Entrepreneurial Studies Newsletter - Rider Graduate Creates Successful Online Business
by Kyle Moylan
Charles Ziegler, a two-time Rider graduate (BS in Accounting, 1984 and MBA in Business, 1987), is the owner and creator of ZieglerWorld.com, an online game room and outdoor recreation product company with over a quarter million dollars in sales.
"I was in my Donald Trump phase when I came up with the name ZieglerWorld," Charlie laughed.
Like any successful business, ZieglerWorld started with a need in the marketplace.
Charlie had long wanted to run his own business, but he had a family and was earning a comfortable living working as an accountant for large company. Then the company was sold and Charlie was, for the first time in his career, faced with the challenge of working in a new and changing environment. 'I was nervous about change -- yet the sale was the change that had a positive impact on my life . . . both professionally and monetarily," Charlie noted.
Charlie earned a sizeable bonus for helping to launch his new company’s integrated computer system. He took the bonus and purchased a shuffleboard table. Charlie didn't know it at the time, but this was the beginning of ZieglerWorld.
"You don't know where life will lead you," Charlie reflected. “You just have to be able to seize opportunities when they arise.”
For Charlie the opportunity to launch a new business started as a problem. He needed shuffleboard powder for his table, but the manufacturer would only sell the powder in large lots. Not having an option, he went ahead with the purchase and began selling the extra cans of powder on Ebay.
While monitoring his sales on Ebay, Charlie observed that other sellers were having more success packaging the powder in lots of six cans thus lowering shipping costs. He mimicked their strategy and lowered the retail price of his powder.
"Sometimes you don't need a great idea," Charlie said. "You can model someone else's and make it better."
One area where Charlie improved the business model was in shipping times. He recognized customers wanted their items quickly so he shipped the products with standard 2-3 day delivery. ZieglerWorld even trademarked the slogan "We ship Faster than Fast."
Gradually, Charlie shifted from Ebay and launched his own website. This allowed customers to contact him directly and express their needs. He found out that customers not only wanted powder, they also wanted shuffleboard puck weights, rule books, tournament charts and information on how to maintain their table.
Charlie quickly learned "Don't sell customers what you want to sell them -- sell customers what they need."
It became apparent that customer satisfaction would be the key to the continued growth of his company. He adopted the policy to accept all returns, no matter what the issue was. He aligned himself with reputable, highly respected manufacturers. He was proactive in utilizing social media connecting his company with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. He hired a web designer to keep ZieglerWorld’s site current, user friendly and a reference for all shuffleboard enthusiasts.
ZieglerWorld has grown from a home based business to an off-site facility with employees that are responsible for order fulfillment and inventory management. This allows Charlie to concentrate his efforts on marketing and product launches.
ZieglerWorld current product launch is their brand of shuffleboard weights. Where other manufacturers offer weights 2 or 3 colors, ZieglerWorld’s is manufacturing them in 11 colors so customers will be able to match their the color of favorite sport teams.
"Be prepared to work tirelessly for a few years to get your business up and running," Charlie said. "In my case, I needed to become an expert in Internet Marketing, Advertising, Manufacturing, Shipping and Warehousing. My degrees at Rider prepared me for the business world.”
While successful, Charlie knows ZieglerWorld is an ever changing business."You have to continue to review your business and be flexible when faced with adverse conditions," Charlie said. “There are no shortcuts if you want to run a successful business. You need to do have passion and drive to be a successful entrepreneur.”