you know, the it's a, you're constantly looking for what are those moves that will make the business better and deliver a better experience for that client.And as a result of that, you know, if you're in tune with the industry, you're going to know either what's coming, what's good, what's not good. And you know, that's, what's going to save you the time that you, as an entrepreneur, don't have time to do why, because you're selling and marketing your product, like you should be. So, you know, let you be the expert on your product, let us be the expert in the shipping and logistics. And, you know, they kind of go back and it goes back to that, that front, uh, that first point of what are you good at? You know, what, what shoes are you in and what do you know and out source what you're not good at. And, you know, when I talked to my sons, as much as I love, you know, my job and being logistics at six and eight years old, they're not like I can't wait to go into logistics.Speaker 2 (21:20): I want to be an astronaut. I want to be a fireman. I actually, one of them wants to be a fisherman, but there, you know, we're the, we're the, we have a new campaign coming out for Christmas in July. That's the three PLS, uh, you know, we're the Elvis of the background. People don't think about us, but it's a very necessary business and it's a very necessary part of your business. Uh, you know, as you're shipping goods online. And, and we, we take that very seriously, not only from helping you with the bottom line, but to knowing that we're an extension of your brand, that just because we're working in the background, that your customers see that end package, however they get it. However, if they inbox, it is a, basically a, their last feeling for your, for your brand. So just like, you know, your website design is probably the first impression they get well word, their last impression.Speaker 2 (22:05): And, you know, unfortunately if it's a bad and bad, last impression, that's all the government. So we take that very seriously and obviously, you know, aim and strive to deliver good experiences daily. And, uh, just on the off chance. And again, it's a very, very, very slim off chance. Uh, there's an issue we've got US-based customer service. Uh, we're a phone call, email away. Uh, we take care of that stuff. Uh, because again, we want to be in business. We know we want to support your business in too. It's so hard. It's hard getting new customers. I think we all can all can, uh, we all can recognize that if you had been doing business, whether it's a day or a hundred days or a hundred million years, it's hard getting new customers. And it's so much easier to take care of the customers you already have. So, you know, we treat them like gold and really want to make sure that we deliver an experience that not only I'd be proud of that my CEO would be proud of. And, you know, making me make a tiny, who's the big CEO of Rakuten. He's got 70 business interests, but I know that if at any point he wanted to check in on this one, thumbs up, no problems for taking care of business.Speaker 3 (23:08): That's awesome. I'd love the point about how you're an extension of their brand. So if you don't mind, let's get a little bit tactical in. How do you, as the leader of your part of the organization, teach your team to, to feel that you know, that they are an extension of the, of the brand of the customers.Speaker 2 (23:27): So what's interesting, you know, if you look at traveling expense budgets, everyone usually has, you know, money for airplane tickets or a, you know, hotel food that's standard. What's interesting about my business is I can go buy stuff. So look at, I'll just point out my desk led strip lights. Um, I have a ring light over on my right. I've got all different kinds of samples that we're constantly buying stuff. Just to see what's that what's that end user's experience. Was it hard to open the package was the package busted?Uh, if I ordered it, I'm expecting, you know, the website's had two days, but guess what we put on calendar and appointments to check the two days. And if it becomes three, uh, you know, we're like, Hey, but if it becomes a week, Oh, that's a golden opportunity because you're selling a certain experience.Speaker 2 (24:11): And again, it's not even the product. Now, we're just talking about the expectation of when I'm going to get the product. Uh, people become married to that. And especially in COVID because you have, so not that you have nothing to look forward to, but you have less to look forward to that package on your doorstep really means something. And so if you're expecting on aTuesday, you want it Tuesday. There's no, you know, Americans are not, we don't mince word. I want a Tuesday. It's not Wednesdays. Okay. Or if it gets hereThursday, those days are over. We want it Tuesday. And if you can tell me by three o'clock that's even better. And so, you know, I think the starting point really is starting out as consumers. Uh, they need to understand what do they feel is consumer. And we've all done that yet.Speaker 2 (24:49): You know, everyone, whether it's brick and mortar in a store or an online experience, why do people generally like brick and mortar more one convenience into personal touch? So