Since I’ve been home with my daughter (It’s been 14 months already!!!!!), I’ve found all kinds of stimulation – joy, learning with Miss K, seeing her develop, searching for the BEST everything for my babe, learning about natural alternatives, exploring with food and cooking…but I have to say that I haven’t been challenged much by the kind of stuff that I loved about my last job. As one of the executive team members at a high growth company, we spent a lot of time in off-sites, reading philosophies and discussing how to apply them to our business to succeed. Five years ago, I would have called it a bunch of mumbo-jumbo and asked why our executives were wasting 10-20 hours a quarter rather than dealing with all the daily pulls. After seeing how well it worked for us as an integral part of our leadership, I would do the same if I had my own company.
Anyways, one of the things I find myself intrigued by (now that I don’t have a huge load of work responsibilities and problems to fix there) is how some of the small businesses I interact with work. The company that has grabbed my attention (and won’t let go, sadly) is gDiapers. I have no idea how large (or small) their market share is or what kind of growth they’re experiencing but I get the sense that they’re doing well and there are a lot of reasons for this. They have a good product (not perfect but good), sure. But from what I can tell, they’re nurturing all the right things. Their corporate philosophy (which I’m hoping and assuming is genuine) appears to be about being genuine. They clearly spend extra to do business with earth friendly vendors, they seem to do a great job with their employees and they VALUE their customers. This all got me thinking about a book that we had read at one of our offsites:
I was a psych major in college and I’ve always liked concepts that help explain why people do what they do. Maslow has a theory that says people have a hierarchy of needs. Humans are motivated by fulfilling their unmet needs. And lower needs must be fulfilled before the higher needs can be addressed. At the base of the pyramid, people need their physiological needs met – they need shelter and food. Next they have safety needs – protection from lions, fire and hurricanes. Then they have social needs – interaction with others, followed by esteem needs – the need to feel good and confident about oneself. At the top of the pyramid is self actualization – the understanding of one’s potential.
Chip Conley took this and applied it to business. Basically a successful company will satisfy the needs of their customers, their employees, and their investors. And each of these constituents have a hieirarchy of needs. The pyramids look like this:
I don’t know about gDiapers’ employees or their Investors (the bottom two pyramids), but I’ve found that gDiapers has done an excellent job of meeting the needs of customers (top pyramid). Here’s how:
Meets Expectations: The way I see it, the basic things that a diaper company needs to do are:
- Be easily accessible – I need to be able to get them when I need them. gDiapers is available through more big box retailers than any other cloth brand that I’m aware of. The fact that I can go into a Babies R Us and pick them up makes them convenient (oh and by the way, TOTALLY legitimizes them in comparison to some of the other smaller cloth brands). Additionally, I can buy them online at Target.com, Walmart.com, Walgreens.com, gdiapers.com, diapers.com – the list goes on. gdiapers.com and diapers.com can get them to me within two days. I can get these when I need them.
- Keep my baby free of leaks – So honestly, I’ve had more leaks with gDiapers than I care to admit. But that’s because the diapers come with a learning curve. And I had to adjust the way I use them to fit me and my baby. BUT I have not had a single poop up the back instance with these, not even when Miss K. was on breast milk exclusively. Poop rarely makes it outside the pouch. And while I’ve had wet gPants, I seldom have wet clothes and admittedly, it’s usually because I’ve gone too long without changing her or didn’t put the diaper on right.
- Manufactured in a way that does not harm my child. With cloth, I feel secure that my child is free from chemicals. Even gDiapers’ disposable option is fully discussed on their site. I was a little apprehensive when I saw these weird gel beads come out of the flushable inserts but I read up on them and I am satisfied that they are safe for my child.
- Must be affordable. I’ll be saving hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars by using gDiapers instead of disposables. I actually don’t see how disposables are affordable in comparison.
Meets Desires: This category assumes that the diaper company is able to do the most basic things and focuses on the things that people would like a diaper company to do. It’s the wish list. Here are the things that I was hoping for that gDiapers actually is able to do:
- Be good for the environment – one of the main reasons I cloth diaper. When I read that a baby produces over a ton of trash in diapers alone and that a traditional plastic diaper takes over 500 years to biodegrade, I had a hard time accepting that I needed disposable diapers. Both gCloth and gRefills are healthier for the environment. I can flush away the refills and when I can’t, they’ll biodegrade!
- Great Customer Service – these guys are awesome. They write hand written notes. They stand behind their products. I had a velcro strip come off of one of my diapers and I contacted them. All I had to do was mail in my diaper and they sent me a new one. I’ve met a few of their employees and they’re genuinely nice people. They smile. And say please and thank you. And they tell me my baby is cute. That makes me feel good.
Meets Unrecognized Needs: These are the needs that you don’t even know you have. Basically it’s the stuff that you don’t expect from a diaper company (but are so glad they do).
- Being part of a community – One of the things that keeps me fully engaged with this company is the community of moms that love this diaper. I don’t know any of them in real life but I love how they rally behind this brand, are helpful to others, and are like-minded. It’s flippin’ awesome. I check their Facebook page more than once a day. gDiapers fosters this community so well. And I want to help others. I write blog posts and share them with people who are looking for help. It’s great to have this type of resource available.
- Feeling like you’re on the inside – gDiapers also has a gMum program that is meant to help enthusiasts get the word out about gDiapers. It can’t be cheap. Their give-aways are generous and they have several thousand gMums. But because they are arming us moms with marketing materials, I feel like I have a connection to the brand and I WANT to spread the word. I WANT to help them succeed.
- Pride in feeling like you’re doing the right thing. It’s stupid but I am proud that we’ve cloth diapered our baby for a year now. I am proud that she’s sitting on cloth and not chemicals. I am proud that it’s a little more work but we’re doing less damage to the earth. I didn’t know how good it would feel to use this product. I did not expect that. But I love it.
Again, this is only one component – the customer component – but my sense is that they’re doing well in the other two areas as well. I just don’t know enough about them to say for sure. So that’s why I think gDiapers has what it takes to be not just a successful company, but a GREAT company.