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Winning the E-Commerce Customer Experience With Andrew Dowis

FFE 102 | Making The Customer Happy

 

Making the customer happy is one of the main rules of business, but one that is almost always forgotten. In bending over backwards for efficiency, many companies neglect the experience of the customer, and how that dictates whether or not they’ll be coming back. Andrew Dowis, the CEO of Pro Athlete Inc., discusses why keeping your customer happy matters. There are many ways to make your customer happy, but they begin at the individual employee level. Along with Jared Orton, learn some of the ways Andrew’s company has managed to keep their clients happy and back for more.

Listen to the podcast here:

Winning the E-Commerce Customer Experience With Andrew Dowis

How An E-Commerce Company Loves Their Employees Who Love The Customers

I put out a post on LinkedIn and got some crazy responses about companies who are doing amazing things for their customers and great experiences. Some of the traditional ones came in, but I started finding some off the wall companies that I don’t think any of us ever heard of, who are doing great things for their people and for their customers. This conversation is with Andrew Dowis. He’s the CEO of Pro Athlete, Inc. They run two eCommerce websites. One is called JustBats.com and one is called JustGloves.com. You might think this is going to be a baseball-oriented, sport-oriented show. I will go ahead and tell you that it is not. If you’re not a baseball fan, that is okay. This will only be about a little bit of baseball. Pro Athlete is doing some insane things. When I got suggested to check them out on LinkedIn, I went to their website and I was absolutely blown away. Andrew is going to share that website, but it is ProAthleteInc.com.

Some of the things that they’re doing for the experience of their people totally blew my mind. The perks that they do and the awards that they’ve gained, the Best Place to Work in Kansas City and the Healthiest Company in Kansas City. They are starting to get some more national recognition as well. I knew I had to get in touch with them. I shot him a quick video and said we had to talk, and they were super pumped to come on the show and explain what they’re doing as an eCommerce company, how they are doing amazing things for their employees. He even used a “You wouldn’t believe moment” at the end and it’s an amazing end to the show.

I am pumped to have Andrew from Pro Athlete and Just Bats and Just Gloves here on the show. Andrew, how’s it going?

It’s good. I’m happy to be here.

I’ve got my Kansas City Royals Salvador Perez bobblehead on this episode as well for good luck. Obviously, I know the Royals have struggled a little bit in the past few years.

Salvy being out, but he’s looking for a bounce-back year. You picked a good bobblehead to have. He’s a real true treasure here in KC. He’s awesome.

That’s all the baseball we’re ever going to talk about for the rest of this interview. Jesse and I like baseball. We played baseball. We love baseball. Obviously, we’re in the baseball industry, as you guys as well, you sell a baseball product, but that is not the industry you feel like you’re in. Give us your personal backstory, how you came on with Pro Athlete and then we can get into some of the history of where the company came from as well, but give people an understanding of where you came from?

I started with the company answering phones as many other people do. Before that, I went to a Division II college for about an hour and a half north of our office. I went from there and moved to Kansas City for more opportunities for jobs. I knew I wanted to do something with business, and if I could somehow do something in sports, that would’ve been a bonus. I stumbled across this company called Pro Athlete and I was very intrigued. They had no openings, so I kept bugging them because I wanted to figure out what was going on behind the walls there. When I got in and saw it, I instantly fell in love. It was unbelievable just the environment and everything. We’ve come a long way even since then, but the foundation has been in place since 1987. When they started, that foundation has been there. That’s my story.

I grew up here and I had different positions throughout my time. I created a bunch of new positions for the company and tried to perfect each one of those and then move on. None of that would be possible without that foundation that was in place, ownership and leadership that allows that whole farm system mentality. We ad nauseam here at the office, which I’m sure you guys do too. We subscribed to the farm system concept. We believe that developing talent usually ends up being the best way to go. Obviously, there are times when you need to go out and sign the big free agent. We’ve had a lot of the people that are in leadership positions in our business coming through the farm system. All of it wouldn’t be possible without the great leadership that we have in place.

You mentioned that you have grown into this CEO role.

