Bubba Rose is a modern day retailer that really has it all. They sell some of the best pet products in town, with every dog biscuit carefully crafted with the most natural and organic ingredients, and their business is booming. Husband-wife-duo Jessica and Eric Talley has never allowed their dog biscuit business to fall below double-digit growth on any given year since they’ve started. What’s their secret? We sit down with one of Bindo’s first merchants to find out.
Jason Lalk (Bindo): So how did you get into the pet industry, what brought you here?
Jessica Talley: Those in the industry would agree with me that, what brings you in is your dogs. We cared about what we ate but we cared also cared about what they ate. We weren’t satisfied with what we saw out there, and we realized that we wanted not just to go into business for ourselves but also for our dogs. So it settled on the fact that we were going to pursue making better quality treats for our dogs and as that grew, so did the business.
Jason (Bindo): Very cool. So you say “we.” Who is the we?
Jessica: The ‘we’ of Bubba Rose would be myself (Jessica) and Eric, my husband.
Jason (Bindo): Interesting, you usually hear two things when it comes to working with family or spouses. People either love it or it’s the worst thing they’ve ever done. Where do you guys fall in that spectrum?
Jessica: We love it. This is our 8th year! I’ve been doing it full time for many years now. He’s done it full time for the last 4 years, I think. We work together all the time and we love it. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company all the time, not just because we have to so it works out well. We balance very nicely too, in personality types- and we’re very opposite, so that works out kind of nicely. For us at least, that’s what keeps us from killing each other.
Jason (Bindo): That’s very, very admirable. So as far as your product mix goes, because it’s obviously something you guys specialize in, tell me a little bit about how you break down your product mix and exactly what you guys carry.
Jessica: Sure. The core of our dog biscuit business has always been about what’s inside of them. What is in it is incrementally important to us as how they looked. We didn’t think that because they were for dogs, they had to look simple. So we started with the core ingredients that go into our treats: Everything is wheat, corn, soy, and gluten free, which are the most common allergies for dogs. And we use mostly organic ingredients through everything we make. So all of our products are more than 70% organic, which is important to us. And we continuously strive to find better ways to present our products, and I feel like that’s something that does make us stand out in our industry. So we’ve recently re-did our cake pops, and I think they rival any type of cake pops. Nobody would question if that this was for a dog if you didn’t know it was a dog product. Rescue is also hugely important to us, as all of our dogs have been rescued, so a portion of all of our sales goes back to rescue groups.
Jason (Bindo): Very cool. So this is obviously a labor of love for you guys. It’s something you really enjoy doing, and you enjoy the people you work with. But at the end of the day, it’s still a business right?
Jason (Bindo): So what were you guys using before using Bindo?
Jessica: We weren’t using anything. We had like a register from Staples, but we weren’t tracking any of the stuff we should have. So actually, Bindo was very helpful to me for getting a true representation of the sales we were getting in store. I wasn’t really tracking them in any kind of profound way.
Jason (Bindo): Right, and I think that’s something that probably a lot of people in your situation find themselves in. So what to you has been the most useful part of using Bindo?
Jessica: I feel as though I use Bindo uniquely because we use it on the wholesale side of the business as well as the retail side. So from the retail perspective, where most users would be using Bindo, what I found helpful was to realize that we grossly underestimated what product we actually sold the most of in-store. We had pretty inappropriate misconceptions as to what our higher sellers were. So when we consistently looked at the numbers, which was so easy since the Bindo reports are so simple, we realized, ‘Oh, we’re not paying enough attention to the fact that our Box Biscuit, which is an everyday item for us, is the biggest mover in the store.’ That was really helpful. I also love the added loyalty feature. That’s newer and it’s been working out really well for us. It’s made it that much easier and made it more user-friendly for our customers, which is always a top priority for us as well.
Jason (Bindo): That’s great to hear.
Jessica: And, on the wholesale side, I use Bindo to schedule all of our cakes and cupcakes for the day- and our custom items. So on a daily basis, we manufacture all day, 6 days a week, but each day we decorate all of our cakes and cupcakes specifically for what’s going out that day. While the rest of our products are being held separately, we have items that we always custom decorate per day based on the order volume. So I use Bindo kind of like how in a restaurant you’d use a POS to send a ticket to the staff. We use it to send tickets to all of the 4 or 5 different categories of custom products that we do specific day to day, and the staff works off those lists. It’s been as helpful to them as it is to myself in scheduling and that’s been a huge bonus for our dog biscuit business.
Jason (Bindo): You do have a bit of a unique situation there for sure. So it’s obvious that everything is changing over time. How has retail changed in the past 8 years, and what kind of changes have you seen in your business?
Jessica: We started our business 3 months before the first major, large-scale pet food recall, which people thought was going to be the death of us before we even started. And we started right before the economy took a downfall, a more substantial downfall. So, no one really thought that we were going to hang in there at all because no one really understood what it is that we do. But, in fact we have a very justifiable place in the market because people were paying attention to what they were feeding their dogs, which was a huge change. So that changed, and that really helped our business grow. Of course, the big change is technology. Tools like Bindo have made me much more aware of what’s going on with sales accurately and quickly. Even with features like Bindo’s time clock saves us a lot of time because, well, we never really had a time clock! We did everything by hand a couple months ago.
Jason (Bindo): I kind of want to touch on cloud technology and how you guys utilize it because being the busy business owners that you are, I’m sure you’re always on the go, always moving. Do you guys access Bindo from remote iPads, are you guys checking in on stuff when you’re not there? Have you guys been able to go on vacation successfully?
Jessica: Um, vacation? No! That’s something we still seem to fail on. But work trips, that kind of count as vacation, we’ll take those. And that’s actually a place where Bindo has been hugely helpful. While we’re traveling, my staff is running everything. I can log in, I can check on things, I can see what our daily numbers are, I can make sure certain sales goals are being met as well as resolve any issues if something comes up or if there’s confusion. They can flag me, I can take a look, and solve that stuff from afar.
Jason (Bindo): Awesome, awesome. And what other kinds of tools have you guys been using for your dog biscuit business?
Jessica: We’ve switched over all of our invoicing software, which I’ve never liked. We’re a Mac-based business, and it’s not mac-friendly. So we switched over all of our invoicing software to a company called FreshBooks, which is all cloud based, and I love them. I use that a lot while I’m traveling too: If something comes up and I have to reach out to a customer, I can quickly pull out all of my customer files. I have access to all of their information and I can quickly shoot them an email while I’m away and it’s been really nice. It integrates with all my accounting-side software, so it pulls in all my bank issues, and everything is fluently up to date, and it can be easily organized. I actually also just bought a neat scanner, with the connect feature as well. With Bindo and FreshBooks, we can reference any notes we took on orders, on donations, and so on. I love being able to keep track in a very tight way of all of the funds going out here to other causes. All of these things are cloud-accessible so I can really snapshot my business from wherever I am.
Jason (Bindo): That’s great. You exemplify what the modern retail owner should be striving for I think. You’ve obviously been able to grow something that’s continuing to get more and more successful and we’re really happy to be able to be a part of it.
Jessica: Thank you!
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