Some startup ideas are half-baked. This one wasn’t.
In Celebration of 20 Years: 1998-2018
Pop quiz: What do freshly baked cookies, customer surveys, and online reviews have in common?
Answer: Jim Childers. Twenty years ago, my father-in-law Jim Childers realized a need. He saw busy business owners neglecting customer follow-up and losing the art of customer appreciation. Most companies that were doing good at acquiring customers were doing poorly at retaining them. In many cases it wasn’t because the owner didn’t care about their customers. Mostly it was because they lacked a game plan for customer retention. Jim recognized the need for a more automated, more complete way for companies to connect with customers, while still keeping that personal touch. And thus, in the thick of raising four children and co-owning a successful RV dealership, God was calling Jim to something more. And Jim answered the call.
Out of the frying pan, into the oven.
On April 1st, 1998, husband/wife team Jim & Olive Childers trusted God and took a giant leap of faith. This was no April Fools’ joke. Leaving behind his twenty-six year career, Jim founded To Your Success in metro Atlanta. The centerpiece of the business model has always been freshly baked customer Thank You gifts. Delicious, premium cookies baked early in the morning and shipped out same-day to the unsuspecting customers of To Your Success clients. Coupled with the gifts is a customer survey platform with analytics for business owners, plus automated reputation management technology that enables a client’s raving customers to easily leave positive online reviews. The concept is simple: appreciating customers is the right thing to do and the organic trickle down is stronger relationships, deeper customer loyalty, and spectacular, ongoing testimonials in the form of public reviews.
The beginnings were humble. Operating out of the Childers’ basement, those early days were filled with lots of pavement-pounding and uncertainty about the future. Slowly but surely though, the business began to grow and Jim and Olive witnessed the Lord’s blessing on their efforts.
Co-founding son Zach Childers (high-school aged at the time and now the Vice President) was integral in getting the business launched and older sister Michelle (later to become my amazing bride) helped crank out those first batches of delicious, freshly baked cookies. Fast forward twenty years, and all four of the Childers’ children have served in the family business at some level. Zach, John & Rebekah are currently active plus both sons-in-law. Even the grandkids pitch in—serving those all-important roles of taste-testing and quality assurance. (Somebody has to do it…)
Jim and Olive’s leap of faith and perseverance in those early days has certainly paid off. What started in the basement many years ago has flourished into an acclaimed brand and critical partner for businesses nationwide.
But To Your Success is more than just a business entity. Revenue and growth are not the primary metrics around here. Since day one, To Your Success has operated on biblical principles of integrity, honesty, a diligent work ethic, putting the success of others ahead of your own, and genuinely caring for people. While those values certainly undergird the tasty products and innovative software we are known for, it’s a lot more than that. The family business is a tool for my in-laws to demonstrate their love for God and people. At the heart of the company is the desire to use the business to minister to others. Whether it be a struggling family in the community, or a hungry child on the other side of the world, To Your Success has a footprint larger than just its share of the marketplace.
We’re not all related, but we’re all family.
To Your Success is all about family. Yes, many of us are related. But the family extends much further than that. It’s our family of amazing team members who show up each and every day, ready to bake and pack the most delicious, attractive gifts possible. It’s our family of vendors who keep us up and running with outstanding service and attentiveness. And it’s our family of clients from coast to coast, who make it a pleasure to come to the office each and every day. Sure, you can run a successful company by being overly corporate and impersonal. But it’s a lot more fun to do it when everyone feels like family!
Jim and his son Zach were recently interviewed by our friends at National Comfort Institute for their monthly publication, High Performance HVAC Today. It’s a great read with insight into those early days as well as our day-to-day philosophy and our “family recipe” for successful customer retention.
For me personally, it’s been a great journey to be a part of. Little did I know that what I considered a “temporary transition job” back in 2004 would turn into a satisfying business career doing things I love, with people I love. And as a bonus, I have unlimited cookies at my disposal. Can’t ask for more than that.