It might seem like déjà vu; it is actually a testament to Ryan Dahlgaard's "raving fan" style of customer service. His company, The Filter Shop, has been named the Greater Omaha Chamber's Small Business of the Month for September, the second time in less than two years it has received the honor.
View video for The Filter Shop.
November 2011: The Filter Shop, a niche sales and service operation specializing in a wide range of filtration and filtration-related products, had a payroll of 12 employees.
September 2013: The payroll now stands at 14 thanks to the addition of a service manager and a second front office staffer. Of his team, Dahlgaard said, "They are the reason for our growth and success!"
November 2011: The Filter Shop had expanded from an 800-square-foot facility to one that encompassed 2,000-square-feet and then 10,000-square-feet.
September 2013: The company's latest warehouse spans 20,000-square-feet.
November 2011: The Filter Shop did just under $2 million in sales that year, setting sales records every other month.
September 2013: "Now we are tracking to hit just over $3 million this year," Dahlgaard said.
That's a strong case for "raving fan" customer service - but what is it? Dahlgaard said it is a relatively simple philosophy pulled from Ken Blanchard's book, "Raving Fans."
"Everyone claims to have customer service, but it takes something special to have 'raving fan' customer service," Dahlgaard said. "We don't want you to simply be satisfied with our company; we want you to be a 'raving fan.'"
He continued, "This is a repeat business, and keeping customers is how you grow. Most of our customers don't want to have to think about their filters. They just want to know that someone is there to take care of their filter needs."
To that end, The Filter Shop has enlisted technology to further enhance the customer experience. It created a web-based application called Filter Track to help customers track their filter list and quickly place new orders.
"It also helps us internally track and maintain service jobs, making us more efficient and the customer happier to be doing business with us. This is one reason that we have grown so quickly," Dahlgaard said.
He launched The Filter Shop in 2004, a dramatic departure for a man who was earning a hefty corporate paycheck. He said he was at a point in his life where he wanted something more – and that his strong faith gave him the confidence to start the new business. Today, the Omaha-based company serves customers across the country.
"I am really proud of this one," Dahlgaard said. "When I ask these customers why they came to call us, 90 percent of the time they say it's because they heard about our customer service. Most all of our customers have come to us via referral. It doesn't get much better than that!"
The company has also leveraged its Chamber membership into new accounts. The Filter shop is a perennial exhibitor at the Buy the Big O! Show, the region's premiere business to business trade show. It is gearing up for its next appearance in October.
"The Chamber really is interested in helping me promote and grow my business. In order to benefit, you have to be willing to get out there and meet some people. They have programs going on pretty much all the time," he said.
While it has proven itself adept at serving the community's filter needs, The Filter Shop is also dedicated to serving a broader set of needs. The company supports the Open Door Mission, Royal Family Kids Camps (a camp for abused and neglected children in the Omaha area), and several other smaller organizations.
"Many team members give their time as well to these organizations. I want to give back to a community that I live in. God has blessed us with so much in this country. If everyone gave just a little back, the landscape would look much different than it does today," Dahlgaard said.
Want to learn more about The Filter Shop? Check out the company website and view video for The Filter Shop.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska is the sponsor of the Small Business of the Month award. View more information or nominate a small business online.