Page 1


September 2009

The magazine for sleep products professionals

The cover story

Retiring for the night

Boomers still best bet for new bed sales


Illinois independent Sherman’s bucks bad economy with growth SPECIAL SECTION

Great customer service makes all the difference, especially in tough times IT’S THE LAW

HIRE Act passage would mean federal incentives for mattress purchases

Do you have what it takes to be an



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IN THIS ISSUE where to find it


THE COVER STORY retiring for the night

Their investment portfolios may be thinner, but aging baby boomers still offer mattress retailers the biggest opportunity for growth as they deal with a host of new issues, including the growing need for products to improve their health, well-being and comfort.





1A 23 35

from the editor’s desk

Recent store visits reveal more poor practices that retailers who want to be female-friendly should put on the ‘no-no’ list.

stuff you can use

WMC unveils ‘Is it Home yet’ campaign; luxury consumers back in the market for home furnishings; four really good reasons to get a good night’s sleep; Steven King on how to have fun selling mattresses; keeping employees engaged in tough times...and more. Special Section

THE SERVICE CENTER improving the customer experience

Great customer service is one of the practical things retailers can do to keep business strong in tough times and build loyalty going forward.

BE MY GUEST by George Whalin

Opportunities for growth at retail are still out there every day, especially for savvy independents.

CONSUMER CHECK profiling your customer

A look at recent studies on the problems that arise when couples’ sleeping styles don’t match.


37 39 44

IT’S THE LAW for your protection

The HIRE Act, introduced in August, would give retailers and consumers financial incentives to buy mattresses and home furnishings.

SHOWCASE products & programs for success

Here’s what’s new and interesting from companies that market mattresses, components, accessories and retailer services. Take a tour!

CLOSING WORDS by Gerry Morris Downtime between ups can be profitable, too, if you use it to your advantage.


RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene Illinois independent Sherman’s runs counter to industry trends with a store expansion and a 30% growth in bedding sales this year.

SleepSavvy • September 2009


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SleepSavvy The magazine for sleep products professionals

Editor in Chief Nancy Butler 828-299-7420 nbutler@sleepproducts.org Senior Writer Barbara Nelles 336-856-8973 bnelles@sleepproducts.org Contributors Patricia Frank Steven King Kurt Ling Gerry Morris George Whalin Art Direction Stephanie Belcher The Jimmydog Design Group stephanie@jimmydog.com Vice President of Sales Kerri Bellias 336-945-0265 kbellias@sleepproducts.org Advertising Services Manager Debbie Robbins 336-342-4217 drobbins@sleepproducts.org Circulation Manager Mary Rulli 336-491-0443 mrulli@sleepproducts.org Copy Editor Margaret Talley-Seijn Vol. 8, No. 6 ISSN 1538-702X Sleep Savvy is published 8 times a year by the International Sleep Products Association, 501 Wythe St., Alexandria, Virginia 22314-1917. Phone 703-683-8371. Fax 703-683-4503. Website: www.sleepsavvymagazine.com. Sleep Savvy editorial office: 15 E. Hawthorne Dr., Asheville, North Carolina 28805. Phone 828-299-7420, fax 828-299-7490. Advertising services: 126 Parkview Lane, Reidsville, NC 27320. Phone 336-342-4217. Fax 336-342-4116. Subscription policy & rates Retailers: All U.S. retailers qualify for free subscriptions, up to 5 per location. In Canada, $10 per year; all other countries, $30. Manufacturers, suppliers and others: Personnel at ISPA member companies qualify for complimentary subscriptions, subject to restrictions. Nonmembers and all others: $30 U.S., $40 non-U.S. Please send subscription orders and changes to: Sleep Savvy, P.O. Box 4678, Archdale, North Carolina 27263 or fax 336-431-0317. ©2009 by the International Sleep Products Association. No portion of the content may be reprinted without permission from Sleep Savvy. Printed in the U.S.A.


