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INSIDE JUNE 2014
in each issue 04. NAHFA President’s Message 06. From Your Editor 10. Retailer2Retailer/Inspired Reading 11. Connections Meet Your Membership Team 28. Fresh Perspectives Don’t Overlook Younger Employees
30. Product Focus Outdoor/Casual Furniture 34. Community Today Business Fundamentals 59. Government Relations We’re Making Sausages 60. The Scoop 62. Industry Calendar 64. The NOW List
12. NAHFA’s Retailers of the Year 18. Retail Voice Start Working ON Your Business 20. Merchandising Simply Irresistible 22. NGN Member Spotlight Alex Macias 48. High Point Wrap Up
departments Sales & Marketing
36. In with the NEW Means OUT with the OLD First 40. Getting More Bang for Your Small Bucks 50. Stop Selling on Price 55. The Transformation of Shopping & Marketing Technology
08. TechNOW 32. Retail Wi-Fi 39. Business Fundamentals: The Three Cs 44. Are You Invisible Online? Membership
57. The Power of Your Logo 61. Networking News Operations
25. How to Work Events Like a Pro
43. Always Carry Protection 52. Getting—and Using—Employee Feedback
JUNE | 2014
thePlayers What we are so passionate about. . .
To have the courage to pursue purposeful dialogues that challenge conventional thinking, to engage and entertain our readers by delivering content that creates a fervent following ready to change the landscape of our industry. RetailerNOW is the magazine for today’s home furnishings professional. Developed for a specialized community, RetailerNOW brings a unique editorial focus on progressive and relevant issues concerning the home furnishings industry in the retailer’s voice, with a focus on issues impacting retailers NOW.
Published by the North American Home Furnishings Association 500 Giuseppe Court, Suite Six, Roseville, CA 95678 800.422.3778 • retailernowmag.com RetailerNOW Staff
Lisa Casinger Editorial Director lisac@retailerNOWmag.com
Sharron Bradley CEO NAHFA sbradley@NAHFA.org
Robert Bell Editor robert@retailerNOWmag.com
Mary Frye EVP NAHFA mfrye@NAHFA.org
Lisa Tilley Creative Director lisa@retailerNOWmag.com
Michelle Nygaard Sales Executive michelle@retailerNOWmag.com
Mailing – Editorial and Advertising 500 Giuseppe Ct., Suite 6
Cindi Williams Business Development cindi@retailerNOWmag.com
Roseville CA 95678 Online: retailerNOWmag.com Phone: Editorial: (800) 422-3778 Advertising: (800) 422-3778 Social: Facebook.com/retailerNOW
Retail Advisory Team Carol Bell Contents Interiors Tucson, AZ
Travis Garrish Forma Furniture Fort Collins, CO Rick Howard Sklar Furnishings Boca Raton, FL
Subscription: $70/year RetailerNOW, ISSN# 2166-5249, is published monthly (except March and December) by the North American Home Furnishings Association, 500 Giuseppe Court, Ste 6, Roseville, CA 95678. Application to Mail at the Periodicals Postage Prices is Pending at Roseville, CA and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Please address changes to: RetailerNOW, The North American Home Furnishings Association, 500 Giuseppe Court, Ste 6, Roseville CA 95678. If you would like to stop receiving RetailerNOW, please send an email to unsubscribe@retailerNOWmag.com. If you would like to only receive an electronic version of RetailerNOW, please send an email to gogreen@retailerNOWmag.com. © 2012 North American Home Furnishings Association. Published by the North American Home Furnishings Association. Material herein may not be reproduced, copied or reprinted without prior written consent of the publisher. Acceptance of advertising or indication of sponsorship does not imply endorsement of publisher or the North American Home Furnishings Association. The views expressed in this publication may not reflect those of the publisher, editor or the North American Home Furnishings Association, and North American Retail Services Corp. Content herein is for general information only; readers are encouraged to consult their own attorney, accountant, tax expert and other professionals for specific advice before taking any action.
JUNE | 2014
Kaprice Crawford Membership Team Leader kcrawford@NAHFA.org Jordan Boyst jboyst@NAHFA.org Michael Hill mhill@NAHFA.org Eric Malone emalone@NAHFA.org Jana Sutherland jsutherland@NAHFA.org Dianne Therry dtherry@NAHFA.org Please call (800) 422-3778 for all membership inquires.
Mike Luna Pedigo’s Furniture Livingston TX Andrew Tepperman Tepperman's Windsor, ON Contributors Kaprice Crawford, Sheryl DeVore, Regina Dinning, Kevin Doran, Brooke Feldman, Jeff Giagnocavo, Philip M. Gutsell, Megy Karydes, Doug Knorr, Sue Masaracchia-Roberts, Mona Nigam, Connie Post, Sydnee Seites, Dava Stewart, Marc Wayshak
FIND US everywhere
President's Message President’s
from the president
Have You Veered Off Course? Pat and I currently live on the east coast of Florida in beautiful Boca Raton. I grew up on Lake St. Clair in a little town outside of Windsor, Ontario and became a boater early in my life. This turned into a wonderful passion that has taken our family through the Great Lakes, the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas and the Florida Keys. We remain keen boaters today. On our first ocean passage, we traveled from Ft. Lauderdale bound for Bimini. Much careful pre-planning and study was undertaken as I knew the Gulf Stream to be an incredible body of water worthy of great respect. I made my plan, checked it twice, examined the engines, topped the fuel, bought Bimini guide books, and checked for a good weather window. We set off with our family and friends on a beautiful morning blessed with a fine forecast for calm seas. Slowly the land disappeared below the horizon. We ran into large long swells, but the sea surface remained calm. As the hours rolled by I became anxious to see land. Bimini is basically only a few feet above sea level and not visible until you are on top of it. By my calculations, we should have been there by this time. I checked the radar and saw a radio tower well to our south. Was that Bimini? Straining through the binoculars it became clear we’d missed Bimini; but how could that be? I had planned meticulously but, here we were miles north of our intended destination. I made the appropriate adjustments and finally arrived in Bimini.
Rick Howard NAHFA President
We’d arrived, but not as I had planned. I learned my mistake while talking to a fellow captain who had made many Gulf Stream crossings. My plans did not take into consideration the seven-knot northern current that pushed the Gulf Stream on its journey. My captain’s skills took a decidedly embarrassing hit. Experience comes from doing, and I vowed never to make that mistake again.
Setting up a business is not unlike planning an ocean passage. Even with the most meticulous plans we may be swept off course, many times gently enough that we don’t realize how far off course we really are until we arrive at our destination. Running our businesses on a daily basis often takes our eyes off the compass and we miss our objectives. Big businesses check their numbers monthly and prepare board or executive reports on all of the vital signs of the business. But in our businesses, how many of us know if we are on budget? Are our plans tracking correctly and are our cash flow projections holding true? Do we have major upcoming commitments? How will we cope with new issues that pop up? We need action plans and we need to monitor and update those plans regularly. We can’t lose sight of our destinations, but we can’t always manage everything on our own. Surround yourself with professionals who can help you run your business. Work with an accountant to construct your budget; monitor your progress and make adjustments where necessary as the year moves forward. Tap into experts in technology or operations or sales—wherever you might need a little added help to get back on course. Plans are just that, plans. Many times they need to be changed because of new realities. Do you know when you’re drifting? Do you recognize when serious discrepancies pop up and do you drill down to find the root cause? It is only through knowledge that we find solutions. Join a peer or performance group to help you learn what you don’t know and work out issues with committed friends who are in like businesses. This can be a fabulous eye opener. You can learn industry best practices and become a better owner or manager because of the experience. Get involved in NAHFA events—conference, regional events, seminars in our Retailer Resource Centers—all are wonderful resources to help in your business. Connect with other members to help you learn what you don’t know and work out issues with committed friends who are in like businesses. You can learn industry best practices and become a better owner or manager because of the experience. If you’re here with us in Phoenix at the Home Furnishings Networking Conference, join me in making the most of it. We’re here to help you navigate the rough waters.
Rick Howard 4
JUNE | 2014
FIND US everywhere
from your editor
ou never forget your first time. Even now, all these years later, I still remember mine. It was 1997. Jenny was warm and friendly with a smile that could melt an iceberg. She was responsive and attentive. After only a few minutes she knew exactly what we wanted. That’s right, “we.” Marcia, my wife, was part of the mix. Now might be a good time to mention I’m talking about furniture. Specifically, the first time I ever invested in some.
Marcia, born and raised in North Carolina, had her heart set on the furniture of another Tar Heel, Bob Timberlake. That was the easy part. The hard part was narrowing it down to a few dozen pieces. That’s where Jenny came in. She listened to us as we told her what we were looking for. She asked questions when we seemed confused. She even dropped us a hand-written note (ahh, life before email) encouraging us to look at other furniture lines to make sure we knew what we wanted. Looking back, Jenny was a saint: patient but probing, helpful but never too pushy. She knew when to hold our hand and when to step back. We came in looking for one piece and left with four: his and her dressers along with a pair of nightstands. She was that good. I hadn’t thought about Jenny in years – not until last month when NAHFA graciously offered me the editor position to RetailerNOW. I don’t need to tell you the retail furniture industry has changed since 1997.
Robert Bell Editor RetailerNOW
What I will tell you is our industry needs more Jennys. We need more home furnishing professionals who stand out among the masses, who know the same-old marketing resigns them to the same-old results. We need more innovators and risk-takers, agents of change and leaders. Hey, I get it. That’s asking a lot. The good news is you’re not in this alone.
Over the coming months you’re going to see a lot of changes to RetailerNOW. More stories about our ever-changing, never-a-dullmoment industry. More stories about home furnishing professionals embracing those changes. More stories about you. In short, we want to make RetailerNOW’s magazine and website even more relevant to you and your livelihood. Now here’s the rub: As good as our staff is – and at first glance they’re pretty good – we can’t do this alone. RetailerNOW is your magazine, your voice. Have an idea for a story? Pick up the phone. Want to know more about an issue? Shoot me an email. Good or bad, I want to hear from you. I spent 23 years as a newspaper reporter. The past two years I taught English and writing to middle school students. And now I’m your editor. Two things have held constant all these years. For starters, Marcia and I still have that Bob Timberlake furniture. It has a few dings and scratches, but after 17 years who doesn’t? My new job? It’s a lot like my old jobs. My mission is to inspire you to be more than you think you can be. Speaking of missions, the first time I picked up a copy of RetailerNOW I was impressed with our mission statement. You can find it on page 2 of this edition, but I’ll save you the trip: To have the courage to pursue purposeful dialogues that challenge conventional thinking, to engage and entertain our readers by delivering content that creates a fervent following ready to change the landscape of our industry. Wow. Is it possible to raise the bar on such lofty endeavors? I don’t know, but we’re going to try. Let’s get started.
Robert Bell email@example.com | (916) 757-1169 6
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What technology are you using in your store? Let us know at robert@retailerNOWmag.com!
WHAT WE'RE WATCHING
Visual Product Search Slyce is a Toronto-based startup that is pioneering visual search technology. Imagine a customer taking a picture with their smart phone of a love seat in a magazine and then being linked to a retailer—you—selling that exact love seat or one very similar. Image recognition shopping hasn’t improved since Amazon introduced this feature with Amazon Flow in 2011, which began as a separate app and is now integrated into its main mobile app. While Flow was a major milestone for image recognition shopping, the technology as employed by Amazon is limited to products in their original packaging. Slyce does not have this limitation. It is designed to identify products wherever they exist in the physical world. Once an item is scanned, consumers can instantly purchase online or be directed to the nearest retail location. Founded in 2012, Slyce has raised a total $14.5 million in funding at the time of this writing, and plans to accrue upwards of $10 million in additional funding by mid-summer. The company has partnered with six of the top 20 retailers in North America for live testing, but has yet to reveal any further information on active pilot integrations. Slyce already has the early mover advantage in this space, and seeks to defend this with enough bank to scale through hiring and acquisitions. Clearly it’s still too early to call, but watch out, Amazon.
The new North American Home Furnishings Association app. Now, even when you’re on the go, you can: Connect with resources to grow your business Stay up to date with association news Save money through your member benefits DOWNLOAD IT FOR FREE AT NAHFA.ORG/MYAPP USE THE APP SCAN THIS PAGE TO SEE VIDEO ON HOW MYMAIL APP WORKS
Scan everywhere you see this symbol for augmented experiences. 8
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myMail Email—it’s the first thing we check when we wake up and the last thing we see before we call it a night. myMail seeks to help you tame the inbox beast. Personally, I believe in using stock operating system (OS) features whenever possible. It’s usually the best practice for maximizing integration with all the other features of the OS. But myMail offers functionality that just might make me ditch iOS Mail. “The smart app for power users,” myMail manages more accounts than any other third-party mail app. The best part of this app looks to be the image integration—opening attached photos easily. Free; Android & iOS Circa Long news articles and small screens just don't play well together. Circa solves that problem by condensing the news and making it much easier to read while on-the-go. Named an App Store Best of 2013, Circa lets the news work for you. You choose what kind of breaking news you want, not just by category but also by major storyline, and Circa will send you a notification as events occur. Free; Android & iOS Pro-Tip: Free App Friday Check in on Fast Company’s Free App Friday (fastcompany.com/tag/free-app-friday) at the end of your workweek. Each Friday, the popular business media brand authors a post with five free apps that are at the top of their class for whatever service or functionality they provide. As all things go in the tech world, there is no guarantee on how long the apps featured will be free, so don’t wait too long to take them for a test run! NAHFA APP It’s the ultimate companion for home furnishings retailers who are looking to sell more, make more and keep more. Our app brings you events, updates, and news from NAHFA, key articles from RetailerNOW and full in-app access to nahfa.org and retailernowmag.com. Free; Android & iOS
Grant Laidlaw VP of Sales Eric Clarke President
Locations: Puyallup, WA Mira Loma, CA • Morganton, NC Fax: 828-764-4461 • Phone: 855-208-6377 Email: sales@NWFXpress.com Please contact Grant Laidlaw VP Sales at 778-549-3188 or firstname.lastname@example.org to review your transportation needs.
