Monday, September 20, 2010

What is Great Service?

Service...what is it and how do you quantify it?  Everyone says they focus on service, but we all know that is not true.

We all know bad service when we get it.  I guess it is like the famous definition of pornography -  you know it when you see it.  A good example was my morning coffee today at one of the the large chains.  The line was going out the door, while 4 staff members were standing around and waiting for one cashier who apparently could not ring up a small coffee.  Customers were asking if someone else could help, but no one was able to.

Why am I bringing this up?  Is it just to vent about my bad coffee experience or is there a real point here?  

Here is the point.  At MaxDelivery, I've tried to integrate service into everything we do. Our basic philosophy is that if we would not like a something done to us, we will not do it to others.  We try to apply the golden rule to our customers in any way that we can.

Our entire business is built around establishing a strong level of trust with our customers that we will get you the things you need right when you need it.  We know you don't want a credit for a broken egg, you want the eggs. So, we take extra care of every egg to keep them safe while we deliver.  And, if we ever DO have one broken in transit, we'll rush over replacements asap AND give you credit for the inconvenience.

It's basic courtesy.  Why do so many other companies ignore this basic level of courtesy and treat their customers so badly?

If you ever get service that is not up to your expectations, please let me know and ill get it fixed and make sure it does not recur. 

We are only successful if we can keep your trust and we will work hard to keep it everyday.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

MaxDelivery is ranked #82 in fastest growing retailers! - The Daily Resource for EntrepreneursThe new Inc fastest growing private company rankings came out for 2010 and we were listed as the 82nd best in the retail category (#1586).  You can see the link here:

Head on over there and mark us as your favorite and let's continue to spread the word so that we can move up the list next year!

Thank you to all of our fantastic customers who have made our success possible.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Introducing Sonny & Joe's Dips

We had a suggestion to add the hummus and dip line from Sonny and Joes.  We have some great options already, so I approached it skeptically, but, since they are also a local company in the city, we said we'd give it a try.

Wow.  It seems strange to say that about hummus and babaganoush, but we really have to say Wow.

Personally, I am a garlic fiend, so their Garlic Addiction Hummus drew my eye.  After one taste, I was sold.  You have to try this along with the Buffalo flavor, Galilee (w/olives), and Toasted Sesame.

Sonny & Joe’s® continues the tradition of handcrafted excellence that first began on pushcarts in the early 1900s. An emphasis on real ingredients belies the philosophy that the truest flavor comes from a focus on high quality. Today the recipes live on in Sonny & Joe’s® spreads, salads and more, prepared in micro batches for freshness, blending spices and ingredients from around the world.

Give them a try and let me know if you agree that they truly are a step above the other options.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Another Writeup About MaxSnack

It seems that we are succeeding in bringing some smiles to New Yorkers in these hot hazy days...or, maybe people just love free stuff.

New York Magazine Grub Street tried us out and seems to have liked it and passed it on.  We love that people are excited, but have been getting filled up on our snacks very quickly the past 2 days.  We apologize about that and are trying to expand the capacity to accommodate the large jump in people wanting free stuff.

Keep telling your friends about Super Max Snack and we hope we can keep people smiling!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

MaxSnack Continuing to Bring Smiles

Our new friends at tried out the Super Max Snack the other day.  You can see his writeup at  It seems to have brightened his day and we hope it starts brightening yours!

Help spread some cheer and spread the word about Super Max Snacks

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Billy's MeetUp Tonight

We're starting a new series of events to try to meet our customers and get some feedback or just to say hello.  One of the bad parts of our service is that we never get to see our customer's face to face and, while anonymity is often nice, it's also great to see the people involved and put some faces to the names.

The first in our line of meet-ups will be tonight at Billy's Bakery on Franklin Street between Broadway and Church.  We'll be there and have arranged for a Buy 1 Get 1 Free special for MaxDelivery fans who drop by.

This is your chance to tell us what you love and vent at us for what you don't in a fun, relaxing way, while enjoying a nice atmosphere in the bakery.  Also, you can meet some other fans and get a chance to get out.

We hope to see you there.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Reusable Bags

OK, it's time to toot my own horn on something.

Of all the things that we do well at MaxDelivery, the one that I am happiest about is the MaxReusable Bag Program.

Let me set the stage on this:

We had been in business for a few years and were doing well, but I was looking at thousands and thousands of plastic bags going out the door each week. These plastic bags were killing my green instincts - given the alternatives, they were the best choice for being eco-friendly (i.e. when you compare plastic bags to paper or (far worse) cardboard, plastic actually is better for the earth) - or, said another way, they are the least damaging to the environment. But, the plastic still was not in line with our eco-friendly goals and environmentally friendly service.

