Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Eric Heckstall of EDH SIGNATURE INC: Business Challenges & Successes

Welcome to the interview series with Jesse Samberg, where we delve into the journeys of successful entrepreneurs. Today, we have the pleasure of speaking with Eric Heckstall, the founder of EDH SIGNATURE INC. Eric shares his inspiring story of starting his business journey at a young age and overcoming challenges, including navigating the impact of COVID-19. Join us as Eric discusses his approach to customer service, business hurdles, and plans for the future. Let’s dive in.

Interviewee Name: Eric Heckstall


Intervirew Host: Jesse Samberg

The Interview

Let’s get started. First, we’d like to know more about how you started your business journey

Eric Heckstall : Hello Jesse, I started my business journey when I was 11 years old. I had a paper route. I worked for the Middletown Press. I would get up at 5:00am and deliver my newspapers before I went to school. Conceptually I was basically in sales but I worked on consignment. They assigned me a route and I was responsible for delivering the papers. I kept track of my accounts and I was also responsible for collecting the money from my customers. If my customers didn’t pay I had to cover their debt in order to keep getting the same amount of papers every day, and then hunt them down to get paid. I didn’t realize it then but I was learning account management, time management, and discipline. When I got my first job in a barbershop at 15 the owner taught me about paying rent, another lesson in money management. He let me work on commission for about a month but when I came to work one day he said “your booth rent is $150 a week” I replied “I’m not ready for that” and he answered “ people have started calling here for you, you’re ready.” He took my training wheels off and yes I was nervous but he knew I was ready. He saw what I couldn’t see at the time. He also taught me about customer service, and optimizing the space you rent, meaning the whole shop. I was always intrigued with businessmen. Back then businessmen carried briefcases so when I went to high school I carried a briefcase.

Reflecting on your business history, what stands out as the single greatest challenge you’ve successfully navigated, and how did you overcome it?

Eric Heckstall : There have been many challenges when I reflect on my business history but one that stands out is COVID-19. After being in business for over 20 years I was faced with an obstacle that initially was beyond my scope of solutions. A government shutdown. I kept a smile on my face and reassured my customers that everything was going to be ok, but inside I was devastated. I spent the first two weeks of the shutdown in heavy meditation and prayer. I knew there was a solution, I just had to find it. Many times people put too much focus on the problem instead of the solution. I’m solution oriented. I understood what was out of my control so I focused on what I could control. A couple of my customers who were front line workers called and asked if I would come provide a service in a safe environment. I said “ sure, we’ll both wear masks and I’ll need to check your temperature before we start.” They were fine with that. Then I tested the idea by sending out a text blast to all of my customers to see who might be interested in this as well. I explained that I would be raising the price point for the service and everyone would need to wear a mask. Also that if they had any symptoms they would have to cancel. Half of my existing clients wanted the service. Unfortunately some clients were priced out. Six months later I evaluated the profit and loss statement. I had created a new business model with this mobile service. I had less clients but I had more time with my family, and I was generating more revenue.

Businesses often face ongoing challenges. What does your business consistently grapple with, and how do you tackle these challenges head-on?

Eric Heckstall : Like most small businesses Capital is a challenge we have consistently grappled with. Product development is no easy task. Sourcing the best ingredients, working with qualified manufacturers that operate within our MOQ (minimum order quantity), and packaging our products on brand can be costly. It’s a balancing act that has to make sense financially. We are also in an era that I consider the ad-age. Anyone can run an ad now. We are executing strategies that may appear counterintuitive, we’re building our consumer base organically. With a narrow marketing budget we have to be more creative. I’m more focused on brand loyalty than customer acquisition right now. Positioning ourselves as a luxury brand in a down economy is no small feat.

Can you share with us the most unforgettable story involving a customer or client? What made it memorable, and what lessons did you draw from the experience?

Eric Heckstall : Sure, I had a client some years ago that used to bring her sons to my shop. She was a single parent with three boys. One of her sons struggled with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder). One day she brought the boys in for a haircut, and as we were talking, I asked, how she was doing? She replied,”I’m on the edge.” I can’t remember exactly what I said to her, just some words of encouragement and motivation, letting her know that she was doing a great job with the boys and that things were going to be alright. I really didn’t think much of it. I didn’t see her again until about a year later when I ran into her at Walgreens pharmacy. She saw me in the aisle, walked over and gave me a big hug. A hug that was tighter than the average “haven’t seen you in a while hug.” We embraced, and when she let go she said “I want to thank you” I was thrown aback for a second while I processed what was happening. I said “for what” and she said “Remember that day at the shop; the last time I brought the boys, well you saved my life.” I was blown away. That was the last thing I expected her to say. She went on to tell me how bad things were at that time and that she was on the verge of killing herself, but my words had given her strength to keep going. She explained that she was in a better space now. I was honored that I had been the voice of reason. At that moment I truly realized that words do have the power of life and death. You never know what someone is going through.

Looking ahead, what are your current plans for your business when you retire?

Eric Heckstall : That’s a good question. Currently I have no plans for true retirement. I love what I do.

Navigating the small business landscape can be both challenging and rewarding. Can you share a bit about the specific hurdles you’ve encountered in areas like sales, marketing, and adapting to changing customer trends?

Eric Heckstall : Customer retention can be challenging. There are many products on the market so the challenge becomes why our products over others. Initially we pursued a target market of men but sales demonstrated we had a sub-target market as well. Women represented 19% of our customer base. With that data we reevaluated our marketing strategy. We’re not just selling products though, we’re edifying our community with knowledge, empowerment, and beauty. It’s important that I keep a pulse on what’s trending but I’ve always considered myself a trend setter, so staying true to our vision takes precedence over changing customer trends.

Leaders Perception magazine would like to thank Eric Heckstall and “EDH SIGNATURE INC” for the time dedicated to completing this interview and sharing their valuable insights with our readers!

Interested in connecting with the host of this interview series? Feel free to reach out to Jesse Samberg on LinkedIn: Jesse Samberg’s LinkedIn Profile

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