When things aren't doing so good, it's up to you to bring in a new stream of revenue for the company. Click To Tweet

Scott, our owner and past CEO, we’ve been practicing this for a while. For the last several years, I’ve been doing a lot of the day-to-day stuff and he’s done a good job of teaching me how to run the business and everything like that. I always tell people, “Knock on wood. So far, so good. I haven’t sunk the ship yet,” but if they still give me some time and there’s a chance I could. It’s going well. It was in April when I officially took over. People ask me, “What’s different?” There’s nothing over the last couple of years because we’ve been doing it this way and we made it official. It’s been really good.

You mentioned the foundation of Scott and the family. Why was this business created in the beginning? There is a sporting goods store on every single block, whether it’s local or Dick’s Sporting Goods or Sports Authority and Play It Again Sports. Why was this something that they set out to do differently?

It’s one of my favorite stories and we tell it a lot when people come up to learn a little bit about our business. Back in 1987, Wes and Judi Hedrick, they are Scott’s parents, they were ready to transition out of their regular jobs. One was in banking and one was a nurse. They wanted to be their own boss and they were looking to open a Jiffy Lube franchise. That was their plan and their son, Scott, who was a pretty good athlete in high school, he had a bunch of leather jackets that he wanted to get a bunch of patches put on from all the different awards and stuff that he had won. He looked around the Northland in Kansas City, where they lived and he couldn’t find a sporting goods store that had the customer service to the level that he expected.

The wait time was long and it didn’t feel like there was a good option. He went home and told his parents about his experience and the light went off in their heads like, “Would you rather do Jiffy Lube or sporting goods?” They went into the sporting good thing and open Pro Athlete Sporting Goods in 1987. Obviously, it was a brick-and-mortar at that point. They would sell everything that you’d see in a sporting goods store such as jerseys, cleats, bats, balls, helmets, shoulder pads and socks. That’s where it all started. They looked at the opportunity and saw that, “There’s nobody, at least, in North Kansas City doing this. Why not us?”

That’s interesting comparing that to some of our stories here where what’s a normal expectation especially in our industry of baseball? The games are slow, long and boring at some point and the price continues to go up. There’s a lack of what we feel is as quality entertainment in baseball. That’s the normal expectation of a general baseball game. We’ve always set out to do the exact opposite. From that story, it was like the normal expectation of going to a sporting goods store was poor service, not a great selection, long waiting and so they set out to do the exact opposite. Your total brand name is Just Bats and Just Gloves. How did that become the niche as it transferred to 100% eCommerce?

When the Hedrick’s started the sporting goods store in ‘87, things were going well. Scott went off to college and when he came back from college, he wanted to work for the company and they said, “We can’t afford to pay you. Things aren’t that good. If you can go find another source of revenue, we’ll do that.” He ended up figuring out how to do screen printing and brought that additional revenue. That got him more involved with the business. Around ‘97, as the internet was coming full circle, he had the idea of, “Why limit ourselves to serving people in North Kansas City? Why don’t we open this up and have a sporting goods store in the living rooms, families all over the country? Let’s take it online.” That narrowed from the brick-and-mortar thing to online.

They did both for a while, but then pretty quickly they narrowed that down and said, “We’re doing more online. Let’s shut down the brick-and-mortar thing.” They narrowed it, then they found out, “We are selling a lot of bats and gloves and these are high priced items.” In eCommerce, obviously shipping becomes a factor and all these things. They targeted those. I honestly think that’s one of the best decisions ever made. Deciding to get narrow because that allowed us to carve out this level of expertise in these two areas. People think of us as the bat and glove experts, like Dick’s and all those other sporting goods companies. They’re known as an all-encompassing sporting goods store.

If you think of sporting goods, you probably think of them. If you think of bats, we hope you think of us. We have realized that over the years and even in the last couple, it’s even become more prevalent for us to own who we are and who we are, are the people who know a lot about bats and gloves. We can give you great reviews. We can talk to you about it. We’ve got former players that discuss stuff with you and we’ve carved out that bat subject matter expert role. We can’t be what Amazon is. We can’t be at Dick’s Sporting Goods is. We can only be what we are. The name’s really fitting. I’m looking back after all these years and it has been Just Bats.

