Second generation boosts family business
Business: yousta Pty Ltd
Owners: Sam, Sally and Jill Jooste
Location: Revesby, NSW
Buying Group: CSS (Construction Supply Specialists)
The newly branded ‘yousta’ has undergone significant change recently, after the formerly named VIP Fastening Systems was taken over by one of its three directors, Sam Jooste. With the help of Sam’s daughters, Sally and Jill, the CSS member is now making a name for itself via its online channel, as well as instore.
Beginning as a small construction supplies business in 1994, Sam Jooste initially became associated with the store as a loyal customer, when he worked as a builder by trade. Several years later, Sam went on to complete a small amount of sales consulting for the business, before eventually buying into the business in 1996, when he became a Director.
The business grew strongly each year, mostly through word of mouth, and was eventually moved just around the corner in 2006, to a bigger warehouse where the store is currently located today.
When the business was first established as VIP Fastening Systems, it was true to its name and remained heavily focused on fastenings, according to current Store Director, Sally Jooste.
“Fastenings and sealants have always been a core part of the store’s range. However, over the years the business has diversified and now we have a full suite of construction supplies. So, categories like safety and personal protective equipment, as well as cleaning and hygiene have continued to grow and expand. I believe these products have mainly expanded due to customer demand. Many of our customers have made requests over the years to expand our range and now we are a one stop shop,” she said.
Just two years ago, Sam went on to purchase all shares of the business, buying out the other two directors. He then brought his marketing savvy daughters, Sally and Jill, onboard to help build the business online and in-store.
Since Sally and her sister Jill joined the business two years ago, their primary focus has been on ensuring the store’s systems and processes are on point.
“This is so we have a reputable business model platform in place that we can easily scale up in the near future,” Sally said.
Now that the store’s operations are sorted, the trio’s focus has started to shift to growth and the store’s recent rebrand was the logical first step, according to Sally.
“One of the key challenges with yousta’s previous business name, VIP Fastening Systems, was it was not unique. For instance, if a potential customer was to Google ‘VIP’, they certainly would not be finding us on the first page of their search. We wanted to build a brand that strengthens our message to our customers and makes us memorable. So, we knew it was time to reinvent ourselves a little,” she said.
“When we all sat down to discuss what was integral to our business and therefore our brand, it was obvious that our customers remain at the centre of everything we do. And that is how we came up with yousta – meaning screws, tools, adhesives, starting with you,” Sally said.
The primary colour of the new brand was also cleverly chosen as a bright orange colour, which is not only reminiscent of hi-vis workwear, but is also friendly and warm.
“Our logo is created from connected shapes, representing both our products and also the connections we form with our customers. The new yousta name is also the phonetic way of saying our surname Jooste, which makes our brand a bit of a tribute to Dad as well,” she said.
Building an online presence
While the store has always advanced and developed well due to its strong customer service foundation, Sally, Jill and Sam also believed it was time to implement a Click & Collect facility in-store, via the yousta.com.au website – a facility which is already proving to be highly popular with tradies.
“The aim of the Click & Collect program is to encourage pre-ordering, particularly from our trade customers. This will in-turn help us better manage demand because the Click & Collect orders do not require manual re-keying and can be sent straight through to the warehouse to be picked,” Sally said.
“With customer service remaining the foundation of our business, it is critical that we maintain our service levels in these new channels. We will do this by continually checking over our customers’ orders and making sure what they are buying makes sense. If, for example, we notice they have selected zinc rod and galvanized nuts, we will simply get in touch with the customer and confirm that this is their intended combination. Once we get some traction, we see ourselves setting up online chat too which will make the online buying experience even more seamless for our customers,” she said.
The online store was launched about a year ago, starting with the store’s top thousand products or so. From there, products have been added continuously allowing the website to build traction.
“The website has built momentum mostly due to its free same day delivery offering, which is available for Sydney orders over $150.00 placed by 8am. What is most surprising is that online demand has grown purely organically. We have not been promoting the website, as our focus has been on operations. This is why we feel there is real scope for growth, because we are finally shifting our focus to digital marketing,” Sally said.
When discussing how Sally and her family plan to grow and market the store over the next 12 months, Sally said they will continue to put a huge focus on inbound lead generation, “using the store’s eCommerce website as a key channel for driving growth.”
While Jill and Sally both have corporate backgrounds in strategic marketing, operations, and projects, the sisters have also worked in several management roles throughout a variety of businesses.
“We both have experience throughout an array of industries including everything from tourism and publishing, to finance and technology. What we have discovered is that while each industry has its nuances, the underlying business principles are fundamentally the same. This is why we have worked so well together so far, because the success formula driving each of us is structured in the same way,” she said.
While this success formula continues to drive the business both in-store and online, Sally also firmly believes that yousta continues to stand out from its competitors, because its opposition has limited personalised service as well as minimal online capabilities, according to Sally.
“Large trade suppliers who specialise in volume and B2B sales, often offer comprehensive product ranges and competitive bulk pricing, but they also have limited online and face-to-face service. Larger commercial suppliers also tend to either pre-qualify their customers before letting them buy online, or do not have an eCommerce site at all,” she said.
“When you look at small boutique suppliers who cater primarily to sole traders, they offer expertise and customer service, but lack buying power and warehouse space to carry a diverse range.”
“We occupy the middle ground. While our warehouse is large enough to stock what volume and B2B customers need, it is still local and personal enough to be responsive to individuals as well. On top of this, we also have our own drivers and vehicles, so we are able to offer same day delivery in Sydney. This is a huge part of our appeal as time poor tradies do not need to spend time away from their site sourcing supplies,” she said.
Although the store is only a small shop front, it is attached to a huge warehouse with thousands of products in stock and ready to order. With a good split of both independent tradies and larger construction business customers, Sally believes both customer bases have evolved substantially over the years due to the store’s high-quality customer service.
“With genuine personal service as our foundation, we have grown over the years entirely through word of mouth referrals from loyal customers,” she said.
Located just 22 kilometres from Sydney’s CBD, yousta services the whole of Sydney which has continued to boom, particularly within the construction sector, over the past few years.
“We have three main drivers assigned to each section of the city – an Eastern run, an Inner run and a Western run – with additional vehicles and staff to handle urgent requests. The market is starting to slow a little, so it is an ideal time for us to actively start promoting ourselves,” Sally said.
Growing alongside CSS
While the store has also been a part of the CSS (Construction Supply Specialists) Group since 2007, Sally believes being a part of CSS is the economy of scale that allows the store to precure products at the right price, so it can continually compete against larger operators.
“There is also the benefit of being linked to like-minded people who have faced similar challenges and can come together to share ideas and support each other. It really is a lovely group to be a part of,” she said.
Although Sally and Jill seem to have a firm grasp of how to grow and evolve the business into the future, Sally admits there will always be a need to call on their Dad for advice or an alternative viewpoint.
“Dad does enjoy being on the road, so he spends a fair bit of time out in the field checking in on our key clients. I think in the ideal world he will always do a little bit of that, but have plenty of his own time to spend on the golf course and with mum, who is already retired,” Sally said.
For now, however, Sally and Jill’s plan is to build yousta into a national brand, which could mean looking at acquiring a similar small business in another state.
“Who knows what the future holds – but for now, we are dreaming big,” Sally said.