Staffing for Growth

Catalog Success
Noelle Buoncristiano
To continue its business momentum, Headsets.com keeps a sharp focus on employee hiring, training and retention.

While heading up two businesses in the late 1990s, Mike Faith had difficulty finding quality telephone headsets at reasonable prices. Even more frustrating was the substandard Customer service he said he found among the companies in that field. He realized he could fill a void in the industry.

While heading up two businesses in the late 1990s, Mike Faith had difficulty finding quality telephone headsets at reasonable prices. Even more frustrating was the substandard Customer service he said he found among the companies in that field. He realized he could fill a void in the industry.

"My entrepreneurial opportunity radar went berserk," he recalls. "I saw too big an opportunity and had to capitalize on it. ... That's very much my style."

Six weeks later (in 1998), with $40,000 in startup capital, Faith established San Francisco-based Headsets.com where he now serves as president. The company, which primarily sells headsets and related merchandise to businesses nationwide, expects this year's sales to reach $16 to $18 million, up $7 million from 2003 - and a long way from its $3 million revenue just three years ago.

"We seem to break a revenue record every year," says Faith. "Our goal is to become the No. 1 headset retailer by 2006."

A Catalog is Born

Besides a few postcard mailings, Headsets.com had little experience with direct marketing - that is, until 2001 when an employee inquired about starting a catalog. "We had no idea what that question would start," says Faith.

Two months later, Headsets.com printed and mailed a 48-page, full-color digest catalog to 90,000 prospects. "We built the catalog from the ground up and took lots of advice along the way," says Faith. Rather than tap consultants' catalog knowledge, Faith contacted others in the direct marketing industry who had hands-on experience with catalogs. "We were taught the ropes," he continues. "It was a bit of a risk for us at the time, and we haven't looked back."

The company now mails about 1.5 million catalogs every five weeks. And its total housefile is more than 90,000, up from 50,000 in 2001.

And the employee who originally suggested a catalog launch? He now serves as Customer service manager.

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