FFE 102 | Making The Customer Happy
Making The Customer Happy: There are so many things to learn about how to break down some of the walls of fear that people have from buying online.

 

It’s simple. As Donald Miller says, “When you confuse, you lose and you keep it super simple.” One of the most interesting things that this conversation leads us to is we talk about customer experience so much. We are a super customer-facing business. We see hundreds of thousands of people come through our gates each and every year. The businesses that we work with are super heavy on the B2C customer-facing retail side. As an eCommerce business, you’re dealing with individual customers 100%, how do you start mapping the customer journey when you might not be seeing anyone ever face to face?

That’s something we’ve tried to focus on as of late. With Amazon is coming into space and sporting goods online, everything is different than it used to be. Understanding your customers is becoming more and more important. There are ways to do that. There are ways to test and survey. We’ve done many iterations of a customer journey map and we’ve done many iterations of coming up with the buying personas for our customers. We’re in a unique market because our target is the kids that play. Once they get into beyond high school, they’re going to have bats and stuff provided to them, most likely.

We are trying to influence the kids and convince the parents so that the kids have the inputs, “That’s the one I want.” We’ve really done a good job of mapping all that stuff out. It takes time to understand that. Also, the parents that were buying when I started have maybe aged out. Their kids aren’t playing anymore and it’s the 35-year-old parents. That came up a little more tech-savvy and maybe they don’t want to call in and talk anymore. Maybe they want to chat, text you or talk to you on Facebook. It’s a constant evolution and you’re always trying to figure out what’s in the best interest of our customers.

I’ve got a nephew that’s eighteen years old and I can’t remember the last text with actual letters in it that he sent me. It’s all emojis. He’s like, “That’s how we got to communicate now.” It’s one of those things that I think is super important as you touched on and can be challenging, for you guys, when you’re not interacting face to face. It can be challenging, but there are many mechanisms out there to acquire that information. You find often enough if you ask, a lot of people are willing to help because they want the best experience they can with your brand when they interact. They’re more than willing to give their opinion and we appreciate that.

Especially with you all, a purchase is $200 to $300 plus on these bats, sometimes it is potentially even more. I would imagine people are spending some time on the side going through the options. With you, it’s such a handheld experience. People need to see, feel and touch it. How has that changed the way you think about customer experience? Are people going to stores trying things out and then coming to you, guys? Have you all become such an expert on these items, the bats and the balls, where people come to you, trust you, believe in you and say, “Even without touching it, seeing it and feeling it, I’m going to buy this online?”

When I started, there was still this thought from a lot of people that buying online was still iffy, “I don’t know if I want to put my credit card in. I can’t feel and I can’t touch it.” I’ll credit Amazon. They’ve flipped that script upside down. Buying online is easy. It’s fast and you can trust it. I think it’s a lot less that people would come to our site, get information and then go somewhere else so they can touch it. I do think a lot of people start with us because here’s the other good thing about our industry. If you’re talking $400 to $500 products at the high-end, you probably want to do a little research before you do that. You don’t go buy a car just sight unseen. You do some reviews, you look at some feedback. That’s the same thing with a bat or gloves. These are expensive items. People want to talk to experts about it and that’s what we can provide. We hope they don’t get the information and then go buy it somewhere else.

We have some things in place to try to ensure that they don’t, with good customer service and fast shipping. It’s definitely difficult. We also have some other things in place like our returns program. It’s very loose because it’s hard. We know if you can’t feel it and touch it, there could be something that you don’t love about it when you get it. Why would we try to make that difficult for you? We’ve all been there. It’s like, “Take it back.” We’re going to help you out because yes, we want to make money, but at the end of the day, we’re selling bats to help people hit that next walk-off home run or make that next diving catch. That’s what the mission’s about. If we start trying to make it difficult for our customers, it’s going to come back to us later. We get so much fulfillment seeing kids excel with the things that we sell them in their hands or on their hands with the bats and gloves and that’s what it’s all about. It’s cool to get to see that. It definitely is challenging, but we’ve done some work over the years. Having twenty-plus years of being online, you learn a few things about how to break down some of those walls of fear that people have from buying online.

