· By Billy Westbrook
How we remained optimistic through Covid
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
My name is Billy Westbrook and I reinvented the wiper blade making it more functional for all-weather conditions. My company is called Scrubblade. Our wiper blades clean your windshield beyond rain, helping to remove bugs, dirt, and road grime from impairing your vision.
Currently, we are the #1 blade sold at retail in the H.D. trucking industry and growing in the off-road, online, and automotive markets. We don’t just sell wiper blades, we support people with passion and give back to various foundations that we believe make a difference in our world.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
2020 is one for the record books! Thankfully we have been up to business as usual. We were very close to a merger with a fellow wiper competitor (really good guys.) Once COVID hit we decided to pull back a bit and reevaluate our company's placement in the market. Still on the table for the future, but we want to be the driver behind our growth at this point. YOY we are down a bit; however, we have some line expansions and other opportunities that will help us rebound in Q4 to finish the year off strong.
Find a customer or niche that you are having success with and figure out how to grow with them.
Through Covid we have been staying in close contact with our current retail customers, making sure we have promotions scheduled and offering different marketing initiatives to keep business flowing. You should always work closely with your customers, but even more so now in the current climate.
Since trade shows have been put on hold we are shifting more marketing resources online. E-com is the future and 2020 has reinforced the need for a strong presence online. While we have been online and engaged in social media for years, our current tasks include creating more online and social media content. This platform is ever-growing and expanding. Online sales for Scrubblade have grown 26% YTD, we are on the right track! One thing that’s been standing out is our return customer rate of 38%. For a wiper blade company that’s unheard of. Most people can’t remember what brand of wiper they have on their car, but with Scrubblade there is a definitive difference, which allows our retention to be higher. We are very thankful to be in business and continue employing others, allowing them to take care of their families during this difficult time.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
2020 has definitely been a year for learning and adapting. You never start a business thinking if it’s “essential” or not. I have learned that my company is resilient and secure in most economic downturns. That is a huge blessing I plan to build on. We have been able to keep all our employees at full-time and made adjustments to allow our employees to work in a safe environment by creating a work-at-home hybrid schedule. I and our warehouse personnel are the only ones coming in 5 days a week. Our front office comes in every Monday and Friday.
We like to start the week with the whole team to discuss our objectives for the week. We also like to end the week together to tie up any unfinished projects. Oh and I also bring the office Coffee every Monday and Friday, so I think that is really why they are willing to come in, haha! I have learned there are forces outside of our control that you can never be fully prepared for. No one saw this coming and a lot of businesses are gone due to COVID. Thankfully we are still here and have learned that our team can work remotely, being able to teach their kids school and still be productive within the business.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
We have some cool line expansions to implement in 2021.
As our brand grows and becomes trusted by our retail partners and their customers, it only makes sense to expand the product offering. The line expansion includes glass treatments, glass cleaner, a rear wiper line, and some other cool items.
Our initial patent is up in 2026, for this reason, my 5-year goal is to grow the crap out of Scrubblade. I want to ensure market saturation as the original and best wiper blade on the market with scrubbing technology. The patent expiration date scared me a couple of years ago, but now I’m confident it will only help us in the long run. After all, patents expire and become a public tech. It’s about your brand name that holds the value after patents expire, we need to make sure Scrubblade is a household name with a loyal following. Think about band-aid; anyone can make a band-aid, but what brand and name do you purchase? That’s the strength and value of a brand name and what we plan to base the next 5 years and beyond on.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
A good friend gave me a self-help book to train your brain from thinking negative to positive, Negative self-talk & how to change it by Shad Helmstetter PH.D.
I consider myself to be a very positive person. In the book it makes you do an exercise, and in that section, you visualize a positive person who has a good life and a negative person who does not. I was the person she and her husband both envisioned during the exercise, which is why she gave me the book to read. She wrote a beautiful little note for me in the section, complimenting me as a person. It was and still is beyond humbling. The book has some good exercises to help shift your focus on those days when you just don’t feel positive.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Stay the course. Find a customer or niche that you are having some success with and figure out how to grow with them.
It’s easy to bounce around and try to grab any customer, but that takes the attention of the customers you already have. 80/20 rule, 20% of your customers will give you 80% of your business. Focus on the 20 and as opportunities align, have a program ready to help make the sale quick and seamless for both sides.
Where can we go to learn more?