if you can get that through online, whether that's a follow up email, a followup phone call, whatever, even better. And so we try to channel that just how do you want to be treated? It's the golden rule. There's, there's, there's nothing crazy about that. And then to, uh, you know, really trying to know our customers, knowing, you know, are they in a growth phase? Are they, you know, what their struggles are? Again, I point out the packaging earlier, but we're not, I'm not in the packaging business. I don't help you source boxes. Uh, you know, I'll use whatever material you want, but if you want it, you know, glitter, sparkly with your brand and handwritten, you know, buy a 31 year old calligrapher, I'm sure we could find it, but I'm not going to be your cheapest source for that.Speaker 2 (25:40): But inevitably, you know, we want to be well-read. We want to be at those conferences. We want to know the industry so that if you need a referral to a partner that usually we've got a pretty good source for X, Y, orZ. And, you know, again, it's not our core business, but it's just being of service. Uh, I think that the other thing is that our team needs to know that even though we're in sales, now we're in the business of customer service.We're trying to deliver a good experience. Um, that customer will want obviously buy, but too they'll enjoy, uh, you know, you think of vendors that I had. I had an issue with my power bill. I was dreading calling in because I'm having to explain what's happening or who knows who's going to be on the call. How long am I going to have to wait?Speaker 2 (26:22): I haven't even picked up the phone and I know what's going to be an exp, it's going to be a negative experience. Heaven forbid, they're calling me. I'm already ready, gunned up going, what took you so long? Or, you know, X, Y, and Z. And so it's important for my reps that I try to teach them that, you know, it's not just about the business. If you talk about the business, they're going to, they're going to section you in only talking about the business. Um, I like to know your birthdays. I like to know whether you have kids. I like to know if you like, you know, snow versus beach or snow and beach. And you know, if you have a vacation home or what you buy, et cetera, again, is that what sells anybody? No, it's that, it's not, it's not some sales trick that you're trying to put the CRM to be like, Oh, I know Tony likes purple shirts.Speaker 2 (27:03): So I'm going to wear the purple shirt. So Tony likes me.No, this is human relations. And you know, one of the, one of the quickest things I do to judge on whether I want to do business with something that's with someone or not forget about what you sell, forget about what it is. Do we want to have lunch together? Is that going to be something I dread? Or is that something I look forward to something to look forward to, we'll get the numbers, right? We'll get the business, right. And even if we have an issue, we're going to go to lunch and we're going to figure it out one way or another, because we like each other and we want to do business. That's easy. And when, when business is easy, that's when the hours don't matter. That's when you know, a lot of things don't matter because you liked the people.Speaker 2 (27:40):Now, if you're having a negative experience and you dread it, you're going to notice that coffee date was 37 minutes. I've met with him two times. Once you start quantifying, like I've met with you two times within48 hours, and there've been 15% errors based on this, your relationship's wrong because now it's become the product instead of the relationship. Um, and I think that's something I, you know, my sales team and I pride ourselves on is they're all. I wouldn't have hired them. I, if I didn't enjoy going to lunch with them, I don't care how much they could have sell or how much they would have sold somewhere else. Uh, if we don't have that comradery, we don't enjoy doing business together. I know later on, somewhere down the line, that's gonna hurt me no matter how much the short term gain will be.Speaker 2 (28:22):And, you know, again, that's kind of what I talked about and being Rakuten. Um, I don't have a fear of having to do, um, I don't have a stock price that I'm trying to dictate. Uh, we are listed on the Japanese stock exchange, but again, I'm one of 70 units Mickey's told us, grow the business, not grow the business. This quarter now grow the business this year, grow the business, which means that there are clients that sometimes aren't the right fit. You know, could we make money if we're judged on a quarterly, we are judged on a quarterly basis. Yes, we want to move the sales numbers forward, butI don't have the, the breathing down my neck of take the bad deal, take the bad deal, just cause you need to get a deal done. The deals we make, the deals we make are, are good business, not only financially, but I know that we've got a good personality fit that, um, you know, I have, I'm the VP of sales and marketing, but I have a peer in VP of it, VP of operations, et cetera.Speaker 2 (29:11): I don't want to bring in a client. That's going to be a, you know, excuse my French phrase. It, you know, a pain in the butt for one of the other departments. So with