I absolutely love the return policy and people ask us all the time. We do all-you-can-eat tickets such as unlimited hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken sandwiches. It’s unlimited food and drink for $18. When we have conversations with other owners or teams, they say, “Don’t people take advantage of you?” Yes, they do take advantage of us and that’s awesome. The ten people that load up on fifteen hamburgers and twenty Cokes, go for it, have that. The other 4,000 people that are enjoying regular food and drink, it’s okay. The one person that maybe isn’t satisfied with a bat they purchased and needs to return it and you missed out on $400, just make that person happy. It’s not going to be the end of the world.

Do what's right and everything else will fall in line. Click To Tweet

Sometimes we can get close-fisted on trying to make sure we nickel and dime every single person because everyone’s out to screw us. It’s like, “Not really.” Let’s make sure we’re making it easy for our customers. As I was looking at your site and going through the core values, I don’t know if they were put in order or not, but on the top one, it says, “Create Fans Through Service.” Where does that come from and why is that important? Is that number one or is that put in that order? Where do you take that through creating fans through that service?

None of them are in order, except that one. You nailed it. That’s the one that I think if we had to have one that would be it because it covers basically everything. That’s what we do. That goes into effect with our customers, our employees, our vendors, any business partners and everybody that we come in contact with. We want to set out and create an awesome experience for them. We always talk about how we want to blow their minds. We don’t want to do the bare minimum to make them happy. We want them to walk away going, “What happened? That was amazing.” To your point about the all-you-can-eat tickets, it’s funny how in society, we build things with the worst possible outcome in mind instead of giving people the benefit of a doubt.

There’s a lot more good than bad. Why would we build a process or a rule to account for the bad? That’s what we do with our returns policy. There might be one or two people that take advantage of it, so what? Look at all the people that didn’t. You said it exactly when you gave your description. The Create Fans Through Service, there are examples of it every single day. I walk through the halls here and that’s one of the proudest moments for me is walking through and seeing all the employees also carry that out. It’s awesome to see some of the things that I see. When you have that as a core value, you use it for every decision you make in your business, whether it be who you hire, who you might have to let go, what new business you might bring on, whatever those things are. If that’s the North Star for you, you’re going to be headed in a good direction.

It’s easy for sports-related businesses like us to say fans and we’ve always struggled with that, sharing it with other businesses. I think every business can have fans. A lot of businesses set out to have customers and that’s very transactional. They get into the funnel, then they buy something and then they’re done. How do you communicate? You are stepping out of the baseball eCommerce. You are featured on awards and recognitions, locally and nationally. How do you share in conversations with maybe other business owners how they can Create Fans Through Service? Are you having those conversations?

Yes, we do. We give over 2,500 tours through our building a year from people that want to come up and to learn from what we’re doing. We love it because it gives us an opportunity to learn from them. I’ll always tell people, “We are flattered that you want to learn from us. This may not work for you. We’re not saying this is the right way to do business. No, not at all. This is the way we want to do business and it can work for some and probably not for others.” I get a ton of crazy looks every time I give it to them, people are thinking, “Why do you waste so much money on the pool or free food?” It’s like, “You don’t get how we do it. That’s not how we look at it at all.”

We’ve been very fortunate and it comes through having amazing people, building processes and great experiences over the years. We’ve been acknowledged as one of the healthiest companies in Kansas City and in the country. The best place to work in Kansas City and in the country through different publications. It goes back to the people and in the core values. For us, we sometimes get noticed or recognized for all the cool perks, the swimming pool, the batting cage, all those different things. The people that really understand it, like you all, if you look beyond all that, it’s why would anybody do all that for their employees? It’s pretty simple. It’s because they care. The employees are the ones putting it on the line every single day, working long hours and doing different things like that to make the business a success and it impacts our customers’ lives.

It’s hard for me to answer without sounding smug, but I don’t get why or how you would do it any other way. I wouldn’t work here if we did it any other way because this is the right way to do it for us. For this group of people and the foundation that’s been put in place. Legacy is important. We want to carry on the legacy of the people that started it. They would want us to continue to do this and our customers want us to continue to do it. I know our employees do too. We get a great opportunity to talk about it a lot with different business owners and it’s fun. We’re starting to see more and more businesses, at least in Kansas City, take pieces of what we’ve done and implemented it in their business. That feels good.

