Hallandale Beach Blog -A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida and Europe, especially the UK and Sweden. In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura. Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Pictured in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A; September 2008 photo by me, South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

How plucky South Florida businessman Rob Raymond of Doctor's Toy Store used his humorous-but-hard-working personality to battle past adversity in a very competitive industry, and a city's bureaucratic avalanche of Red Tape, and got the last laugh. @drstoystore *SPONSORED POST*


How plucky South Florida businessman Rob Raymond of Doctor's Toy Store used his humorous-but-hard-working personality to battle past adversity in a very competitive industry, and a city's bureaucratic avalanche of Red Tape, and got the last laugh. 
@drstoystore *SPONSORED POST*

Over the past few years, I've taken time every so often to share with your a little bit about about my hard-working friend, Rob Raymond, Founder and CEO of Doctor’s Toy Store in Hallandale Beach. His very successful business continues to be Florida's largest Medical Showroom because of his team's combination of solid experienced professionalism and excellent customer service in giving doctors and health care practice groups the quality medical equipment they want at discount prices. 

It's no overstatement when I say that Rob is easily the hardest-working business person I've met the last 13 years in South Florida. It's not even close.

Today I'll be sharing a few anecdotes that illustrate how Rob's consistent inner-drive, sense of humor and unwillingness to sit quietly on the sidelines, are the very qualities that helps motivate him and his team more than any best-selling business book by a Harvard Business School professor or pricy weekend motivational seminar full of celebrities and best-selling authors at an upscale suburban hotel.




As I've remarked here in the past, any person who has lived for any amount of time in South Florida knows that finding a firm or business that consistently delivers good customer service is that rarest of qualities here, almost as rare as a unicorn. 
But whether at his old location on Hallandale Beach's Fashion Row or the past three-plus years at his much-larger Doctors Toy Store showroom off of I-95, everything has proven Rob's vision correct for how to run a successful business that treats both his customers and employees the correct way. 

When you deal with Rob and his team, you do not feel like you are in, well, frankly, frequently pushy and frustrating South Florida, where so many businesses take you for granted and act like they are doing you a favor by letting you come thru the door.
No, at DTS, you genuinely feel like you're being taken care of and fussed over by a longtime Midwestern family-owned business, one that sometimes seems to know you and your needs better than you do. 


Old and new clients are constantly calling or coming by, eager to see Rob and wander around the showroom like kids in a candy store, eager to see for themselves what’s new at the high-profile location with the giant American flag flying high and proudly above it.
I saw that for myself on a recent Friday afternoon visit, with customers from three different countries present, as well as far-flung Coral Gables, all seeing what's what, checking off their To Do list and mentally adding to their Future Must-Buy list.

In fact, I even saw a very successful doctor come in with his teenage daughter, a doctor who has been dealing with Rob ever since he started DTS because he liked the personal care, attention to detail and the great discount prices. What's not to like?

As always, Rob remains steadfast in seeing to it that his clients are satisfied and get what they want, now and in the future, in the way of cutting-edge medical equipment and devices at discount prices, with excellent follow-up maintenance and repair when needed. 

Nobody knows better than Rob that it's his 18 years of dedication to his clients, large and small, as well as his conscientious and intuitive nature, that has put him in the position of being the well-respected owner of the largest medical equipment showroom in Florida. 
But he doesn't take that fact for granted. 
In fact, that only serves to further motivate him to get better and more efficient. 

Rob is a very creative guy who's always thinking outside-the-box to improve his business. Always looking to make it easier for his team to do their job better. And as I can personally attest, inspiration strikes him everywhere.

Over the years that I've known him, whether from inside of his car while we were stuck in heavy traffic, inside of Hallandale Beach City Hall during breaks between City Commission meetings, or over coffee and bagels at local restaurants or relaxing in his beautiful nautical-themed backyard, I've heard Rob talk at length and in great detail about what he wanted to do with his business to help it expand. Not just bigger -better.

And as anyone who has ever heard Rob speak at Hallandale Beach City Hall during public meetings knows, Rob has not been shy about sharing his thoughts or advice for improving the Quality of Life in this part of South Florida for both businesses and residents alike. And in asking the city to treat and serve its residents and businesses much, much better than it has been.

Rob knew from experience that an important factor for the products he had was the buying experience itself. If you are physically present at the point-of-sale, have you received a positive experience that inspires confidence in your future buying decisions? 