The Northwest Furniture Transportation Leader
Do you carry outdoor furniture or are you considering it? If so, why? Raymond Hargroder, Olinde’s Furniture, Baton Rouge, Louisiana Last year was our first selling outdoor furniture. Several members of our buying group, FMG, got into the category a couple of years ago so we went ahead and dove in head first. We networked with Miskelly Furniture and HOM, they both have a big presence in outdoor and they steered me in the right direction. By the time I went to the International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market in Chicago I had a better idea of what to look for. Outdoor has been very successful for us—we sold six containers last year between two stores. It’s just additional business. Outdoor is one of the fastest growing categories in the furniture industry. We sell in the medium-, upper-medium price range, which is our customer base.
Andy Thornton, LaDifference International Furnishings, Richmond, Virginia We have carried outdoor as a category for years but it has always been a marginal category. This past year we have made a concerted effort to expand the presence of outdoor in the store and ramped up our advertising/marketing. Seems to be working as our outdoor business is up 200% this year. We are finding for us that people are looking at the higher end product that differentiates from mainline stores or discounters. Top and bottom: Outdoor displays at Olinde’s Furniture.
Mattress Margins—77 Quick & Easy Strategies to Thrive Inspired Reading: Mega in Today’s Economy, by Ben McClure & Jeff Giagnocavo
Before you read the word mattress in the title and presume this business not IN your business. Some section headings may go book isn’t for you—think again. Mega Mattress Margins authors, against conventional thinking—Raise Your Prices, Take All Ben and Jeff, happen to have a mattress store in Lancaster, Forms of Payment, Stand Out in the Yellow Pages—but Ben Pennsylvania—Gardner’s Mattress & More—but this quick- and Jeff make them work. and-easy read is applicable to anyone, in any business. Ben and Jeff have taken what they’ve learned about marketing a business You’ll make notes in this book, dog-ear the pages, and use it as and turned it into a phenomenal how-to. a To Do list. Ben and Doug have been featured in SUCCESS magazine, on Fox Business News, in Sleep Savvy, and acclaimed The book is broken down into three sections—must dos, should marketing books. They’ve had double-digit yearly growth; their dos, and will dos. It’s that simple. At first glance some of the average mattress tickets are in excess of $2,700. Their ideas information may sound like common sense—work ON your work. 10
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MEET YOUR NAHFA MEMBERSHIP TEAM
Membership Team Leader Kaprice Crawford email@example.com Roseville, CA
Membership Team Eric Malone firstname.lastname@example.org Roseville, CA Service Coverage Ext. 104
(800) 422-3778 Ext. 102
Membership Team Jordan Boyst email@example.com High Point, NC Service Coverage Ext. 301
Membership Team Mike Hill firstname.lastname@example.org Roseville, CA
Membership Team Dianne Therry email@example.com High Point, NC
Membership Team Jana Sutherland firstname.lastname@example.org Dallas, TX
Service Coverage Ext. 302
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JUNE | 2014
Retailer of the Year
The Numbers Year Founded: Olinde & Sons Company was founded in rural south Louisiana in Pointe Coupee Parish in 1886 by Beauregard Olinde, Tom Olinde’s great grandfather. Number of Stores: 12 stores; two Olinde’s Furniture Stores; two Olinde’s Mattress Superstores; eight Ashley Furniture HomeStores and six parish beverage distributorships. Locations: Olinde’s footprint covers south Louisiana from the Mississippi border to the Texas border with stores in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, New Orleans, Lake Charles, Houma, Opelousas, The North Shore, Central, Baker, Denham Springs, and Gonzales. Employees: There are about 400 employees between Olinde’s Furniture and Baton Rouge Beer Agency; 300-320 work on the furniture side of the business. 12
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Retailer of the Year
OLINDE’S FURNITURE BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA
ike many multi-generational retailers, Tom Olinde grew up working in the family business. This year Olinde’s Furniture is the NAHFA Retailer of the Year winner among stores with more than $10 million in annual sales. When the company was founded nearly 130 years ago it was a general store selling everything from farm implements and overalls to beer and porch rockers. Tom went off to college and studied journalism with the idea of becoming a writer. He graduated, and in the summer of ’77 (the year Elvis died) he enrolled in an MBA program.
“We’ve been blessed over the last 50 years to be consistently profitable,” he said. “Much of the credit goes to our dedicated associates. We have many 20 and 30 year employees. In our 100+ years, we’ve had around a dozen 50-year associates.”
“My father asked me to work at the store between semesters in the credit department,” Tom said. “I was taking MBA classes at night, working in the store, and about a month later I ended up also going through General Electric’s retail curriculum; we were big appliance dealers at the time.” All of this culminated with Tom officially joining the family business.
Despite the retailer’s success, hiring remains a challenge. “There used to be sort of a truism in business—when the economy is soft it’s easier to hire people. Right now the economy isn’t great and it’s hard to hire, specifically Millenials.”
He never did pursue that writing career. Instead he took on more responsibilities in the family business. He started doing contract furniture sales to motels, the state of Louisiana, and the city of Baton Rouge. He was also in charge of buying electronics and helping out with the advertising, eventually working in just about every area of the company. Though he doesn’t get to spend as much time on them as he’d like, Tom still enjoys coming up with promotions and ways to drive traffic. “I was very fortunate to back into a family business that had a need,” Tom said. “My Dad had put us on firm financial footing so it’s been enjoyable.” Tom’s father, J.B. Olinde, is a World War II combat vet and was a practicing attorney before he took up the reins of the family business from his dad, Humphrey Olinde. “I enjoyed working with my dad,” Tom said. “We worked together for about 33-34 years. He’s in his 90s now and he just stopped coming in every day about 3-4 years ago.” Today Olinde’s is comprised of 12 stores; two Olinde’s Furniture Stores; two Olinde’s Mattress Superstores; eight Ashley Furniture HomeStores and a sister company, Baton Rouge Beer Agency (which is run by Tom’s brother Beau). While Tom acknowledges his own strong work ethic, he credits his father and employees with Olinde’s success. “My father was a very hard worker and he’s very bright,” Tom said. “He taught us that it’s the persistent ones who do well in retail, not necessarily the smartest, because you will get knocked off your high horse. But if you stay on task, have good character, build a good team and illicit help from your staff, you’ll succeed.”
Olinde’s is probably one of the few retailers with a successful profit sharing plan—it’s been in place since the 1960s. “Many of our long-term associates have retired with a comfortable nest egg,” Tom said.
Another challenge is foot traffic. “As a regional player, it’s difficult to get a handle on what works advertising-wise,” Tom said. “Traditional methods don’t necessarily generate foot traffic and, like everyone else, we’re trying to figure out social media and how to remain relevant.” The business landscape has changed as well. Tom’s seen mom-andpop stores gradually go away. As a long-time active member of NAHFA and its predecessor, he acknowledges that there used to be more association members because there were more retailers. Today, the traditional furniture store is just one of myriad ways consumers can buy furniture—there are “online retailers, sheltertype stores, appliance stores, Costco, and mattress stores popping up everywhere” he says. Regardless of the challenges, Tom says the best thing about the home furnishings industry is that it’s a “people industry. For all intents and purposes it’s still a cottage industry; the first retailer and wholesaler just crossed the billion-dollar threshold about 15 years ago. Our story is not that unique in our business—there are a lot of reps and manufacturers who are also multi-generation. Relationship selling is still important.” Being an active member of NAHFA and other industry and community groups is important to Tom. “The opportunity to network, support the industry, learn best ideas, and meet people is invaluable,” he said. “The weird thing about the furniture industry is that, once you’ve been in it long enough, you know someone in every state. You see them every year, often only at markets or industry events.” The best piece of advice he could give would be to listen. “There’s a reason God gave you two ears and one mouth,” he said. “You have to be aware of what’s going on; if you stay with a certain business model for too long it will cause your downfall. Be willing to reinvent and change.”
JUNE | 2014
Retailer of the Year
HARKNESS FURNITURE TACOMA, WASHINGTON
f you happened to live in Tacoma, Washington in recent years, you could easily spot Dave Harkness at his children’s softball games or diving meets. He was the dad rooting from the bleachers while signing company checks. That’s not to say Dave feels a slave to his job – running Harkness Furniture, Tacoma’s oldest retail furniture store. Indeed, just the opposite.
“I love the furniture business,” says Dave, NAHFA’s 2014 Retailer of the Year winner among stores with under $10 million in sales. “Some people choose their profession. I’ve always felt I was born into mine. I enjoy every day at the store and look forward to going into work each morning. I’d rather watch a sporting event on TV while working on my inventory report than just watch the game.” Dave is a third-generation owner of Harkness Furniture, taking over in 1987 shortly after his father died. As legend has it, the family store began in 1920 when Dave’s grandfather, James Harkness, went door-to-door offering to clean area rugs. If the rug needed cleaning, Dave’s grandfather would roll it up, throw it over his shoulder and hop the next streetcar back to his shop. If the customer needed a new rug, all the better, James thought. He gladly offered to weave a new one. Looking back, there was never any doubt Dave would end up in the family business. He worked in the store’s warehouse through high school and college. Even at home there was no escaping the furniture business. His parents, Jim and Dorothy, were friends with all the other furniture store owners in Tacoma. “We talked furniture at parties, family holidays and regularly on an everyday basis,” he recalls. “It was just in my blood.” Today Harkness Furniture’s 55,000-square-foot showroom is a Tacoma fixture. For decades, loyal customers routinely drive past larger chains to get to Harkness Furniture.
Dave recalls one storewide meeting in which he reminded his employees that Harkness Furniture is a family business – not just because it is owned by a family, but also because he views the company’s associates as part of his extended family. “Afterwards,” Dave recalls, “a warehouseman came over and put his arm around my shoulder and said, ‘How about an increase in my allowance, Dad?’ ” Like any good father, Dave knew just what to say: “Go ask your mother.” As many furniture retailers know all too well, running a family business can eat away at your time and, if you’re not careful, money. Twenty-seven years ago, when Dave was thrust into the store’s top position after his father’s passing, he was careful not to take on too much responsibility. Instead, he pored over the company books, analyzed the business and tried to figure out what he wanted to do that would motivate him in the years to come.
Dave has a theory on his customers’ loyalty. “Our primary goal, which is part of our mission statement, is to exceed the customer’s That self-reflection led to an epiphany of sorts. “I found expectations by providing superior service and value,” he says. “We what I had a passion for was the buying and overall mancan’t and don’t want to under price our competition, but we can agement,” he says. “I am an obsessive numbers guy with and do want to out serve them. Our goal is not to just make a sale, an accounting background. I love looking at financials but to make customers for life.” and doing the buying for the store.” That commitment to service extends to the company’s 27 employees, too. Dave believes the key to running any successful business – furniture, bakery, restaurant – starts with how management treats its employees. “I treat all associates with respect and don’t ask from them anything I wouldn’t do,” he says. “I, in turn, expect them to treat our customers with the same respect.” 14
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Dave hired others – “people much smarter than I am,” he admits – to handle the work he either didn’t have the skill set for or interest in, skills such as sales management and customer service. The result? Harkness Furniture has enjoyed a net profit every year since Dave took over in 1987.
Retailer of the Year
“It is very important to be financially successful since we support 27 families,” Dave says. “The more successful our operation is, the more resources we have to share.” Those resources aren’t limited to Dave’s family and employees. Harkness Furniture routinely tithes from its net profits. The company generously gives back to the city where Dave’s grandfather started the business – from Tacoma’s Boys and Girls Club to the city’s rescue mission and various food banks. The store also supports international charities in India and Mexico. “Giving back to the community is my main motivation at this point in my life and career,” Dave says. “I would hope our family legacy would be that our store has allowed us to make our community and the world a better place.” Dave has been an active member of the NAHFA and its predecessors the past 25 years. He encourages others to join and those who are already members to become more active. “Participation in the NAHFA is a privilege and the least we can do to better the industry that supports us,” he says. “I’ve always looked at (being an active NAHFA member) as my opportunity to give back to the industry. My parents and others have always helped me out over the years. That what being part of (NAHFA) is about – helping others.”
The Numbers Year Founded: Harkness Furniture was founded in 1920 by James Harkness, Dave Harkness’ grandfather. Number of Stores: 1 Location: Tacoma, Washington Employees: 27
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Pacific Furniture Dealers congratulate the Harkness Family and their team for being selected as the North American Home Furnishings Retailer of the Year. The Harkness Family was one of the founding members of PFD in 1968 and have been leaders and active supporters for 46 years. PFD is proud that NAHFA has chosen to honor one of our own for this very deserving honor.
Way to go Dave, Cyndi and Kellen!
2014 RETAILERS OF THE YEAR
Dave & Cyndi Harkness
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Start Working ON Your Business, Not Just IN It By Jeff Giagnocavo
Family, friends, and vendors often ask, “What is the number one thing that drives success in your business?”
My point of all this is that your number one fundamental is to work ON your business not IN your business. You are not a furniture or mattress storeowner, you are the chief marketer of a furniture or mattress store.
The chief marketer of a business does not spend all their time on the sales floor—a salesperson does that. The chief marketer does The answer is easily found in my offices, both at home and at not labor over expense reports, line items and spreadsheets—an work. Anyone visiting my offices will see tons of books. Along accountant or outsourced assistant does that. The chief marketer with reports, home study courses, business CDs, DVDs, busi- does not deliver the merchandise the store sells, a delivery team ness magazines, newsletters (I subscribe to seven of them), and does that. audio recordings. Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not implying you should The answer to their question always comes down to one disregard expenses, have fast and loose accounting practices and word—marketing. outsource your deliveries. I am saying that you should have someone else doing that for you. This issue is about busiYou should have systems, ness fundamentals and if people, and practices in you are aware of my busiplace to help run your business, Gardner’s Mattress ness. And yes, expense and & More, owned by myself operations discussions are and business partner Ben worthy of your attention, McClure, you already just not your daily focus. know that we are the anti-mattress store. Contrarian. Different in most every aspect. What requires your daily focus and attention is the marketing of your business. Here is an example from real life of why not being My goal each and every day is to make sure I am working ON the the chief marketer of your business is dangerous. business and not IN the business. For me this is a cliché, for you, maybe not so much. As I wrote this article, I was at an industry A local pizza shop I frequent is great, and over time I got to know event where the attendees and promoter were discussing the the owner, Alex. Alex noticed that I was on my own schedule, not implementation of performance groups comprised of operators like his usual 40-hour work week customers, and learned about me all at the same level of operations and business volume. and what I do. As time went on he asked me to have lunch with him and we discussed different ways to help his business. While I love accountability and masterminding (I am currently spending $15,000 this year as a part of a mastermind group) with My number one suggestion was to offer a pizza club, complete with a group of like-minded business owners, I despise the elementary a member’s card, and a dedicated ordering line for members only, level of performance groups. Here you discuss expenses, best complete with red carpet and velvet rope. I would pay for that level practices and look for ways to reduce expenses. of service and a large number of his other customers would too. I challenged the organizer by asking who will be the rising tide when all the other waves never break the shore. Who will be the “leader” in the group by which every other member is challenged to ascend to and do better than? Aren’t expense reduction conversations finite? And, unless you expect zero service and support, there is a bottom to be found with service providers like insurance, credit card processing, and internet hosting.