You’ve mentioned the employee and the team side, how do you feel getting that buy-in that then empowers the customer experience? For us, it’s always, “Love your people more than you love your customers and then love your customers more than you love your product.” Do you see it in that same framework of love your people first so that they can then love the customers and provide that experience even more? Is that where you see that flow?

FFE 102 | Making The Customer Happy
Making The Customer Happy: You don’t want to do just the bare minimum to make your customers happy. You want them to walk away thinking the experience was amazing.

 

Yes, it’s pretty similar. The one little tweak that we throw in there is our vetting process with our core values before we bring people in. We’ve got a pretty good idea that they’re going to want to provide a great experience for our customers before we bring them in or we wouldn’t bring them in, obviously. That gets enhanced when they get inside the building because everybody else is already doing that. I firmly believe, twenty feet away from me are our contact center where our customer service agents, we call them customer care just sit. When I started, it was your typical cubicle space. No natural light and there were four offices on the other side where they sat. We knocked all those offices down, which let in natural light and we built them a baseball stadium to work in.

There’s a stadium seating, there’s a field in the carpet and there’s a backstop. We mimicked it after Kauffman Stadium. There’s running water where the fountains would be. There are ten TV’s so they can watch TV in between calls and be rejuvenated. It carries over. They’re in a much better place when the phone rings because they like what they do. Not many times and I’m sure you run into this too, but an entry-level job where they are answering phones, that can be a burnout position in a lot of industries. Here, we have people that stay in that position for 6 to 7 years at a time. That’s also where we pluck our best talent from our farm system. It’s simple when you think about it, take care of them and they’re going to take care of your people. It works.

I think many times, especially as a customer to another business, there’s so much red tape or policies like, “I have to check with my manager. I have to do this. I can’t give you an answer at that right now or I have to put you on hold.” That customer journey is bogged down so quickly. Have you simplified the decision-making process for your people so that they know that they have the power to give the best possible experience? For us, it’s simple. We say, “Is it fans first?” Are we putting the fan first in this decision? Have you all started simplifying? It sounds like you’re very process-driven. I assume you have, but take me through some of that language that’s used for those people.

No scripts. We’ve never done scripts or anything. That’s been something we’ve always stood for. We are very similar. We tell them, “Whatever you’ve got to do to please the customer. We’re not going to tell you, don’t escalate it to a manager. You can handle it. You’re all managers of your world.” We completely empower them. We call it an empowerment culture throughout the whole company. It’s all about, “We hired you to do a job. You don’t need handholding and micromanaging, do it. If we didn’t think you were capable of doing it, we wouldn’t have put you on the spot.” That can be good for some.

Some people are like, “Please tell me what to do,” and we try to be upfront with people. “If you don’t want that empowerment and don’t want to feel like you can have an impact by yourself, then this may not be the best environment for you and that’s okay. That doesn’t make you wrong or us wrong or right. It just means we weren’t meant to work together.” We do our best to help them find something else if needed. We believe in that completely because no two situations are going to be the same. You can try to write scripts all day long, but I would rather have our people get a good feel for what’s going on and do what’s in their best judgment.

People always ask us, “It seems like this has become successful overnight.” We try to paint a picture of like, “In 2008, when we were in Gaston, North Carolina and 200 fans a night were showing up and the team was borderline bankrupt. We weren’t doing all these amazing things. It’s taken time.” Give people a sense of the process that you all have taken to get to the point of employees loving customers so well, creating a remarkable customer experience, getting all these awards and being a top-rated workplace. How long has that taken? What’s the journey been like? I can’t imagine that it just happened that quickly.

The core values were implemented in 2009. That was a big moment because that’s what we could rally around. That allowed us to use those to make decisions for everything moving forward. That was a big milestone in the business. It’s been a combination of things. You go around to each department and try to implement similar processes and stuff that you see have been successful and it’s taken time. The dedication to the employee and customer experience has been there from the beginning. It comes in different looks and feels like, “Now there’s a swimming pool or there’s free food. Now, we do unlimited PTO or we do free shipping.”