your unnecessarily needy or for unnecessarily, you know, there's, there's a certain norm of what interactions are. And you know, if you want to call me and talk about, I was about to say sports game, we haven't seen sports and who knows Alba, but if you want to talk about the weather, that's fine. You're a friendly person. But if you're like red versus blue, red versus blue, and I'm like blue, and then you call me again, red versus blue,Mike, this is annoying. This just isn't going to work out and you get that feeling. And part of it is, uh, I've got a pretty experienced sales team, um, that really sees their goal.Speaker 2 (29:53): As you know, I, I think when you ask them what their job is, they're going to say, even though they're a, you know, technically a sales account executive they're e-commerce consultant, and they really take to heart that word consultant, because they're consulting people on a solution for whatever their issues are. Um, and it's always funny cause you know, they always fight me on the title. I'm like, I just have to fit it in the system.Can I call you this? And they're like, no, I'd like the business card to say e-commerce consultant. And you know, if you look at their cards, that's what its ays. And they're like, well, you'll notice it. Doesn't say fulfillment. It doesn't say shipping. It doesn't say logistics. It's about e-commerce. So if we understand your business, we can find out one where we can plug ourselves in.And two of there might be a software partner.Speaker 2 (30:34): There might be some other partners that might be able to aid you. And that we just kind of like to be that one stop shop, come to us.We're knowledgeable. We have expertise. We have the facilities, we have, uh, you know, technology, et cetera, et cetera, uh, to make sure that we're going to be able to take care of you. And I think that's the confidence that one we're able to give our confidence in, into the confidence that my team has when they talk to everyone. Uh, we know that if it's the right solution, when we goto sell, we're going to get the deal. And you know, our close rate is incredible. Uh, it's only improved with COVID, but pre COVID, we are an amazing sales team. Uh, any other thing, when I talk about going to lunch, we're talking about the wind Covitz over, I'm ready to go to Disneyland, forget about lunch.Speaker 2 (31:16): Let's take the whole team, a bunch of middle aged people that are probably hurt ourselves and complaining about being tired and hot and what we're going to go do it. We're going to eat the Mickey ears and get the balloons and all that, uh, Y creates a memory. Uh, the same thing you want todo with your family, uh, is, is what we do. You know, you speak, you often spend more time with your coworkers and your family. Uh, so why wouldn't you want to enjoy that time to treat them as well as your family, et cetera. And, uh, that experience altogether, you know, time and time again is, has worked throughout my career, whether you know, real estate to energy drinks to, uh, toe-commerce now, uh, forget about the vertical. Uh, this is, uh, this is people and as long as you're enjoying what you're doing, you offer good product. Uh, it's, it's easy to be successful.Speaker 4 (32:03): It's interesting because one of the things I'm hearing you say, Jason is, and you didn't say this specifically, but I'm kind of putting words in your mouth here. It seems like shipping has gone from, from just being another vendor in the, in the whole chain of events. If you will, to, right now, you're a very strategic partner. Um, and I had to laugh there cause you were talking earlier about how people want their packages. You know, this particular on Tuesday at 3:00 PM, um, one of the companies that used to work with one of my clients, they had a strategic partner that was in the flower business. You know, like it wasn't this company, but like 800, one, 800flowers, you know, that type of delivery service.Speaker 2 (32:40): And when on Valentine's day or mother's day, the flowers weren't delivered that day. But the next day they could not understand why the customers were so angry. And so it was one of those things where we evaluate, evaluate a lot of strategic relationships at that point. But it wasn't like today. I mean, that was a five years ago today. Literally anything e-commerce needs that level of strategic relationship where it's like, if we're going to promise Tuesday, it is there Tuesday, it can't be there, you know, Wednesday, maybe Monday, but if I'm expecting a Tuesday and it rains on Monday and my package is destroyed, you know, so you've got to meet that expectation. So it's fascinating to me to see how the industry has really shifted on top of that, the culture you guys have there about being that brand extension. I mean, you've got hundreds or thousands of clients that you're working with and you've got to be the brand extension for all of them.Speaker 2 (33:33): So that's gotta take quite the effort to know exactly what to do there and to have that level of caring amongst the employees, that they really want to be that part of the brand. So give us a little bit more insight with that, if you could. Yeah. The beauty of it is, is all on the one with the microphone and speak. You can hear, it's