A Chat with July’s Profile, Howard Flax, CEO, FLAX art & design
CS: How did you overcome that challenge?
HF: Time and testing. Twenty years ago to today we have always put a product or two into the catalog to test a new category. The product mix constantly evolves in tune with our perceptions of customer needs. It is an ongoing challenge, otherwise you become predictable. You need to break out of the mold and test the waters sometimes.
CS: What would you say are your keys to success?
HF: Having an open mind and an open door. In order to make the best products available and extend the best service, I think it is critical to remain receptive to everyone. Also, we genuinely try to be different. The mailbox is a crowded place, and we like to think that things like our catalog cover contest help set us apart. We run the contest once a year and we get hundreds of entrants. From those entrants we select three different winners. Each will have their cover during one of our seasons – winter, spring, summer or holiday. We’ve been doing it for 20 years. It’s really fantastic. It builds a lot of loyalty to that segment.
CS: What about the business appeals to you?
HF: The creative process of putting a catalog together, and managing the various initiatives that push the company forward.
CS: What is your current biggest business challenge and how do you plan to resolve it?
HF: Increasing the level of self-sustaining business generated by the Web site. We’ve entered into new relationships to expand PPC revenue; a new data feed is improving sales results in shopping search engines; we’ve begun targeted e-mail marketing and we’ve taken a more hands-on approach with the affiliate program.
CS: How do you deal with the increased postal rate increases?
HF: Our mailings will not increase over last year, and we expect that the additional revenue from Web sales will offset the higher postage costs.