November 24, 2014

Spotlight on Blue Soda Promo: Promotional Products, Customer Service

embroidery

This week we shine the spotlight on Blue Soda Promo of Vernon Hills, Illinois.

In business for 10 years, Blue Soda Promo now employs 75 people. This promotional products company offers more than 800,000 different items. Blue Soda Promo serves businesses of all sizes, from small and medium sized companies to Fortune 500 organizations like Coca-Cola and Sprint.

The company provides anything from customized coffee mugs, tote bags and pens… to embroidered golf shirts, duffel bags and hats. They produce branded merchandise that is typically used for trade show giveaways, marketing campaigns or internal corporate events.

WHAT THE BUSINESS IS KNOWN FOR: Ridiculously good customer service.

Blue Soda Promo offers products at competitive prices, but distinguishes itself with the level of service the company provides. Blue Promo says it will “do anything it takes” to make sure the right product is delivered on time, every single time. They’ve vowed to never leave a customer hanging.

Need an example? Well, if there is a hold-up in the company’s production department for any reason, they’ll overnight the goods at no additional cost to their customers. At the end of the day, they want to make sure they keep their customers happy no matter what.

BIGGEST RISK TAKEN IN THE BUSINESS: Buying their own printing and embroidery machines.

In the promotional product industry, screen-printing and embroidery is typically sub-contracted to a company that does … well, screen-printing and embroidery and nothing else. Blue Soda Promo decided to make the investment to bring this function in-house, since it would allow them to eliminate a middle man and offer lower costs, better quality control and faster turnaround time. It turned out to be one of its best investments, company representatives say, but if things had gone wrong, it would have been a huge expense to recover from.

BIGGEST WIN? Ranked as one of the best places to work in the industry.

The company has been ranked one of the Best Places to Work by Counselor Magazine for the past seven consecutive years. (Counselor is a publication specific to the promotional product industry.) Once a year, the magazine surveys employees in over 25,000 companies and, based on employee feedback, creates the list. Employee culture is something that’s very important to Blue Soda Promo. So it has been very gratifying for the company to see employees give such a ringing endorsement.

ONE THING THE BUSINESS WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY: Invest in more technology.

The company has invested a substantial amount of money over the last couple of years in improving its technology to create operational efficiency and enhance the customer experience on its website. But this is something they held off on investing in until recently.

The one thing company leadership says it would do differently is to make these investments earlier on, since they’ve proven to have immediate returns on investment.

FAVORITE TEAM FOOD: Definitely Chipotle. The staff admits they’re all kinds of addicted to the burritos!

FAVORITE QUOTE: “Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.” The quote is attributed to businessman and philanthropist W. Clement Stone.

FUN FACT: The office is a little crazy.

The company emphasizes being a fun place to work and that extends to the office layout, containing such unusual features as a serenity room, motorized scooters, a mini bowling alley, a basketball hoop and plenty of Nerf guns. Because the company CEO is a car enthusiast, there’s a fully restored 1952 taxi cab and a Back to the Future replica DeLorean sitting in the middle of the office.

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Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program.

Image: Blue Soda Promo embroidery machine

4 Comments ▼

Shawn Hessinger - Editor


Shawn Hessinger Shawn Hessinger is the Editor for Small Business Trends. He is a journalist and social media networker with more than a decade of experience in the traditional newspaper business before moving to the digital world. He was the former community manager of BizSugar and the former community editor at AllAnalytics, a site dedicated to professionals in the business intelligence and analytics community.

4 Reactions

  1. Sounds like a fun place to work and I love the emphasis on not just satisfied customers, but elated customers. That’s what build loyalty. Not just doing the minimum, but going above and beyond.

  2. Wow that was tough. Really good customer service may seem like the obvious thing to do but it is quite hard to pull off every single time. So kudos to them for doing that. I am sure that they are even doing better than those that manufacture the same items at a smaller scale.

  3. I am getting hungry for burritos now! I look forward to the day when I could test Chipotle?

    What is the origin of the name, blue soda? Is it a nickname of a blue softdrink? ;)

  4. There are lots of promotional products companies to choose from, so customer service is often the differentiator. Companies order promotional products on an ongoing basis. If they are happy with the service they get, they’ll keep buying!

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