not me. I'm not having to handle all those billions of packages. Thank goodness. Uh, so we've got an army, we've got an East coast team in the West ghost team that handle us basically full business hours, whether they're on either coast and, uh, it's work, it's hard work. You know, if it was, if everything was cost, we could outsource to thePhilippines, India wherever, and it would be much cheaper, but to have the level of care, the camaraderie, um, and as much as I, you know, we're, we're really testing ourselves for remote work because typically, you know, those types of call central response teams, we're always together and it's not just, you know, some, some hourly job to just come into.Speaker 2 (34:27): We actually salary those positions, uh, their bonus positions.Uh, and that's an extension, not only from our management offices to our mid staff, all the way down to the warehouses. Uh, we, we really try not to use templates outside of holiday holiday. You've got that flux, but the rest of the time Rakuten stands behind our employees. We want to have, uh, that network in that camaraderie. Why there's a specialty, you get to it once you, you know, what is it, the 10,000 hour rule? Well, it's true. The more you do something, you get better at it, you know how to handle a certain product, you know, how to deal with the client. Uh, you know, as a, again, being in the shoes of the consumer or the client in this case, uh, calling up and not knowing, knowing who you're talking to each time and feeling like how you're having tore-explain yourself.Speaker 2 (35:10): That's frustrating. Whereas if you're calling, Hey, Tony,I hate that issue from Tuesday. Are we okay? Yes. And then you're like, those are a little, I always think of kind of like green lights, Greenlight, Greenlight, Green light. And it's not to say that you will run into it yet red light or a yellow light, but the more green lights in a row, you have, the more, more ramp you have in trust you have in that relationship a bit more, the little hiccups just don't don't matter. Whereas, you know, if I have no rapport with you, then all of a sudden everything's going to be a nine 11 fire and you know, that that's frustrating. So part of the reason why we're able to do this and have that level of care is literally bodies. Uh, you know, I was taught in business school that, you know, uh, you can pay five people to do five jobs, or if you want to save money, you could do three people to do five jobs.Speaker 2 (35:57): And, uh, you know, I think that Roxanne actually is pretty good at doing almost five, if not six people to do the jobs because we want todo it right. And, you know, Rakuten it's, I think altogether it's just over 20years old, um, Mickey is very big on the client client aspect and not so much the finance, but we've learned that the finances come, uh, as long as you deliver a good product and good experience. Um, so that's where we're focused on. Um, I think you actually asked me two questions in it. I muddied myself up.So if he could talk me real quick, um, actually I, I, I'm not even sure where the, where the questions went to now. I've I've we, you covered a lot of the ground, so we're good there. I think. No worries. No worries. It's all good. I mean, I, I'm actually fascinated with, with where we're going with this right now, because, um, what people don't often think about is that backend, you know, it's, it's, it's the company culture, the individuals, and knowing the customer means you've got to pass all that information on it. Can't just be sitting in the sales department. Right. You know, this, you've got to pass it on to the teams actually do the work, as you said, you know, they're in the warehouses around the country. So I think you covered that pretty well. I like where you went with that. Awesome.Speaker 5 (37:07): I remember the other question now, I just needed a second.You were talking about a commodity. So shipping is a commodity. Anyone, you know, anyone can go to upsSpeaker 2 (37:15): And ship something, uh, for all, for all intents and purposes. And it's not that we're necessarily so much faster. We're faster, especially on big volume than you probably are. I've got conveyor belts, etcetera, and, and, uh, scalable labor that you may not have had. But, um, probably my goal in the process is trying to make us as little of a commodity as possible and what could be very much a commodity, which is why stress so much, uh, not only the customer service that we have, that's, US-based, uh, as well as my sales team, the relationships you have there, uh, you know, as much as I, it's funny me as a consumer versus me as a salesperson or different. So again, the power company, if they had a chat button, they don't, I wish they did. They did. I'd rather be hands off and not have to confront with someone yet.Speaker 2 (37:59): I know in the business world, when you want big business to happen, it's done like this. I got to see the whites in your eyes. I gotta pick up the phone. I've got to have a feeling for you because if it's just over chat and email, you know, the technology has progressed so much that for all I know you're on a Hill of mud, you know, in the middle of nowhere. And, uh, you know, that's why local as, as amazing as technology