Hi, I'm Dustin, the founder of GreatVacs, and I have a story for you… Why are you laughing? Yes ‘Dustin’ is my real name… I know that's funny. I get it… .and yes, I’ve heard all the jokes :)
What you’re about to hear is not only how Great Vacs started, but…
why the entire Vacuum Industry hates me!
True story. Follow along…
Well, it all started back in 1998. I was going to College and the only job I could find was a Vacuum Salesman. The vacuums we sold were great, but the Vacuum Store owners made truckloads of money, so, unfortunately, not too many people could afford them.
Around that time, I had recently gotten married, and the Vacuum Store asked me to demo a vacuum to an elderly lady who was home-bound. Wanting to spend more time together, I invited my wife to come along to the demo as well. Yep, Mr. Romantic, I know.
The first thing I noticed was that this elderly lady lived near a farm AND she was on an Oxygen machine.
That'll make more sense later... Other than that, she looked in good health and was really sweet to my wife and me.
I started the demo by getting the vacuum set up for her. We used demo filters to show how much dirt the vacuum was pulling up. Typically, we'd vacuum an entire room to make one filter dirty. What happened next is something I'll never forget...
I pushed the filter in and turned on the vacuum. INSTANTLY it was full! And no, not just a little bit, I'm talking completely full, with an inch of packed dirt! I hadn't even MOVED the vacuum.
I replaced the filter with a new one and turned it on again... and BAM... the same thing happened. Instantly full with tons of dirt! Believe it or not…
I went through 14 filters before that spot was clean
(keep in mind that the vacuum had never moved)
Now I tease my wife that she is “5 foot nothing and 100 and nothing”. She might be small but she is from Chicago, so you don’t mess with her. She gives me “the look” and then says…
“You are not going to sell this vacuum to this sweet lady, there is no way she can afford it!”
I whispered back “I know but she really needs it!”.
This lady confirmed she could not afford it and so I bought a pack of bags out of my own money and vacuumed her entire house for her (we took gallons of dirt out of her home).
As we drove back, I remember it was one of the longest drives of my life. I was quiet the entire way back. The experience bothered me, and as I write this story 20 years later, it still bothers me.
I can still feel the raw emotion of
KNOWING I could have helped her...
She had a big box vacuum, but let's be real... They are NOT designed to deep clean.
You see, I KNEW that if she had a high-end vacuum that her air would have been clean and she would not have had to be on an Oxygen machine... She did not have to be home-bound! And I could have helped!
It was at that moment that an idea popped into my head...
What if I started a company that sold High-End Cleaners that changed peoples lives?
And what if... Instead of charging them 500% over what it costs to make them (current Vacuum Industry)... I sold these vacuums at wholesale pricing? The gears in my head started turning and suddenly I had a MISSION!
Now, pull up a chair and let me 'school' you about vacuums for a second. Did you know that the average vacuum at a 'big box' store lasts, on average, only two years? Yep. Their business model is to sell a vacuum that costs $25 on average to make for $100 to $200, then get you coming back every two years.
I know what you're thinking... Some folks reading this are nodding their head right now, saying, “2-years? Yeah right, how about 6-months”. And like I said before, those vacuums are not designed to deep clean floors. Think about it for a second... In all seriousness, what kind of vacuum are you going to get that costs $25 to make? Moving on...
The other business model in the Vacuum Industry at that time was to sell good quality for a whopping 400 to 500% profit. This was wrong and against my mission.
I wanted something else.
I wanted EVERYONE to be able to afford a high-end vacuum because I knew it would change their life!
So I settled on a third option.
I wanted to create a company that sold high-end vacuums that were affordable for everyone!
I had it all figured out.
To make this happen, I would need a warehouse so we could ship nationwide to serve more people. I also needed to start an Internet Company so they could order online. Plus, create the world's best customer experience! Simple, right?
Well, one problem was --- This was the 90’s and the internet had just come out and had a terrible reputation. Also...
We relied on dial-up modems, which meant you could type in a web address and while it was loading, you had enough time to brew a cup of hot chocolate and change a tire on your car!
Another hurdle was: Digital Cameras were not invented. (Doesn’t help with making online sales). Plus, the few companies that sold on the internet did a horrible job of customer service. As an example, a standard promise online was “Place your order today and we will ship within 14 days”. Yeah, right? This is what we had going against us.