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On the first of every month his bank account could be filled with membership dues and upon further discussion we realized this would cover 90 percent of operating expenses! Imagine being as fortunate as to have our bank accounts fill on the first of every month without having to sell a single piece of furniture or bedding! (By the way, I am in the beginning stages of implementing a membership program in our business so stay tuned.)
In the end, Alex did nothing with the ideas discussed over lunch. I’ve continued to frequent his business but I see him there, folding pizza boxes, cooking pizza and manning the cash register. I have noticed that the lines aren’t as long as they used to be, and the food quality is going south. At some point I, and many others, will no longer be customers. Alex is in the mindset of, “If I could just get my boxes cheaper I’ll save X, and if I can get staff to work for $8 instead of $10, I’ll save Y.” He should be focusing on how he can fill his bank account on the first of every month without making a single pizza. But that requires time to work ON the business, he is stuck IN his business.
Jeff's recommended reading list to help you begin working ON your business. I recommend any of the Dan Kennedy NO B.S. series of books, Perry Marshall’s 80/20 Sales and Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More, Roy Williams’ The Wizard of Ads, Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, and while self-serving I know, my book Mega Mattress Margins. All of these can be found easily and at your door in about two days via Amazon.
So where are you? Are you chief marketer? Are you IN your business too much? I urge you to get out of your business and get out of your own way. Start scheduling time to work ON your business. Do this away from the store or you will be sucked back into the business. Start small, get up an hour early and take the time to think about how you will market your business in new and exciting ways. The time is there, it’s just your time is spent IN your business and not ON your business. So go ahead and give yourself a promotion to chief marketer! Jeff Giagnocavo is co-owner of Gardner’s Mattress & More, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, co-founder of Mega Mattress Margins (www.MegaMattressMargins.com), and he regularly speaks at industry events on successful retail strategies.
Simply I Irresistible By Connie Post
n the May issue I encouraged you to focus on the first and last impression that customers experience when they visit your store. Hopefully, you’ve already begun revamping and are ready for what’s next!
Every so often, a song hits the airwaves and sets off a cultural phenomenon, and in the relentless winter we just endured, Pharrel Williams’ song “Happy” set the world in motion. As they used to say on American Bandstand, that song “has got a beat you can dance to.” But I think there’s something more to the overwhelming popularity of that irresistible tune. Williams tapped into the cultural climate of our times, times when people are searching for joy, peace, and beauty in their lives.
Why else would they be shopping your furniture store? Seriously folks, the women who walk through your doors—your potential customers—are on a journey, looking for something beautiful to fall in love with and take home. This means that to be a winner in today’s marketplace, your store must speak her visual language. My book, A Beautiful Room Will Change Your Life, said it all: Psychologically speaking, purchasing products to decorate a home is little different than the hope we purchase at the department store make-up counter. We’re all chasing beauty, and our outlooks are improved—yes, we’re happy!—when we feel beautiful, wear beautiful, listen to beautiful, and surround ourselves with beautiful.
So what’s beautiful? Poets have had a field day with this one for centuries, so I’ll skip the philosophical arguments and break it down for you. You’ll find the answer while waiting to pay for your groceries at the supermarket. Some smart merchant figured out that the best place to position magazines for sale was the eye-level rack at the check-out line, and if you have the slightest doubt about what your customers are attracted to now, I encourage you to put a few shelter publications in your cart.
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Beautiful rooms abound on the magazine covers, along with catchy phrases like “Cheery and Bright: Have Fun with Blue and White” (the May issue of Country Living). No wonder that blue, the color 47 percent of the populace would choose as their “favorite” color, made the cover. If blue is the favorite color of nearly half the population, it would make sense to put your best foot forward and lead with blue after you’ve flat-out wowed them in the first 1,000 square feet of your store. Paint a wall blue! Create a blue-themed vignette, and capture her visually and emotionally with blue accessories. Flip a little further through the May Country Living, and you’ll find the blues keep on coming, blue sofas, blue rugs, even stair steps painted blue. Incidentally, if it’s been a while since you’ve picked up the magazine, you’ll be surprised by how country is defined today. Modern chevron patterns, or as some designers today like to call it, zig-zag, greet you on the cover, and the publication’s pages are full of headings like, “Family Fun, Who Says Decorating Needs to be Serious?” We need to be serious about decorating our stores if we hope to capture and hold her attention, and color—on product, on walls, or on the floors—is essential to ensuring your store reads modern, and yes, beautiful. So, walk past your first 1,000 square feet and take a long, hard look at what customers see after the initial excitement of your entry. If you’re faced with a sea of beige and brown, jazz up the presentation with pops of color. Yes, 50 to 60 percent of your upholstery sales will still be made in neutral covers, but the point is you’ll make those sales if you super-charge your overall presentation with visually pleasing color.
Whose Lifestyle Is It Anyway?
Next lesson: If you spend any time at all watching HGTV (and if not, why not?), you will learn quite a lot about the expectations of today’s home buyers. It doesn’t matter whether the budget is $189,000 or $890,000, everyone wants wood floors, stainless steel appliances, double sinks, walk-in-closets and wait for it, wait for it…an open floor plan in the kitchen, breakfast, living and dining areas. What’s the take-away for you in terms of presentation? Your store needs to show plenty of lifestyle-driven settings that include the rooms I just called out, in which every single piece works together seamlessly. In other words, to appeal to the modern customer bent on happiness and beauty, you need to focus on sight lines, specifically removing any walls that intrude upon her ability to see down the middle of the store when she’s facing toward the rear of your showroom. By the way, when I say modern customer, I don’t mean young. I use that label to refer to someone who is educated and savvy and who understands what they want and don’t want. And one thing they don’t want is to shop an outdated store. So open up your presentation and create floor plans that mirror the layouts of today’s homes.
Trust me, it will be a beautiful thing and beauty is simply irresistible! Retail design strategist, trend expert, author, and idea merchant Connie Post has nearly 30 years of experience in the home furnishings industry and is responsible for the look of more than 18 million square feet of retail and wholesale space around the globe. Connie is also a speaker, columnist, and a founding member of WithIt (Women in the Home Industries Today). Email her at conniepost@ conniepost.com.
Scan this page with your NAFHA app to watch a short video on essentials for bedroom and dining display. Don’t have the app? See page 8!
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USE THE NAHFA APP— SCAN THIS PAGE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT NEXT GEN NOW
Getting to know Alex Macias Vice President Del Sol Furniture Phoenix, AZ
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Alex plays just as hard as he works
How did you come into the home furnishings industry? Alex: I joined our family business in 2007. Back then I didn’t have
a title. I guess you could say I was in charge of doing everything no one else wanted to do, or didn’t know how to do. Before 2007 I had worked in several areas of the business—cashier, deliveries, sales, and I eventually got into buying. I’m currently the vice president and oversee all operations related to the retail part of our business.
What changes have you seen in the industry? Alex: With only seven years in the industry and really only three
actively participating in industry events, it’s hard to say. Everyone has told me it was a blessing that I joined the industry during the recession because it taught a valuable lesson: There are ups and downs and you need to save for those tough years, it’s a cycle. It seems business is much better for those of us who made it through. I have also seen a big focus by retailers and vendors to recruit and mentor the next generation. As the years pass, I see more and more young faces at markets and conferences, and I see them taking on bigger roles. The companies that have embraced this have seen a quick return on this investment.
Why do you think it’s such a challenge for our industry to recruit and retain the next generation? Alex: It’s a shame this industry doesn’t have better PR. The first
thing people think about when it comes to running a furniture store is that it means long hours, working weekends and holidays, and dealing with employees and customers. I would have to say, in the seven years I’ve been in the business, that is not my only impression. The furniture industry is a lot of hard work but it’s also so much fun. I hear a lot of complaining and negative comments from the current generation running the industry—business isn’t what it used to be, the Internet is destroying the industry, people aren’t buying as much furniture, vendors are commoditizing the product, customers’ expectations are too high, employees are hard to recruit and keep, etc. Why would your son or daughter want to join a business or work in an industry that you constantly complain about? Change is upon the industry and those who realize it’s an opportunity will do well. Like Randy Pausch, said, “Complaining is not a strategy.”
Next Gen NOW Spotlight
Alex at a Glance
What social media do you use? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest (but I can’t quite figure it out). Who do you follow on Twitter? Friends, businesses and organizations I care about, competitors, Game of Thrones!
What’s the best advice you ever got? This is a hard one. I’ve had a lot of great mentors in school, my family, and in the industry. I would have to say the best advice I ever got was from my mother; she taught me not to over think and to act. She would tell me that if you wait around for things to be perfect you will be waiting a long time. Make the best decision with the information in front of you, check results, learn and adjust. If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? I’m so blessed to do what I do. If I wasn’t working at Del Sol Furniture I would probably be working 80 hours a week at some law office. I’m not sure what I would do if my parents fired me. I don’t see myself doing anything else at this point. What do you do for fun? Books, movies, working out, tennis, softball, mud runs, travel, playing the clarinet, going out with friends, checking out new restaurants. I am not the type to stay home and hang out. I like to be out doing things and checking out new places. What’s your fave piece of furniture in your house? My place isn’t very big so this pretty easy. Not a lot to pick from. I would say my sofa, it’s comfortable yet contemporary. It’s hard to find comfortable contemporary furniture! Next Gen NOW (NGN) is a community of young, passionate, engaged industry professionals whose mission is to give a voice to the needs and goals of the up-and-coming future generations. NGN also strives to educate the industry on how, and why, it should attract and keep young talent. The NAHFA supports NGN by facilitating meetings and educational opportunities and introduces the industry to its members through these pages. Connect with NGN members at ngnow.org or on Twitter @ngnow.
Continued on page 24
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Next Gen NOW Spotlight
Continued from page 23
In your opinion, what challenges do our industry face in general?
to buy, have great customer service, give me ads/coupons that are relevant to me, and if I don’t like it – I’m sending it back.
Alex: Technology! It’s incredible how behind the furniture industry
Which companies do it right? Amazon, Zappos, Macys, Costco, Apple, Chick-fil-A, and Ikea.
is compared to other retail industries. I think this has a lot to do with not embracing the new generation that grew up with computers and the Internet. I really think this is a great opportunity for our generation to come in and change this. It’s also a great opportunity for young entrepreneurs who are looking for an industry to make a difference in. I don’t understand why people are scared of ecommerce. Online retailers will never have what a good brick-and-mortar furniture store has; a showroom full of furniture with expert associates. Buying furniture is hard, people need help. I don’t care if you give me 20,000 sofas to pick from, I want to ask questions and sit in it.
As a consumer (not just of home furnishings products)— what do you expect and want from a shopping experience? Which retailers get it right? Alex: Make it easy for me to buy. If you don’t have log in with
Facebook button – hassle! If you don’t have a pay with Paypal, Amazon, Google wallet option– hassle! Make me wait two weeks for delivery – hassle! No returns – hassle! Make it easy
You are one of the founders/leaders of the NGN group—why are you so passionate about this group and why do you feel it’s important to the industry? Alex: I love our family business, my job, and this industry. The
mission of this group is a perfect fit for me. There are great people in this industry and our group has come across so many wonderful mentors! There is so much opportunity right now in the furniture industry and this generation has everything it needs to run with it. I want to help recruit, network, and promote all of these young people so we can get this rolling faster! There are so many talented individuals that are on the verge of making a difference. It’s a shame at times it’s their own parents holding them back, or even their direct boss. I’m so lucky my parents have allowed me to have an important role in our family business. I hope other parents and business owners will see the potential. We will make mistakes, but we learn fast and we don’t quit!
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your next sale since 1914.” Jud Lynch, Co-CEO, Lynch Sales Company Our family started developing and fine-tuning the copyrighted Lynch Sales Plan when our grandfather founded our company in 1914. Ever since, Lynch has consistently helped our retail clients meet their goals – proudly serving many of those storeowners as repeat clients. Contact us for details and receive a special, limited edition 100th anniversary commemorative as our gift. Plus, retailers who hold a Lynch ‘Sale of the Century’ during 2014 automatically become eligible for our Grand Prize of a trip for two to Ireland!
Serving the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Call (800) 824 - 2238 or www.LynchSales.com Copyright 2014 Lynch Brothers Licensing Corporation
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By Sheryl DeVore
ou’ve justified the expense and time away from your business, registered for the event, made hotel and airline reservations, and now you’re ready to attend an industry event. Whether it’s a market, conference, regional event, or seminar, you’ll want to make the most of it. How do you measure the success of your trip? Is it the number of business cards you collect? The value of the new ideas you gain? Maybe it’s the number of old relationships you rekindle or the new ones you establish.
Regardless, the key is to plan ahead, get involved while you’re there, and follow up afterward.
Do a Little Recon
Research speakers, attendees, and the agenda. Upload the conference website (or better yet an app if it’s available) to your smartphone. Prepare questions. Arrange meetings. Start your pre-conference plan by asking yourself why you’re going. Make a list of those goals and ways to meet them. Do you want to meet movers and shakers in your industry? Gain better marketing ideas? Learn about the latest software that can help you with payroll? Search for new vendors? Get a particular person to know more about your business? Once you’ve got your goals and ways to achieve them, find out who’s attending. Consult with your peers, the event planners, or visit LinkedIn events and find a list of names. Visit the event’s website to learn about sponsors or vendors who’ll be there. Visit their websites, check them out on LinkedIn; learn as much as you can beforehand. If there’s someone you’d specifically like to meet, send them a message to let them know you’ll be at the conference and would like to chat with them if they’re not too busy. Keep your message short, low-key, and undemanding. Don’t overbook your schedule. Leave time for that unexpected, important meeting.