I wanted to do some kind of reusable bag, but exactly how do I ask you to bring your own bag when I am delivering it?  And, how do I encourage you to actually reuse the bag so I don't shift from one kind of bag to another with the same amount of waste?

Enter the MaxReusable Bag Program
The program concept is simple -
* We give you an option at checkout to choose to get your delivery in a MaxReusable bag instead of plastic bags.
* We take a small $1.50 deposit per bag on your "MaxDelivery" account for the bag so we can encourage them to be returned.
* With your next delivery, give the empty bags back to the delivery person and we fully refund the $1.50 charge.
* We reuse the bags for other customers and, as a result, have cut our plastic usage dramatically.

It surely seems simple, but, from what we can tell, we are one of the only places that has a similar program for delivery of products.  And, yes, it does make our operations a little more complex and is more costly for us, but given the benefits in terms of reduced waste, it is one of the programs over which I am most proud.

So, the next time you are walking down the street and see the piled cardboard boxes, shake your head sadly and think about how it could be done so much better if that company really made a commitment to the earth.  And, then go order MaxDelivery!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Credit Card Processors...

Running a business is a Sisyphean task. Everyday, there is another crisis to be dealt with and another item to toss on the bottom of the to-do list. For those of you who have never been an entrepreneur, do something easier, like inventing a perpetual motion machine.

Today's crisis du-jour deals with our credit card processing company. They recently tightened some of their underwriting rules for us requiring information from customers to match exactly for billing address and zip code.

This sounds like a no-brainer, except for one large issue. The way that the credit card network works is as follows (more extensive version here):
  • We send in our customer's information (card, name, etc).
  • They check if money is available and put a hold on the funds. They send back to us an approval code and a separate code indicating if the address matches.
  • If the card had funds and did not match the address, our processor then voids the authorization/hold.

Here is where the money wrench is thrown into the process. Many banks that issue debit cards don't do anything when they receive the "void" request and, instead, just let the transaction time out (usually a few days to a week). So, the transaction just "sits" out there, sucking up available balance from the customer's card until the bank deems it is ok to release it. And, to make it worse, the customer may then try 1 or 2 more times to try to get the address right.

Of course, customers look at their statement and see 3 charges from MaxDelivery when they only placed one order. And, naturally, they are upset at us thinking that we are trying to pull a fast one.  We can protest all we want that those authorizations NEVER can ever go to MaxDelivery, but the bank conveniently puts our name on the authorization, so the customers get upset at us.  And, to make it even better, all that we can do to fix the problem is call the customer's bank and beg them to please release the hold.

Today, we should be able to get this decision reversed by the card processor (I hope) by putting in place some physical controls if the address doesn't match (e.g. get a card swipe/imprint if the info does not match).  But, it's just another in an unending stream of tasks to be done if you care deeply about your customer's experience  - which I do.

So, for those of you aspiring business owners, please ensure your are a true masochist before you take the plunge.

Monday, July 12, 2010

SuperMaxSnacks - Wow

We knew that people liked free stuff, of course, but the response so far to our new MaxSnack program has been more than we expected. We apologize to those of you who got locked out by the demand over the weekend. We are looking for ways to increase the number per day, so please try again!

For those who have not tried it, please go ahead - it's a simple free snack, no strings attached.

We hope it brightens up your day a little. And, please tell your friends...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Singin' In the Rain

umbrella in stormNasty rainy days make my life miserable, just like everyone else.  The chances of catching a cab are about as good as winning the lottery.  The winds whip around in manhattan making mincemeat of any umbrella that you might try to use.  And, if you do manage to keep the umbrella in one piece, the cab that wouldn't pick you up drives by and splashes a puddle all over you.

But, as a business owner of a service that is just a lifesaver in the rain, I also LOVE the rain.  Nothing showcases the ultra convenience of our service better than ordering a movie, some popcorn, snacks and drinks during a thunderstorm.  When the MaxDelivery guy comes about 40 minutes later, it makes you feel just how great our service is and how much easier it makes your life.  The only tough part of these days is getting enough people to cover all the extra orders.

And, for those who have asked, our staff gets topline Colombia Outdoor rain gear to keep them dry (though on hot summer rainstorms, they may prefer to get wet to cool off) and we take it a little slower during the storms for safety.

So, the next time it is pouring outside, you can probably put the blame squarely on me and those rain dances/voodoo rituals that I have been performing to coax the thunderstorms to come...

Friday, July 09, 2010

It's Time To Spread Some Cheer

It's rough out there - the heat in the city, the economy, the oil spill, and the wars carry on. We at MaxDelivery asked ourselves - how can we make things better?