We wanted a great customer experience where
we shipped orders out the same day!
Novel idea?? People thought I was CRAZY.
With a business plan in hand, it was now time to get some high-end Vacuum, Air Purifier, and Carpet Shampooer brands that we could sell. So I headed down to the annual “Vacuum Dealers Trade Association” conference held in Las Vegas and there I ran into another brick wall!
The “Good ol boys of the Vacuum Bidness” had a good thing going and they did not want someone (like me) coming in and messing with their 500% margins.
I also found out some interesting things...
Did you know in the vacuum industry that the “Good ol boys” tell you which vacuum brands you're allowed to sell? That’s right, they make you sign a contract where you agree NOT to sell specific brands of vacuum. In fact, they make you sign a contract stating that they have COMPLETE control over the price you sell the vacuum.
I think you see what's happening here, don't you?
It seems like they want to keep the prices high
so they make their fat 500% margin.
In fact, at any time, some of them could come into your business and “audit” your records (search through your customers' personal information), to make sure you're keeping the price jacked up.
So let me ask you a question…
Let's say one of your kids had severe allergies and was feeling miserable. You go into your local vacuum store and ask them “What’s the best vacuum for allergies?”. What will their response be? Will they show you the BEST vacuum for allergies, or their most profitable one? And only the one that they are allowed to sell?
Needless to say, my values and mission were not for sale, and I told them what they could do with their “contract”.
I was told not to "rock the boat” and
“this is a good thing for everyone”
(And by everyone you mean everyone but your customers).
So, it's no surprise as to why we are not very popular in the Vacuum Industry, because…
We went on to build the single largest vacuum store in the US!
We literally “disrupted” their little game.
How did we do it? Simple… We invest in "Principles and Education" and let you decide which vacuum is best. Check out our Education Center where we pit vacuums against each other and show you the best.
To be blunt, we really don't give a hoot what vacuum you buy! We sell them all with the same wholesale margin anyway. However, we do care that you don't get ripped off. And that's what Great Vacs is all about. It's why we do what we do.
So when you send us an email to email@example.com and ask what is the best vacuum for “Allergies” or “Pet Hair” or “Hardwood Floors” guess what? We are actually going to suggest the BEST one for that! I know that sounds absurd, right? ;)~
Look, we only sell the best brands. No junk. In fact, we actually have a spot in our warehouse called “GreatVacs Labs” where we test all the Vacuum Cleaners, Air Purifiers, and Carpet Shampooers, to see if they meet our high standards. What that means is you can rest assured that we only sell products that work - and will last!
So, you might be thinking... We're 100% Independent, yet we sell the top Brands - how did we get around being blacklisted by “the good ol boys”? By being creative of course. Here's how...
First, we approached the good brands with our volume and refused to sign that contract. Some agreed. Some didn't. Nevertheless, in the great recession when lots of vacuum stores were hurting (when we were consistently breaking sales records), we re-approached some of those brands and guess what? They agreed. Funny that. What about the ones that would never sell to us?
Well, that's why we launched our “Rebuilt Division”.
You'll love this part... See, we have buyers that actively source only lightly-used vacuums of those brands. We then rebuild them to like-new condition. Problem solved. In fact, that “Rebuild Division” is now the largest re-builder of high-end vacuums in the US. With the lessons learned from rebuilding 50,000 vacuum cleaners in 2009, we launched our own brand “GV” that filled any gaps. In other words, we are 100% independent (we will sell you the best vacuum for YOU), yet we can still get you the best brands that really do make your life better!
Okay, let's wrap this up…
If you can't tell already, we are serious about creating an amazing customer experience for you. Here’s an example… Do you know when you call customer support from most other companies, and you can't even understand a word they are saying? Or you can tell they're reading from a script? Well, that's pet-hate for us too, so we don't do that at GreatVacs.
What you'll hear when you call our team is our most seasoned and highly paid Vacuum Experts who we've promoted into customer support.
Oh, that reminds me. Here's an interesting fact for you...
At GreatVacs, you have to have personally rebuilt and serviced over 10,000 vacuums (yes, ten thoooousand) before you're allowed to talk to customers :)
So rest assured when you ask us any question you are talking to an EXPERT!
Thanks for reading about our story. Seeing you made it this far means a lot to us. Be sure to tell our team member when you ring or order online. We're here to help you make life easier, cleaner, and healthier.
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