Of course, networking is a gimme in the world of trade shows. But it’s got to be planned and purposeful. HubSpot product marketing associate Rachel Sprung, who has organized and attended many trade shows and conferences, suggests having questions ready before you get to the conference. Research the speakers and sessions before you attend. You should easily be able to find information about them online. Know which sessions you want to attend and why. List information you’d like to glean from the speaker.
Take copious notes—and if you’ve got a laptop, type in the notes while the information is still fresh. Put those notes in a folder for later reading and future inspiration. Make sure to separate any action items in your notes from the words of wisdom you’ve heard. When you return home, follow up on the action items—after all, these were the golden nuggets you harvested and planned to put to good use. Continued on page 26
Quick Tips for Working Events
If this is your first time attending an event, meeting new people may seem a little daunting. Having prepared questions can alleviate some of the fear of approaching strangers and wondering what you’re going to say. Keep in mind that your fellow attendees may be feeling the same way and will likely be glad that someone approached them and started talking. For ice breakers, find out where they’re from, what they do, and why they’re at the conference. You may discover that you have similar concerns and interests and can share best practices. Ask how you might be able to help them, which, may, in turn, inspire them to offer to assist you. You can also ask about their business goals to get some ideas of new projects you could start when you return to work.
1. Prepare ahead of time—research the agenda, speakers, fellow attendees. Jot down a list of questions, topics you want to learn more about, people you want to meet.
Taking advantage of break-out meetings, listening to professional speakers, and participating in question and answer sessions are some of the great benefits of attending events.
6. Follow-up—short emails or phone calls within a day or two after the event bolster the connections you made.
Ask questions. Los Angeles-based networking specialist Patrick Henry suggests asking speakers if they had to do it over again, what would they have done differently. Henry said speakers often appreciate such questions, plus you learn “what to do and not to do” in your own business.
2. Reach out—contact people you’d like to meet, even briefly, at the event. 3. Participate—attend seminars and sessions; take notes separating them into action items and general information. 4. Network—take advantage of dinners and social opportunities. 5. Collect business cards—file them into groups of need to contact immediately and need to know for future reference.
7. Action items—make the most out of the event and get the ball rolling on the action items you made note of. 8. Share—give a presentation to your staff; talk about your action items and how they can make a difference in the business.
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The Home Furnishings Network Conference 2013
Continued from page 25
Most all conferences have get-togethers, whether it’s a pre-dinner cocktail party or continental breakfast. Plan to attend and reintroduce yourself to someone you’ve met or find the speaker you wanted to meet. You may feel more comfortable networking at these types of venues. But don’t over indulge. Know your limitations so you can remain focused and alert while chatting.
Be prepared to meet someone who monopolizes your time, possibly keeping you from meeting others. That’s the time to ask them for their card, write down some notes and tell them you’d love to hear more about their company when there’s more time. Visit the exhibitions and vendor displays. But, again, come to the event already knowing who they are and which ones interest you the most. Instead of idly walking around and glancing, know which booths you want to visit and give yourself time to grab some literature and ask questions. Get plenty of sleep. Set aside some down time to relax and regroup or to think about your next plan of attack before the conference is over.
When you get back to business after the event—if you do nothing, you’ve wasted your time and money. You took notes—what are 26
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your action items? What can you do right now that can make a difference in your business? Do it. Organize all of those business cards you collected into two groups— people you want to reach out to immediately for a specific issue and people you want to add to your address book. If you have cards for people who don’t fit either—toss them. Follow up within a day or two of your return. If you wait for weeks, the person you met may have forgotten you. Reach out by asking if they’re planning on attending future events, something they can easily answer, encouraging them to respond. Connect with folks you’ve meet on LinkedIn or Twitter. Also, consider making a presentation to your own team about the conference—that will get you to organize what you’ve learned and have it ready for future reference. Industry events offer great opportunities for education and networking, and even some fun. Don’t waste your time and money by being ill-prepared, sitting on the sidelines, and not following through. Sheryl DeVore, an award-winning writer and editor has had her works published in various newspapers and magazines including Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, National Audubon Society, and Wildflower, published by the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. She is also author of books and chapters within books published by Rodale Press, Lone Pine Publishing, and others.
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DON’T OVERLOOK YOUNGER EMPLOYEES by Brooke Feldman
Dear Future Employer,
You don’t know me. I’m one of a thousand cover letters and resumes you’ve received from recent college or graduate school grads. You might have overlooked my documents—the very ones I worked hard to perfect in hopes you might tilt your head to the side and wonder if I am different from the other “kids” out there who are all begging for the same thing—the opportunity to work for you.. I know what you’re thinking, ‘What’s so special about hiring someone younger?’ I don’t have a lot of experience per say; I might be considered lazy (as most studies categorize my generation); I also might just want to play on my computer all day, posting on my Facebook wall or tweeting to celebrities. You might be right, but not in my case. There’s a chance I have the exact same skill set as someone who might have gone to a better school. There is also a chance I might have worked in the same places as the person whose resume you hold in your left hand while mine sits in your right. You will probably waver between both for a little while, but you’ll make your decision based either on your need to fill the position immediately, your eagerness to remove certain duties from one employee and pawn them off on someone younger and more naïve, or maybe you’re genuinely interested in developing the next generation of employees in your company. Well, Future Employer, before you go with that resume in your left hand, there are a few things I want you to keep in mind that may convince you to choose someone young in for your company. Finding a job is tough, but I don’t take the search lightly. Take a look at my resume, I have some experience in the home furnishing industry. I do not believe in applying for just any job. If I did, I would be working at my local coffee shop wasting my intelligence and potential rather than finding a company, like yours, that can steer me in the right direction. A Fast Company study showed that career fulfillment is important not just to the older generation, but to my generation as well. The majority of people in my age group would rather pick a fulfilling job over one that makes more money or promises security. I have spent countless hours researching companies and jobs that I believe are the best fit for me. Consider my cover letter; can you feel the passion in my words? Anyone can write about themselves in a cover letter, but what makes mine stand out is my knowledge of the industry, my understanding of what the job entails, and my personality. I might have added a quote from one of my favorite authors, or expressed my passion through a life experience and by doing so I’ve given you a glimpse into myself as a person, not just another employee. My eagerness to make your company shine separates me from the rest of the candidates. My research shows that I’d be a good fit and that you need someone like me. Someone of my caliber can push you to think outside the box. I can help grow your business; help you reach new customers. I pay attention to what’s going on—in the world, in fashion, in our industry, in design—in order to understand where the market is going. I am your target consumer. So, Future Employer, the next time you’re hiring and are frazzled by the stress of culling through resumes, take a step back and really read mine. Get a sense for who I am, give me a call, see how I interact with you on the phone. You might just find a rising star. Thank you for your consideration; I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely,
Your Future Employee
Brooke Feldman is an Instagram fanatic, yogi, opera goer, coffee lover, and writer of the blog, The Seed, which focuses on social good and innovation. She is also the digital marketing coordinator for Nourison Industries. 28
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Celebrating 25 Years Serving the Home Furnishings Industry Honoring Partners Who Shaped Our Company
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This grouping from Lane Venture includes the Clare sofa, with a marine-grade wood frame, removable slipcovers, and aluminum legs; chairs and woven tables from the St. Simons collection with hand-woven polyethylene synthetic fiber on cold-drawn premium aluminum frames; and a cocktail table from the Industrial Renaissance collection, with a solid aluminum top with sound padding and an extruded aluminum base.
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n case you haven’t noticed, outdoor furniture has become a hot category in home furnishings. According to an upcoming Freedonia study, Outdoor Furniture & Grills, U.S. demand for this segment is expected to rise 4 percent annually through 2017.
Lee Beatrous, production manager for Groovystuff says, “I have seen reports that the U.S. outdoor furniture industry is expected to reach $4.4 Billion by 2015. With steady growth throughout the early and mid-2000s (with the exception of the 2008 hiccup) the outdoor market has remained strong in its growth pattern.”
Beatrous attributes this growth to “the change in lifestyle and the general population’s idea of the importance of spending more time with family and enjoying the present place and moment. The hurried pace lifestyle that people are living is also an encouragement to enjoy the luxuries of home when time is spent there.” Weather obviously has a big impact on outdoor furniture sales. Teresa Buelin, vice president of sales and marketing for Heritage Home Group/Lane Venture says the “long bad winter didn’t help with first quarter sales, but that means there’s pent-up demand.” Distribution channels for outdoor furniture have changed in the last several years as more traditional furniture retailers jumped into the category. “Traditional furniture stores are looking for a new revenue source and outdoor living is such huge category now,” Buelin says. “There are so many complimentary products that help sell the furniture: outdoor lighting, rugs and accessories. Selling outdoor typically means a larger sale—at least five or six pieces.”
The English Garden Collection from Pride Family Brands features hand-woven aluminum, original castings, handpainted detailing and tailored cushioning. Castelle luxury fire pit features state-of-the-art functionality and durable cast and extruded aluminum construction.
Groovystuff’s ReFlexions Chair by designer Lee Beatrous is constructed from reclaimed barrel and bent steel. It features a marine-grade upholstered seat and threepiece backrest and is suitable for indoor and outdoor use.
Rory Rehmert, vice president sales and marketing for Pride idea of extending their living spaces with outdoor rooms. Buelin Family Brands and past chairman of the International Casual says conversation seating, especially surrounding the increasingly Furnishings Association, adds that retailers are recognizing that popular fire pit, is big right now as is the use of mixed materials the sales-per-square-foot for outdoor are almost double that of a woven sofa with an upholstered chair and aluminum table. “Consumers want their outdoor living space to be eclectic, just other furnishings categories. like indoors,” she says. Adding outdoor furniture comes with a bigger learning curve than does another category such as youth for example. The materials, “The luxury outdoor furnishing category continues to grow,” Rehmert says. “For those buyers, the ability to purchase custom construction, warranties, vendors and markets are different. designed furnishings is a growing trend. Nearly 50 percent of One of the challenges retailers face is in competing with casual our production is driven by custom orders. We’re also seeing furniture retailers, according to Beatrous. “The competition is tremendous popularity in our fire features in the luxury category. tough,” he says. “A few [casual] retailers have a stronghold on The entertainment factor incorporated into these features creates the market so you need proper knowledge and research to break an add-on interest from homeowners.” into it.” Beatrous says trends vary depending on location and changing Rehmert says while traditional retailers do need to “learn about lifestyles, but one trend he sees as universal among all furniture the attributes of the products, components and construction,” categories is the “desire for eco-friendly furniture.” there are many opportunities for education including trade shows such as the International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market. The facts are there—the outdoor market is growing. More traditional furniture retailers are cashing in on this once ignored Outdoor furniture styles and designs has become as on-trend and segment. Maybe it’s time to find out if exploring the great wide fashion-forward as indoor furniture as consumers embrace the open makes sense for your business.
JUNE | 2014
USE THE APP TO SCAN THIS PAGE and hear how other furniture retailers have used in-store WI-FI to enhance their operations
By Sydnee Seites
Of all the decisions that cross your desk each week, providing Wi-Fi to customers and employees in your retail store sounds like an easy call to make. According to a survey conducted by On Device Research in 2012, “smart” consumers are Wi-Fi-A-Holics: `` 78 percent of shoppers would access Wi-Fi if it were offered in-store `` 96 percent of customers prefer locations that offer free Wi-Fi and return to stores because of this Retailers recognize the need for it: Wi-Fi enables in-store technologies. In a A 2012 Retail Systems Research study that asked retailers to identify the top three uses of in-store technologies in their businesses: `` 52 percent identified its use to improve the customer experience `` 43 percent identified its use to provide necessary information to managers instantly `` 41 percent identified its use to win new customers and retain current ones Yet the same study reported only 65 percent of businesses actually make Wi-Fi available. Now is the time for retailers to focus on overcoming challenges of Wi-Fi implementation and embrace the wireless opportunity because the mobile revolution is here—it’s happening. By the end of 2013, there were more mobile devices than people on Earth. Embracing Wi-Fi is fundamental to taking advantage of mobile technologies and services that are transforming retail. A 2012 Retail Systems Research study reported that the “lack of a wireless infrastructure on the selling floor...is the single biggest inhibitor to improving the in-store experience.” Putting Wi-Fi in an enterprise environment involves patient planning and complex decisions. So we’ve cut through the experts’ techno-babble to provide the top three strategic considerations for rolling out retail Wi-Fi: 1. Get a clear picture of what Wi-Fi will do for your business. In retail, Wi-Fi is typically free to customers. That comes with the risk that those customers will use the service to shop and buy elsewhere. Be sure to weigh this and other risks against benefits like improved customer experience and enhanced business efficiency. 2. Approach the design of your network with a clear understanding of what you want your network to do. Should the network to be fast enough to seamlessly stream HD video? Would you like to have the ability to track employee locations or customer shopping patterns? Many enterprise Wi-Fi solutions can deliver rich, detailed analytics, so identify potential key performance indicators you’d like to see from your network. 3. Make sure the solution is flexible. According to Infoectics, a telecommunications market research firm, businesses are planning to increase Wi-Fi capacity by at least 20 percent this year. Your Wi-network should be elastic enough to accommodate varying conditions on the network as those conditions relate to devices, users and applications. It is critical to keep in mind not all Wi-Fi solutions are created equal. The simplest or cheapest solutions are often the most limiting, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a cost-effective solution out there that will fit your company and provide enough flexibility to accommodate ever-evolving retail and consumer technology. NAHFA members can contact me about any start-up questions you may have. I can steer you toward wireless experts who are familiar with our industry and your needs, and can provide you with the equipment you need at a discounted rate. Feel free to contact me at (916) 960-0350 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. 32
JUNE | 2014
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BUSINESS FUNDAMENTALS By Megy Karydes
Melissa Bunker is general manager and buyer at Crazy Jay’s Furniture & Sleep Shop, Wichita, Kansas. Jay’s was founded in 1997 and specializes in
mattresses and youth furniture. It has the largest selection of in-stock bunk beds and kids furniture in town. Its goal is to give customers a fun and unique shopping experience while providing quality bedroom and household furnishings at affordable prices.
Melissa Williams O’Rourke is president of Charlotte’s in El Paso, Texas.
