Dealer spotlight is our new 10 question blog series where we feature Organizers Dealers around the nation. Today, we sat down with Bill Fletcher of Lake Country Closets to learn more about his 10 years of experience as an Organizers Direct Dealer.
Tell me your background and how you came to join Organizers Direct as a Dealer?
I was in the photo retail business for 30 years, having worked my way up to COO of a $600 million company. But the industry was slowly dying, and the company was ultimately bought out. At that time, I was over 50 years old and felt it was time to reinvent myself. I saw an ad about installing closets for Closet Maid, and I decided to go that route. I dealt for them for years, and then they changed their product line. It was right around this time I was approached by Jane Wallace at Organizers Direct and I’ve been very pleased with them ever since.
What is your primary service at Lake Country Closets?
We design and install custom storage solutions, primarily in closets. We also provide storage solutions for home offices and garages, and any other area in the home.
What was the process of getting started and launching your own business as a Dealer like?
When I signed with Closet Maid and started in the business initially, I was told my strong sales background would be an asset in this industry. Someone once told me that anyone can turn a screwdriver or do an install, but the custom closet business is all about getting the customer in the door and closing the sale.
I ended up starting Closet Designs and More in 2009 in the middle of a recession, and I thought it was a perfect time to start. Many people told me I was crazy to start a business in that economy, but it was actually ideal. You should always expect to lose money in the first three years of a business, so I figured I’d lose money when everyone else was, too. In all reality, I didn’t lose money, though. I actually figured out how to strip away expenses, streamline the business, and survive.
Above all, one of the main things I found when I started with Organizers Direct is the superior level of support I’ve received from the beginning. It’s unmatched.
Why did you decide to go with Organizers Direct, rather than other companies in the space?
When my former Closet Maid business changed its product line, the new line wasn’t compatible with the old one. There was no overlap either. I had quite a bit of inventory at the time, and I was looking at not being able to use it. Jane from Organizers Direct came to see me and pitched me the idea of switching over to their team. It made sense, and offered me a way to use my inventory.
Also, Organizers Direct had a broader selection of color finishes, drawer front styles and more, so I was able to offer more to my customers. I’m so happy with the support I’ve gotten from Organizers Direct and so glad I made that decision. They’ve helped me grow personally and grow my business.
What is your current day-to-day like?
I usually spend my days going on sales calls and running the business, doing the books, etc. I originally launched the business in Atlanta, but my daughter and son-in-law have since taken that one over and are running it nicely themselves.
Now that I’m starting this business in a different area, I’m working more in the weeds than I was on the previous one. Today, for instance, I spent the day installing and got a sales lead. In a couple days, I’ll go meet with that customer. I’ve been able to get on board with a few home builders, so I meet with them regularly and discuss their needs.
What has been your favorite project you’ve worked on?
I did an entire library for a client, with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that ran continuously around all four walls. They liked the finished results so much, they asked me to build a china cabinet. I did so, out of Organizers Direct products, and it ended up turning out really well. Another gentleman had a picture of a desk he wanted me to recreate. I did, and he loved it. I was pretty proud of that. Any time I’m able to do a variation on the norm, it’s exciting and challenges me creatively. That kind of work is especially rewarding.
What has been the key to your success?
When I give my word to a client, I hold up my end of the bargain. I’m on time for sales appointments and efficient during them, so I don’t tie up clients’ time. I commit to an install date at the time I take the deposit, and make sure I hit that. On the install date, my installers and I are there on time and get the job completed as quickly as possible since people don’t want to be out of their closets longer than necessary. I also believe in leaving things better than I find them. My business has grown because I do what I say I’ll do and exceed client expectations.
Tell me about your hobbies! What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I play a lot of golf and have done distance running (one marathon, several half marathons, a lot of 10Ks and 5Ks).
If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
I don’t know; I love what I do and I love what I did in my previous career. You’ve got to enjoy it every day when you get up. Even when I do installs and come home tired, I still enjoy it. I don’t want another job.
What’s your favorite thing about working as an Organizers Direct Dealer?
Organizers Direct empowers me to satisfy my customers. That’s what it’s all about. I appreciate the support I get from them, and really enjoy going to their dealer conferences every other year. I always come away from there energized and full of ideas and things I want to change or implement. It’s a real eye opener and helps me grow, and grow my business.
I hope all dealers use the resources that Organizers Direct makes available to them. If I had started with the company earlier, I wouldn’t have been alone in my first few years; I would’ve had support and it would’ve been a lot easier. So I hope everyone who starts with Organizers Direct from the get-go takes advantage of all they offer, and how it’ll make their jobs easier.