Enter Super Max Snack
We put together a program that allows you to get a pick-me-up for yourself or send some cheer to someone else in our delivery area, free of charge, and delivered instantly.  Our new SuperMaxSnack program allows anyone, whether they are a MaxDelivery customer or not, to send us their current location and we will rush over to them a snack, free of charge. (The wireless carriers insist that I say here that "standard data and message rates from your carrier may apply")

Everyone I've told about the program asks me 2 questions:

  • "So, you are going to take my information and spam me, right?" 
  • "What's the catch?"   
The answers, respectively, are:

  • We will only use the info provided to send you a snack - we just need enough information to find you and deliver the snack and, after we are done: we will not mail you, sms you, email you, or send a search party out after you.  About the only marketing you will get from this program will be a postcard included with the snack encouraging you to pass the word along.
  • There really is no catch.  We wanted to come up with a way to spread a little good cheer and, at the same time, show off our whiz-bang service.  We don't make any money off this.  We figured that we could give a small snack during some of our slower parts of the day and spread some good will.  That's all there is to it.
How does it work
We tried to make it as simple as we could.

Between the hours of 12PM and 5PM, from your cell phone, send an SMS message to our shortcode (32075) in the format:
SNACK your name, your address, zip code, any notes you want to send us

For example:
SNACK Max D., 51 White St Ground, 10013, call me on arrival

That's it.  We'll send a confirmation that we received it and another when we send it out to be delivered, giving you an estimated time.  After that, just sit back and enjoy the free stuff...and please pass it along.

There are some limitations, unfortunately, like a strict limit of 1/person and others.  You can find the full details at our web site.  

Try it out - there literally is no risk involved.   You can send it to yourself or to a friend (if sending to a friend, please make sure they are available at the address you specify at that time).  And, let us know what you think by posting to your/our facebook page, commenting here, or sending us an email

Let's spread some cheer!!  Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Too Darned Hot

The temp should cross 100 today, but it's much worse on the roads where the asphalt seems to be roughly the temperature of the sun.  As we move into the real summer heat this year, we will take our usual precautions to make sure that we get things there in a safe and reliable manner.

We love that MaxDelivery is not contributing to global warming with our bicycles, but we need our people to be pedaling those bikes.  On most days, it is not a problem, but things change when there is a 100 degree steamy day in Manhattan.  Riding a bike through the NY streets on days like today challenges your commitment to being environmentally friendly.  It's easy to choose to ride bicycles in 65 degree nice weather, but it's much more of a challenge to your eco-credentials when you need to find safe and effective ways to deliver in the sauna-like conditions you find out there today.

There is no debate that our delivery staff has a tough job, especially when the thermometer spikes.  Rest assured that we are doing all that we can to keep our staff healthy and safe in doing it - especially making sure they stay hydrated and move a little slower so as to not overexert themselves.

That goes for anyone biking on a day like today - make sure you slow it down just a bit and drink more water or sports drinks than you normally would - it's scary how fast this heat can cause problems if you don't pay attention.

Or, better yet, stay in today and let us brave the heat.  We'll still get you your items on time and in great condition - we'll just be moving a little more carefully today.

Friday, July 02, 2010

To Redesign or Not To Redesign

MaxDeliveryThat is the question, isn't it?

Over the years, MaxDelivery has grown dramatically in the scope of the products that we offer and our web site has been continually adjusted to meet the changing selection requested by our customers.  Every so often, we need to stop, however, and have some outsider look at the site with a critical eye to see if we want to overhaul it or continue tweaking it.  But, with all of the craziness of running this business, redesign always seems to be the major project that gets kicked down the road for "another day"

It's time!  I think we are finally going to take the plunge for doing an overhaul of the site.  We're working with a great firm, named to review the site, make recommendations for changing it, and take a holistic view of what we do and how we can make your shopping experience easier.  As we move through the process, I'll post up some of the ideas to get some feedback and just to keep everyone up to date on how we are proceeding.

In general, we are looking to streamline the flow, take advantage of some of the great features that we have that most of you have probably never seen because they are not prominent, and see where we want to add some new features.  Also, hopefully, we can jazz up the look a little to make it more visually appealing.

So, any ideas on what you hate (or like) about the current site?  Any cool or interesting features you want to see?  Feel free to leave a comment or email us.  Now is definitely the time.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Reminiscing about the "old days"

File:Kozmo.png I was looking at some recent posts and tweets from various people discussing with them wishing that the service would come back.  After I get past the obvious indignation that "we are Kozmo, only new and improved", I also reminisce about some of the good and bad of the dot-com craziness.

There was a lot to love about Kozmo when it launched.  Joe Park came up with an incredibly crazy idea that you could go into a dial-up world and get people order their entertainment products online and then deliver them immediately.  While we knew that everyone thought we were insane, we also knew that the service was amazing and was light years better than anything available elsewhere.  And so we forged forward with a crazy dream and a lot of moxie.

