Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Customer Feedback

I tell you, these kind of email just drive us wild!

"Dear [RelentlessImprovement],

[First] I wanted to say that I think the way you run your business is excellent. Your website is easy to navigate and easy to order off of and your ability to send orders out same day is amazing. The time you take to put together your thoughts on your blog is very helpful. I appreciate the effort you put into it.

"A Regular Customer""

We are building a smart, quality conscious clientele' that understands what we are trying to do (bring integrity to a sometimes shady market). Thank you for your support and repeat business!

What The Hell Are You Eating??

I had to get your attention with that screaming title.

This article from Harvard Magazine is blunt and eye-opening in how Americans are eating themselves sick. It is a must read for anybody that desires a more healthy life.

An excerpt:
"Take the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Guide Pyramid, first promulgated in 1992. The pyramid's diagram of dietary recommendations is a familiar sight on cereal boxes—hardly a coincidence, since the guidelines suggest six to 11 servings daily from the "bread, cereal, rice, and pasta" group. The USDA recommends eating more of these starches than any other category of food. Unfortunately, such starches are nearly all high-glycemic carbohydrates, which drive obesity, hyperinsulinemia, and Type II diabetes. "At best, the USDA pyramid offers wishy-washy, scientifically unfounded advice on an absolutely vital topic—what to eat," writes Willett in Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy. "At worst, the misinformation contributes to overweight, poor health, and unnecessary early deaths.""

"Note that the pyramid comes from the Department of Agriculture, not from an agency charged with promoting health, like the National Institutes of Health or the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The USDA essentially promotes and regulates commerce, and its pyramid (currently under revision; expect a new version in 2005) was the focus of intensive lobbying and political struggle by agribusinesses in the meat, sugar, dairy, and cereal industries, among others."

If you aren't giving critical thought to what you eat, you may be paying a heavy toll- our bodies are simply not designed by nature to deal with the crap that is marketed to us.


Friday, February 24, 2006

K2 Menatetrenone and Lithium Orotate Update

We have been out of Lithium Orotate and just sold out of K2 Menatetrenone. AOR has both on worldwide backorder. The good news is that we expect to have both back in stock within approx 2-3 weeks. As always, keep an eye on the product page to see when it comes off Sold Out status.

Thanks for your patience. These things happen.

Happy Friday!

Product Samples - A Customer Asks, Our Challenge...

One of RI's regular customers presented me with a suggestion this morning. As the question and issue has come up from other customers, I thought it appropriate to quote in a blog post. I removed his name for privacy.

"Hi Pete,

I had an idea for RI I thought I'd pass along to you. I was thinking about whether or not I wanted to order the Spin Traps before they come down, and it got me thinking about a marketing idea for you. My biggest obstacle in ordering them is that I have never tried them before. And as awesome (and I mean that in the most literal sense of the word) as your products have been for me, and as great as your recommendations have been, I still can't justify spending $90 (minimum) for a product I haven't tried. And of course there's the dilemma because I know that it probably is an incredible deal I won't be able to find again.

So, I was thinking maybe you should consider offering trial size packets on products for orders over $X (or some other qualifier). You could package 1-3 days worth of supplement for new customers and give people a taste for something they may not have tried otherwise. I realize this is too late to implement for the spin traps, but my decision making process spit out this idea this morning and I thought I'd pass it along. And please don't get me wrong, I'd never presume to tell someone how to run their business (and I'm NOT fishing for free samples), but I thought you'd be receptive to a friendly suggestion.

Be well,
"John Doe"

My response to him:

"Hi John Doe,

Thank you for your feedback, I value that! It is certainly taken in a positive light, no worries. Your idea is good and I appreciate the situation you present.

My challenge is this: Do I want product going out my door that is not in bottler provided safety sealed packaging? Spin Trap is the only exception on the whole RI site in that it is in double heat-sealed bags, but not in packaging from a bottler. Here at Relentless Improvement all of our products are encapsulated and bottled at FDA approved, cGMP bottlers. We do not have any product packaging capability on our premises.

This is also why we do not offer bulk bagged powders.

Furthermore, it opens a can of worms from a labeling, quality control and liability standpoint. In our litigious country, I have to confront those risks. Plus I must conform to FDA labeling requirements. It would be astronomically expensive to actually have samples professionally bottled or bagged. That is why we tend toward larger capsule count products: cost-effectiveness for our customers.

The fewer capsules go into a container, the higher the per capsule cost becomes.

Furthermore, every time we (or any business) have to touch a product it costs money from a time/labor standpoint. Do we invest in time and manpower to develop and implement a sample program? Will the return on investment justify that expense? A good question.

