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Revolutionary Business Model – Menguin Tuxedos

menguin

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.:)

Justin - CEO

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.

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The Simple Plan – Seattle – February 2-3, 2015

Friends! We are heading back to where it all started… SEATTLE!

TSP-SEATTLEFor those of you who don’t know, Kelly and I met in Seattle in 2006. We had a great connection from the get-go. (I think our nerdy business-selves felt a match.) From there on, we would get together every month to work on our individual business plans. YES, people, we really do believe in business plan collaboration as the funnest(!) way to write a business plan. In 2007, we co-founded Get Hitched Give Hope with 4 other lovely ladies. (The 6th GHGH is this Thursday!)

And, in November 2009, we held our very first The Simple Plan workshop as part of Sage Wedding Pros in Seattle!

So, we are heading back to Seattle this February 2-3, 2015 and we invite all of you to join us in this lovely city. (People – the coffee really is amazing there.)

The Simple Plan is our 2-day workshop where we guide wedding pros through the writing of their business plans. (You will walk out of the workshop with a written plan in hand.) Our goal is to give you a solid foundation for success in:

– your business’s over-arching vision
– your marketing strategy
– your operational strategy
– your financial strategy
Business planning is goal-setting at its best… for wedding pros, at every stage of their business. (Goal-setting never ends.)

The Simple Plan Workshop
Easy-peasy Business Planning
Feb 2-3, 2015
Seattle, WA

Learn more and register for the workshop by clicking here.

Watch this lovely little video to see us in action:

Sage Wedding Pros – The Simple Plan from Bella Films {Beth Oslander} on Vimeo.

We are thrilled to have 2 fabulous partners for The Simple Plan Seattle:

sponsored by

hosted by

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Toss The Bouquet Event in Chicago

I am thrilled to be one of the speakers at Toss the Bouquet in Chicago on November 24, 2014!  Toss the Bouquet offers professionals in the wedding and event industry an opportunity to come together to educate their minds, exchange ideas, and elevate their businesses. I will be speaking on “Marrying Your Ideal Client with Your Niche and Pricing” – cannot wait to be surrounded by amazing wedding pros who are committed to furthering their education and networking!  To register, visit www.ttb2014.eventbrite.com and enter SAGE15 to receive $15 off (expires 10/31/14).  See below for more info and the other speakers I am honored to be sharing the stage with…Toss the Bouquet

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Industry Gossip – How to Deal with “Meanies”

Let’s talk about gossip.

UGH. I’m kinda bummed about having this conversation with you. No one likes gossip… and yet it happens in most markets in our industry. So, let’s just get it out there. Gossip sucks.

GossipSo – what do we do when you are the object of other people’s gossip? (Or – you think you are. You’re not quite sure… but it seems like people say bad things about you.) Maybe it’s because you’re new. Maybe it’s because you’re really good at what you do and people are envious. Maybe it’s because you do things different. Whatever the reason, it sure does SUCK to be at the other end of gossip.

I have 3 pieces of advice if you find yourself in this situation. (By the way, it’s the SAME advice I give my 7 year old when dealing with playground negotiations… the little girl that I want to be a strong confident person in this world faces the same challenges you face.)

Life is hard. But, we’ve got to plow through, instead of being victims of circumstances.

3 Pieces of Advice for Dealing with “Meanies”:

1.) Not everyone will like you.

OK – let’s be honest… do you like everyone you meet? I don’t. I’m just being honest here. I’m not a mean person. But, I don’t love everyone. I’m nice and respectful to EVERYONE. But not everyone is my friend. And, that’s a good thing. Friends are special to me.

If you look into your heart… you probably don’t like every single person you meet.

So – why do you expect everyone to like you? I know that’s a weird thing to say. We ALL want to be liked. BUT – really – why? It’s OK to not be liked. What matters is that the people that we like, like us back. More important: it’s important that the people we lovelove us back. Those people are usually outside of our work bubble. They are our family and friends.

So – who cares? A few people don’t like you. You’re spending too much time worrying about those who don’t like you. The fun in life is thinking about the people who DO like you – and that you like back.

2.) If it’s not true, then who cares.

If gossip and rumors are circulating… and what people are saying is untrue, then… who cares? Am I right or am I right? If it’s a lie, then why are we giving so much attention to it? Why does it matter? (I know – this is so much harder to live by.) I know that we worry about how affects our overall image. We don’t want those rumors to be out there because it tarnishes our reputation. That is REALLY HARD. But, it’s REALLY REALLY important to ignore it and move on. Otherwise, it will drain you, it will impact you… and your business will suffer on account of this consuming so much of your energy.