You probably all know the rest of the story from there (if you don't, i highly recommend renting E-Dreams for the best view inside the rise and fall of the dot-coms).  Lots of money tossed in, some incredibly cute marketing, a great service....and an eventual crash.

Sit Back, Let Max Deliver
I picked up the gauntlet about 5 years ago to try to recreate and improve upon the magic of kozmo, without the eventual fall that occurred.  When we started, it was an even crazier idea than when Kozmo did it.  After all, Kozmo had "proven" that you could not make a viable business of an instant delivery service and we were "destined to fail in 6 months"....that was 5 years ago...

MaxDelivery stuck as close as possible to the original vision of a service that makes your life easier, getting for you all the things that you need everyday and delivering them in under an hour.  We even kept the fees low (only a $2.95 delivery fee) and prices competitive with your supermarkets to make it easy to choose us for your daily life.

We didn't just copy the old service - we added to Kozmo's original dream by focusing the service on getting you everything you need for your everyday life.   My basic philosophy is "if you still have to put your shoes on and go downstairs, we did not do our job"  Did we succeed in recreating kozmo's magic?  Did we improve upon it?  Let me know what you think.

I DO miss those commercials with the guy getting shot out of a cannon, though!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Fun Life of Small Businesses

I was reading an article today about one of our Best of New York partners, Jacques Torres Chocolates.  We've been working with Jacques for a long time and think the world of their chocolates - high end, gourmet chocolates, made right here in NYC.

The gist of this article is that Jacques was being sued by Hershey's because his "Champagne Kiss" truffles were some kind of infringment on "Hershey's Kisses"  First, as you can see below, the Champagne Kiss looks NOTHING like a hershey's kiss.
Hershey’s Tells Jacques Torres to ‘Kiss’ His Champagne Bonbons Good-bye     

Second, for anyone who has tasted the 2 of these chocolates, there would never be any confusion between the smooth silky flavor of Jacques chocolates and the .... (to be polite) somewhat less impressive taste of a Hershey's kiss.  Jacques would not be interested in copying their name and associating himself with chocolate that is, most would agree, inferior in quality and taste.

Just another day as a small business person trying to make a superior product and satisfy your customers.  You have to deal constantly with these small nuisances which have nothing to do with making your customers happy.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Eileens is back in stock!

EileensWe've got Eileen's Cheesecakes back in stock.

We're expanding the selection of the personal sized cheesecakes to all of their flavors. The only thing wrong with them is that they are killing my ability to watch my weight. The popularity of the cheesecakes has been amazing, so apparently I am not the only one having my waistline ruined by Eileen.

**Also, look for a new announcement coming soon about a fun new program by MaxDelivery. I'm tired of all the gloom and doom in the world these days and, while I can't actually make the problems in the Gulf better, we're going to try to bring some smiles to people over the next few months.

First Entry

People have suggested that we start a blog to muse over the vagaries of our unique service, along with announcing new and interesting things going on at I'll try to keep the commercialization aspect of the posting to a minimum and focus more on events and happenings in running a small and fairly unique business, but I'll spend a few minutes here going over what the company is (for those 98% of you who have never heard of us).

What is MaxDelivery?
MaxDelivery is an online store that has everything you need, delivered to your door in under an hour. At its heart, it's a simple proposition - save people from running to 3-4 local stores to pick up groceries, wine, drugstore items, etc and let them get some of their life back. Do it all for them in less time than it would take to do it themselves - less than an hour for all deliveries. On top of that, we are able to do it at prices competitive with the supermarket and with a low delivery fee ($2.95). So, in my opinion (and those of our customers), we are the best thing since sliced bread (and yes, we carry sliced bread and fresh-baked loafs too!)

Who am I?
My name is Chris Siragusa, the founder of the company. I started this business about 5 years ago in an attempt to create a service that I personally found more convenient than going to the local deli. No offense meant to the next-day supermarket services, but scheduling my grocery delivery for 2 hour windows 2 days from now just never seemed convenient to me - it was more like scheduling the cable-guy for service. I've built the service with the express goal of being able to live my entire life without having to set foot in a supermarket again (haven't had to go to one in about 3 years now!) and with enabling my ability to be lazy while avoiding take out food every night.

What will this blog be about?
Now that the basic marketing spin has been done, this blog will mostly focus on the day to day issues that come up with a service such as ours. I expect there will be some amusing anecdotes about ordering that we get periodically, some discussions about new products and things we are adding, and some discussions about running a small business in New York. Hopefully, there will be some feedback and comments to make this a little bit of a 2 way street, but we'll see how that goes if we can get some entertaining content going.

Welcome to the blog and thanks for reading.