Smart Ways to Beat Amazon & Online Retail Competitors

Online retail competition isn’t what it’s cut out to be – and here’s why. Let’s take Amazon, for example, it isn’t the retail behemoth so many independent stores think it is. Sure, it’s big (ok, massive) in online selling, but it doesn’t measure up to Big Frog when it comes to the loyal passion our shoppers show for our custom products, personalized service, and valued contributions to the local community.

Delivery Isn’t Better with Amazon Prime

Our Big Frog stores offer a one-of-a-kind shopping experience the minute customers walk through the door into our colorful showrooms where they can touch, feel and try on products. Our stores are a destination for screen-weary customers seeking in-person inspiration. And when our customers do need an order delivered, it’s fulfilled and shipped with the greatest attention to detail and quality – one of the many ways Big Frog beats the online retail competition.

Big Frog Custom T-Shirt & More Store

As a locally owned Big Frog franchise, here are some franchise business tips on how your store can stand out from the crowded online marketplace:

Know your niches. Focus on the customers who are most profitable for your store. Are they parents with kids on youth sports teams? Newly engaged couples planning fun ways to celebrate their upcoming nuptials with themed engagement party Ts? Is it the yoga studio down the street catering to the 60-plus crowd? Remember, our products aren’t only direct-to-consumer; they help other businesses sell to their customers.

Send them reminders and discounts. As you close the sale, ask your customer if it’s tied to a special event, like soccer season starting up or Grandma’s weeklong vacation with the kids next week. When the same time comes around next year, call or email them a reminder of the amazing custom shirts that would make their event even more special, and offer a limited-time offer.

Welcome customers’ fur babies with a biscuit. Treat their fur babies, and you’ll have a friend (and customer!) for life. Pampering your customers’ pooches makes an instant emotional connection that they’ll take with them after they leave your store. Always ask them first if it’s OK to treat their pup. Even if your customer says “not this time,” she’ll remember your generous gesture.

Tell your story.  Showcase your people. Show off your graphic designer’s most creative looks on social media. Profile the smiling face who greets customers every day in-store at your website. As the owner, share your own voice. A couple of months in advance of the holidays, pitch to your local news or radio program the value of shopping locally and customizable gifts and offer an on-camera interview and tour of your shop. The media is always looking for content.

Online retail competition can be steep, but there’s one way locally owned brick-and-mortar businesses always wins – it’s the personalized service we offer within our own communities.

Leaping Above and Beyond for the Community – How Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More Gives Back During Pandemic

As each state across the nation begins navigating through their new normal – whether they begin to reopen or continue their social distancing protocols – the one thing that has prevailed is the overwhelming sense of community and support shown towards each other, which is something that should never fade.

From once providing locals with customized apparel for marathons, school outings and recreational sports tournaments, our franchise owners of Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More, quickly rerouted and have utilized their resources to create masks for the community and healthcare professionals, spreading the love to those in assisted living facilities, and supporting other small businesses in this time of need. While some Big Frog locations had to close their doors and others had to modify their operations, our franchise partners saw this time as an opportunity to step up in their communities in a different way.

We didn’t expect anything less of our franchise partners, and we are humbled to hear first-hand that dozens of our franchisees have stepped up in their own unique way to provide comfort, support and compassion to their communities. In addition to extending a hand to their neighbors, they came together, as a part of Big Frog’s franchise network, to offer words of wisdom and best practices on how to navigate through the hardships inflicted by the pandemic.

Mara and John Dougherty of our Northwest Arkansas location made their presence and support known in their community by creating a COVID-19 themed t-shirt collection that not only brought lighthearted humor to these trying times, but a portion of the sales have been donated to the CDC Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund. They also partnered with a local non-profit to provide meals to families in need and offered #FAITHNotFear t-shirts for their volunteers. The pair even launched an #EverydayHERO campaign, which delivered hundreds of shirts to nominated healthcare professionals, teachers and grocery store workers.

Mara and John’s efforts are further showcased in Inc.com.

Hitting close to home, Basil Bearer and Brittany Miller, owners of Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More of Mequon, WI launched an initiative with the help of Home Helpers Home Care to bring messages of love, health and hope to local elderly residents in assisted living communities during the COVID-19 outbreak. The messages – written by the residents’ loved ones, who may be unable to see them in person – are printed on a t-shirt and delivered to the facility, free of charge for all involved. With the gracious donations of local businesses in the area, 300+ shirts will be created and delivered to residents in various living communities throughout their area.

Big Frog of Mequon chose to give back in this aspect as they recognized this community as one that is being hit the hardest by the virus – many of whom are even more isolated from those who bring them the most comfort and love. The first shipment of shirts was delivered to Hamilton House Senior Living in Cedarburg, WI with messages of hope, love and unwavering strength written by family members big and small.

These amazing contributions are featured on Fox6 Now and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Likewise, providing support in their community is Lori Mumma Jozwiak owner of Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More of Naperville, IL, who has launched a collaborative fundraising campaign, “Better Together,” that helps support other small businesses in the area. Each business that sells a t-shirt will receive $6 back per shirt, and can choose how these funds are spent. For example, some businesses might wish to donate to a local charity while others for operational costs due to closures – such as providing support for furloughed bartenders and servers.

This campaign wasn’t the first community-centric idea from Lori and Big Frog of Naperville. When COVID-19 first began, Lori pulled from her experience as a social worker paired with her sewing skills to whip up masks each day, which she puts outside of her shop for the community to take as Illinois faces at least another month of social distancing.

