Mini Travelmate Car Seta Stroller – Alone
If you studied business in college or work for a company that develops products I am sure you are familiar with the product life cycle stages. All products have a lifespan and go through the general stages of its cycle. The first is development. This is a involved process that typically uses a lot of resources and returns no revenue as there is not a product to sell yet. Then you move into the introduction stage as the product becomes available on the market and progresses on through the remaining stages.
In my experience the development stage does not and should not stop once the product is introduced to the market. Products evolve and are modified and improved during its life cycle. Often times when you develop a product you enter the introduction stage with a minimum viable product (MVP). This is a product that offers the minimum features and functionality that is deemed acceptable to the market. This helps shorten the time to market so the product can begin generating revenue. Once the MVP is released the development continues so the next run or model can offer more to the end user.
Another reason the development needs to continue is because once a product hit the mass market and consumers start to use and abuse the product issues might be discovered that were not found during initial testing. Take the Mini Travelmate for instance. The idea behind the Mini Travelmate was to provide a more compact and economical version of the original Travelmate. To accomplish this, the large plastic plate was eliminated from the Mini and replaced with two smaller cross plates. This reduces the weight of the product and minimizes the amount of raw materials needed for production resulting in a lighter and more cost effective product. The other major changed was we eliminated using the polyurethane razor wheels and replaced them with less expensive rubber wheels.
The design modifications’ net result is a lighter more compact and less expensive version of the Travelmate that delivers the same convenience and maneuverability. However, now that the product has been on the market for almost a year we have had to make some changes. After the Mini Travelmate was on the market for a while and sales began to increase we were getting some customer complaints that the wheels were not rolling very well. Another issue was that some customers complained of a strong odor when they opened the box. We eventually pinpointed the odor to the wheels as well. So, the development of the mini has continued on through the life cycle stages and we have stopped using the rubbers wheels and went back to the good old orange razor wheels. The net result of the changes? A lighter, fully assembled, less expensive version of the Travelmate that rolls smooth and doesn’t smell. And, most importantly, happy customers.
The other lesson here is to speak up. Don’t be afraid to call a company directly (preferably before you post a horrible review) and share your opinion and experience. Some companies actually listen. At least we do at Go-Go Babyz so if you have a question, concern, or complaint make sure to contact our customer service department.
VP & Dad
Here is another post based on some FAQ’s we get at Go-Go Babyz. A common questions is “does the Travelmate Car Seat Luggage Strap have wheels?” I will answers this and work in some other common questions in to this post. The answer to the question is no. The Travelmate Car Seat Luggage Strap is simply, well, a strap. The strap is used to attach your toddler car seat to your carryon luggage which provides the wheels to transport your child in their car seat through the airport. Basically, you use the strap to convert your car seat and carryon into an airport stroller. In that answer I answered another common question; “does the Travelmate Car Seat Luggage Strap come with a seat?” Again the answer is no. You provide the car seat and carryon and we provide the strap to connect the three together.
“Oh. So it’s just a strap”, you say. Well, yes. That is why it is only $19.99. It’s an easy, economical solution to get your kids and their car seats through the airport. It’s a great product for someone who usually travels with a carryon bag and those who do not travel often enough to want to spring for one of the other Travemate products.
Whenever you create a product that requires other items to function you invite the possibility for operational issues. One common issue we hear about is the stability and or balance. The most common cause of this is the carryon and how it is packed. There are so many different type and size carryons that it is hard to create the perfect formula for optimal performance. It is not an exact science but there is a great rule of thumb: the more balanced your carryon is by itself the more stability and balance you will have with the Travelmate Car Seat Luggage Strap. For example, if your bag is only half full it may not be able to provide the stability you need optimal performance and stability. At the same time, if the bag is fully packed but the items are not packed well, say the heavy items are on the top, you will have stability issues because the bag itself is top heavy.
The best strategy to ensure proper performance is to make sure the bag is 75-100% full and the items are packed with the heaviest items on the bottom. You need to remember that the carryon must be able to support the extra weight of a car seat and a child so if there isn’t enough in the bag the bag will begin to squish when you tighten the strap resulting in an unstable stroller. So, if your carryon is sturdy and balanced you should not have an issue once you attached your car seat to the bag with the strap.
