Regulr gives e-commerce’s unfair advantage of customer recognition to brick-and-mortar businesses.
Hello, my name is Stephen Dodge, Founder of Regulr.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I promote and carry out the daily operations of Regulr. I have both a local and remote team of 6 who have helped build and guide Regulr to where it is today. Given Regulr is very young and currently focused on proving out our technology and core service, I spend most of my mornings and early afternoons reaching out and meeting with business owners in the area who might be interested in piloting our service. If I am not doing that I am either engaged in something related to Regulr or building on my knowledge of technology and customer service.
I am lucky enough to be self-funded thus far as I do keep a full-time professional job, as well. I work from home 80% of the time, Wednesday – Sunday, 2-10 p.m. as a System Engineer for DellEMC. I work on a dedicated team that manages, optimizes, and maintains Bank of America’s entire SAN infrastructure (data center) as they are our largest customer. So long as I get my work done, I am free to do as I please throughout my day from 9-5, for the most part. Therefore, I get up at 5 a.m. every morning and knock my work out so it is done before I am “on shift” so I can dedicate as much time as I can to Regulr daily. I am eager to push Regulr to the next level so I can commit full-time to the business and still provide for my wife and son.
I’m a person who really wants to understand the details of anything and I have a good vision for how things connect or work together in the larger scheme of things. I gravitated towards IT because of these characteristics. I enjoy reading and listening to audiobooks or podcasts when I drive or work out in order to better myself. I love tennis and am probably the biggest Roger Federer fan there is. I find him to be the perfect example of how to master a skill/profession, market it, and build an elite brand from that. I enjoy comedy when I have my downtime but honestly, I am competitive and really enjoy challenging myself day in a day out and setting goals.
What inspired you to start your company?
I have always wanted to run a successful business ever since I saw my father start his own from the ground up. I think creating a growing and valuable business is one of the most admirable things anyone can pursue in life.
I worked at Nordstrom for 5 years to help pay for college, and it was easily one of the most valuable experiences I had in my life. You don’t understand real customer service or the level of detail to which a customer’s experience can be taken to until you work solely on commission and embrace the Nordstrom way. That sales experience that was a daily challenge is what inspired me to start Regulr. I love the pursuit of a sale, exchanging value, and creating true win-win relationships with others.
At Nordstrom, we had a software program called “Personal Book” which employees (if they chose to) used to maintain their personal customer list. We took notes, captured purchase and product details, tracked Nordstrom rewards, available payment methods, and anything else that would help future interactions with the customer. I learned quickly that the best salespeople utilized Personal Book as the tool was incredibly powerful so long as the customer data was accurate and we had the time to look at it early in the sales interaction.
Unfortunately, accurate data didn’t get captured enough because looking up a customer was too difficult and time consuming for many employees. You had to manually search for a customer by phone number or search them by first and last name prior to putting the transaction through in order to tie the customer to the transactions and have it save to Personal Book. This created longer waiting times at the register and employees taking shortcuts to try and capture the data from the customer.
Ultimately what happened was employees created multiple instances of the same customer or just made up information. Additionally, the software was limited to use only in the back office or at the POS at the counter; not mobile while on the sales floor. It ended up being more of a reactive tool instead of a proactive tool but I can’t deny it had many benefits and helped my sales approach with my best and most personal customers. My best customers were the customers I knew by name and had a deep personal connection with due to repeatedly servicing them, family, and friends over the years.
I thought the concept or a service similar to Personal Book which “overlayed” a community of retailers/businesses would greatly benefit local and mid-size retailers since we constantly hear about the decline of brick-and-mortar. I thought if they could band together to combat online retailers and their troves of data and automation, then the brick-and-mortars could bridge that gap between the online and offline shopping experience to create new and differentiated experiences that online can’t.
Giving brick-and-mortar retailers simple but effective technology that enhances the customer experience is the only way they will keep pace with online retail. A real-time accurate view of customers and their data when they visit stores or are within a community can level the playing field. Simple automation of processes or tasks can enable employees to focus and engage more with customers. Instead of all these individual silos of data and limited interactions that customers experience presently in stores; you can have a seamless experience in any store just as you do online when browsing from site to site.
The first step my team and I found we needed to solve for was to simplify and automate the customer identification process to where it is as seamless as an online shopping experience. We needed to create the experience which makes customers feel like a regular when visiting brick-and-mortar stores just as they experience when visiting any website or app from any of their devices. I want to blend that Nordstrom customer experience with simple and impactful technology to create and build authentic relationships between businesses and customers within a community.
What’s your favorite thing about Virginia?
I am from Virginia and have always enjoyed traveling and experiencing what Virginia has to offer. We are truly a unique and diverse state that is literally where the United States and self-made capitalism began. If I can provide value to my community here in Virginia via Regulr; I can only hope it will help grow and untap the vast potential we still have to look forward to here in my home state. That is what I look forward to most for Virginia.