As a consumer myself (of course!) I certainly see your point and understand your desire to try before you buy. I just don't know as a businessman how to address it in proper fashion- maintain quantifiable quality assurance and cost effectiveness? Especially for non-RI branded products.

Keep the comments coming John Doe! This is such a good issue, I am using it on my blog today.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

R-PLUS Update

Expecting availability Monday or Tuesday for R-PLUS. Everyone will be thrilled to have it back in stock!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Lipoic Acid and Carnitine - An Anti-Aging Combination? See This Research.

Interesting stuff. Of course we are not rats, but this is more evidence that we are on to something with this particular combination.

"Oxidative stress-mediated macromolecular damage and dwindle in antioxidant status in aged rat brain regions: Role of l-carnitine and dl-alpha-lipoic acid.

Muthuswamy AD, Vedagiri K, Ganesan M, Chinnakannu P.

Department of Medical Biochemistry, Dr. AL. Mudaliar Post Graduate Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Madras, Taramani Campus, Chennai-600 113, India.

BACKGROUND: The free radical theory of aging has significant relevance in a number of age-related neurological disorders. Too many free radicals create cellular pollution that shuts down energy levels. They have also been implicated in the loss of physiological functioning associated with the aging of post mitotic cells such as the brain. The activities of enzymatic antioxidative defenses decrease in rat brain may be possible causes of age-associated increase in oxidative damage to macromolecules. METHODS: We determined whether dl-alpha-lipoic acid (100 mg/kg body weight/day), and l-carnitine (300 mg/kg body weight/day) together when administered for 30 days declines the rate of oxidative stress-mediated macromolecular damages such as lipid peroxidation (LPO), protein carbonyl (PCO) and DNA protein cross-links in different anatomic regions (cortex, striatum and hippocampus). The activities of antioxidant enzymes in programmed aging were evaluated in the cortex, striatum and hippocampus of young and aged rat brain regions. RESULTS: Aged rats elicited a significant decline in the antioxidant status and increase in LPO, PCO and DNA protein cross-links as compared to young rats in all the 3 brain regions. The increase in LPO, PCO and DNA protein cross-links were (35.8%, 35.6%, 43.5%) in cortex, (32.5%, 40.3%, 29.8%) in striatum and (62.7%, 42.4%, 34.9%) in hippocampus, respectively, in aged rats as compared to young rats. Co-supplementation of carnitine and lipoic acid was found to be effective in reducing brain regional LPO, PCO and DNA protein cross-links and in increasing the activities of enzymatic antioxidants in aged rats to near normalcy. CONCLUSION: The combination of l-carnitine and lipoic acid overcame the oxidative stress induced rate of lipid peroxidation, protein carbonyl formation, accumulation of DNA protein cross-links and deficits in antioxidant enzyme activities in various brain regions of aged rats."

I have never felt better in my life, and attribute that to my supplement foundation: GeroNova Research natural sustained release r-lipoics and GeroNova research Carnitine Plus.

Are you investing in yourself? Or are you taking that same old grocery store crap?

If you are reading this blog, you are probably investing!

Isn't it great? We help you find the cutting edge of efficacy and new research, and you reap the benefits.

Win/win if I ever saw it. The more you support Relentless Improvement with your orders, the more we can invest in bringing you amazing products. Send a few friends to us would you please? Send an email to a couple folks and let them know we can help them to feel better, stronger, younger, more energetic, more clear headed.


Friday, February 17, 2006

New Drug's Potential: Be Rested, Yet Not Sleep.

This article relates that:

"A new drug, called CX717, is being tested by Cortex Pharmaceuticals in California. The drug appears to help people maintain normal alertness, despite extended sleep deprivation."

"Tests on 11 rhesus monkeys showed that they were performing better after 36 hours of continual wakefulness than monkeys that had not been drugged were after normal sleep"

I must admit, I would love to try the stuff. Imagine what could be accomplished with a 24 hour waking day?

If by chance I have a Cortex reader, could you slip a "care package" in the mail to me please?

Happy (freaky) Friday

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Bilberry Grapeskin Extract - Special Sale Pricing. Eye and Retinal Support.

Bilberry Grapeskin Extract with a short expiry, 3/06.

I am blowing out for less than our cost: 40% off. Only eight five two bottles at this price SOLD OUT.

"Bilberry+Grapeskin is a standardized Swedish bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus, 25% anthocyanosides) and grapeskin polyphenol supplement. These flavonoid antioxidants support visual function. Anthocyanisides have a high affinity for the retinal-pigmented epithelium, where it retards the breakdown of retinal purple (rhodopsin). They also inhibit the excessive activity of phosphoglucomutase and glucose-6-phosphatase in the retina, and support microcirculation and the structure of retinal capillaries. Bilberry anthocyanosides also support veinous structure."