But it's equally true that a high degree of a client's satisfaction comes from the quality/usability of the product itself and the degree of CONSISTENT quality customer service they receive after a purchase, including their trust in the quality of the repair work done by DTS's experienced professionals on-site. 
(And who doesn't prefer better and quicker?)

Again, for him, it wouldn't suffice to simply have a larger location, it had to be a location that was more efficient and offered a dynamic quality.

Rob's expansion dreams of just a few years ago, of being able to have doctors and other health care professionals come in from all over South Florida or the world, and be better able to see his medical equipment and devices in a much-more attractive, dynamic and more-natural fashion -with lots more space to walk around- has become a reality
And seeing is believing.


The Dr's Toy Store tour! https://youtu.be/XyC30eFDhgM



Whether approaching the north entrance to Doctor's Toy Store on S.W. 30th Avenue via Pembroke Road, I-95 Exit #19, above, or via Hallandale Beach Blvd., I-95 Exit #19, below, you can't miss the giant American flag!





History has proven Rob correct, as the DTS showroom off of I-95 has helped ensure even more positive word-of-mouth for DTS among existing clients, because nothing beats the power of positive personal recommendations from people that you know and respect. 
Rob was the friend in the industry that people always wanted to know, but never had before.

I recently spent part of an afternoon with Rob at Doctor's Toy Store, where he is a bundle of calm, focused energy on the telephone dealing with doctors. Focused like a laser beam!
But speaking to his clients not from some plush corner office, but rather surrounded by his employees near the entrance of the showroom, who, themselves, are constantly being phoned, emailed, faxed and DM'ed from every part of South Florida, the U.S. and overseas with orders and questions.

I spoke with Rob, not about his well-known talent for analyzing, diagnosing and fixing equipment problems for his demanding clients, but rather about some of the obstacles that were put in his way over the years, including fairly recently.
Perspective is a great thing, and one of the things that Rob related to me is how often it's been the case in his life that adversity and disappointment helped propel him and his business forward, often winding up far more successful than planned from the detour. 

But that is not to say that the feelings of disappointment and pain are brand new, they really sting.
Nobody wants to hear from someone that the negative things they are going to say or the negative decision about them, is actually a positive in disguise. 
But perspective is what helps you turn that lemon into lemonade, and that is something that Rob has consistently done.

Rob had related to me in the past that before he started DTS, he had been fired from a previous job, despite doing a very good job for his employer. But we soon got off onto another subject as we so frequently do when he and I are together, so I never got the full story.

But on our most recent visit, he said that the experience of being fired, despite his doing everything expected of him, really jarred him. 
So much so that it caused him to have a heart-to-heart conversation with himself about what he was going to do next.

He decided then and there that his personality being what it was, that what he needed to be was an entrepreneur, and not spend any more time being someone who was working 40 hours a week for someone else.
He also reasoned that this would benefit his very thorough and conscientious nature in dealing with customers.
He'd be able give them his best every time, including his knowledge of what was going on within the industry, and they would either like it and stay as customers, or they wouldn't.

But they wouldn't be able to say later that he hadn't offered great discount prices AND great customer service. But what he wouldn't have was any self-doubt, since he would now be his own boss. There'd be nobody to complain to anymore.

Rob started his medical equipment business with a very small, anonymous-looking building located on W. Dixie Highway in Hallandale Beach. 
Success was slow at first, but Rob's near-encyclopedic knowledge of medical equipment soon proved its worth, since within a few years, he had managed to get enough steady, reliable customers to be able to lease the high-profile location he enjoyed for so many years on the east side of NE 1st Avenue, the backbone of the city's once-vaunted Fashion Row district.

But being the ever-observant person that he is, Rob soon noticed that there was a clear and disturbing sense of inequity in the way that small businesses in Hallandale Beach were dealt with by City Hall, and more specifically, the city's Code Compliance Dept.
It seemed to matter more than it ought to whether or not you were a person or business that was deemed to be "friendly" with HB City Hall and the people running things there.

He soon learned from other area business people that many were getting cited and fined over all sorts of picayune things that had never before been a problem. 
So what had changed they wondered?
Nobody at HB City Hall would say.
So Rob started asking questions publicly and stating what was clear -the city had an inconsistent policy of enforcing their rules and yet the City Commission and City Manager were turning a blind eye to it.