is to be able to connect us all across the world, there's still such value in building that relationship, no matter where you are. It's not saying that you have to be side by side. Uh, cause a lot of our clients actually are based in different countries, but that also means that, you know, my, my staff, even though we're all based in the U Sis a global staff, what does that mean?Speaker 2 (38:39): We speak multiple languages, multiple languages too. We also are willing to accommodate you on your timeframe. So I've taken 3:00 AM calls and you know, the other, other companies don't well great. That's the difference. We're willing to take that extra step. We're willing to understand the cultural differences. Uh, you know, if it's a Kwanzaa Chinese new year, you name it. Uh, we are celebrating cause we try to celebrate everything. We're in sales, I've got the gong, I literally have a gong over, but uh, you know, there's turn on the news and you can hear a negative story, but you know, trying to find that good news, uh, you know, of course you want to celebrate wins and deals, but we'll celebrate a good lead. We'll celebrate, you know, we'll celebrate, uh, anything walking straight and smiling. Great had a good meal. I had a great lunch today, by the way.Speaker 2 (39:26): But anyway, it's, it's a lifestyle is probably the biggest story. I've got to get across to people that, you know, if you're not happy in your life and you're not happy with whatever's going on here, you trying to sell whatever you have. It comes across. Know it's funny how our bodies work or how our communication comes across, but it does it spills over. So, you know, not to be too self help guru, but you've gotta be good here. And then that just shines everywhere. And you know, that, that gets to the people want to have lunch with you if you're this gray cloud, no, nobody wants to be by the gray cloud. They want to be where the party's at, where there's fun happening, where there's good conversation happening and connections being made. SoSpeaker 3 (40:11): Such great energy that I'm sure that comes through to your team. And then that flows through to your clients and customers. And I just appreciate that energy so much. And it feels like to me, that you're a relationship company that just happens to do logistics versus the other way around.Speaker 2 (40:29): That's the key. I mean, I love logistics. I love what we do, but find switches into, you know, selling widget a, B and C, and now we can do it all over again. Um, the other thing is, you know, beyond personality, I am big on, um, not only recruitment but recognition and trying to be out of the box. So when I talked about Disneyland, as soon as it's safe and I'm not talking as soon as they open the Gates, but when it's safe, then we're going to do that. Why? Because we're going to take pictures, video, it's going to be on our social. And that's going to become not only one, a recruitment tool to the reps that we have, that's going to build loyalty because they're going, like, I love this. It is fun being a part of this team, even though yes, the reps, you know, all want their own commissions and what not to do well, we're a team and they see that, you know, my success does not take away from your success.Speaker 2 (41:16): We want both of our success to go equally together. And, uh, you know, I've been in other sales organizations where there's the backstabbing and the cutthroat and this that we don't have them. I don't tolerate it. I didn't like it when I was in it. So again, if you don't like it, why be a part of it? And so when I now am running the organization, not that it was there, but if it were to start bubbling up, there's no tolerance for it.And, uh, you know, I had, I, uh, tried to do something different. Um, I, my hobby is points in miles. So I figured out how to, you know, the, at the HOD suites, the shower suites again, pre COVID, but then even flying private. Now that Covitd happened. So, so one of the things we did was, um, I took my top salespeople at the end of one of the quarters to lunch.Speaker 2 (42:01): Uh, but in LA and the only way we could get to LA and been back on the same day is if you take a private jet. So we took a private jet, we went to lunch and you better believe they remembered it. But instead of just doing that, I noticed we had a couple extra seats on, on the plane. Uh, we brought some of the newer reps to give them a taste of it and they hadn't quite deserved it yet, but I told them, I think they're going to be deserving. It cause they're on the right path. And guess what? Uh, you know, I've got a rep now that's been in the business all of one year, only one year in most years.Uh, you know, it, I just told you the 10,000 hour rule, well, in one year you, you should not be an expert.Speaker 2 (42:35): She is an expert. Why? Because beyond her eight to five, you know, when she lives, breathes and sleeps, that she's talked to so many customers she's on the phone. She's constantly talking about, she'll be at the grocery store, talk to you about eCommerce fulfillment. Do you know what it is and hit at the grocery store? Why is she talking to me? The pre COVID again?But again, she's just a, uh, in the nicest sense, I'm a chatterbox. So I'll say chatterbox, uh, just