The Birth of Daddy’s Deployed

I was recently asked to write a blog for SargesList about how I started this awesome little company. So here’s a modified version:

I read somewhere that most people have their “big” ideas while they’re doing something else: working, washing dishes, etc. Mine came to me while I was driving. But let’s start at the beginning.

We live 17 hours away from our families and the birth of my daughter was the first grandchild on my side, and the third on my husband’s. Both sets of families were equally as excited and planned immediate visits. Charlotte’s due date was February 16th, and I was convinced I was going to go early. Sweet Charlotte had other plans. By the 23rd my parents were floating in Asheville after a few days in Memphis, and waiting for the call. There was little room for flexibility as my in-laws were arriving the first week in March. Charlotte arrived early morning on the 25th, after a storm that was Shakespearean in nature (Shakespeare often used weather as an added character to set the scene, and this storm fits Charlotte’s personality exactly: strong).

Craig had 10 days off and they were eventful: my family arriving, then leaving, his family arriving, then leaving, and then his returning to work. I will never forget the look on his face when he came home from work that day. We knew they were leaving in a few weeks for a three-month long training exercise. What we didn’t know was that he was going advon, and would be leaving only a few days later. My heart sank. I held this tiny baby, crying, (me, not her) I called my mom who immediately flew back out and we drove to Illinois together. I drove almost the whole way (because I’m a control freak) and my mind ran wild with concern about how my daughter would know who her father was: he had just left for three months, he would return in May only to leave again for over a month in June/July, then deploy for seven months in the fall.

I thought to myself that a book would help. But not just any book. It would have to be her book. It needed to show our family, Craig’s uniform and looks, and it had to be good. I had many details worked out in my head by the time we got back to IL and I created a shotty business plan. My brother had just graduated from Harvard Business School about a year prior, and is a straight-shooter, so I knew he would tell me if I had a good idea. We had our first “meeting” on the living room floor of my parents house: my dad, my brother, and myself. I told him my idea and I could see the wheels turning in his mind. I then showed him my plan, as well as the research I had done. He finally spoke: “This is great. What if we could create an environment where every child was the star of the book…” and he started spouting off ideas and I typed so frantically, and quickly, thanking God my parents encouraged me to take a typing class in high school.

It wasn’t that easy though…and being a teacher, not a business major, I had to figure out a lot of things at a slower pace. I registered the name Daddy’s Deployed as an LLC and then started working with illustrators and graphic designers. It took about six months from concept to initial product, and we have changed the story several times since we started. At first there were less options, but we wanted to reach more families, so we perfected Mommy’s Deployed, added multiple children per book, options for family day outings (beach, zoo, park, etc), deploying venues, and the list continues on as our product is ever changing.

As we move forward and near year two (this August) of being an active company, I am always thinking of where we’re headed next. For DD/MD we are organizing corporate partnerships so that we can get our product into the tiny hands that desperately need it faster and cheaper, without compromising the quality. We’re currently in the planning stages on a product for teens, something extraordinarily near and dear to my heart, with my background in teaching high school English. Stay tuned!

 

 

An Open Letter to GMC

An Open Letter to GMC
I hope you will take a moment to read about my customer service experience today at Ultimate GMC in  Fredericksburg, Virginia.

I live in North Carolina, and had an event in Washington, DC last night. I drove out in our 2010 GMC Terrain without problem. I woke up early, at 0700, with an urgency to get back to my two-year-old daughter, as I hate being away from her, even for one night. I started my five and a half hour journey back in the sleet filled skies over I-95. I’m sure you can imagine my disappointment when I stopped for gas and smoke billowed out from under the hood. I assumed that this meant that the oil leak we had it in for service for the previous week had not been properly fixed, and I certainly did not intend to drive further.

I called our roadside assistance provider who informed me that we had 100 miles of towing available, and each mile past 100 would cost $4. I had about 400 miles of my trip left and even though I was an English teacher, I was able to calculate that we could not afford that tow. I thought quickly and searched for a nearby GMC dealership. Ultimate GMC in Fredericksburg was less than twenty miles away. I called there and explained to Dave, the service manager, what was happening. He told me to have the car towed there, and what ensued next will be forever known as the greatest customer service I have ever experienced. When my lovely tow truck driver, George, dropped me off, Mike from service greeted me by name and immediately had a team out getting our SUV down and into service.

Almost a decade as a Marine’s wife, I am not frazzled easily. And, even though I showed no emotion, it was as though Dave and Mike knew I was crushed to lose another day with my daughter. They checked in on me, provided me updates on the car, and had me back on the road within three hours. They never once acted as though I was an inconvenience (even though the waiting room was filled with people waiting for their cars) and they spoke to me with respect, something that is often rare in a male-dominated industry.

When Mike escorted me back to the front to settle the bill, he said, “I did have to charge you for the dye we used in the oil tank…” almost remorsefully. I shrugged it off until I went to pay the bill and saw that the dye was the ONLY thing I was charged for. There was no labor fee, no emergency car appointment fee, nothing. Only the dye. I was shocked. My uncle owns a GMC dealership back in Illinois, so I am used to great customer service there, but here was another story. I wasn’t anyone to these men, and being from out of town, it’s unlikely that I would be back for more service, or to purchase a car there. But I can tell you that I will never forget how full my heart felt driving away in my fixed car.

Often, people look at the business I own, serving military families, and my husband’s active duty status and thank us for our service. Mike and Dave from Ultimate GMC should be recognized for THEIR service. I literally cannot fill the pages with enough praise for these two men.

Thank you, Mike and Dave, from the bottom of my heart. You showed me that good still exists, and I promise I will promote your service and the mission at Ultimate GMC to anyone that will listen.

Bravo, GMC. This is what families need to see when deciding where to buy a car. I will never buy any brand other than GMC, based off of my experiences today alone.

Most sincerely,

Bridget Platt
CEO of Daddy’s Deployed, LLC