WAKE UP CALL from the editor

A few more no-no’s for savvy mattress retailers


ased on recent visits to mattress retail stores—some my own, some recounted by friends—I have a few more tips for mattress retailers who’d like to please female customers and have a better shot at closing more sales. To me, the improvements I’m about to suggest seem like no-brainers, but apparently they don’t come naturally to all managers and RSAs, especially the guys. As inconsequential as they may seem, they could be quietly sabotaging your best selling efforts without you knowing it. Sometimes even the customer isn’t fully aware of the big impact of these small things. Trash out of sight Women notice details. That can work for you or against you. Some of the things that will work against you are: ● Leaving the plastic wrap on the floor models, even if it’s just on the foundation, or stashing it underneath where it’s still visible. That may seem the efficient thing to do if you sell models off the floor, but it looks terrible. Are you a dirty-window sleep shop? Then don’t look like one! ● Leaving the a vacuum cleaner out on the floor. Women will appreciate if you use it (and boy will they notice when you don’t), but they don’t want to see it hanging out in the corner. Put it and all of your cleaning supplies where the customer will never see them (not the restroom, please). ● Paperwork—spec sheets, sales tickets—and other clutter left lying around the store, especially on the mattresses. Are those your lunch leftovers?! This does not create an invit-

ing, female-friendly environment. Even leaving related literature and cutaways lying around when not in use can create an impression of mess and detract from the presentation. ● Too little space between models. Let’s face it, a lot of today’s customers are plus-size. If you squeeze so many beds together that a woman has to turn sideways to get between them so she can try one out, you can kiss that sale goodbye. Nothing is worse than setting your customer up for embarrassment. Lighten up A friend of mine has been shopping for a new mattress and taking the time to make sure she gets what feels best at a good price. Her most recent store visit was a disaster at the hands of an RSA (female) who tried to close her on pricey set before she had even expressed interest in that model or any other. It put a serious dent in her enthusiasm for a new bed. But fortunately, one encounter made a particularly positive impression. The RSA (male) was nice, informative and willing to spend time without pressuring her—he earned her trust. That’s where she’ll go to make her purchase. So lighten up out there! Hard-sell can take a customer out of your store and maybe even out of market. nbutler@sleepproducts.org

SleepSavvy • September 2009


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SNOOZE NEWS stuff you can use

Upscale,Decorating advise 5-7 year mattress replacement “Your old mattress could be affecting your overall health,” headlined a story in the August issue of Upscale, a popular magazine targeted to African-American readers. The story cited the results of the 2005 study at Oklahoma State University, which showed significant improvements in sleep quality and back pain when sleeping on a new mattress (to learn more about the study, go to www.sleepsavvymagazine.com/editorial/documents/OSUfactsheet.pdf). Hitting newsstands at the same time was the fall issue of Decorating—a special interest publication of Better Homes & Gardens—with a major story titled “The Ultimate Guide to Beds.” In the opening paragraph of the mattress tips section, this popular publication advises its readers, “While some mattresses are guaranteed for 10 years or more, many experts recommend replacing them every five to seven years or earlier if they no longer offer the best support…” Both magazines interviewed the Better Sleep Council’s Karin Mahoney as a key resource for information on mattress replacement and shopping tips.

Creativity requires the

courage to let go of

certainties. — Erich Fromm German-American psychologist

Mattress Wallet to ease financial nightmares It was inevitable. Someone has finally created a way to put your money in your mattress and put it in your back pocket. The Mattress Wallet, available online at $19.95, offers savvy investors a secure, comfortable place to put their money. Measuring 3.5” x 4” when folded, it’s well-suited to international currencies as well as U.S. dollars and I.O.U.s, its marketer points out. The wallet closely resembles its queensized counterparts, they claim—“No detail has been overlooked, down to the ubiquitous warning tag that should not be removed under penalty of law. Its cream-colored quilting features a subtle paisley pattern, bordered with fine satin trim that conforms to the shape of your body.” However, they assure, “No box spring wallet is required.” The wallet is “endorsed” by such financial luminaries as notorious Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff and Washington Mutual’s Tom Casey, who oversaw the biggest bank failure in U.S. history. It comes packaged with money-wise advice including comparison graphs such as “The Mattress Wallet vs. The Stock Market” and includes sound investing parables such as “The money you put in is the money you take out.” Available exclusively at www.themattresswallet.com.