3.) You choose how you feel about something.

You can’t control what someone thinks or says about you. You CAN control how you react. You CAN control how you feel. How will you choose to feel about these things? You can choose misery. Or, you can choose to focus on something else. You can DECIDE to NOT let it get to you. That is a choice. No one can MAKE you feel anything that you don’t want to feel. YOU CHOOSE how you feel.

(They have to go to bed at night with an unhealthy conscience, by the way. NOT YOU.)

People…

I know this seems like oversimplified solutions to something that can be very painful. I really don’t want to downplay what you might go through when people are mean in your segment of the market or in your city/town. BUT – I also want you to see beyond it. This is how you start to grow, how you become more confident… how you focus on the bigger and better things.

What do you think? What is your advice for people who have to deal with negative gossip, or mean people?

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Branding Case Study: Leslie Vega Design & Goldenberry Paper

From time to time we invite one of our Sage Branding Specialists to share some of their “before and after” design work with us.  By learning from these case studies you’ll be better able to see branding identity go through an evolution, gain strength, and come to life.

LeslieVega1I’m excited to share today’s branding case study with you! I worked with Brittany Warren, owner of Goldenberry Paper, about 2 years ago at the upstart of her business. (We did business planning together and I helped her put the bones of the business in place.) In the last year, Brittany partnered with one of our branding specialists, Leslie Vega, to put a face on her new company with some branding identity. What a beautiful representation of this stationery company! I love when stationers, who design for others each day, reach out to professionals for their own branding. (A surgeon wouldn’t operate on herself would she?!)

Here, Leslie shares her thoughts…

Before the redesign…

Brittany’s stationery work is gorgeous, so when she approached me about her brand re-design, I knew we could definitely polish up her image to match the style of her classic, southern inspired work. We knew we needed to go in a more classic, sophisticated direction with a softer presence and I was excited to make it happen for her.Print

GoldenberryPaper_OldShop

 

The Company’s mission, values…

I believe branding is so much more than pretty fonts and lovely colors. So before starting the design process, we explored Brittany’s ideal client: Who she is, what her core values are and what’s important to her. Brittany’s client is the traditional bride with friendly southern roots who cares more about her guests’ experience than the current trends. She’s casual but carries herself with a sophisticated classic style.

Brittany’s design style is classic with a touch of modern but always has tradition in mind. And with this same value of tradition, she reverts to her southern roots to make sure each client is so pleased with their experience.

With these aesthetics in mind, I wanted to create a brand that reflected that casual simplicity with classic touches of tradition.

GoldenberryPaper_Branding_LeslieVegaDesign2

After the Redesign…

Brittany was such an ideal client. She knew what she was looking for but trusted me as her designer to run with the creative process. I was so pleased with the results of her brand. It embodies Brittany’s pretty, classic and southern style so beautifully.

GoldenberryPaper_Branding_WebDesign_LeslieVegaDesign2Brittany shares her thoughts…

My experience with Leslie was fantastic!  From the beginning, I envisioned a beautiful, crisp and clean brand for my business.  After reviewing Leslie’s work, I knew she was the perfect fit for me.  From my initial introductory email all the way to receiving the completed branding files, she was very responsive, thorough and easy to work with.  Even though we never met in person, Leslie blew me away with how well she executed my vision for this re-brand.  It’s a big decision and investment to consider hiring someone to do your branding, however, from my experience it was very much worth it!

Thanks for sharing with us, ladies!

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September 23, 2014 - 9:59 am

Amanda Ready - Lovely update! Looks much higher end! :)

September 23, 2014 - 5:01 pm

Brittany - Thanks so much Michelle and Leslie for the feature, you both are a dream to work with!

September 25, 2014 - 8:01 am

Lisa - I Absolutely Love it! Now I am considering hiring someone to assist me with re-branding when the time comes.

September 26, 2014 - 3:55 am

Michelle Loretta - Leslie did such a gorgeous job!

September 26, 2014 - 3:55 am

Michelle Loretta - ahhhh… thanks Brittany!

September 26, 2014 - 3:55 am

Michelle Loretta - Isn’t it gorgeous!!!?!!?!?! LOVE IT!

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