Rob also noticed that based on the stories he was hearing, the city's Code Compliance employees often didn't seem to know the written rules of the city's handbook as well as he did, after looking them up to double-check the facts.
Even worse, he was hearing from too many business people he knew and trusted in the city that if you called the Code Compliance Dept., it was next-to-impossible to ever get any any two employees to agree on the answer to any problem you called up with.
That's how much Red Tape there was -the city's own bureaucracy didn't know their own rules.

Small business owners like Rob need a high degree of certainty to prosper, especially price/expense certainty, and in a small city, they also need to know that every other business is being treated the same by City Hall officials, regardless of that business' size or number of years it has been in the city.
Yet what Rob was learning was disturbing - that sense of normalcy you'd expect was simply not how things were being done in Hallandale Beach.
It seemed like someone, or several people, had an agenda they wanted to see become reality. But who?

And, he wondered when he and DTS were going to be publicly made an example of, like other neighboring businesses. He didn't have to wait long.

Sooner than he expected, but quite predictably in retrospect, Rob and his business started being told by the city that things that they had been allowed to do for years in the neighborhood were, now, suddenly wrong or illegal. 
Not that the city could actually point to anything written in their book of rules.

If you can believe it, they were actually cited because of how many of the store's nicely-designed trucks could be parked -in their own parking lot!
Really!

Over the years, I've heard Rob complain dozens of times about how large and indecipherable the city's Code Compliance handbook was.
But unlike some people who might just complain privately, Rob would show up and share his views at City Hall during City Commission meetings.
Like me and many of the civic activists and concerned citizens of this area, we were not going to be concerned about the feelings of city employees if they were going to be so self-evident about showing a clear bias in how they interpreted the city's own rules.
No, we were not going to just roll over.

Rob was often very amusing in his telling of the crazy tales that were the reality in the city, but it was always with the same caveat that the people on the dais could understand -businesses in Hallandale Beach could and would relocate if the city didn't get their act together and stop hounding businesses for no logical reason other than parochial politics or reasons of personalities.


If city employees were going to cite HB businesses for violations, they better be able to identify something written in the city's handbook.

Rob would often call me up late at night after getting home from a long day at the store and ask me, practically giddy, if I knew the story about what had happened at a particular area business, and hint at the nonsensical reasons being offered up by the city for citing them.

Sometimes he was so motivated for me to know about it -and perhaps mention it on my blog or in my well-known FYI emails around the area- that he would offer to drive me by the location to show me for myself what he was talking about and angry about. 
But at other times, he would simply send me emails with very clear photos that showed that the city was once again in the business of harassing businesses. 
Apparently, to send them a message.
It could not have been more obvious.

Like most of you reading this now, Rob and I both hate bullies, but we in particular hate it when those bullies are elected officials or highly-paid government bureaucrats -say, at Hallandale Beach City Hall- using taxpayer-paid government resources to do their personal bidding and enforce their's or someone else's personal agenda.

But as Rob knew at the time, but what many people at HB City Hall didn't quite appreciate,
was that many of the business owners were already at their wit's end, and really would make good on their threats to move out of town.
They hated the chaos, inconsistency, incompetence and sense of unfairness.

Over a period of a few short years, the City of Hallandale Beach, thru its troubled CRA and Board of Directors, promised business owners along Fashion Row that a series of initiatives would be taken that would improve both the flow and aesthetics of what was essentially a one-way street that was well below acceptable standards in terms of parking.
But for years the very business owners who had invested in the city on that street received nothing but lip service and double-talk from HB City Hall, and never got reasonable answers to their very reasonable questions.

Which is how it came to be one day in February of 2014 that Rob and I and several concerned business owners and residents in the area were among those in attendance for several public meetings involving the poorly-run Hallandale Beach CRA.
Meetings that we suspected would be more of the same old dog-and-pony shows we had seen in the past that were held to try to pacify the local businesses and area residents and try to keep the festering Fashion Row problems from getting into the media even more than it had.
But at the first meeting, held at 5 PM no less, Rob and I and everyone else saw for ourselves how bad things really were.
Much worse than we thought!

At that meeting, the then-new CRA Director made his first public appearance at a store located on the street near Rob's then-showroom to discuss what everyone thought would be an update on all the promises the city and CRA had made in the recent past.
Promises that local business owners were counting on the city to keep.

Yet rather than be open and accommodating as you might expect, eager to make a good first impression, the new CRA boss was patronizing and condescending to everyone there. 
At one point, this highly-paid bureaucrat even told all the people in the room that he "didn't work for them." Really!