SleepSavvy • September 2009



stuff you can use Steven King’s


Every mattress sale is worth ENJOYING! I thoroughly enjoy myself on the sales floor. I love greeting customers and taking opps—that’s short for “opportunities,” which I prefer to “ups.” Am I crazy? Maybe! But I have fun matching customers with great mattresses, and you can, too. Recently, I greeted a young couple and the conversation went something like this: He: “We just came from Mega Mattress (a madeup name to protect the not-so-innocent).We tried a __________ mattress and we both liked it. We want to know if you can do better on the price.” Me: “What size mattress are you considering? Where is it going? And what price do I need to beat?” She: “We need a king for the master bedroom and we can get a set with a free frame at Mega for $499.” OK, at this point I’m mentally rubbing my hands and flexing my selling muscles. My best guess is that the husband weighs in at approximately 375 lbs. and his wife is every bit of 240 lbs. Another point that came up in the conversation: A large German shepherd joins them in bed.  Me: “How long since you last shopped for a mattress?”  She: “We bought our last mattress as a present to ourselves last Christmas.” (Only seven months ago!) Me: “If you really love the mattress you tried at Mega

Mattress, OK. But I would never sell you that mattress. My customers look forward to going to sleep on mattresses that we select together so it’s really right for them. They wake up every morning with a smile, not with aches and pains. Let me show you why.” I explained that they should be considering a solid, more substantial mattress along with a heavy-duty frame that will assure years of supportive, restful sleep. “We’re both big people,” he admitted, smiling. Me: “Please follow me. Now, lie down on this mattress and let me get you a couple of nice, freshly sanitized pillows to tuck under your heads…….” (They loved it.) She: “$1,695 for this mattress—wow! We didn’t expect that!” Me: “A good mattress is a necessity, not a luxury. A good night’s sleep directly impacts your health, your lifestyle, your work, your fun—don’t you agree?” She: “I guess that’s true.” Me: “We’re willing to spend big bucks on a TV, stereo, electronic games and cartridges—don’t you think sleep is more important?” He: “OK, we’ll take it. Do you have financing?” That couple left my store with a great foam-encased innerspring mattress, a heavy-duty frame, two pillows and a mattress pad. Total amount financed: $2,119.77. Now that’s what I call fun! Steven King is president of Steven King & Associates, a sales training firm, and the author of Money in the Mattress: The Sales Associates’ Guide to Premium Mattress Sales. Contact Steven at moneyinthemattress@hotmail.com; order his book at www.moneyinthemattress.com.

Brits fall for mattress dominoes record


f you question the power of “viral marketing,” consider the recent popularity of the “Mattress Dominoes” video on YouTube. In late July, British retailer Bensons for Beds in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, set the official world’s record for most mattresses to fall in a dominoes chain. The staff arranged 41 mattresses standing on end—each with a person lean-

8 SleepSavvy • September 2009

ing against it—on a path running through the company’s warehouse.

The resulting video, complete with Keystone Copsstyle music, attracted major broadcast and print media attention around the world. The Guinness Book of World Records said that the mattress dominoes feat was the first of its kind in the record book. No doubt it will not be the last. To see the video, go to www.youtube.com and search for “Mattress Dominoes.” www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


stuff you can use

September is National Home Furnishings Month!


n a brand new initiative to unite the $133 billion home furnishings industry, World Market Center Las Vegas (WMC) is launching “Is it Home yet?TM”, a nationwide campaign to drive retail sales across product categories. The program, unveiled in August, kicks off this month with the first annual “National Home Furnishings Month,” which will culminate in a special retail sales period Sept.19-27. The campaign includes advertising in major home publications, billboard ads and an aggressive online program on MSN. For the inaugural event, a month-long sweepstakes offers consumers a chance to win room makeovers valued at $5,000. WMC invests $20 million “Is it Home yet?” is being underwritten by WMC with a $20 million investment over a five-year period, beginning with initial funding of $5 million. The campaign is endorsed by the leading furniture industry associations, including the International Sleep Products Association (ISPA) and its Better Sleep Council (BSC). “The World Market Center is to be

(WHFA), Sustainable Furnishings Council, Home Furnishings Independents Association, American Society of Furniture Designers and WithIt (Women in the Home Furnishings Industry Today).

applauded for their timing and creativity in launching this campaign,” says Jimmy Orders, chairman of the Better Sleep Council. “The BSC wholeheartedly endorses this initiative.” Other organizations supporting “Is it Home yet?” include the National Home Furnishings Association (NHFA), Western Home Furnishing Association

Support the HIRE Act! There’s a new bill in Congress that would give retailers and consumers tax incentives to buy mattresses and other home furnishings. Turn to page 37 for the full story.