There are all these different things. It’s hard to say there’s not like a recipe for it. It was this constant drive. It comes down to the competition too. We’re all competitive because it feels like we’re on a sports team, but it’s this constant drive to always outdo the previous top-rated experience that we provided because it’s like, “We do free food, how about we build a spa?” It’s so crazy when you think about it, but it’s healthy because the end result is people are always getting an amazing experience. I don’t mean it’s like Scott and myself doing this, all the employees have the ability to come up with the next big idea. It’s like this. We all get told at some point that we can’t play sports anymore, whenever that might be. This is our new sport, blowing people’s minds is the name of the game. We do it through bats and gloves and maybe in a few years, we’re doing it in another area too. We do it through employees and we do it through all kinds of cool experiences.

Empower all your employees to make your customers happy without having to go to someone else. Click To Tweet

One of my favorite experiences ever and I won’t take too long to describe it, but we surprised eight managers. I told them we were going to go tour a bunch of businesses here in Kansas City and we started at the Downtown Airport. There was a museum down there. I said, “We’re going to look at this.” I was telling a little bit of a fib. We chartered a private jet and the Royals were playing the Mets in New York. We hopped on a private jet, flew everybody up there. We watched the game and we got to go down on the field and then came back the same day. They still talk about that. That’s what’s important to us. I can picture that the manager of our fulfillment center, he’s sitting on a private jet. He has never been on one before, like most of us. He’s texting his wife saying, “You’re not going to believe where I am.” She’s probably working at her job at her desk thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me. You’re going to New York?” That’s what it’s all about. Those moments. If you can provide those to your employees, you know for sure they’re going to be itching to provide those for our customers. That circle is a healthy thing to always be trying to come up with the next great thing.

I’m getting chills thinking about that because I picture the faces of our people. I’m putting myself and I can see it happening on the tarmac of the Kansas City Airport. I love the phrase you use because we’re using it, it is, “You wouldn’t believe.” If you can get number one your people, your team to say in public, “You wouldn’t believe what they do for me in my work. You wouldn’t believe what I get to do for customers on a daily basis.” They get to create these “You wouldn’t believe” statements to the customer. If a customer can do business with you and they finish and then they go out on social media or to their next Little League game or whatever it might be and they say, “You wouldn’t believe what happened when I got this bat.” “I called in” or “I went online and they did this for me.” “They sent me a personal video,” Whatever happened to that experience and they can say that, you’ve got a fan of that business forever. That’s bigger than marketing and advertising. That is the true customer experience. That totally revamps the business and in our opinion, the “You wouldn’t believe” statement can totally revolutionize a business.

I’m going to have to steal that.

That’s what we’re preaching.

That’s such a great way to look at it. We believe in a lot of the same things and if you can set that out there for people to strive to achieve, everything else is going to take care of itself. This is what we always talk about if you do it right. I always think back to when we’re all kids and pretty much all parents talk about to treat others well and you’ll be treated well. Treat people with respect and all of this. Do what’s right and everything else will fall in line. Somewhere along the journey as we get to be adults and then we get into the business, we forget some of that stuff. It’s like, “Do the right thing and everything else will fall in line.” That works. You’re not going to find that on a P&L statement on a line item.

If you can live your life like we were told when we were kids, you get to have fun still. Why did we stop having fun at work? When I went to school, I had some fun. When I was a kid, I was playing around. I had a lot of fun and then you get into this structured setting and you got to wear a suit to work, which a yellow suit would be sweet. You got to do all this stuff. You got to be up at this time. You dread going to work, all these different things. You don’t have to do that. You can create something cool. You have and what I hope we have. You can make people’s lives better and their family lives get better. All of it works in concert and that’s what we’re striving to do.

We’re fortunate to work for private companies. We run a business and we have to make money and we have to do right by the financial statements. If we set out to do the best possible thing for our customers, for our people and if we’re smart enough people, the numbers will take care of themselves on the backend. We’ll all be more proud of that than to set out to say, “Let’s squeeze the numbers here. Let’s increase our margins on this side.” Once you start making decisions based on margins, profits and squeezing the most out of the customer, I think people can smell that.