VP & Dad
The leaves are changing, the mornings and nights are cooler and pumpkins are lining the floors at the grocery store. Yes, fall is here. I love this time of year. Well, to be honest I love every time of year. I live in California where the weather is pretty nice year round. Being a Californian I get teased a lot that we don’t have fall, or any season for that matter. Be it as it may, I love California seasons and right now summer is making its departure as fall begins show signs of creeping in.
A couple of my favorite things to do is mountain bike and trail run and this time of year is my favorite time for those; it’s not too cold and it’s not too hot. I go early in the morning before work and the masses take over the local trails. It’s perfect this time of year. It’s usually a little overcast in the morning and I get a nice breeze to keep me cool. The scenery is awesome with all the leaves starting to turn. It’s the best way to start the day and get my body ready or all the indulging I will be doing as the holiday season, AKA the feasting season, approaches.
I write this as I work from home because my kids are on fall break and I didn’t have them covered today. Fall break? What is that? I have never heard of such a school beak until this year. My kids transferred to a new school and they get a two week break for fall. Why didn’t they have this when I was in school? They now have a break for every season. Lucky!
Lucky for them but now Kerry and I get to do the kid shuffle for two weeks. It’s like a condensed summer shuffle. When you run a business there is always work to do and Go-Go Babyz never really shuts down. Sure, we have regular office hours but there is so much still done after hours and on weekends. So, these crazy breaks throughout the year can make it difficult with a small business.
But hey, why fight it? I guess I should just embrace it and the couple days I have the kids over the next two weeks. I will do the work I can and embrace the rest of the time. So today we are having a lazy day. The kids are lounging around settling in to day 2 of their break and I have something in the smoker slow cooking for dinner as I write. Another perk of the great weather out here; I can cook outdoors for most of the year. I think I will plan a nice fall hike with the kids and the dogs in the Santa Cruz Mountains my next day home with them. That sounds better than work any way!
If you have a fall break too, take the kids for a nice walk to park and check out all the leaves changing and collect some nice ones for some fun art projects with the kids. Don’t forget your Wagon Stroller!
VP & Dad
Recently I posted “Competitive Youth Sports” about and closed with the idea that we can learn a lot of lessons from our kids if we just pay attention and watch them be themselves. Further, that I need to remember those lessons and apply them in my personal and business life. Actually, when you run a small business the line of personal and business life often blur. So let’s see what I learned about competition from watching those two goalkeepers playing on the field.
Go-Go Babyz is a small family operation run by my wife and I, a true mom and pop business. We recently had a couple bigger companies come out with competing products. Due to their size, the impact was very damaging to us. We went through the range emotions; anger, fear, resentment, hopelessness. Did I mention anger and resentment? Of course, these are all normal emotions to experience in a situation like this when you are a small business and the effects could be shutting down but you can’t dwell on it. You have to move on and turn the negative thoughts and emotions into something positive that will drive the business. After all, competition is a good thing. It is what keeps companies moving forward and drives innovation. The end result is a successful business and happy consumers who are continually being offered improved products as we, the businesses, strive to be better than the competition. Win-win right? Let’s hope so, the verdict is still out on this one.
So what did I learn? I learned to stop fighting competition and embrace it. Even if they created a cheaper knock-off of our invention. There is no use fighting it, everyone wants a piece of the pie and there will always be companies with no creativity or ingenuity whatsoever whose entire business model is based of copy-cat products. I can’t change that. What I can change is my attitude. I can choose to respond instead of react and use it as a source for inspiration and continue creating innovative solutions for families on the go.
VP & Dad
Recently I posted “Connecting with Customers” and I mentioned that it made me think a lot. It made me think about a lot of different issues both personal and business and one in particular is the idea of relationships and business. More specifically, customer relationships. These relationships have evolved tremendously over the years. When my parents and grandparents were kids the majority of the businesses were small owned by regular people in the community. You had the local grocery store, the butcher shop, barber shop, candy store; the list goes on and on. The business owners had a strong relationship with the customers and new them on first name basis. That’s just the way it was and there was a stronger sense of community.
We still had some of that when I was growing up too but there were a lot more chains and the big box stores were starting to replace the smaller department stores. You no longer knew the owners personally. You might have known some of the employees because they were neighbors or friends but the intimate connection was lost. The store managers didn’t even know your name and the disconnection began and the relationships shifted. Of course, this didn’t happen overnight, it was a process and the community accepted the change because it was just part of the process of growth and is inevitable in a capitalistic society with such a large population.