Her parents, Charlotte and Robert Williams were motivated more than 60 years ago to create a home furnishings store that provided well-designed and quality furnishings for every aspect of the home. Today, under Melissa’s operation, the store boasts a complete flooring department, gift shop, design services, and an outlet. They often hear from customers that “there is no other store like it” and they’re proud of that statement.
n this business, as in any, it’s not enough to have great products and services at the right price. If the business fundamentals are lacking, the business will fail. From providing strong leadership and sharing strategic goals with your team to constantly marketing your offerings, business fundamentals are key to a successful business model. Our two experts this month know this concept well. Both retailers took the time to share with RetailerNOW readers what has worked for them, what they wish they knew then, what they know now, and how much they rely on their employees to help them run their business.
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Technology Community Today
: Hindsight is 20/20. If you knew then what you know now what would you have changed? What mistakes did you make and what did you learn from them or how did you correct them?
Bunker: Delegating has been challenging over the years. I
used to work six, sometimes seven days a week trying to do everything myself. Creativity and innovation are almost impossible when you do not allow other people to handle the day-to-day operations. Learning how to trust and delegate has helped me guide this business in the right direction and stay competitive. After 15 years in the business, I have honed my leadership skills. Success in any business is about having a great team and I consider myself lucky to have so many talented and dedicated employees.
O’Rourke: What I know now is product turn is vital to a company’s financial success. The first years I was in the business I was told that if you carried high-end product you should not expect to get many turns. Of course with today’s technology we are able to get detailed turn numbers and use that as an indicator of product and vendor performance.
: How do you get feedback from your employees (effectively) and what do you do with that feedback?
Bunker: I encourage feedback from my employees and do my best to make sure they feel comfortable giving their input. Open communication is the key.
O’Rourke: We have a weekly managers meeting that includes
the department managers, sales manager, warehouse manager, controller and head designer and at these meetings often issues or suggestions are brought to the table either from the managers themselves or from the staff through the manager.
: Has an employee idea made a difference in your business?
: With a limited budget, how do you compete with mega stores with seemingly unlimited budgets?
Bunker: We pride ourselves on having the best prices in town.
Although, our goal is to provide a fun and unique customer experience. We are the only Furniture & Sleep Shop in town with a non-commissioned sales staff. I believe that it takes the pressure off both our customers and employees and it creates a more positive shopping experience.
We treat all of our customers with respect. It doesn’t matter how much they are spending, we appreciate each and every customer who decides to spend their hard-earned money with us. My sales team is friendly and knowledgeable without being too pushy. Unlike many mega stores we offer a more personal shopping experience and we stand behind our products and warranties.
O’Rourke: Direct mail is a very good medium for us; we augment
our mailing list with additional addresses based on household income. One way we get foot traffic into our store is through our gift shop. We have a bridal registry, baby department, and jewelry and fashion accessories. We are expanding our bedding department, stocking more top-of-bed product, bathroom accessories, sheets and towels. The gift shop has been a part of Charlotte’s almost since the beginning so we have several generations of family members as former brides registered with us. They are comfortable coming into our store; there is a familiarity the bridal experience provides that buying furniture does not. : What is the one marketing tactic you employ on a regular basis that has really benefited your business?
Bunker: Budgeting, planning, and setting clear goals have made a
huge difference. We also get involved in our community. Offering special discounts to any non-profit organization that provides services for people in need.
O’Rourke: The newest marketing tactic that we started about
Bunker: Absolutely! Many of our policies and procedures have
three years ago is using testimonials from customers. We run the campaign on television and the response has been very positive.
O’Rourke: It was an employee who prompted me to close a
: Anything else you feel is important to share in terms of business fundamentals with our readers?
been suggested and developed by my employees.
third store that the employee was maintaining but with a lot of time and effort on my part. Since closing that store I am able to focus on the main store and it also allows me time to go to my yoga class!
Bunker: We have an amazing team of people who have helped us give our customers a fun and unique shopping experience. We are more than just a Furniture & Mattress Store: we are friends and family.
Megy Karydes is president of Karydes Consulting, a boutique marketing and communications firm. Her work has appeared in national and local consumer and trade magazines including USA Today, Natural Awakenings and Chicago Health. Find her at KarydesConsulting.com and follow her on Twitter @megy.
JUNE | 2014
Sales & Marketing
By Philip M. Gutsell
early every major market, retailers see new and exciting products they want to add to their permanent lineups and displays. While some stores may attend four or more markets a year, the average retailer usually attends one or two. New products stimulate your entire company, especially your sales team. Just listen to them when they make sales presentations, “This is brand new! We just got this in! Would you like to see what’s new?” For most of your customers, though, everything is new, but more about that later. “New” breeds energy, excitement, and most of all enthusiasm. The challenge becomes how are you going to accomplish adding new product when you have limited display space or open to buy? This challenge presents a myriad of marketing opportunities.
Remember the Paredo Principle
The Paredo Principle teaches that you do 80 percent of your business with only 20 percent of your inventory and that 20 percent of your business comes from nearly 80 percent of the inventory. That means you have a 20 percent chance that the new product is going to be a winner. The Paredo Principle identifies your winners and best sellers. Remind your sales team that they don’t need to push the best sellers, or top 10 percent of your inventory, because these products sell themselves. Sales professionals also shouldn’t focus on the worst sellers, or bottom 10 percent of your inventory, because markdown prices sell those. It’s that 80 percent in the middle that needs attention.
What Should I Remove?
If you don’t already age inventory systematically, start now. Aging your inventory helps reduce the emotional tie your buyers have for their selections. When I evaluate a client’s inventory, especially for high-impact events, we categorize it with letter grades. “A” is for “Always”—these are your most profitable sellers with the highest gross margin return on investment (GMROI). “B” goods are “Better” sellers but their margins aren’t quite as good and/or their turnover is slightly less. “C” is for “Competitive” goods. These goods have to be priced in line with your market. They may turn over at a very good rate, but their margins suffer because you have to match or beat your competitors’ prices. “D” goods are your first real nasty area. “D” stands for “Dogs.” These tend to be unmatched and or discontinued products. “D” goods are where you begin to start focusing on larger markdowns. “E” is for “Evict.” This is merchandise that has been sitting on you floor for more than a year. There is one more category. “F” goods stands for “Fogeddaboutit.” This merchandise absolutely must go! Mark these goods down to cost or below. Another way of looking at these goods is that they are charging you rent when you let them take up your display. The key is to constantly flush your D, E, and F goods from your mix. If it’s a particular vendor, that makes the project a little easier. 36
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Make Way for New
Suppose you find a new vendor or collection that you simply must have. You know your customers will love it. Regular market shoppers know that “new” may mean three to six months out before you will even receive these goods. This is where the real opportunity lies. Run a major event announcing the close-outs and or clearance of your D, E, and F goods at least 30 to 60 days before you expect your new inventory. Since, in most cases, these goods are scattered throughout your store you can have a gigantic storewide clearance. A word of caution, in this phase, focus on the clearance of the D, E, and F goods. Do not refer to them as old. Rather refer to them as discontinued or close-outs. Remember, they are still new to the customer. One retailer contacted me about having a high-impact; he said he understood that we could clear out half or more of his inventory. I confirmed this information and he said he wanted us to get rid of the worst half of his present inventory. I told him I wasn’t that good and that event wouldn’t be good for him anyway. Why not? Because even in a major high-impact sales event, most of your customers will buy a mix of your inventory, which will allow you to profit. If we only sold the worst half of your inventory you would make little or no profit. He was impressed by the projections and after his event, we’d dramatically reduced his D, E, and F goods and freed up his open to buy for new merchandise. Nearly every retailer knows the stronger the reason for an event the better the results are—the best reasons for an event are remerchandising, remodeling, or reorganizing. The new is either new merchandise, a new or upgraded showroom, or new management or location. The beauty of having this high-impact event is that it sets up future business as well. Once your high-impact event is completed you move on to the next phase such as pardon the dust/paint/construction while we improve our display/facility or a changing of the guard from one generation to the next. Then you can have your new or grand opening event. This gives you one or two additional events before you even announce the new. The best part is that if you conduct it with professional assistance your profits help pay for the new merchandise, remodeling, or relocation! Philip M. Gutsell, president and owner of GutSELL & Associates, consults home furnishings retailers on marketing, advertising, motivational sales training, and strategic planning. He also serves as a seminar speaker for the NAHFA, Brand Source Associated Volume Buyers, and other trade associations. He has trained thousands of salespeople through his course, “GutSELLing: From the Customer’s Point of View” which is now available on a four-CD audio set and he publishes GutSELLing Techniques, a weekly email service to continuously improve retail professionals’ sales skills.
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Business Fundamentals: The Three Cs By Mona Nigam
Education has the “three Rs”—readin’, ritin’ and rithmetic. Marketing has the “four Ps”— product, price, placement and promotion. When it comes to the fundamentals of business, you might say we have the “three Cs”—cash, competitiveness and customer engagement. Cash comes first because without it, there would be no chance at competitiveness, no customers to engage, no business at all. As author Kate Lister wrote in Entrepreneur magazine, “Even a profitable business can run out of cash and have to close up shop. It’s as common to American business enterprise as entrepreneurship itself.” Too many businesses fall prey to the false confidence of profits “on paper.” Those positive numbers on the income statement look great. They might accurately reflect plenty of accounts receivable to cover expenses. But they don’t always allow for the prospect of delinquent payments and other unpleasant surprises that are realities of everyday business. If cash flow is too lean, crisis can be right around the corner. A fundamental way to ensure a healthy cash flow is to make sure cash flows in faster than it flows out, Lister emphasizes. Authors Tage and John Tracy do a good job summing up the fundamentals of cash flow when they wrote in Home Business magazine, “Every business should strive to achieve a financial condition that ensures constant maintenance of adequate levels of both solvency—the ability to pay all just debts—and liquidity—the ability to quickly access cash to support business operations.” Having covered cash, albeit briefly, let’s look at the second “C” of business: competitiveness. It’s a business fundamental that can be hard to quantify. Certainly, you can consider your furniture retail or manufacturing operation to be competitive if your cash flow is good, you are profitable and your sales are growing. To ensure those vital signs stay healthy, it’s important to always be planning for the future, surveying the lay of the land, checking out the competition. A best practice is to perform an annual SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. A thorough SWOT analysis should be part of every business plan. At the very least, it forces your enterprise to really take a look in the mirror on where you
shine and where you are falling short so that you can start making plans to shore up weaknesses. In evaluating market opportunities and competitive threats, you can explore furniture industry issues at the macro level (i.e., what is happening with the economy and consumer spending?) and drill down to examine strategies of competitors both inside and outside of the industry. To be competitive, of course, you have to be in possession of our third business “C”: customer engagement. No matter what winds of change sway the home furnishings industry, retailers and furniture makers who stay engaged with their customers will win. Marketing plays a central role in customer engagement, which is fantastic news for today’s home furnishings firms. Why? Remember, marketing is measurable. Online shopping, in particular, presents many measurable marketing opportunities. Technologies are evolving every day to build new features and tools into your website and to enhance the look and feel of your retail brand. Whether it’s a new room planning solution or a tool enabling customers to design and configure their own custom furniture, you can rest assured that your ROI for these technologies will be readily measurable. Website activity, including conversion of web shoppers to online buyers, can be tracked and analyzed at very granular levels. The same applies to social media, another exciting avenue for customer engagement. Your technology partners should be ready and willing to help you collect and analyze data so you can track progress against objectives. In a very basic exercise, you can track your sales growth rate by product category before and after the addition of a new consumer-centric feature. For example, say you decide to implement an interactive upholstery visualization tool on your website. How did the visitor’s time spent on your website increase? How frequently did a shopping visit that included use of the visualization feature turn into a sale? How does this rate compare with the shopper-to-buyer conversion rate for your upholstered goods category before you installed the tool? When it comes to customer engagement, it should be clear where you are spending your money smartly and effectively. By mastering this and our other fundamental “Cs,” you can be sure to be on your “A” game. Mona Nigam, executive vice president at MicroD, is an accomplished marketing executive with a diverse portfolio. She has many years of experience successfully driving global demand generation including email marketing, campaigns, field marketing, tradeshows, events, industry marketing, and solutions marketing and expertise in developing plans, increasing brand awareness messaging, processes, and leading productive and positive teams.
JUNE | 2014
Sales & Marketing
GETTING MORE BANG FOR YOUR SMALL BUCKS By Doug Knorr
hen asked to write this article on maximizing your results with a small advertising and marketing budget, I jumped at the opportunity. Here’s why: The way you get a big return with a small advertising budget is no different than how you maximize your return on a larger advertising and marketing budget.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The way a company grows to have a big advertising budget is from doing everything correctly when they were a smaller company and had to make a small advertising budget give them big results. So, if getting a bigger return on your marketing and advertising investment is important to you—read on. Here are several important strategies that will help you get a bigger return with your advertising and marketing investment. First, and I cannot say this strongly enough—be selective to be effective! One of the biggest problems I see with retailers is that they want to “spread it around.” A little here and a little there does not work! Unless you are the big retailer in the marketplace, you cannot afford to do everything. Instead of a shotgun approach you need to think like a sniper. You must define your core target and then develop a “laser” strategy that will allow you to reach your target with the greatest frequency and efficiency.
Is this your target consumer? If so, what, if anything, have you done to bring her into the store? And what will you do to keep her coming back?
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In some rural markets we have had to invest our entire budget in as few as two communication mediums, with one of the mediums being online media. In addition to a website, you should try to allocate budget for Facebook, Pay Per Click (PPC), as well as other digital strategies. Next, you must break through the clutter! If the consumer does not see you…you don’t exist! Your creative message must grab the attention of the consumer and it must resonate with your core target.
