Santa Monica Express – Growth In A Downturn
California-based Santa Monica Express was seeing a growth of 15 to 20 percent year-on-year up until 2008 when the economy tanked. The courier services company, which began offering messenger, courier and cargo services in Santa Monica since 1984, entered one of its darkest times.
“Everything just collapsed,” says Santa Monica Express owner Michael Mahmoodi, who remembered losing many good clients due to the depression. “We were getting bankruptcy filings notices on a regular basis from clients who had been in business as long as 50-plus years.” Unable to reclaim a substantial amount of money from bankrupt clients, the company’s growth lost steam in 2008 and 2009. Thankfully, things began to turn around from the middle of 2009 and they’ve been able to regain some of that initial momentum.
Much of that turnaround can be attributed to Mahmoodi’s tenacity when it comes to business, which helped them overcome some of the adversity and challenges that’ve come their way. “ There is no silver bullet to consistency and longevity, staying in business, and eventual growing,” Mahmood argues. “However the big mistake I have seen all companies do is to not adhere to one of the most important basic elementary rules of business – you are as good as the last job you did.”
It may sound cliché, but Mahmoodi insists that service is the key factor differentiating his company from others in the highly competitive, and price-sensitve, courier services market. They started with a small business plan offering a guaranteed on-demand courier service. They never forgot that a customer’s trust and loyalty has to be earned on a daily basis, he reveals. “You must make your customer believe that you are here to provide the best for them and that you treasure the relationship and opportunity,” he explains, adding that going the extra mile must be a permanent and unconditional component in any company’s culture. “Your clients must believe that they are much more than just an account number.”
Slow Nickels Are Better Than Fast Dimes
Today, other companies seeking to replicate Santa Monica Express‘ high customer loyalty ratios often ask for Mahmoodi’s advice. For them his advice is simple. “Do not forget about quality, be honest and straight forward and never promise something you won’t or can’t deliver,” he says.
“Slow nickels are always better than fast dimes.”
If you’re an entrepreneur, Mahmoodi says it’s important for you to have the right attitude, discipline and to be a good example for the people you lead. “Know the business you are getting into, stay positive , focused and believe in yourself,” Mahmoodi adds.
“If you are a type not willing to put in 10 to 15 hours a day or thinking about your overdue vacation or missing out your lunch time, then you just don’t have it.”
Daniel Goh is the founder and chief editor of Young | Upstarts, as well as an F&B entrepreneur. Daniel has a background in public relations, and is interested in issues in entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, public relations and the online space. He can be reached at daniel [at] youngupstarts [dot] com.