So it is what it is and businesses owners can no longer have the same relationships as the past. Connections have been lost but with the evolution of business there comes the evolution of technology. Just as the internet changed the landscape of business so too has social media. Now we have a new way to connect and our customers become fans, followers, tweeple, plus ones and they join groups and circles and hangout. Isn’t it fun? The community is back. In cyberspace albeit but is back by golly. OK, so it’s not the same I know. But like business, it is what it is and why fight it. I must admit I was skeptical and slow to jump on the social media train with Go-Go Babyz. After all, I have more important things to do, I have a business to run. I have Wagons to make, strollers to design, diaper bags to ship, baby carriers to pack and Travelmates to sell.
Then it hit me; I need to embrace the social media because my customers do and that is how I can connect and interact with them. The importance hit me straight in the face because I realized that it is another way to build and nurture the most important relationships to Go-Go Babyz. I will be the first to admit that we are not perfect at it but I will assure you that when you interact with Go-Go Babyz, 99.9% of the time you are interacting with one of the owners. We are the voice and personality behind what you see. It may not be the same as walking in to the local shop of years past and having the owner walk out and greet you by your first name and help you choose the best product for your needs but it is something.
VP & Dad
A customer recently posted something to our Go-Go Babyz Facebook page that really made me think. It said something like “ I get stopped all the time with people asking about the car seat wheels. How doesn’t everyone know about the greatest product ever yet?” First of all, what a compliment. I am so appreciative when people actually take the time to say something nice. Don’t get me wrong, we do get a lot of nice emails, phone calls, and social media posts about Go-Go Babyz and our products and team members. It’s just that when you are a manufacturer, most of the calls or emails are going to be customer service issues. Most customers with an issue are going to contact you but not all customers are going to make an effort to contact you just to say something nice. Of course, not all customer service communications are bad but very few are simply to say something nice. So, every time we do get one it leaves an impression and validates why we are in business; to connect with real people like us and offer our solutions to the same problems we experienced traveling with our own children.
Business is like life, it’s all about relationships. As a business there are relationships with customers, service providers, staff, vendors, retailers, etc, etc, the list goes on and on. Relationships can make or break a business and each group is important to the growth and survival of the business and must be tended to and nurtured. Of course, customers need to be at the top of the list because without customers there is no business. That being said, without the other relationships, Go-Go Babyz can’t operate and has nothing to offer our customers.
As a customer myself, I want the people I encounter in a store, on the end of the phone, or reading my email to be real and understand me. I want them to realize that regardless of how much I spend with them I am a customer nonetheless and contribute to their business on some level. Some companies do a great job at this and some do a poor job. That’s too bad but that’s business. I am grateful and appreciative to those companies, especially the big guys that do a good job and really understand that at the end of the day we are all just people navigating life made up of a web of relationships that need to be cultivated and nurtured to operate properly.
As I mentioned in the beginning, the post by our customer made me think. It made me think a lot so this will probably become a series and I will be posting a few more pieces related to the topic so, stay tuned.
VP & Dad
Buying a car seat can be a daunting task. There are so many options and so many things to consider. Here are 5 tips to consider during the process.
- How is the car seat installed into the car?
- Latch system, seat belt, both?
- Does your car have a latch system? All newer cars should, but check your owner’s manual
- Make sure the seat you are considering is designed for your child’s age & weight.
- Make sure it is easy to clean, we all know how messy babies can be.
- Make sure it has an adjustable 5-point safety harness, preferably one that has a safety release feature so your baby can’t accidentally undo the harness.
- Make sure it fits in your car. Car seats today are HUGE and if you have a smaller 2-door vehicle, some of the seats today might not fit very well.
OK, here is a bonus 6th tip – if you are planning on doing any traveling with your kids and car seats make sure it is compatible with one of the Travelmate Products. Don’t you just love shameless plugs! Well, after all, Go-Go Babyz is here to make your life easier when you and your baby are “on the go”
In addition, safety goes without say. Make sure the car seats you are considering have all the proper safety features and meet all of the safety standards.
Happy Car Seat Buying!
VP & Dad