Richard Swartz, CEO
Best Advice: Run your business like a design project. Think about what’s next. Follow your passion.
Biggest Challenge: The seasonality of our business.
New ideas and innovations have helped century-old Mano Swartz stay relevant. Since its founding in 1889, the Lutherville, Maryland-based furrier has looked for ways to build customer loyalty and set itself apart from the competition.
Mano Swartz started the business upon immigrating to the United States from Hungary. Today, his great-grandson Richard Swartz runs the business. His wife, Debbie, and his son, David, are also involved in the company, which offers fur storage and fur coat makeovers—taking old furs and retooling them into more modern pieces.
Richard considers his grandfather, Jimmie Swartz, “a marketing genius” because at a time when it was not common to discount retail prices, he did. Jimmie offered customers a Veteran’s Day sale—giving a 10% discount to anyone who showed their military discharge papers.
Jimmie also understood that many potential customers did not have the disposable income to come into the shop and buy a fur outright, so he started his version of “consumer financing,” Richard said. “He would go with them to the bank and co-sign a loan.”
The practice built consumer loyalty and increased the store’s customer base. Mano Swartz II, the third generation to take the helm, moved the business forward by focusing on management and modernizing the store’s business practices, Richard said.
As the current CEO, Richard has concentrated on using technology to enhance the consumer experience and keep the business running smoothly. The company has a digital database of customer information that employees can easily access, which allows them to offer quality service. “We’re able process information very quickly,” he said. “If you call to tell us you need something, we are able to access your account very quickly and give you a detailed answer.”
Having the information readily available means that customers don’t hear “I don’t know” or “Let me get back to you,” which is important to Richard and his team.
He also works with Manta and relies on the advice of his Small Business Marketing Pro to stay up-to-date on digital marketing practices.
“He keeps me current on what the digital trends are,” Richard said of his Manta Marketing Pro. “He tells me what I’m missing or reinforces what I’m doing right” to optimize business listings and boost search rankings. “If people are looking for our products and services, how quickly do they find us?”
The company uses Instagram and Facebook to shares trends. Richard also invested in software that allows him to quickly communicate with vendors, cutting down the wait time on products.
Embracing technology and finding ways to improve the flow of business and customer experience is crucial to Mano Swartz’s continued success. “It’s absolutely critical that a business does not become complacent,” he said. “Finding new ways to do business is a critical function. It has to be because we are in an environment that is changing.”