Sales & Marketing
The smaller you are…the stronger your brand promise and mes- When you consider how much it cost to get the customer into your store, it becomes clear how important it is to analyze every part of sage must be! your business. You must put measuring devices on your advertising, If your message does not separate you from your competitors you will sales team, merchandising, and operations. For example, GMROI not be successful. Important questions that must be answered include, (gross margin-return on inventory) plays a major role in holding “What makes you different from your competitors?” And, “What your merchandising effective and reducing inventory costs. is your unique advantage to the consumer if they shop your store?” Do you track every up? Do you know why customers who left the For example, we have a client with an 8,000-square-foot store. store did not buy? Do you ask each customer who did not buy Surrounded by mega retailers and with limited space, they had for their ZIP code so you can track this for marketing purposes? to be selective to be effective. They had to find a way to be mean- Analysis allows you to effectively grow your business and generate ingful enough that the consumer would see their message and greater profitably. say, “That’s what I have been looking for!” After looking at the competition they found a niche as a higher-end, custom-order To grow, you need to have a clear understanding of where your tarstore that excelled in exceptional service and value. Results—a get customers are and develop a way to measure results and growth. profitable and growing retailer. Develop a primary market that you know you can own and where Analysis is Key. What gets measured improves! Whether you are you believe you can get the greatest return on your advertising ina small or large retailer, you cannot afford to waste any of your vestment. Direct mail may be the best “outbound marketing” tool precious advertising dollars. You must define your core market to use to reach your primary market. Studies continue to show that and find the most effective and efficient way to reach them with targeted direct mail is popular among all age groups and that well the greatest frequency. positioned direct mail gets a good return with every dollar invested. Continued on page 42
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Sales & Marketing Continued from page 41
Direct mail is also easy to hold accountable. It allows you to control frequency and it is easy to analyze results. By measuring return on investment (ROI) from each ZIP code and based on previous results, you can adjust both the message and ZIP targets. A big success story for retailers of every size is trigger mailings (a retargeting tool). See the May edition of RetailerNOW for more information on triggers. I believe every retailer needs to get the customer who just purchased back into the store because the first purchase the customer makes rarely signifies they are finished with the buying process. In most cases, the cost of trigger mail advertising runs less than two percent of additional sales. Digital strategies are also important. Online has taken center stage and we believe you should invest at least 5 to 10 percent of your budget to online (“inbound marketing”) strategies. We believe this will continue to grow in the coming years. However, outbound media is still crucial for building awareness and helping direct people to your web and social media sites.
Big Saver! Negotiating annual media commitments before the year begins should save you at least 20 percent. Media likes to fill time or space so they can know how to plan for the upcoming year and they are willing to negotiate to lock-in those advertising dollars. Don’t forget public relations. Public relations is all about promoting news that will be of interest to the consumer. We propose doing a quarterly PR news release to mass media (and include it on your blog). For example, you could write your own aftermarket review about colors/fashions/style trends, write about a charitable donation you are making, etc. Share this with your local and industry media. In closing, remember big gorillas started as little gorillas! Big retailers like Art Van and Nebraska Furniture Mart started out much smaller, but had a BIG VISION and followed many of the principles we are suggesting in this article. Wishing you a very successful 2014!
Douglas Knorr, known as a “retail marketing activist” is president of Knorr Marketing (www.knorrmarketing.com), a full-service marketing and advertising agency specializing in the home furnishings industry. The agency provides strategic planning, creative production, public relations, sales promotions, website development, social media, and media buying services.
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ALWAYS CARRY PROTECTION
etworking is probably the number one way small business works. If you need a service, you look to the people you know, consult with your peers or turn to your trade associations. Regardless of how you met your agent, it is important to have someone you trust help you with something as critical as insuring your livelihood. Making certain that you have the best agent or broker for you and your situation is of paramount importance. Joel Nichols, senior executive vice president at Scott Services says, “Business owners need outside expertise, and an insurance agent falls into the same category as your CPA, your attorney, or your architect.” Having an expert to help navigate the ins and outs of policies, carriers, and so on saves business owners time, money, and in the worst case scenario, heartache.
Understanding the basics of insurance coverage, along with having a knowledgeable agent or broker, will take a storeowner a long way toward being properly insured. Property and casualty insurance for your building, your inventory, and any vehicles your business owns are probably the biggest pieces of the furniture retailer’s insurance puzzle. There is also worker’s compensation, liability, and possibly health insurance to consider.
By Dava Stewart
a standard property and casualty policy. Flood insurance is usually excluded as well, and in some areas on the East Coast, wind insurance is separate. Natural disaster policies are often expensive, and nearly always required by lenders for storeowners with mortgage loans. Insuring your inventory is an easy decision. For a retailer, inventory is a big expense, a key to sales, and an obvious piece of the business to insure. The same is true for delivery trucks or company automobiles. In most states, the law dictates vehicles be insured. The same is true for workers’ compensation.
Most retailers know that they need insurance coverage in case a customer slips and falls inside the store. Liability is mostly a well-understood form of insurance. You want to make sure that the liability coverage you have will also protect you if a customer purchases a chair, takes it home, it breaks and someone is injured.
Obviously if you own a building it should be insured, whether you have a mortgage or not. However, renters may also need to insure specific improvements they make. Partitions, shelving, and even paint can be insured. You want to be able to recover if you invest in a rental space but for some reason your improvements are destroyed.
Many furniture retailers—like business owners in every industry across the country—are either confused by or facing new decisions because of the Affordable Healthcare Act. Greg Stancil, director of healthcare reform at Scott Benefit Services, says that the changes don’t really impact stores with 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees at all, and that tax credits are available to stores with 50 or fewer fulltime equivalent employees.
Geography may play a role in the type of coverage you have as well. For instance, certain natural disasters are routinely excluded from policies. In southern California, earthquake insurance is separate from
Once you have coverage in place, and an agent in whom you are comfortable placing your confidence, you don’t want to spend more time thinking about insurance. You have a store to run. Yet, there is a possibility
that you should investigate further. Nichols says one area of coverage many store owners do not understand is coverage that protects the store’s cash flow. “It’s like disability coverage for your business,” he says. Insuring your income stream means that, should a natural disaster strike, you will be able to keep the business going while you recover. It’s not a mandatory coverage, but it is one that could be vital. Another reason you may want to reconsider your insurance is that there are sometimes coverage options available through unusual avenues, such as your membership in various associations. Members of the North American Home Furnishings Association are eligible to purchase coverage through a national carrier that groups them together as a class. Jim Saris, CEO of Association Insurance Services says that when a carrier treats a group of insured companies as a class, the members of the group usually gain significant savings. His company works with a national carrier that groups furniture stores together as a class, and they offer a program specifically designed to meet the needs of home furnishing retailers. Over time, your insurance agent explains policies, coverages, premiums, and intricate legalities. As such ties and relationships become entrenched over time, making changes can become difficult to contemplate. Although there may be an emotional impact to switching insurance agencies, particularly if you have a history with your current agent, it could represent an area of savings for your company.
Dava Stewart is a freelance writer from Chattanooga, Tenn. She writes about furniture, gardening, real estate, and fitness among other topics. Her work appears in print publications, on websites, in various marketing collateral for small businesses, and on her website www.smilingtreewriting.com.
JUNE | 2014
By Regina Dinning
ne of the many ways the Internet has changed how mattresses, furniture and appliances are sold is the fact that customers are able to do research and narrow down their choices before they set foot in a single store.
According to two recent compete/Google studies, 66 percent of in-store purchasers accessed the Internet while looking for information on furniture. A full 63 percent of purchasers visited multiple brand websites, and the rest purchased within one week of researching. As mobile devices improve and stronger wireless networks are built, that trend is likely to keep growing; nearly half (44 percent) of mobile furniture shoppers discover new brands on mobile devices, while more than half of all appliances sales are influenced by online research.
fielded by Traqline (a market research data firm) said that search engines like Google, bing and Yahoo were more useful than circulars for shoppers looking for a great deal at a local retailer. Today’s shoppers expect a seamless experience, one that leads them from your website to your physical store. The compete/Google study also found that digital marketing drove retail purchases every step of the way: Customers became aware of, researched, and ultimately chose to buy furniture, mattresses and appliances with digital marketing guiding them. It was even found to encourage brand awareness and cross shopping.
Digital Marketing Case Study: Sofa Select
Sofa Select also had a website, of course, and thought they were doing fine online. But one day an encounter with a shopper gave Eslinger a jolt. “He said, ‘I wish we’d found you before we bought our sofa somewhere else. We like your selection, but we didn’t find you on the Internet.’ I said, ‘Gee, I thought we were on the Internet.’” That’s when Eslinger started looking for an online marketing partner. Many retailers come from multi-generational ownership who have relied on traditional media to get the word out. Today, a majority of shopping research starts online, so Internet visibility is critical to reach customers where they spend their time.
Sofa Select is a friendly 20,000-square-foot “Being found” means a lot more than just furniture warehouse located in Mishawaka, having a link on direct searches for the Indiana. The company sells sofas, dining store name, Eslinger points out. Retailers room tables and bedroom sets to custom- need to be visible on Google, bing and This has its advantages in the sense that ers in northern Indiana towns like Goshen, Yahoo search results when people search for retailers have customers who know what Elkhart and La Porte. brand names, specific products, and other they’re looking for, making the sale less terms related to their business. about feeling out the customer and more “I grew up in a furniture store family,” says about showing off the products. The draw- owner Tom Eslinger. “When I started we For Sofa Select, their digital marketing back, however, is that it’s made finding po- had three local TV stations, two or three partner set up a program to advertise tential sales leads and bringing in customers radio stations, and a newspaper.” And for around search keywords like “love seats” who may need your help to determine the a long time, Sofa Select relied on those and “sectional sofas” and “Mishawaka best product for them much harder. So if classic marketing vehicles for its ads. furniture store.” And because Sofa Select they won’t come to you, digital marketing draws from a wide geographic area, the allows you to come to them instead. “The cost of television advertising keeps partner added geo-targeting so that somegoing up, and the amount of GRP you one in Elkhart who searched for “queenBuilding The Digital Experience get for that money keeps going down,” sized mattress” would see ads from Sofa Believe it or not, your virtual showroom says Eslinger. “I didn’t see why we should Select targeted directly to them. (website) is just as important as your real- keep throwing money into declining Continued on page 46 world one: In fact, respondents to a survey effectiveness.”
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to Harkness Furniture on receiving the Retailer of the Year award for the decades of service to their customers, employees and to the industry.
Are You Invisible Online? Continued from page 44
Connecting with Brands
Eslinger also wanted to shine a spotlight on Flexsteel, a top-quality brand that Sofa Select had recently started carrying. So his partner created a collection of keywords focused on the brand and its products, like “Flexsteel recliners.” Suddenly, Sofa Select was visible to shoppers who knew the Flexsteel name but weren’t sure where they could buy the furniture. That kind of ad presence does double duty: it helps make sales, but also associates the store with the glow of a premium brand.
Sofa Select’s partner creates all of Sofa Select’s online ads, adjusting the text and local targeting based on testing and measurement, using Google analytics to track results, day by day and even hour by hour. “Our partner makes about 500 proactive changes to our Web ads, keywords, and local market targeting settings every month. I have direct access to an expert on their team by phone and email. It’s been a profitable collaboration,” said Eslinger. Best of all, Sofa Select didn’t have to raise its ad budget, Eslinger said. “I pulled my ads from our weakest TV station and gave that money to my digital partner for online.” The results? “Our sales were up 18 percent last year, and this year they’re up about 10 percent – nearly 30 percent overall,” Eslinger said. “My overall ad budget is exactly the same, and yet it’s dropped from being 8 percent of our revenues to less than 6 percent.” That’s an improvement of 25 percent. As for Eslinger’s focus on attracting new customers for his top brands? “Our Flexsteel sales have gone from nothing to being 20 percent of our total business.” Share of voice is also strong. Sofa Select ads now appear on about 75 percent of relevant searches, with an impressive average ad ranking of about 1.5 – meaning the store is usually in the #1 or #2 ad spot on a page. Click through rates are excellent: as high as 8 to 10 percent for all the ads.
The Bottom Line
Eslinger’s advice for other business owners: “Do a search online for the brands that you sell and the products that you carry. If you don’t see your shop name, you’re invisible online.”
“I’m 54 years old, and when it comes to websites, I’m as far out of it as anyone,” Eslinger said. “But online advertising works. My business needs this, and I think any business does.” And the success stories just keep coming. In the digital age, your website and targeted, local digital marketing are your most effective tools for bringing more shoppers into your store. Regina Dinning is a business development director for home goods at Netsertive (netsertive. com). Dinning (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a seasoned professional with more than 15 years' experience in marketing and advertising in the home furnishings industry. 46
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High Point Wrap Up
HIGH POINT WRAP UP High Point Market has come and gone. The mix of styles, colors, materials and designs offered something for everyone and are bound to entice even the most discerning consumer. Here’s a snapshot of what vendors had to offer. The Nina Bombe, part of Hooker Furniture’s Mélange accents collection, offers a brilliant pop of color. Nina is available in a red or turquoise, shown here. The multistep, high-sheen finish emulates the finish found on electric guitars, giving a nod to the resurgence of lacquer finishes. The chest is crafted of poplar solids, figured sycamore and maple veneers and MDF with wallpaper lining in the drawers. Suggested retail is $1,799. Hooker.com
The Zephyr table lamp from Currey & Company is crafted in glass and features a lux off-white Shantung shade. The curvy green base has a lustrous finish and stands 34” high. Suggested retail is $600. Curreycodealers.com The Manhattan corner chair from Howard Elliott takes glam to a new level with its unusual silhouette and choice of 16 fabrics or COM. Blur Magenta, shown here, features a roomy 27” seat and a tone-on-tone vine pattern with peg feet in a dark espresso finish. Suggested retail is $738. Howardelliott.com
Bernhardt celebrates its 125th anniversary this year and commemorates the occasion with activities honoring culture, heritage and a legacy of giving. Culture certainly abounds in its London Calling collection, an eclectic English-style mash up of wood and metal forms. The Sutton cocktail table, described as “fashion architecture for the rock star next door,” is a Greek key wood frame, plated in antiqued brass with profiles outlined in tiny rivets. Suggested retail is $3,297. Bernhardt.com Norwalk’s Tribeca is a modern take on the sectional. The set includes left- and rightarm L-shaped loveseat chaises (62”) and a bumper ottoman. When used together, the matching bumper ottoman nestles snugly between them, creating comfortable fourperson chaise, for the ultimate media room seating. Suggested retail for the three pieces is $3,699. Norwalk.com
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High Point Wrap Up Gus Design Group’s Bolton Multi-Sectional brings new meaning
to the word versatile with 19 possible configurations. The arms can easily be removed and reattached, the chaise fits on either side, and the sectional can even be two completely separate pieces of furniture—a chaise and an apartmentsized sofa. It’s available in Varsity Charcoal or Burnaby Summit and features a bench-made, brushed stainless steel base. Suggested retail is $3199. gusmodern.com
The Brownstone Village collection of bedroom, dining and casual dining from Legacy Classic has a comfortable, uncomplicated look that hints at elegance with its aged patina finish. The leg table extends to 86” and seats eight comfortably. It’s crafted from rubberwood solids and oak veneers and features oil-rubbed bronze hardware. Suggested retail is $3,599 for the leg table, six chairs, and credenza. LegacyClassic.com
In case you hadn’t noticed, Surya is much, much more than a rug company. It has expanded its popular Florence Broadhurst line of rugs and pillows into bedding. This Japanese-inspired Kabuki fan motif bedding, shown in teal and white, is a duvet and pillow sham set available in twin, double, queen, and king. Suggested retail for queen duvet set is $179. Surya.com
The Chloe Chair from CR Laine features a cotton/linen print with a whimsical interpretation of a polka dot; the large circles feature designer Tilton Fenwick’s peacock logo. The chair legs have a warm walnut finish and the suggested retail is $1,250. CRLaine.com
A noticeable trend this season is the use of metallic finishes and embellishments. Michael Clement’s accessories and lighting meld classic shapes and designs with antiqued gold leaf banding for a custom look. Each piece, such as the Constance lamp, is hand-crafted and custom finished is the artist’s New Orleans studio. Suggested retail price $725. Michaeljclement.com www.retailerNOWmag.com
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Sales & Marketing
By Marc Wayshak
was recently at Lord & Taylor with a close friend Here are four ways to stop selling on price: of mine when she held up two pairs of high- 1. Stop being a vendor: Don is a vendor to his customers, while Liz is a strategic partner to her clients. Get away heeled shoes. Both pairs were black, appeared from just being another vendor offering the best price. Instead, focus on how you can help provide massive value similar and looked pretty to me. “What do you to your clients. The customers who just want the best think each pair of shoes costs?” she asked. price are not who you want to work with. At least 60
“Well, this is a nice place, so I’m guessing that they both cost about $150,” I replied.
percent of customers want something more than just the best price. Target those folks.
