BIG UPS WINNER H2O CLEANS UP
27 Jan 2016
Author - Katrina from Yes! Optus
An interest in sustainable living propelled new father, Leigh McCardle to set up H2O Wipes a growing business selling planet-friendly wet wipes.
North Adelaide’s H2O Wipes was recently named one of the five small businesses to receive an Optus small business Big Ups award – an initiative dedicated to giving small businesses a big helping hand.
As the South Australian/Northern Territory small business winner, H2O Wipes was recognised as the most worthy of receiving $15,000 worth of local advertising to boost their business profile and tell their unique story.
The idea for the innovative business came about when Leigh was in Bali.
There he saw bamboo viscose used to make compact wipes: a highly absorbent wipe made of a natural material that was fast to regenerate and decompose. After seeing huge potential in the idea, he took immediate steps to create an improved version; he designed innovative packaging showing a wide range of uses as an alternative to bulky synthetic wipes that dominated the market in Australia.
Leigh spent two months developing the idea and the fully biodegradable, chemical-free H2O Wipes were launched June 2013.
The wipes can be used by anyone but are particularly useful for babies, travellers, and campers wanting a lightweight eco-friendly way to clean up while on the go.
The product is sold as a lightweight “pod” that transforms with just 15ml of water, expanding to a durable 22 x 29cm reusable cloth. Once used, the wipes can be easily composted, leaving no harmful residues.
In an added benefit to parents, the wipes are fun to watch as they expand when the water is added.
H2O SUCCESS FACTORS
Yes! Online Magazine recently caught up with the busy entrepreneur to ask him for any tips he might have for other small businesses.
How do you deal with competition?
I welcome competition, but ensure I’m one step ahead. It’s a balance between respecting my rivals and focusing on how to provide a product and service that is superior. I’m not obsessed by what my competitors are doing, and remain focused on my own innovation and branding so others want to follow.
COST OF DOING BUSINESS
How do you keep your costs down?
H2O Wipes have gone from being sold as an online eBay product to one being sold in national chains within a short period of time. Since all the profits are going back into the business to assist with growth, I’ve remained at my full-time job to ensure we don’t have financial pressures or jeopardise the growth period.
ATTRACTING NEW BUSINESS
What is your strategy for attracting new business?
I’ve appointed a sales management company that acts as the sales distributor within our commercial channel. They are opening doors in areas I’m really excited about. I’ve also set up a division for agents to sell H2O Wipes.
BARRIERS TO GROWTH
What challenges do you see on the horizon?
The biggest concern going into 2016 is the performance of the Australian dollar. When this goes down, import costs go up. Another concern is talks that GST will increase. These are significant factors to my costs as I continually strive to keep pricing at competitive levels.
I’m currently in discussions with my local and overseas suppliers to find ways to reduce manufacturing costs to mitigate the fallout from these challenges. I’m also increasing my knowledge of international logistics and working closely with my customs broker to find more cost-effective ways to import stock.
How will you be approaching staffing for your business?
The first thing I look at when searching for staff (distributors and agents) is for a personality that fits within our company culture. We have a fun, friendly, caring, forward-thinking culture at H2O Wipes and I look for staff members with the same qualities.
I also recruit nationally. My distributors/agents work independently so the most successful ones are those who are self-driven.
I don’t rush when recruiting. It’s worth being patient, rather than hurrying and upsetting the balance of my team.
What improvements will you be making to your internal systems?
I will be looking into new accounting software that meets our increasingly complex requirements, so I can upload our financials more easily. I will also start using software that helps to provide accurate live stock figures, and an easy to use online re-ordering form for stockists.
How do you plan to maintain a reasonable work-life balance?
It’s taken hard work, persistence and long hours to start H2O Wipes. Throw into the mix working a full time job and a newborn and 2016 is going to be a big year – both with work and family.
It’s essential to plan my days so that I can maintain a work-life balance. I also plan to ensure that I take short holidays with the family during the year so I don’t get burnt out. I’ve always said that if work becomes resentful, it’s time to re-assess. Thankfully, I love what I do and it doesn’t feel like work.
As part of the Big Ups prize, Optus will help Leigh to promote H2O Wipes in the local North Adelaide area through a tailored advertising blitz.
Leigh said the Big Ups blitz would give H2O Wipes a great boost and would help sustain the momentum generated during the Big Ups voting campaign.
“I started the business on a shoestring budget working from my lounge room and have grown from word of mouth so this added support from Optus will really help take H2O Wipes to the next level in 2016,” Leigh said.
“The funds from Optus have come at a perfect time. I’m now selling H2O Wipes into much larger territory and the advertising is exactly what I need to strengthen brand awareness.
“To be recognised as a finalist by Optus and then win the contest based on public votes confirms what a strong and loyal consumer base H2O Wipes is establishing,” he said.
CUSTOMER SERVICE – MAKE CUSTOMERS FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR BUSINESS
17 Dec 2015
Customer service is mentioned everywhere these days. With so much competition in the market, the way you care for your customers has become an important differentiator. However, a key ingredient in the mix may be simpler than many realise: playing nice.
The founder of the well-known US retail chain, JC Penney, once said, “Every great business is built on friendship.”
After all, of all the elements for building good levels of customer service, caring for your customers is up there. People are canny; they know when you genuinely care. Sure, you can send out Christmas cards to your customers at the end of the year but if they’ve ever felt taken for granted, it won’t patch up the relationship.
When you’re a small business, customer service must come from the heart. When you care for your customers, it shows and customers will respond with loyalty.