Grab 'em and growl.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Go Raw, Get Smart

This article in the UK Guardian presents new research, and yet more confirmation that diet plays a foundational role in cognition and mental health.

Here in the San Francisco Bay area, we are very lucky to have a number of raw food restaurants. I feel great after a raw meal, my body's way of thanking me for treating it well.

A quote:
"Where a person has nutritional deficiencies in their diet, they are given omega-3 fatty acids, multivitamins and mineral supplements. Those with poor diets are advised to reduce their intake of saturated fat and sugar."


Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Man Who Said No To Wal-Mart

I really enjoyed reading this article in Fast Company about a company president that chose quality and integrity over the Wal-Martizing of our society.

We share his view - there is a better way to run a business than enter the race to the bottom. And Relentless Improvement's race is a marathon, not a sprint.

There has never been a better time for business, especially a small business like ours, to leverage technology. Today 3 or 4 people can do what it took 20 people to do just 10 years ago. Our global marketplace has provided tremendous opportunity to source regional talents. Outsourcing (1099's) allows business to hire as needed for the task at hand without continuing payroll expense.

But to cut price, quality, integrity, growth and innovation is a path to business oblivion.

Cutting-edge, innovative suppliers must invest in research and development, modern equipment, testing and facilities. Without a profit, those things go away, and we wind up in the state our supplement market is in now - 95% of businesses trying to sell the same old shit ... just for a lower price.

(it is actually worse as testing routinely shows, what you are buying sometimes doesn't even contain the active ingredient you think it does! California went so far as to pass Prop 65 into law regulating toxin and heavy metal content of products because contamination was (is) such a problem.)

If you are a retail business, and I know some business owners read me, what one innovative thing have you done in the past month? Past 6 months? What have you done to differentiate yourself from the same old crap in the marketplace? What are you doing to add value to your customer's purchase experience? If all you know how to do is cut your profits, just shut your doors now. You are already dead. Seek out innovative suppliers, offer them value in your distribution and enjoy whatever niche you develop.

If you are a manufacturer, do yourself a huge favor, align yourself with smart, value-adding distributing retailers. Be choosy, and your product will be rewarded with professional and enthusiastic representation. The thinner you slice the pie for your distributors, the more you commoditise your products and the less value they can afford to build in. You lose, they lose.

If you are a customer, go where you find the best value. There is a happy medium between quality, purity, service, shipping, selection, the safety of your personal data, price, purchase experience and content. Real businesses have real expenses, if the price seems too good to be true, trust me that you are sacrificing quality and safety.

Not all of us want a world of Wal-Marts.

No more business philosophy rants for a while, I promise...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Supporting Suppliers

A super quick follow-up that dovetails into the previous post. After all, everything is a link in the chain. The chain of distribution.

We have a few core suppliers. We give them a lot of business. We give them a lot of money every month. You know what? I love it! I hope they make so much money from their relationship with Relentless Improvement that they can roll around in it. Why? Have I gone crazy? Did my business sense go out the window?


They provide high value to me and my customers.

And as long as they do that, they have my loyalty. And if the value they provide goes away, I am free to change suppliers at any time. It already has happened several times. It's business! I had no ill will, I didn't whine like a petulant child with an over-fed sense of entitlement. I moved forward, and sought solutions that met the needs of my customers.

You will notice I keep using the word value. Because if all I cared about, my single priority, was price- I could change suppliers tomorrow. We certainly are solicited enough. But price is way down my list. Quality, purity, integrity, availability, shipping, customer service, breadth of coverage, content; they all outweigh price.

See? It goes each direction. I seek to provide value to my customer, as my suppliers seek to provide it to me.

This is another way we are so much different from the warehouse supplements sites of the world. They seek 500 suppliers, milking the latest trend and fads. I will be quite happy with 5 of the very best suppliers in the world, and private labeling under the RI brand where it makes sense for my customers.

And we seek the clientele that appreciates us for that philosophy.

The AOR's and the GeroNova's and the Mera Pharmaceutical's, and the Therabiotic's of the world are unique, and we love 'em for it. Are they a buck or ten or twenty higher in price than some other suppliers? Sometimes (many times not!). But they earn every penny with the value they provide.

If you understand the concept of value vs price, we want to be your supplement partner. If we are not meeting your need, would you email me personally and let me know? Please include your name and where you are writing from, it's simple courtesy :-)

pete(the at symbol)relentlessimprovement.com

Different Kinds of Customers, Different Kinds Of Companies

We have a passionate customer base. I love it! Life is too short to be boring and not be the best that you can be.

