The Jeez warehouse is a hive of activity: Robin talks on the phone while he walks through the aisles examining the goods. He picks out buckets of paint, covers and rollers with practised ease and loads them into the bright green Jeez Sprinter before he disappears into Darmstadt’s commuter traffic. Hardware stores are often located on the outskirts of town. This makes for a long drive, especially in major cities. Then there is the problem of navigating your way through the innumerable aisles while keeping an eye on the prices. This inspired Robin Lanzer to provide an alternative with his start-up. Jeez’s mission: to offer customers added-value for their interior design through advice and service while delivering high-quality articles at typical hardware store prices. The hardware store on wheels either drives to the customers at home or directly to the building site when visiting commercial customers.
Currently, the Jeez pros make deliveries to between eight and fifteen customers per day. Customers who already know what they want for their DIY project simply order their selection online via the website and arrange an appointment for the delivery. The van arrives with the right range of additional articles, based on the category. If the customer has forgotten anything, they can purchase any of 2000 articles directly from the van. “We not only carry customers’ buckets of paint up to the fifth floor but also all of the other articles that we have in our product range.” If customers also need advice in addition to the delivery, all they have to do is click on the pink button on the Jeez website to request a consultant. The consultants visit the customers at home, free of charge. “Our consulting service covers every area of work and all of the articles that we have in our product range – Thanks our Jeez experts’ training, their years of experience at hardware stores and their familiarity with the entire product spectrum.”
Jeez belongs to the category ‘Digital meets the real world’: We are digitally accessible at any time and from anywhere. But we visit our customers personally.
But how do you end up launching a mobile hardware store? “The main reason was that I have been involved in the hardware store sector since the beginning of my career.” Robin initially trained as a chemical laboratory technician. After then studying business administration, he completed an internship at a leading German paint manufacturer. He worked there in sales for many years. Eventually he thought: why not start a company with a paint truck offering all of the necessary accessories? The idea for his start-up was born. “Thanks to my position in sales, I had the necessary network which gave me the access needed to provide Jeez with a solid and sustainable start and expand the company step by step.” The concept ultimately developed into a mobile hardware store which he launched with two partners in 2016.
One thing sets Jeez apart: “We have a different relationship with customers because we are there on site.” The ability to imagine one’s own home while at the hardware store amounts to about 30 to 40%. On site, the Jeez experts can ensure just how a particular colour or tile would look in the customer’s own four walls. One thing often leads to the next, explains Robin: “The scope of orders based on trust is orders of magnitude higher than in a hardware store. The fact that we stock material and carry it all the way up is another service.” Yet even a sophisticated concept is not safe from initial difficulties. “You start from nothing and first have to establish a customer base. At the same time, you have to maintain staff and cover your operating costs.” Jeez currently has 10 employees and is growing: “We currently add another two employees every quarter. But it will definitely take another two or three years until I no longer have to worry at the end of each quarter because everything is finally running smoothly.”
A clear trend is currently developing in Europe, says the company’s founder: “The DIY market is transforming into a ‘do it for me’ market.” That is why Robin sees the greatest potential for generalists: a tradesman who is not an absolute specialist in a single field but rather serves as an all-rounder. “Customers simply want a solution. That is why we offer the Jeez Maker service.” Various subcontractors who work for Jeez cover all of the work areas in and around the house: from dry walling to landscaping, from roofing to painting. Sortimo’s portable click system enables the Jeez experts to travel with precisely the right products. They chose the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter because the click system from Sortimo best fits in the Sprinter. “And because we want to have a strong and reliable brand by our side.”
The Sortimo system provides a solid quality, protecting the goods and enabling us to transport them safely.
The businessman is convinced that a lot will change for tradesmen in the next 10 years. “I think that similar concepts to ours will follow in future. When major hardware stores begin to provide mobile service, this will essentially help us by strengthening our brand.” Where does Jeez want to be in the future? “In 20 years, we want to be active throughout Europe,” answers Robin without a pause to think. The vision: to offer the best service for people who want to create their own home. “We do not want to deliver products but rather complete solutions.” That is why customers should be able to select materials as modules, have them delivered and enjoy the benefits of a complete package if they wish. “That is why I regard the service and the total package as our mission and as far more important than the pure product delivery and the diversity that we have.” Robin’s phone rings again and it is time for the next delivery. He is off again.