A Chat With Sue Landay, President, Trainer’s Warehouse
CS: What do you think is your biggest career challenge with Trainers Warehouse?
SL: I would say that was one I identified earlier. It wasn’t working with my dad, that was the easy part. Figuring out how to expand our niche was one of the biggest. On top of identifying educators, [we have been] working with lots of different list brokers and using model lists, consolidated lists, cooperative lists. Those have continued to be challenges. The other challenge for our company, and I don’t know if this qualifies as a career challenge, but as a b-to-b company, getting keycodes continues to be one of the toughest things. When we get an order in from a school purchasing department or from a corporation with 18 different branches and they’re working off a requisition number from a purchase order, there’s no way we can track that back to a catalog mailing. So we’re going to be doing matchbacks — but that’s a current challenge.
CS: What are you planning in order to resolve the matchback problem?
SL: We’ve looked at doing it through a number of different companies. It looks like now we’re going to be using Creative Automation. We’re going to give them all of our data, soup-to-nuts. We’re giving them all of our response data and lists and just seeing what happens. The challenge in doing this in a business-to-business (b-to-b) sense, is finding out if there’s one service bureau that will be better than another because it can match different locations of a single company. I don’t know yet what those results will be, but I think we need to do it to see what we can and what we can’t get.
I think another challenge is because we’ve been down to partial staff in the past, due to maternity leaves and the like, and because we’ve been small, is that we’ve produced our catalog every seven to nine months. More than once a year, but not quite every six months. As we chart the results of each mail drop, because we mail monthly even though we don’t print that often, we do find that subsequent mailings don’t do as well as the earlier ones. So we’ve put to ourselves the challenge of committing to a six-month schedule, we want to produce a new catalog every six months. We want to change not just the cover but the inside front and back, and possibly do some other repagination. We’re realizing that has had an impact on sales and it’s a question of time and resources. Probably more our time than the expense. But in the end, you can only do what you can do. We have committed in 2006 to doing two catalogs. We’ll come out with one in January and one in July.