Lori also donated 80 #NurseLife themed shirts to the COVID-19 unit at Edwards Hospital since a lot of nurses expressed worry that they’d carry the virus back to their families or had to unexpectedly stay the night, she wanted to provide them with an empowering, clean shirt.

Recently, Lori’s efforts were featured in the Daily Herald, a suburban newspaper in the Chicagoland area.

We are honored to have the ability to stick to our commitment as a brand that is immersed in the day-to-day lives of the nearly 90 communities we serve, while showcasing our shared understanding of the impact the pandemic has had on all.

The Power of a T-Shirt

“Never underestimate the power of a t-shirt.”

That was Robyn Brewington’s reaction after her Southern Las Vegas store was flooded with orders in the wake of the mass shooting last October that left Vegas – and the rest of our nation – heartbroken. In the days after the tragedy, Robyn and her team worked around the clock to produce “Vegas Strong” t-shirts and give them away to members of the community. That idea spurred another, and they then began selling the shirts as a way to raise money for the victim’s fund. With a direct 50 percent match from Zappo’s, the store has raised over $30,000 for the cause to date.

“It’s been incredible, everybody wants to have one because I think they want to feel like they’re showing, on their person, how they feel about this,” she said in an interview for KTNV Las Vegas (you can see the full story here).

Rebuilding Communities Far and Wide

The Southern Las Vegas Big Frog store wasn’t the only location that believed in the power of a t-shirt in 2017. With serious natural disasters in northern California and Texas, many stores in those areas also rallied together to support and help rebuild their communities. In Mountain View, California, Big Frog collected clothes for those impacted by wildfires. In Texas, almost two dozen stores created and sold #TexasStrong t-shirts to raise money after Hurricane Harvey.

There’s no doubt that it’s been a difficult fall, with serious tragedy directly impacting many parts of the country (and taking a toll on us all).  It’s these unfortunate moments that test our resolve – and make us even more reliant on the support of our family, friends and community.

From all of us, thank you for being a source of strength and hope in the communities you serve. We couldn’t be prouder to have you in the Big Frog family.

The Power of Teamwork

For those outside of the franchise industry, it may seem counterintuitive to open stores in close proximity to each other. After all, how can you be successful when you’re competing against your fellow franchisees?  Aren’t one (or more) of you bound to fail?

But the result isn’t always conflict and unhealthy competition…rather, it can be a community of like-minded business professionals focused on one thing: working together to build a better, more successful brand.

The Benefits of Froggy Fellowship

When showing how powerful this teamwork can be, there’s no better place to look than the relationship between a group of Big Frog franchisees in Texas. “One of the first things I noticed as a Big Frog owner, was that the top three stores in the country were all in the Atlanta metroplex,” Plano franchisee Joe Mock said. “This was also where Big Frog had the largest concentration of stores. This led me to the conclusion that rather than compete with one another, there was an obvious advantage to building brand recognition in a market that benefited all owners.”

Inspired by what he saw in Atlanta, Mock made the decision to embrace Big Frog newcomers in his Texas community- rather than compete with them. From loaning printing equipment when a store’s machines were down, to letting a new franchisee try their vinyl cutter before deciding to purchase their own, franchisees worked together to build each other up.

“Over three years, we went from being the #3 store in the system, to #2 and last year we were #1,” Mock said. “Clearly it took more than adding new stores, but it certainly didn’t hamper our ability to grow and prosper.”

Froggy Fellowship in Dallas

 

Today there are seven stores in the area and they continue to work together closely. In addition to lending a helping hand (or heat press) when it’s needed, the owners meet several times a year to discuss business issues such as special pricing, personnel and vendor performance.

And then other times? They get together for nothing more than a good meal and some froggy fellowship. After all, building a strong, supportive community is what Big Frog is all about.

Communicating Across the Pond: Big Frog Forums

“Communication – human connection – is the key to personal and career success.” – Paul J. Meyer

Most franchise systems struggle with communication.  And that means communication on multiple levels:  within the franchise group itself, from franchisor to franchisee and from franchisee to franchisee.  It’s well known that great system innovations come from the field; have you heard of “$5 Footlongs” and the “Filet-o-Fish” sandwiches?  Those are multimillion dollar ideas that came straight from a franchisee.

In order for those game changing ideas to come about, communication is essential.  One of the first things Big Frog put in place to facilitate this (and by first, I mean around 10 open stores) was a complete intranet system with forums and libraries. This intranet allows us, the franchisor, to communicate quickly and efficiently with the franchisees and the forums allow the franchisees to discuss ideas with each other (and we sometimes chime in, too).  

Franchisees are very busy people.  Not only are they running their business, but most of them have spouses, kids, pets, hobbies and life happening all around them.  So sometimes it can be challenging to get them to allocate some time to the exchange of ideas on our forums.  So Big Frog did something a little differently; in return for participating in the forums, we give quarterly supplies/discounts away in a random drawing for anyone actively engaging in our system.  Last year alone the Franchise Group gave away over $2,500 in supplies and discounts to our franchisees.

We really are lucky to have such generous store owners that will take the time to comment on possible marketing strategies, new product testing, and customer satisfaction.   This mutually beneficial interaction is truly priceless with people “in the field” speaking to each other, conquering challenges and motivating others to great successes.  The intranet/forum system has been one of the best investments we’ve made, with priceless results.