Paddleboarding Into The Future: How Neverbored Built A Community Of Devoted Customers
Cathy Hall, owner of neverbored, was unhappy at her job and looking for a change. Her and her husband, Mark Dionne, travelled regularly, always on the lookout for the best spots for their favorite outdoor pastimes; hiking, snowboarding, and paddleboarding. While away, they would jot down ideas, always brainstorming possible career changes. One morning, in a jolt of mental clarity, Cathy wondered – why not just do what she loved and start a snowboard and paddleboard shop? Two months later, the wife-husband duo incorporated their business, went to several trade shows for product sourcing, and put their luck into purchasing a year’s worth of inventory for a business they didn’t know much about running. Their shop focuses on standup paddleboarding and to keep you on a board all year long so you are “never bored.” Lots of pressure, check. Lots of stress, check. But they figured, if they built it, the customers would come – and they were right. Cathy and her husband opened the store in May 2012 and almost three years later, they are around to share their journey with Bindo.
Michael Stevens (Bindo): How did you manage to grow your business to the stage it is at now?
Cathy Hall: Primarily with an active blog, maintaining a fresh website, and getting involved with social media. We do mostly online advertising through generating the best website content for organic search results and rely on word-of-mouth referrals by treating people right and most importantly, carrying products we’ve personally tried and tested so we can speak first-hand about our inventory and make informed recommendations to our customers. Our primary goal is to match customers to their needs, rather than sell them something that they won’t need or use. We work hard everyday to build a community of paddleboarders in Northern Rhode Island as well as a backcountry snowboard community. To complement our retail products, we teach paddle board classes, and even allow customers to demo our equipment in action prior to purchasing. We also have a meet-up group that is evolving and growing to better retain customers and draw in new ones as well.
Michael (Bindo): What changes have you seen in the industry / your business?
Cathy: Paddleboarding is still a very new sport with a very small following, but has since advanced very quickly. There is a real shift from those paddleboarding in the ocean (because it was a spin-off from surfing), to advancing inland to rivers and lakes. This has changed the nature of the sport itself from the fast-paced adrenaline approach found amongst the breaking waves of the ocean and evolving to a more relaxing exploration of rivers and lakes. Paddleboarders are a very happy crowd; very quaint with lots of good people. Nobody is unhappy. Snowboarding, on the other hand, has become more technical with different technologies. While paddleboarding is still about the sport, snowboarding is now more about getting the best equipment.
Michael (Bindo): What did you use before Bindo?
Cathy: Check Out
Michael (Bindo): How has Bindo helped your business?
Cathy: Bindo has made the checkout process much easier for our employees, and we no longer need to have a computer at the store! The cloud mobility from an iPad POS software is an excellent benefit for when I’m away from the store so if any problems come up while I’m gone, I can login remotely and assist my employees from wherever I am.
Michael (Bindo): Any tips for people in the retail space?
- Do your research. Talk to as many people as you can that have worked in the field, and learn from their mistakes. Ours is a very supportive industry so getting involved with other store owners through common suppliers and vendors is important.
- Absolutely know your products inside and out.
- Listen, listen, listen to your customer. Ask your customers lots of questions and understand your customer’s need, and then help them make the best decision.
- When you make friends in the business, embrace them and enjoy it. It’s a great industry where you will make lots of great friends and hear lots of great stories. People in the industry are not quiet with their knowledge, they like to share, so when they speak, listen.
- Don’t sell something to your customer that doesn’t make sense. A feature is not a benefit, if it is not a benefit to you.
Michael (Bindo): What is something often overlooked in running a business?
Cathy: The amount of marketing that you will have to do and the amount of money that you have to invest in it. Marketing is very easy to underestimate and get behind on. For us , marketing is 70% of the business; to gain and retain customers. The creativity needed to market effectively is a must, but also the easy part. The execution is the real challenge; to find and budget time, people and money wisely and to finally execute the ideas for marketing is a never-ending battle.
Have a question for Cathy or Michael? Let us know in the comments below!