Rob was sitting a few seats over from me and we just looked at each other in amazement and shook our heads.
After hearing something like that, it can only go downhill. 
It did!

Perhaps 35 minutes after he arrived with some other city bureaucrats in tow, the CRA boss fled the the meeting in a huff, the audience dumbfounded, after he was asked some perfectly reasonable but pointed questions, including from Rob and myself.
Even by the low standards of Hallandale Beach that we had become used to, it was a pretty shocking performance by a city official.

And what do you know, just a few days later, at a Hallandale Beach CRA meeting held on cool Monday night, a high-profile person who who is great friends with the powers-that-be at HB City Hall and who owns much of the properties in the immediate area, i.e. is a landlord for some struggling businesses, publicly denounced the city's promises of finally instituting their positive initiatives.

Hmmm.. that's odd. Why would someone who owns so much land there be in favor of more chaos instead of some long overdue attention, structure and improvement?
Could it be because he had some ideas for the area himself? Why, yes!.

The reality, largely unspoken in the room, but known to Rob, myself, our mutual friend Csaba Kulin and a few other people in the room, was that this man had purchased several homes and parcels in the area that he wanted to assemble.
And as the city's own public records clearly show, he had actually met with the HB City Manager, Mayor and members of the City Commission many more times than would be logical in a very short period of time immediately before that CRA meeting.

Well-informed people like Rob and I knew that this person's ultimate plan would be greatly harmed if the city actually improved the public street that had been an eyesore for so many years -because of how poorly it had been maintained and the lack of adequate public parking and street lighting, ruining several small retailers- because what this man wanted was panic by the area businesses, not resolve.

Rob and I knew that this businessman with the City Hall connections wanted the existing businesses along NE 1st Avenue to begin to panic at the prospect of seeing the city not keep their promise to spend money for improvements, and be forced to close, so the businessman could then swoop in and perhaps get the property himself at a greatly discounted price, perhaps to build a large development there.
What sort of way is this to run a city?

I hardly need tell you at this point that straight shooter Rob Raymond was not going to have any of this secret scheming by someone to make worse an area he cared about and wanted to see improve.

Rob spoke up then and has continued to speak up for local businesses in ways that other groups in the area should be but aren't.
And Rob has continually kept me up to date about what was going on below-the-radar on that street and in the city with respect to the city's plans for that area of the city which would greatly improve overnight when and if a Tri-Rail Coastal station is put anywhere in that area within walking distance.

It was these many, many broken promises by Hallandale Beach City Hall, this petty personal harassment from them, that Rob remembered when it came time for him to consider where to move his business when the time finally came for him to make his longtime dream of a much-larger medical showroom a reality.
A place with the size, proximity to I-95 and high-visibility he needed.

In the end, Rob left Hallandale Beach and moved west to next-door Pembroke Park, where they were happy to welcome his business into town, on the west side of I-95.
Literally, across the street from Hallandale Beach, but in attitude and behavior, a million miles away from the petty, bureaucratic Red Tape kingdom of Hallandale Beach. 

Old customers and new all love the convenience of being able to get in and out easily from I-95 and not having todeal with Hallandale Beach Blvd.'s notorious traffic.  
Once again, Rob Raymond gets the last laugh and continues to prosper at his new location!

Below: One of the 12-plus Doctor's Toy Store vans you can spot everyday throughout South Florida any major highway between Palm Beach and Homestead.











Above: Before finally heading home, Doctor's Toy Store owner and founder Rob Raymond checking his messages one last time.
As always, Rob adds a unique personal touch of insight and humor that nobody else can.

Rob's friendly outgoing personality, quick sense of humor and near-encyclopedic knowledge of medical equipment old and new is truly dazzling. 
That personality of his goes a long way towards explaining how over a period of just 18 years, he has TRIPLED the size of his old showroom, and is continuing to satisfy his clients demand for medical equipment at discount prices with conscientious, top-quality customer service. 
His clients know that they are his number-one priority.

Doctor's Toy Store
2512 S.W. 30th Avenue, Hallandale Beach, FL 33009
(954) 457-0075  1(877) DRS-TOYS

Follow @drstoystore https://twitter.com/drstoystore


Doctor's Toy Store YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/doctorstoystore

*DTS sells and repairs probes
*DTS has leasing and financing programs available
*Weekend and evening hours available by appointment
BUY   SELL   TRADE   REPAIR   EXPORT



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