talking about it. And the funny thing is, you know, 99% of the people she talks about, could they be customer? No, but they know someone that is. And you know, as she continues to build that network, she has, you know, these inbound leads that come in and as she sells, those people become her biggest referral source. We all know word of mouth is powerful.Speaker 2 (43:18): She kills it. And word of mouth that once you signed one, one becomes three and three becomes five. And, uh, so if I was to Pat myself on the back, I recognize that talent way back when, and, uh, gave her a taste of the good life. And now she's, I, I don't have to give her anything. She's creating her own destiny in her own life. And you know, there's another story there in that. She's a, this is a, you know, I told her she wasn't in the first, uh, first year for this, this job, but she's not fresh out of college. This is not her first job. She had a full career already. This is a new chapter in her life. She said, I don't know anything about it. I'd like to make some money.And then you look like you have a good team.Speaker 2 (43:58): I've heard good things. And I said, you stick with us. You learn the process, you love your customers. If you're gonna make money. That's, that's not even a question in my mind, uh, but will you stick to the process and do it? And it sounds like, and then that self help guru all these sales, you know, especially the a hundred percent commission, hard sell kind of thing, all the opportunities there, you can make six figures and we're not that we are. We want you to have a good lifestyle. We're going to, uh, my, my, my sales people are salary. We want there. We don't want them not having to worry about, do I need to close the sale? Just to be able to pay our power bill, their power bills are covered, house, car, whatever you got that now go create an amazing experience for a client, help grow the company, and we'll continue to take care of you.Speaker 2 (44:44): And I mean, it's, it sounds so simple. And it really is that simple because this isn't just something we print on a poster. This is what we live. This is what we do. This is what we say. And this is what you know, for my team, from the high to low, they know that we've got our marching orders and that's clear. Um, so just get ready. I mean, we're, we're going to continue to grow. And if you're not familiar with us, continue to watch, uh, you might've seen us, you know, we're, we're sponsored the golden state warriors. We're sponsors of the Barcelona soccer team. And, uh, beyond that, you've got me. SoSpeaker 3 (45:18): Jason it's, Oh my gosh, this is so great. And I love the commitment to your people. I mean, that just speaks volumes about how business should be done. And I had a client say to me the other day, he, um, he said, you know, a lot of people think it's customers first employee second. And he said, I think it's the other way around, you know, if you're, if your employees are good, your customer's going to be good. So thank you for sharing that. Uh, one of the things we like to do on our show is to give you an opportunity to shine a spotlight on a nonprofit or a community organization, somebody that's doing really good workout in the world. So is there anybody that you can tell us about that, that, you know, be good for everybody else to know about as well,Speaker 2 (45:58): Easy three square food bank here in Las Vegas? Uh, you know, I, in the last, especially at my last company was centrally cause a fortune 200 company, so different scale different, but, uh, you know, I've raised over $4 million for food banks on the West coast. Um, so we're fortunate, you know, I even mentioned my lunch on this podcast, but, uh, I eat every day, usually three times a day, if not four. And how lucky, you know, I don't worry about, am I going to eat today? It's what am I going to eat today?And I think of, you know, all the people and especially the kids that, you know, don't know when their next meal is, and especially with the summers, if they don't have that school lunch, where's that next meal coming from. And, uh, that's, that's a cause that obviously is touched my heart.Speaker 2 (46:39): So not just three square food bank, food camp, food banks, all across the country, uh, do amazing work. So that's where I always, um, like to like, to put not only my dollars, but my time. Um, and then to one of the thing that I do with my kickoffs, we do a kickoff every quarter just to make sure everyone's refocus, set the new goals, et cetera, for my sales team. Uh, we always bring in a volunteering, volunteering, uh, event if we're not inCOVID. So, uh, we've tried to share the love. So as much as I love food banks, you know, we've been to everything from the United way to women's shelters. Do you know the Nevada partnership for homeless youth? And we try to literally switch it up, uh, you know, quarter by quarter by quarter, um, by knowing that, you know, even though my team instinctively and already knows it, um, I like to us to make sure that we use our hands, our bodies, our minds, and volunteer together, uh, to remember that this is our community.Speaker 2 (47:29): This is where we live, where we work, where we play. And, uh, we have an ownership stake