Probably you have come across the comfortable Dr. Batz slippers, shoes in shops, malls. The surprise is that Dr. Batz is not a foreign orthopaedist but a former IBS student, Zoltán Kárpáti. Newsdesk went to Pomáz to ask him about his business success.
All these began with your IBS dissertation paper. What was it about?
My paper was about marketing and branding a special product, Dr. Batz slippers. But I need to begin my story earlier. When I finished my IBS studies in 2002, I already had been in the “business”. My parents were working in the shoe business and they regularly expected me to participate in the family work. I was given a small van and a key of a depot, saying, “Here you are, dear son, try to sell these shoes in the countryside.” And I did. I knocked on the door of shoe shops, introduced the products, and the shops ordered some of them. 30 days later I went back to collect the money and take more orders. At the time I was around 18. In the course of all this I noticed that there were some seasonal dynamics, ups and downs of certain products. For some reason slippers were especially well selling around Christmas time. I thought that we should focus on slippers only. Overall this was a good experience for me, I could learn a lot about the world of trading and business. But I also felt that this knowledge should be developed further, I just knew that I wanted to learn and study and get a business diploma. So, I decided to go to IBS, where I had a friend who studied there. I was accepted to IBS, but while I was studying I was still involved in several other things. I am proud that I always covered my own tuition fee which even back then was something. I had a great experience at IBS, I have great memories of those years but I must admit it was also tough.
Dr. Batz is a very good name, one cannot really tell where it comes from, definitely does not sound like Hungarian, neither is it obvious what it means. Was the name part of your strategy? In an earlier interview you were reluctant to tell the meaning of it. Would you tell it now?
“Batz” as the name of our firm already existed. It is a mosaic word from the initials of my mother’s, sister’s, father’s and my name, Babi, Annamária, Tibor, Zoltán. When it came to decide my diploma work topic, it was not a question for me, “Branding in the light of Dr. Batz slippers.” I have thought that it would be a good strategy to add “Dr” to the name, and thus signal that we are into healthy products, slippers constructed in an anatomically conscious way, comfortable and help to prevent foot problems. What I worked out in my dissertation became our strategy. It is not enough to be good. I learnt a lot at IBS, and I knew that besides that the product is good, and it has an appropriate and attractive price, something special should be added. I wanted to make a high quality Hungarian product and I though it should also be displayed in a special way. Let’s put it onto special stands, with a special light, right at the entrance of a shop to attract attention immediately as one enters a shop. This was a big difference compared to the unfavourable places of hidden shelves where slippers were generally located. We also gave the shops everything on consignment. This allowed us to define and strongly recommend a maximum price and not letting shops go beyond that. We could insist on this as the shops did not have any risks. It was also a new and unique feature that Dr. Batz products could be ordered in individual sizes, this was a new practice as shops always had to buy a sortiment package, even if they just ran out of one size. These were the basic principles, which actually have not changed much, of course now have nicer and better stands with LCD monitors and leds, etc. I have tried to go abroad and have the parts and the work done in the Far-East. But even though the price of work was much less, actually the total costs were half of the Hungarian ones, the quality they produced was not on the level of the Hungarian producers’.
How many people do work for you?
I have been giving work for more than 300 people for 11 years. I am very proud that all the works are done in Hungary. The insoles are made in Hungary and we have connections with innovative up-coming firms.
In an interview in 2007 you said that your export was 10 % of your overall trade that you intended to triple in a year with the help of your young colleagues? Did you triple the volume of your export?
Yes we did, however I must admit that probably I overvalued the capacity of my young colleagues. So I did it with another team.
How do you choose your team?
I must admit that I do it through my family and through friends of friends of friends. Also, the situation has been turned and now my family members work for me and not the other way. I have one person whom I absolutely trust, who is the brand manager, Zsuzsa Héjas, whom I sort of have been ”convincing” for years, to come to work from me and quit her former employer, to our great advantage. Throughout these years I myself had to learn to dare to delegate work which leaves me more time for my own developing, learning, and being creative. I go to exhibitions, watch the trends.
Do you follow the trends and the latest developments because you think of your future expansion, development as well?
Yes, of course. Actually, we have several new inventions and technologies. I think our next jump will be implementing a new technology with which we will be able to map and measure individual feet and prepare individualized insoles accordingly. Did you know that your footprint is as individual as your fingerprint? You step onto a pressure plate, and the structure of your foot, ankle, all details can be studied. You should also answer a few questions that show up on a touch screen, and we can prepare your individual insole by evaluating the picture and the answers. We bought a whole set of know-how from Italy. Two years ago I though it would take 3-4 months to develop the whole system and begin the production. We are still not done. It demands a serious transformation within the company. We still have a lot to do, and it will be minimum half a year from now that the slippers with these insoles can be tested and sold in selected shops. We will be able to produce individual insoles that can be put into any type of shoes. This will be a system that can make a breakthrough and can be competitive internationally as well.