2. Be distinct: Both of the shoes my friend showed me appeared to be similar, but one had a very distinct brand, She smiled at me as if she were watching a puppy hopelessly barkwhile the other was essentially no-named. You don’t need ing at the moon. “Actually this pair,” she said, holding up the shoes advertising to be distinct — your approach to selling can in her left hand, “costs $110.” be what makes you stand out. While Don’s approach was pretty cheesy and predictable, Liz was bold and totally “I was close!” I said defensively. distinct from what the customer typically experiences. Immediately, the customer is intrigued to understand But then she continued. “Now this pair,” she said, holding up the more. Everyone knows that they get what they pay for, so shoes in her right hand, “costs $650.” let them experience the best. “What? But they look so similar!” I exclaimed in surprise. I began to see the parallels that women’s shoes have with selling on price versus value: Products or services that are fundamentally the same can sell for drastically different prices. It all depends on the way they’re sold. Don and Liz sell furniture. Both have been selling for 20 years. However, they each sell in a completely different way. Don is all about price. He’ll walk up to a customer and say, “I see that you’re looking at this sectional sofa; it’s a great deal and it’s on sale for $599.” Liz, on the other hand, is all about selling on value. She’ll walk up to a customer and begin a conversation by saying, “Hi, how are you? I see you’re looking at this sectional. How can I help you create a living room that ‘wows?’?” Both approaches lead to sales, but the difference in the average transaction size and profitability is night and day. Liz wins, and she wins big. If you’re determined to sell on price like Don, then you should stop reading this now. However, if you’re open to selling on value like Liz, then stay with me.
3. Create value in your conversation: Every qualified customer has challenges that you can solve. For example, in the case of Liz, her qualified customer might have had a bad furniture shopping experience in the past. She may have bought a cheaper sofa that wore out quickly and needs replacing. By learning about the customers experience Liz is creating tremendous value for her products — before she ever even shows her the entire selection of sofas. 4. Pile it on: Good customers are willing to pay more when they believe they are getting tremendous value. That means that, in order to create that value, you must think in terms of selling solutions and packages. For example, Liz not only sells furniture, but she also offers custom design services and delivery. This perceived added value allows her to charge a higher price than Don could ever imagine charging. How can you add additional products or services to your offering to increase the perceived value of your product or service? Selling on price is never the only option for a company. By following these four steps and thinking creatively about how to increase your value in the eyes of the client, your sale size will increase dramatically. What do you do to increase your sale size?
Marc Wayshak is a sales strategist who created the Game Plan Selling System. He is the author of two books on sales and leadership including his latest, Game Plan Selling and a regular online contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine and the Huffington Post business section. Get his free eBook on 25 Tips to Crush Your Sales Goal at gameplanselling.com. Twitter: @MarcWayshak or www.marcwayshak.com. 50
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GETTING—AND USING— EMPLOYEE FEEDBACK By Sue Masaracchia-Roberts
very business faces internal issues at one time or another— poor morale, drops in production/sales, structural or business changes like benefits, leadership, reorganization or excessive staff/customer turnover. Although querying staff can help solve these issues, one must know what, how and whom to ask.
If employees feel that employers sincerely care about their thoughts, they are more likely to respond honestly and openly. Also, studies show a direct correlation between trust and performance. Solomon said that “establishing a feeling of mutual trustworthy dialog and connection is not just a vision statement. People don’t leave their jobs,” she said. “They leave their managers.” During one-on-one interviews, Solomon advises managers to use a warm tone of voice. “Remove physical barriers and smile. We want want leaders to be likeable, personable and regular, while we hold a high standard for the customer and for ourselves. Human connection allows people to contribute and have ownership so their performance levels go up. In framing questions, focus on ‘we’ and ‘us’ language rather than ‘you’ and ‘I need’ language.”
What do you want to learn about your company? Are you trying to assess the health of the organization, how to improve customer satisfaction—or how to become more efficient in a specific arena? A variety of techniques—such as surveys—can be used to capture feedback, depending on desired information. “Your employees know more than you think,” said Brian Koma, vice president of Verint. “They know where your processes work and where they are broken and are probably one of the best sources you have. People on the front line are a very rich source of information and complaints.” While you want and need to find out what’s really going on inside your company, taking a page from television’s Undercover Boss and having management go undercover could encourage internal mistrust. A better way to obtain feedback is to set objectives and expectations before asking any questions, and proactively decide what you will do with the information you get. “If someone tells you there is a problem and you don’t have the ability to actually fix it,” Koma said, “let people know or give insight on what you are doing. Asking questions sets an expectation that you will take action.” Also, “understand that what you ask a senior manager may be different from what you ask an individual contributor.”
“A human connection is critical if you want to get feedback and trust from employees,” said Lou Solomon, CEO of Interact Authentic Communication. “Employees need to feel safe to speak to you. If they don’t they will sugarcoat, tattletale, and posture and position. Leaders must already have established a dialog.” She added, “Benchmark research shows that 93 percent of communication, in terms of sincerity, has nothing to do with the words, but is all nonverbal.” 52
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“If you ask for feedback, be prepared to take action on that feedback or let people know why you cannot. You must loop back,” said Deborrah Himsel, CEO of Himsel and Associates, and adjunct faculty member at Thunderbird School of Global. “At least share the [general] results of the survey. Let your staff know you heard them. They don’t need specifics, but they do need a general sense of information gathered from their comments and assessments.” “The questions must be clear,” said Koma, and “first tested on a subset of employees.” He also suggests creating a balanced rating scale. Other questions should include those like “Is there anything else important to you that we didn’t ask here?” Joseph S. Adler, president of Angell Research Group, Inc., advises that “questionnaires should be driven by the objectives, then participants should be defined and questions determined.” This research company tends to sequence questions starting with openended ones, then multiple choice or “rated” questions. “If you start with open-ended questions,” said Adler, “you don’t lead the respondent, giving clues as to what you are after. For example, ask, ‘what do you like best about X?’ followed by ‘what do you like least?’ Then follow up with ‘I’d like you to rate a series of attributes such as . . .’ The minute you begin with specific attributes [about] processes or services, you plant leading ideas in respondents’ minds.” Including attributes too soon will taint the survey. Keep in mind that the goal is to serve the customer, meet employee needs, and help the bottom line. The goal of written surveys is to get a statistically valid sample.
Some survey methods include: • One-on-one, in-person, day-to-day conversations— management walks around and talks to people, creating an atmosphere of trust. An open-door policy helps. • Email, text, electronic, or paper questionnaires—to obtain a random sampling of employee feedback. • Focus groups—third-party facilitators ask questions and report back aggregate findings so no names are associated with responses. • Pulse surveys—have only three questions about a specific initiative, how it is going, and their opinions. • Town hall meetings—provide an opportunity for disseminating information along with questions and answers. • World café—small groups discuss specific questions, share opinions and feedback, then rotate and repeat the process. Data is collected, rolled up, and reported back. • Breakfast meetings—informal group of random employees meet to discuss issues with executives. • Internal blogs/intranet-based blogs—available on the company website where questioning is and responses remain anonymous; accessible only to employees • Survey Monkey—online, cost-effective, anonymous tool that can be used by anyone. Adler adds, “As much as possible, surveys should be conversational and comfortable, not intimidating. Avoid redundant or reframed questions. There are no “best” channels. Each information gathering channel provides different insights.” Mia Hirschel, vice president of Professional Search Centre, Ltd, said, “Surveys should be part of a company’s onboarding program. Exit interviews also should incorporate an opportunity for feedback. If great employees are leaving for better salaries, benefits or growth opportunities, it may be time to make some changes within the organization. Analyze feedback for trends.” “It can be beneficial even if you share only some of the information,” said Adler, “it shows you are interested in what employees think.” Solomon stresses, “Acknowledgement and appreciation are important. True culture is not the vision statement, but what employees say you are.” Currently a freelance writer, editor, and public relations consultant based in suburban Chicago, Sue Masaracchia-Roberts has more than 25 years of experience in public relations and writing. Her specialties are the fields of manufacturing and small business, healthcare, and natural and alternative medicine. Her writing has appeared in a number of newspapers and magazines, including RetailerNOW, the Chicago Tribune, NorthShore Living, Vital Times, the Business Ledger, and What’s Happening?
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Sales & Marketing
By Kevin Doran
The rise of the connected shopper is transforming the retail experience. We are now in an era of selling that many are calling omnichannel retailing (don’t worry we will get to that). Smartphone and portable technology are taking the shopping experience beyond Ms. Jones’s home computer and way beyond your store. To move your business forward, retailers need to react to the opportunities caused by these behavioral and shopping changes. Omni-channel retailing is about the touch points the consumer has with your business through different shopping channels (i.e. mobile devices, computers, brick-and-mortar, television, radio, direct mail, catalog, etc). The omni-channel consumer wants to use all channels at the same time and expects everything to be available at his or her fingertips. In today’s brick and mortar stores, Ms. Jones is walking through the door already informed about a product’s features and prices, and expects store employees to know more than they do. As a retailer you need to be armed with numerous ways to reach consumers in real time. There are five steps to understanding your omni-channel experience. These steps will help set the groundwork for an omni-channel marketing program.
Modify and optimize your marketing programs
Advertising vehicles are interrelated in today’s marketplace. Ms. Jones has the ability (and adaptability) to consume multiple messages across multiple platforms all at once. To encourage this omni-channel experience what she sees in one platform has to coincide with the other to encourage her to opt-in. This will allow for true success, which equals dollars in your store.
Measurement and Monitoring
Once the Internet was introduced to the consumer it has allowed for the possibility of all modes of advertising to be measured, tracked, and monitored. Putting triggers on all advertisements that can allow for reactive measurement (vanity URLs, vanity phone numbers, and differentiated offers) will allow your marketing programs to be put to the test for success and/or failure.
Now that you have a better understanding of how to recognize who your customer is, here are four omni-channel marketing programs to consider trying.
Define the stages of your customer’s lifecycle
Welcome program: A welcome program is a series of coordinated
Understand who your customer is
Post-purchase program: Once a customer completes a transaction, you as the retailer need to view them as a valuable lead. This program is designed to keep the customer engaged and to build upon the relationship, with the aim of turning a one-time visitor into a loyal repeat customer.
Think about it. When would your Ms. Jones begin to purchase furniture from you? Is it when she buys her first house or when she first gets married? How often in a lifetime is she going to buy furniture from you? What would be the last piece of furniture she might ever buy from you? Defining these lifecycles will allow you to develop the program needed to have her purchase from you. Although we would love for every consumer to be in the market to buy, that is simply not the case. Ms. Jones who purchases a $399 sofa is much different than the Ms. Jones who might buy a $399 accent pillow. Identify the similarities your customer base has and work to find those trends in other non-customers. Knowing your demographic, and what they’re likely to buy, will make your life easier.
Plot your program
What are you trying to accomplish? Is the purpose to enhance the experience of Ms. Jones to help increase the average ticket of every purchase made? Or perhaps the purpose is to sell a certain number of units? Identifying these objectives in conjunction with your customer type will help you bring in the dollars throughout her lifecycle.
trigger point messages, which seek to remind recipients that your brand, product, or program is worthy of them sharing their details with you. They are designed to introduce a new subscriber or customer to the brand, build trust, inform, and drive the subscriber toward a first purchase or related conversion event.
VIP or loyalty program: A successful post-purchase program will
turn the customer into an advertiser. At this stage it is important you are monitoring customer activity and rewarding them for their commitment to your brand.
Win back program: As the name would suggest, this program
exists to re-engage customers who have not visited you within a designated amount of time. This program is about getting the customer to buy back into your brand in a unique and persuasive way so they connect with you again.
Kevin Doran is the CEO of R&A Marketing. Armed with more than 25 years of furniture retail marketing experience as a full-service traditional and digital marketing company, R&A works with retailers in the home furnishings, appliances, and electronics industries.Visit www.ramarketing.com or email info@ ramarketing.com for more information.