within that community and we should do our part to do it. So, uh, we obviously do that quarterly as an organized fashion, butI'm also supportive as a boss that as they need time, um, Rakuten actually dictates, we have two volunteering days paid by the company already. Uh, but behind that, they actually wink at us and say volunteer more. And so in the system to check that box, yes, we do put that in. Um, but my boss, his boss, etcetera, uh, we realized that we're a pillar and a steward in the community and, uh, we want to do our part. And so I did not do this. I didn't put this background just for this talk, but it's because we're in this together and raccoons got your back. SoSpeaker 3 (48:13): That's how it's been for the, for the, uh, listeners that are just listening to audio. The background that Jason has on his, uh, video screen says we're in this together. And I think that that applies not just to getting through COVID or your community involvement, but also with your. customers, which is obviously what this show is all about. And I think you're just a prime example of what it means to really know your customers, Tony, any last minute thoughts?Speaker 2 (48:40): No, I've been, I've been blown away by everything you've shared Jason. Um, I absolutely love this and I know when the wrap up, we're going to have some, some takeaways that I want to share at that point, butJason, thank you so much for being on the show. I appreciate it. Thanks so much for the opportunity.Speaker 3 (48:53): What's the best way for our listeners to get ahold of you.Speaker 2 (48:56): Email me, I'll take some emails from you. Jason dot Chan, C H a N like nancy@rakuten.com. Uh, happy to, uh, answer email all day. Don't be surprised VC at 2:00 AM. 2:00 AM, uh, response. I'm nocturnal, and I've trained myself to work early in the morning too. So I just work and I have young kids, so I'm up a lot.Speaker 3 (49:20):Oh, that's awesome. Jason, thank you so much for being here today. I know that our listeners gained a ton of value from this conversation. We really appreciate you being here today.Speaker 2 (49:30): Awesome. Thank you, Betsy and Tony, you guys have a good day. Thanks. You too, Jason. I absolutely love this episode, Betsy, because what Jason very clearly points out in it. By example, in his career is how important it is to really know the customer from, from the days he was, you know, in high school and selling candy to, to everything he's done since in a where he is today. I mean, I don't think there could be a better fit. And as he's talking, I'm remembering these things like why I used to cut lawns when I was in high school grade school actually, and did this and that and the other thing. And I'm like, yeah, that's that entrepreneurial spirit moves with you. And at that level, yes, he's the VP of sales and marketing right now, but he runs that as his organization. And he really has that level of, of that C level perspective that we often look for in this show,Speaker 3 (50:21): Right? Yeah, exactly. And his passion around the customer just comes through so clearly. And you know, and I can't imagine anything stopping him from giving his, his team carte blanche to do whatever it takes for the customers. And I just think that's such an awesome thing to bring as a leader of a sales and marketing organization. Absolutely. A couple of things that really stand out. Number one, he recognizes the importance of getting the right people on his team, not everyone's right for his team, but they get the right people on the team. They pay them. So they don't have anything to worry about by doing the salary. That isn't very interesting from my perspective. And then the other piece that I thought was really interesting is that he acknowledged that there are customers that are not the right customers. We've heard that in a couple of our other shows, but I love when people bring that up because it's this recognition that the customer is not always right.Speaker 3 (51:12): And that's the importance. One of the reasons you have to really know your customers. Yeah. And you know, we had a previous conversation with some colleagues of ours and we were talking about how the ideal customer is really the one that you can help succeed. You know? And I love that sentiment, you know, like not everybody, we're not going to be able to make everybody succeed. So let's focus on those that we can. And, um, I just think this was such a high energy, awesome conversation. And I can't wait. I hope we get some feedback from our listeners on, on what their takeaways were on this episode.So speaking of that, if you are enjoying our show, we would greatly appreciate your review on whatever podcast platform you listen to us on. And thanks again for being here. We so appreciate our loyal listeners. Hope you're getting a lot of value from, from tuning in each week to the really know your customer show.And we will see you next time.Speaker 1 (52:13): Thanks for joining us for this episode of really know your customer. We hope you gained a lot of value from being here today. If you want to learn more about the work Betsy and Tony do to help their clients thrive, visit betsy@thecongruencygroup.com and tony@tonyboto.com. See you next time on the really know your customer show.