We always use the Blockbuster example. When Blockbuster was in its hay day, 16% of its revenue came from late fees. Literally, 16% of their revenue came from punishing customers. You can imagine where that story ended at the end of the road. If your revenue comes from punishing customers, you might want to change your business model at some point. This has been an awesome conversation. I’ve got a lot of takeaways. I enjoyed how you are all reinventing the customer experience. I’m going to get to Kansas City at some point. I’m close to the area in a few different ways. I can’t wait to get out there, tour the facility, meet all your people and get that hands-on experience in your business. I appreciate the conversation, Andrew. What is the best way to connect and find you?

FFE 102 | Making The Customer Happy
Making The Customer Happy: You have the power and opportunity to make people’s lives better, and by extension, their family’s lives.

 

If you’re looking for bats or gloves, go to JustBats.com or JustGloves.com. If you want to learn more about Pro Athlete and our story, it’s ProAthleteInc.com. We have a fan club page and if you’re interested in learning more about us or working for us, you can sign up for it. We give you exclusive access to job postings and our newsletter before the rest of the country gets it. I appreciated it too. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to see a baseball organization doing it the way you are doing it with fun in mind. It’s cool to see and hear about your values. Thank you for doing that. It’s inspirational for all of us for sure.

It is my pleasure. Thanks, I enjoyed the conversation. I will talk to you soon.

Thanks.

I had so much fun doing that interview and learning about companies that we’ve never heard of before, but stumble upon or get recommended to, because people have experienced their product or experienced themselves, as a customer along their journey. It’s no wonder why companies like Pro Athlete and why people like Andrew are successful. They’re focused on making a difference in their customer’s life while selling a product, while selling bats and baseball gloves. They do it by loving their people first. They are focused on the experience of their people. People working in a call center that worked there for six or seven years. Andrew himself, being the CEO who started as someone literally answering phones and understanding that culture, understanding that experience and understanding that whatever they’re doing, it’s about the customer. It’s about the fans.

I love that he mentioned that they exist to create fans. That is their number one core value and you can go and see this on their website at ProAthleteInc.com, is to Create Fans Through Great Service. Any business that’s out there, that is looking to start creating amazing service. He even mentioned it, he did it without me prompting him, but he said, “You wouldn’t believe moment.” That moment that one of their employees had there as they were jumping on that plane to go to the New York Mets game to see the Royals playing as creating that “You wouldn’t believe” moments. It starts with the people, it starts with your people and empowering them to create a great experience. Not creating policies, not creating rules, not creating red tape, being okay if your customer takes advantage of you some point, but all in the name of customer experience. That was awesome. We had a ton of fun talking about it. I can’t wait to try to get out there to Kansas City and do one of those tours and see what it’s all like. Maybe I can jump in the pool and hang out with them. It sounds like a fun place to work and a fun place to do business with. Thank you for reading.

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About Andrew Dowis

FFE 102 | Making The Customer HappyAndrew Dowis serves as CEO of Pro Athlete, Inc. Pro Athlete is an online retailer of baseball bats and gloves, and manages their e-commerce business out of Kansas City, MO – JustBats.com, JustGloves.com.Pro Athlete is consistently listed among the healthiest employers each year by the Kansas City Business Journal. The honor comes thanks to a corporate wellness program. The company offers a personal trainer, weights, cardio room, mediation and yoga studio, healthy menu options from the full-time chef and a batting cage, of course, all free of charge for employees.  Andrew and the Pro Athlete team are leading the way in employee and customer experience by delivering remarkable service to create fans.

Jared Orton

Jared Orton

Because of a relentless focus on entertainment and ticket sales, the Royals were fortunate to see tremendous growth in attendance and revenue during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Jared is now taking those experiences, along with the experiences of Fans First Entertainment, to develop a value-packed, non-stop, entertainment experience for Savannah fans. Jared currently lives in Savannah with his wife, Kelsey.
Jared Orton
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