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ompanies seeking to build The challenge for human resources, and strong brands pump a consider- indeed marketing, is how best to harness able amount of resources into the brand-building potential of people. marketing, advertising and PR One key contributor often over looked is activities. Yet these very same companies brand-building clothing. Not only does often ignore what can be the most power- clothing reflect an individual’s or a comful ingredient of an enduring customer pany’s image, it can also affect behavior. relationship: the people who represent the For customer-facing employees, correct brand to the customer and who are called clothing is even more essential. Logoed apparel can provide an instantly recognizable upon to fulfil the brand’s promises. signal about the employer brand and the company culture—sending a very visible In an increasingly competitive global marmessage to consumers. ketplace, it is important for companies to ensure brand loyalty. Recent research by the Gallup organization highlights the Corporate clothing can be a vital tool in the impact of front-line staff on the company’s motivation of staff. Staff who enjoy wearing relationship with the customer and brand company clothing will tend to feel more loyalty. In the cut-throat airline market, for positive about their workplace, valued by example, customer loyalty for all airlines in their employer, confident in their appearthe study was driven by employee interac- ance, and part of a successful visible team. tion. Certainly many products are now so similar that that there is little to differenti- In today’s business climate, employees are ate between them except for the smile of the increasingly seen as one of a company’s most valuable assets. The challenge is to person you see behind the counter.
get the most out of people, discovering how best to use front-line staff to promote brand loyalty, and determine how to use the employer brand to recruit and retain the best staff. NAHFA’s partnership with Aramark Uniforms provides members a discount on direct purchase clothing, as well as a discounted rental program for delivery drivers and warehouse personnel. Contact the NAHFA office for a complete catalog of apparel. Kaprice Crawford is NAHFA’s membership team leader. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 422-3778 ext. 102.
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Government Relations By Lisa Casinger
We’ve probably all heard the quote from Otto von Bismark (a conservative Prussian statesman who dominated German and European affairs from the 1860s until 1890), “Laws are like sausages, it’s better not to see them being made.”
to form the NAHFA). The American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) has been working on these and myriad other compliance issues for decades.
spokesperson from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce talked about the National Labor Relations Board and the Ambush Rule, which enhances unions’ ability to organize.
Granted, for now, Prop 65 and TB1172013 technically only affect California For the most part I think this is true— retailers. But—these regulations also affect mainly because the process can be off- manufacturers who sell into California, putting, even boring. Let’s face it, unless most of whom either struggle with maina law or regulation pertains to you, you taining two sets of inventory or who just really don’t care. And sometimes, even if make everything they sell comply with it does pertain to you, you don’t care until California regulations. The issue of chemiit’s too late—until you end up in court, get cals in furniture—whether we’re talking served a compliance notice or face a fine. formaldehyde or flame retardants—is not You care when it affects your wallet, and I going away. If anything it’s heating up— can respect that. Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York are watching California and I can also respect the fact that you’re busy. either already have or are in the process of Reading over legislative updates or attend- adopting similar regulations. The federal ing a seminar or responding to a call to agencies—the Environmental Protection action are not on the top of your To Do Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission—are also payOne thing I heard over and over again was, ing attention to California.
One thing I heard over and over again was the industry needs to work together to tackle these issues. Guess what folks? We are and we have been, and we will continue to work together.
the industry needs to work together to tackle these issues. That’s not new information. Guess what folks? We are and we have been, and we will continue to work together.
For all of you retailers outside of California—guess what? These issues will affect you, either through higher product costs (because the manufacturers can’t absorb all of the fiscal responsibility required to be compliant) or, at some point in the near future, through federal regulations similar to California’s. You cannot afford to ignore these issues and think they will go away.
The NAHFA and the AHFA have been working together earnestly on flammability and formaldehyde issues—both in California and with the EPA and CPSC. We also work with coalitions outside the industry that include the National Retail Federation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, California Chamber of Commerce, California Retail Association, and the list goes on. There are phone calls with key staff members to work at crafting language on proposed bills and regulations; there are meetings on the Hill; there are workshops and seminars—we’re working behind the scenes, making the sausages. We provide detailed information to our respective members. We rally them and call them to action when it’s time.
Another thing I took away from the summit was that some companies are trying to go list. I’m here to tell you that—you have to it alone. And while those efforts are to be move it to the top of your list. You have to commended, you should know that your rebe informed or designate someone in your spective associations are already strategically company to be informed. working on these issues in the most effective ways possible. We work with lobbyists, with I recently attended a legislative summit each other, with outside groups, and nonhosted by Furniture Today. Of the 140 or One of the speakers at the summit, government organizations. We’re doing the so people who attended, only four were Michael Sullivan, a leading toxic tort at- work for you—based on due diligence, years retailers. The agenda included information torney from Womble Carlyle Sandridge & of experience, member guidance, and strateon Prop 65 and TB117-2013—informa- Rice LLP, said it best—and I paraphrase— gic thinking—so we effect positive, realistic tion that’s been available on nahfa.org for in order to change the dialog, you have to change with minimal negative impact. We’re more than a year and updates on both have participate in the conversation. charged to do this work for you, and we’re been provided to NAHFA members on a committed to the task. regular basis since I started working with During the summit, various attorneys the association last year (and before that by touched on issues like product liabil- Lisa Casinger is NAHFA’s government relations the respective organizations that merged ity, risk management and compliance. A liaison. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @LisaCasinger.
JUNE | 2014
What’s going on with our retailers across the country
vvBernie & Phyl’s Furniture Helps Survivors of Boston Marathon Bombings Flipping Boston, a real estate reality show on the A&E network, enlisted Norton, Massachusetts-based Bernie & Phyl’s help to furnish the newly renovated, handicapped accessible home for Boston Marathon bombings survivors Paul Norden and Jacqui Webb. The retailer provided almost $10,000 of furniture. “We are honored to be a part of the ongoing community effort to help the survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings rebuild their lives,” Rob Rubin of Bernie & Phyl’s Furniture said in a press release. “Bernie & Phyl’s has strong roots in Massachusetts, and we are happy that we can do our part to make a difference.”
vvBadcock’s History Recognized
Mulberry, Florida-based Badcock Furniture & More has been recognized as an important part of Florida’s business and economic history with an exhibit in the Polk History Center in Bartow. The permanent exhibit, “W.S. Badcock Corporation—a Century Strong and Still Growing,” includes photos and audio memorabilia, as well as pieces of family furniture.
vCity v Furniture Converts Fleet to Compressed Natural Gas City Furniture, based in Tamarac, Florida, has completed a $1.5 million compress natural gas (CNG) station on its Tamarac headquarter’s campus. It’s one of the first furniture retailers to build its own CNG station and convert most of its delivery fleet to run on CNG. City expects to have all 85 trucks converted by 2016.
v vTwin-Star Celebrates Kids
Twin-Star celebrated its fifth annual “Take our Daughters and Sons to Work” Day on March 6. Product director, Jacqueline Todd, showed the employees’ children, pictured above, how to color and build 3D miniature mantels. Other activities included making bird houses with customer service, playing dress up and holding job interviews with sales, learning teamwork by building real mantels in operations, and then the marketing and IT departments held on-camera product interviews along with a pizza and ice cream party.
vvNC Dedicates Highway Historical Marker to High Point Market North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory dedicated a N.C. Highway Historical Marker to the High Point Market on April 28, 2014. The marker is located on the 200 block of South Main Street alongside the historic furniture exposition hall building, which opened in 1921 as the first exhibit space in the history of the market. Doug Bassett, president of Vaughan-Bassett Furniture and chairman of the board for the High Point Market Authority, welcomed the Governor and local and state dignitaries to the unveiling. Gov. McCrory, pictured at left, recognized the importance of the furniture industry in North Carolina. “For more than a century, North Carolina has been a key player in the furniture industry – both nationally and internationally. This state was built on manufacturing. It was built on making things and building things and fixing things. It’s what made North Carolina great, and furniture led the way. We can’t rely on the service industry alone. We have to continue to make and produce and build things and grow things.” The High Point Market now spans more than 11.5 million square feet of showrooms and generates about $5.4 billion annually for the state.
JUNE | 2014
We’ll See You in Dallas!
Dallas Total Home & Gift Market June 18-24, 2014 2100 N Stemmons Fwy, Dallas, TX 75207
The next Dallas Total Home & Gift Market takes place on June 18-24, 2014 and is sure to inspire home furnishings retail buyers from all over the country. While perusing the more than 20,000 gift and home décor product lines you’ll also want to learn about programs designed to help you run your store more efﬁciently. Stop by the NAHFA ofﬁce in suite 170 of the World Trade Center and ﬁnd out about low rates on ﬁnancing options for your customers, better business insurance solutions, marketing programs, products to help your warehouse and delivery teams better serve your customers, and so much more. We exist to help you sell more, make more and keep more. We’ll see you in Dallas!
Pilgrim Furniture City 10th Annual Golf Tournament Tuesday, August 5, 2014 12:00 p.m. shotgun start Lake of Isles Golf Course Foxwood Resort & Casino, North Stonington, CT
Inland Empire Furniture Dealers Golf Tournament Wednesday, August 20, 2014 1:30 p.m. scramble Circling Raven Golf Club, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Contact email@example.com for details.
Northwest Regional Summer Education Day
Retailers interested in learning more about these events can call us at (800) 422-3778 or visit www.NAHFA.org.
Thursday, August 21, 2014 8:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Coeur d’Alene Casino, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
JUNE | 2014
MARK YOUR CALENDAR FOR THESE INDUSTRY EVENTS Check out Networking News on page 61 for NAHFA Regional Events 1-3, 2014 June 1-3, 2014 Phoenix, Arizona www.thehfnc.com
Las Vegas Market
KEM Furniture & Accessory Mart
July 27-31, 2014
September 7-8, 2014
Las Vegas, Nevada www.lasvegasmarket.com
Kissimmee, Florida www.kemexpo.com
KEM Furniture & Accessory Market
Showtime June 1-4, 2014 High Point, North Carolina www.showtime-market.com
Dallas Total Home & Gift Market June 18-24, 2014 Dallas, Texas www.dallasmarketcenter.com
Atlanta Summer Gift, Home Furnishings & Holiday Market July 8-15, 2014 Atlanta, Georgia www.americasmart.com
International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market
August 3-5, 2014
September 16-19, 2014
Edison, New Jersey www.kemexpo.com
The Merchandise Mart, Chicago www.casualmarket.com
Tupelo Furniture Market August 14-17, 2014 Tupelo, Mississippi www.tupelofurnituremarket.com
High Point Market October 18-23, 2014 High Point, North Carolina www.highpointmarket.org
KEM Furniture & Accessory Mart
August 16-20, 2014 New York, New York www.nynow.com
November 19-20, 2014 Long Beach, California www.kemexpo.com
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CLEARLY A SMART APP FOR A BUSY RETAILER
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JUNE | 2014
Congratulations to the 2014 Retailer of the Year winners Dave Harkness, Harkness Furniture Tom Olinde, Olinde's Furniture We salute you and celebrate your accomplishments!
Cargo Consolidation Services
High Point Market Authority Las Vegas Market (IMC) Jaipur Rugs
(519) 662-3040 x733
NAHFA Membership Marketplace
Northwest Furniture Xpress
Pacific Furniture Dealers
(800) 535-4087 x6553
Twin Star International
Back Cover 27
47 41 16
JUNE | 2014
The Now List A quick dose of fun facts, random trivia, and useful (or useless) bits of info
The Now List
The Millennial generation is about equal to the size of the Boomer generation—77 million.
There are 974 million existing Twitter accounts; 44% of them have never sent a tweet.
Why so Big?
Newspapers are broadsheet size because in 1712, the British government taxed newspapers based on the number of pages—larger size meant fewer pages and less taxes.
To Update or Not
76% of organizations surveyed by tech survey company Capgemini said it was important or very important to modernize their applications to match their business objectives.
Like it or Not
The average Facebook user spends more than 55 minutes a day on the site and uses the Like button nine times a month.
Ready to Retire 10 most popular U.S. cities in which to retire: 10. Myrtle Beach, SC 9. Naples, FL
Nearly one in three microbusiness owners in the U.S. depend on a second job as their main source of personal income.
Marvel has created more than 9,000 superheroes and other characters in its 74 years of publishing.
“Man Machine,” an exhibit at the Galerie Kreo in Paris, featured 9 limited-edition pieces of furniture crafted from window plate glass. The artist, Konstantin Grcic, worked gas pistons into the designs— the reclining chair adjusts like a car seat. Pieces were on exhibit through May and ranged in price from $40,840 to $122,530.
Home Sweet Home
We Need More Heroes
James Dyson (as in Dyson vacuum) is designing Recyclone Barge—a vac on a boat that sucks up garbage.
Pop Up Retail
Storefront gets $7.3 million in funding to expand into LA; the company helps online retailers, designers and artists find temp retail space—or pop up stores. Customers include Google, Nike, Kanye West, and Indochino.
Arizona is home to 22 American Indian tribes.
Saving vs. Spending
Americans say they’d rather save money (62%) rather than spend it (34%). This is the widest gap since Gallup first asked the question in 2001.
8. Prescott, AZ 7. Austin, TX 6. Charleston, SC 5. Fort Myers, FL
Rockin’ the Night Away
1800—first rocking chairs were introduced.
4. Beaufort, SC 3. Venice, FL
Housing FTW! (for the win)
2. Sarasota, FL 1. Asheville, NC
No Fortune for You
Only 46% of boomers think it’s important to leave an inheritance to loved ones.
2015 Super Bowl
Greater Phoenix hosted Super Bowl XXX on Jan. 28, 1996, and Super Bowl XLII on Feb. 3, 2008 and will host Super Bowl XLIX in 2015.
56% of Americans expect their local home prices to increase (highest percentage to hold this view since 2006). 74% say it’s a good time to buy a house…one of the highest readings to date.
Sources: Pew Research, Google Facts, Associations Now, Uber Facts, Market Watch, Forbes, Twopcharts, Sam’s Club/Gallup Microbusiness Tracker, Gallup.com, Fast Company, NY Times, Encyclopedia of Furniture, VisitPhoenix.com 64
JUNE | 2014
Sophisticated Furniture Customization Tool to Beneﬁt Manufacturers, Retailers, and Empower Online Shoppers.
Breakthrough Online Furniture Customization Solution CUSTOM FURNITURE CONFIGURATION AND VISUALIZATION The new Design Your Own merchandising and eCommerce solution enables consumers, sales associates, and interior designers to go beyond fabric and ﬁnish changes to customize and visualize various options of their furniture selections. In addition to rendering the precise look of custom products prior to purchase, Design Your Own also includes powerful yet simple to use MicroD Accessorize design and merchandising tools that can enhance the user-experience.
Immediately visualize furniture style & fabric Customize furniture with a click of a mouse Get dynamic pricing updates at every step Simulate floor, wall, trim colors
Changes fabrics & ﬁnishes Add a rug Purchase online or in-store
For more information email: Solutions@MicroDinc.com or call: 800-964-3876
Published on May 30, 2014