Yes! Online Magazine caught up with five small businesses that recently won a 2015 Optus Small Business Big Ups Award with each receiving $15,000 for local advertising. The winners received the most number of votes from customers. Here are their tips for how to become a business that’s loved by your customers.
Founded in 2013, North Adelaide’s H2O Wipes was created after 39-year old Leigh McCardle spotted a gap in the Australian market for wet wipes that were both kind to skin and biodegradable.
The idea was born following a trip to Bali, where Leigh came across the concept of bamboo viscose used to make compacted wipes. After seeing huge potential in the idea, she took steps immediately to create an improved version and designed innovative packaging showing a wide range of uses.
One of the main drivers behind H2O Wipes is Leigh’s passion for chemical-free and biodegradable products made from sustainable resources. H2O Wipes are highly compressed pods made from bamboo viscose, which expand to an A4-sized durable wet wipe with just 15ml of water.
Leigh believes that for customers to love your business you need to love your business yourself.
“Make sure you’re involved in a business you are passionate about,” he said. When you genuinely care and customers will see it and respond positively.”
“Customer service must be at the forefront of any business. In today’s market where business is so competitive, consumers have a wide range of choices and plenty of say. People buy people. If service is lacking, consumers can and will look elsewhere,” Leigh said.
H2O WIPES’ TIPS
Customers vote with their feet – customer retention hinges on good customer service
More than money – don’t make profit your main driving force or customers sense you just want their money and feel that customer service is secondary
Start from the top – it’s vital that all managers lead by example; be visible, talk to customers about their experiences and ask employees how “we” as a business can serve customers better
There you have it straight from businesses that are loved by their customers; customer service is fundamental to small business success. Does your customer service need polishing?
Small Business Big Ups was part of the AMEX Shop Small initiative.
Wet wipes business an expanding idea
- CAMERON ENGLAND
- THE ADVERTISER
- OCTOBER 21, 2014
BIODEGRADABLE, reusable wet wipes are the basis of a business Leigh McCardle has taken from a start-up to his full time job in just four months.
Mr McCardle has launched H20 Wipes — a business importing, packaging and distributing an innovative alternative to the usual face wipe.
The wipes start life as highly-compressed bamboo viscose, which expands to many times its original size with just 15ml of water to become a reusable, and harmful chemical and perfume-free face wipe.
Mr McCardle first saw the bamboo viscose concept in Bali, and decided there was a market for it here.
He launched the business on less than $5000 and is already distributing to camping, cycling and infant stores in South Australia and interstate.
H20 Wipes won a Mix102.3 and Telstra “next big idea/innovation’’ award recently.
Mr McCardle, who has a background in sales, said he had always had an entrepreneurial bent, and had been on the lookout for the right opportunity.
It has been a two year journey while Mr McCardle also worked full time, with the business launching in earnest four months ago.
He is now focused on building sales.
“The main demographics will be camping stores and mums with children, and when the new shipment comes in we’ll be focusing on restaurants as well,’’ he said.
Mr McCardle has designed the packaging, which includes small, lightweight tubes of wipes and larger refill packs.
There is also the scope for companies to use the product as a branding exercise by affixing their own marketing materials to the tubes.
“The initial production I brought in was 100,000 pods and I’ve moved most of that already,’’ Mr McCardle said.
“This will expand as well, there’s going to be organic oils which you can add to water and make it a refresher towel to enhance the experience.’’
Mr McCardle is aiming to run the business as a wholesaler, rather than competing with his clients online.
Mr McCardle said once volume had built sufficiently he would look at buying machinery to produce the product locally.
Article from www.abc.net.au
Wet wipes spark severe allergic reactions, prompt health warning in South Australia
A health warning has been issued over the use of wet wipes following a spike in allergic reactions to some products.
The South Australian Government said national figures showed 15 per cent of people tested this year had reacted to the preservative Methylisothiazolinone (MI), which is used in some brands of wipes.
In 2005, only about 4 per cent of people tested suffered allergic reactions.
Health Minister Jack Snelling said increased cases of dermatitis were being seen locally.
"Allergic reactions to MI, such as hand dermatitis, are being found in people using wet wipes, such as mothers and babies who are frequently in contract with baby wipes," he said.
Danae Belfield, 26, suffered severe reactions after using wet wipes, forcing her to go the Flinders Medical Centre emergency department.
"I have had a severe and ongoing reaction to a number of products which contain MI," she said.
"Over the past 14 months, I have suffered a red, itchy, painful rash over most of my body, which was compounded when I was hospitalised three weeks ago after using wet wipes on my face and neck.
Danae Belfield's hand
Danae Belfield presented to Flinders Medical Centre several times following severe reactions to MI. (SA Government)
"A patch test helped to determine my reaction to MI and I have since stopped using all products that contain the preservative, which has dramatically changed my life."
MI is used to prevent bacterial contamination and is often found in personal hygiene products such as baby wipes, moisturisers and cosmetics.
It is also found in shampoos, sunscreens and deodorants, as well as paints and cooling tower water.
Research published in the Medical Journal of Australia in March last year showed rates of allergic reactions to MI had risen from less than 4 per cent to 11 per cent in two years.
Researchers said it had become the most common cause of allergic contact dermatitis, and the increasing number of people affected were in the developed world.
Flinders Medical Centre head of dermatology Doctor Lynne Gordon advised people to see a skin specialist if they were concerned.
"It usually develops two or more days after contact with the allergen and lasts as long as contact continues and for a short time afterwards, typically one to two weeks," she said.