Recently I had the opportunity to meet the owners of Menguin, a tuxedo rental business that eliminates the retail storefront. Yes, everything is done online – guys, this probably sounds like a dream come true…no need to go into a retail store as the tuxes are shipped to you in the comfort of your home. The more I got to know the savvy business owners behind Menguin, the more intrigued I became with their business model (not to mention, Mark Cuban is one of their investors so you know they’re up to something brilliant). Talk about a huge niche in the wedding industry that they are filling, and they have done so in a very short period of time. Their mission is to be game changers in the tux rental industry. And, they save penguins (no joke – read about that here).
I had the chance to ask Justin Delaney, Menguin CEO, to explain how Menguin has differentiated themselves in the market, how they’ve scaled their business so quickly, and what they want to be known for. Here’s Justin, your average dude who is trying to help other dudes by taking some of the pain out of the tux rental process.
1. Tell us about Menguin – what product(s)/services do you offer, and what sets you apart from your competition?
Menguin is a tuxedo rental brand that is changing the way the game is played for tuxedo rental. We allow customers to get fitted online using our fitting algorithm, or fitgorithm as our CMO Nathan likes to say. We ship all of our products to our customer’s front door in prepaid, easy to return boxes. And afterwards we save penguins. Menguin innovates. The customer wins. And penguins rejoice.
We also offer a promise that everything will always fit. How we do this is by sending all of our suits and tuxedos out well in advance of the wedding. If there is any problem with fit, then we overnight a replacement. It is literally as simple as it sounds. We run the phones 24/7 to always be there for our customer.
As for our products, we offer literally every color of vest and tie and currently have 9 different suits and tuxedos with about 3 more on the way. Most of our tuxedos come in a slim fit, and we offer every size from little kids (3) to the occasional 6′ 11″ professional basketball player sized human.
Our model is totally different from our competition. The average wedding tuxedo rental takes about 3 hours of driving back and forth from Men’s Wearhouse or the local tux rental shop or Jos A Bank. These shops have an old model for a different century, and we are going to relentlessly give the customer what they want, which is not consistent with what they offer. Our model takes about 5-10 minutes to rent. Our customer service is better. Our product is more hip and stylish.
Of course, many customers have a concern that renting a tuxedo online for what is possibly the most important day of their life like a wedding is a little too risky, and this might be the one instance where I am comfortable saying the customer is totally wrong.
We offer 24/7 service and will literally do whatever it takes to make our customers happy. No one else does that. My first job was at Neiman Marcus, and I learned from the best in the retail and “customer” business – the late and great Stanley Marcus. What I learned was to take care of customers at all costs, and we embody that ethos at Menguin. Every time a customer calls, it rings on every person’s phone in the company because we are in the customer service business first and foremost. Every person under our roof is taught from day one to take care of customers. That is our culture.
2. You have grown the business extremely quickly – what do you feel has been your secret to success?
There is no secret to building a business. I truly believe that. There is an equation though. Businesses need passion and resources to thrive. The right idea at the right time also helps – that is sort of the “luck” component. Add in the right people and the right goals and you will probably end up heading in the right direction.
This industry has typically tried to fit the customer into its way of doing things. We are created a new way that suits the customer.
3. Your company has operations in all time zones. How did you scale the business to be able to achieve that goal?
This is all about partnerships. We have taken our structure very seriously from day one and chosen to be very open to others. We decided to build a structure that utilizes existing capacity and partners rather than try to own the entire chain. We quality test everything to make sure that our partnerships provide consistency.
We have dedicated a lot of resources into hitting 100% of the US in a day or two via FedEx and UPS – this is not something a start-up can usually do without significant financial resources or clever partnerships. We are a big proponent of creating the right relationships, rather than spending money creating new resources.
4. What have been some of the growing pains as you experienced all of this growth?
Technology changes very fast and is occasionally a few years ahead of the mainstream or just altogether anathema to the customer. We started out with this incredible technology that measured customers via their webcam. It was accurate, investors loved it, but no one really wanted to use it.
What we found was that 95% of our customers were just entering in their sizes instead of using our tech, and many incorrectly entered their sizes. We take customer service very seriously and will spend to make something right. At all costs. Our replacement cost was expensive as fedex overnights are not cheap. We had invested in a technology that was supposed to keep our orders accurate, but it was not doing this because no one really used it.
We spoke to one of our investors, Mark Cuban, and he recommended a firm he invested in that does fit algorithms. This way, the customer puts in sizes that they know, and we fill in the blanks using databases of sizing information. After that, we check against our own fit profiles and fitgorithm to double check. Now, we are better about nailing the size on the first try. This goes back to following customer behavior and moving with their preference to be as accommodating as possible to the way they want to do things. Customers more or less know their sizes, so we changed our solution from asking them to do something differently to making them comfortable and building accuracy into it from our end.
5. Tell us about your customer service strategy. Ordering tuxes online is a revolutionary experience, so how do you ensure customer satisfaction is achieved and that you meet and exceed their expectations?
I have spoke to this a little over the course of this interview. But basically, we give the customer what they want. We base our entire model of giving the best customer experience in the industry. From the top down, all of us are in the customer service business first.
We are 24/7 and will do whatever it takes for our customers. It is our culture.
We have open communication with our customers.
6. What do you want your company to be known for at the end of the day?
We want to own everything on the grooms side of the equation for weddings. We think our model and customer first policy is well suited for the wedding industry, and that is what we are going to own. Take care of customers, make them look great and feel smart. That and saving penguins.