But our customers are great in a different way too. They support our mission of building a better supplement business. They support a simple, secure purchase experience, superior quality, great customer service, and fair pricing.

They support, and indeed, are the mothers milk of our future growth. Because without repeat customers and the profits they generate, there is no growth, there is no improvement (Relentless or otherwise!), there are no new products, there is no testing. And the business eventually goes Pfffftt!

But we have one out of a thousand that is determined to force us to be what we will never be- the cheapest kids on the block. Or as I call it, leading the race to the bottom.

Not us. Never will be. Our race is to the top.

Adding value- that is our game. Providing a consistantly superb experience.

There are plenty of other shops willing to provide a different kind of purchase experience. A different standard of quality and service. Because no shoe fits all feet. Certain kinds of customers are happy to propel these businesses on their race to the bottom. And we say to them- glad you found a supplier that makes you happy.

This year we are looking at some ways to support those presently supporting us on our journey. I have a passel of ideas right now, but one thing is for sure, that it will involve a look-back analysis to identify those customers that made the greatest contribution of their support to our growth.

Stick with us (and we know who you are!). This year is going to be interesting.


Monday, February 06, 2006

AOR's New Products for the USA. Update

AOR advising the new products for the USA remain at least a month away. When they are available in the USA we will, as usual, have them first. Please do NOT email or call me asking why the wait. AOR releases stuff when they are ready is all I know.

This does NOT include Ortho-Methyl and AGE-Amadori who's fate hangs on the FDA's decision regarding pyridoxamine. Last I heard on this issue, a motion was filed to extend discovery for 6 months. My opinion- don't hold your breath, but keep your fingers crossed.

Please do NOT email or call me asking why a b vitamin derivative cannot legally be sold, call the FDA instead. I don't make the rules, but I have to play by them.

Oh, and dig up some old receipts where you bought pyridoxamine as a nutritional supplement prior to DSHEA. Yeah, that would be very helpful to everybody!


Sunday, February 05, 2006

International Shipping, Customs Delays. Some Thoughts and a Mini-Rant

The internet has brought us together as a people, but the stupidity of "countries" lives on.

I send orders all over the globe. It's kind of fun in fact, imagining my products going to Singapore, Turkey, Iceland, Brazil, New Zealand and a variety of tropical islands.

But that is tempered by wondering how motivated the local customs official will be when it comes time to pass the shipment along to my customer.

The majority breeze through in a few days. Others, well, they seem to languish in supplement purgatory. All the while, my poor customer is sweating bullets wondering if I ripped them off, the package fell out of the plane, or the local customs agent will decide to levy a 500% import tax.

The good news is that all of our international shipments are accounted for. Only one was rejected and returned by local customs. So our success rate is approx 99.999%. Total customers that have paid money and had nothing to show for it 0%.

But we never know, and have absolutely no way to guess how long customs clearance will take. Nor do we have any idea if your customs will levy some kind of local taxes on you.

Free trade is beneficial to all, but so many entrenched interests have their filthy, sticky little fingers in the pot, it bogs down what should be a quick and clean transaction. Want a better process? Well, you have to take that up with your local authorities.

In the meantime, keep those international orders coming in. We ship 98% of orders within 12 hours of receipt, can't ask for better than that.


Friday, February 03, 2006

SalmonEssentials Still on Sale. But- Ending Soon.

I still have our Salmon Essentials Omega-3 with AstaFactor astaxanthin on sale. This comes direct from Mera Pharmaceuticals in Hawaii who was featured on Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs" show.

Buy 4 or more and receive 25% off all four. That equates to buy 3 get a fourth one free. No limit, so if you want to buy eight, you still receive 25% off of all of them.

This is a unique product that offers the benefits of fish oil and astaxanthin in one capsule. The salmon oil is (of course) free of contaminants and heavy metals. The astaxanthin comes from Mera Pharmaceutical's own patented process.

Recommended dose is 3 capsules daily, but I am a big believer in the benefits of large doses of Omega-3 fish oils, so I take 6 daily. 3 AM and 3 PM, always with meals.


Thank You to Our Customers!

Thank You to Our Customers! We are graced with a fine base of customers, and I wanted to give you all a big hearty "Thank-You" in my blog.

Without your support and repeat business, we can't grow the offerings and quality. So many good things in the works, some within weeks, some later in the year.

Keep up the feedback- as you know I read every one of your emails.

Thanks for your support and trust!

Happy Friday