Free retail toolkit The program features a “plug and play” toolkit for retailers, with tips and co-op creative based on the national advertising campaign. The kit includes print ads, in-store POS displays, an email template and PR ideas to help retailers build local tiein campaigns. To view the toolkit, go to http://toolkit.homeyet.com. The campaign’s consumer website, www.homeyet.com, includes a Store Locator to help shoppers find retailers in their area. Retailers who are registered buyers for this month’s Las Vegas Market or are members of NHFA or WHFA are automatically included. Retailers who want to sign up to be included on the Stores Locator list should go to http://retailer.homeyet.com. For additional information on the retail participation program, email retailstores@homeyet.com or call 702-599-8124.

Quotable “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” — John F. Kennedy

SleepSavvy • September 2009



stuff you can use

Employee engagement: It’s critical in tough times


t a time when every person in your company needs to be giving 110% on the job, understanding what drives employee engagement—and how to enlist it—is critical. But American companies are falling short, according to Gallup. Here are the findings of its recent Employee Engagement Index: ● 22% of workers are truly engaged—working with passion and commitment. ● 17% of workers are actively disengaged. ● 71% of workers are on “cruise control.” Companies are paying a high price for low engagement, according to Gallup. ● Every actively disengaged employee costs their employer $13K a year in lost productivity. ● Highly engaged employees outperform their disengaged counterparts by between 20% and 28%.

What drives engagement In a report titled “Employee Engagement: A Review of Current Research and its Implications,” The Conference Board outlines 26 key factors in employee engagement. These eight appear in at least 12 of the studies examined in the report: 1. Relationship with their manager —the #1 driver regardless of age, location or study 2. Trust and integrity 3. Nature of the job 4. Understanding how their work contributes to the organization’s performance 5. Career growth opportunities 6. Pride about the organization 7. Relationship with co-workers and team members 8. Employee development. The report defines employee engagement as “a heightened emotional connection that an employee feels for his or her organization, that influences him or her to exert greater discretionary effort to his or her work.” What builds engagement Employee engagement is built on the following five “Cs,” according to a

10 SleepSavvy • September 2009

management white paper published by PR giant MWW Group: 1. Clarity. Embrace clarity and do it quickly. Be upfront and straightforward with employees. If you don’t tell the story, someone else (or the grapevine) will do it for you. 2. Consistency. Be consistent about communicating with employees, even when times are tough and not all the news is good. 3. Context. Understanding the context is key to moving information and ideas into action. Explain to employees why decisions are being made. 4. Customization. Customize your communications to reach employees at different levels: Individuals, department or team, and whole workforce. 5. Conversation. Start a conversation with employees. Don’t deliver information, exchange it. And keep in mind that if one employee says it, 10 think it. For a copy of the MWW white paper, visit www.mww.com.



stuff you can use

Luxury consumers back in the furnishings market


uxury consumers stopped spending in droves when the stock market plummeted last year, but they’re back—and they’re buying home furnishings—according to the latest tracking study of affluent consumer purchases from Unity Marketing. The survey of 1,000 consumers with an average income $207.8K found that the average amount spent on home luxuries rose 17.6% from the first quarter of 2009 to the second quarter. “Home furnishings marketers and retailers took a terrible hit in this recession. But the last two quarters of Unity’s tracking study indicates the luxury home furnishings market is recovering,” says Pam Danziger, president. “Now is the time for marketers to get aggressive and develop strategic plans that will help them take advantage of the new marketing opportunities.” OK, retailers, let’s make sure luxury beds are on the shopping list!

Just for laughs

4 reasons to get a

good night’s sleep

New scientific research continues to unmask the effects of chronic sleeplessness, and the results are enough to keep you up at night! Here are four of the most devastating effects, courtesy of the American Heart Association:


Sleep loss can lead to diabetes. A recent study shows that “people who sleep less than six hours a night appear to have a higher risk of developing impaired fasting glucose—a condition that can precede type 2 diabetes.”


Sleep loss can raise your blood pressure. Another recent study found that a lost hour of sleep—one hour less than the recommended eight—increased the odds of developing high blood pressure an average of 37% over five years; skipping two hours raised the blood pressure risk 86%. This condition can lead to heart attack, stroke or kidney failure.


Sleep loss can make you fat. Several recent studies have confirmed that there is a link between lost sleep and weight gain. In one study, participants who slept six hours per night were 27% more likely to become obese than those sleeping seven to nine hours; people getting five hours of sleep per night were 73% more likely to become obese; and those with only two to four hours of sleep per night were 67% more likely to become obese.


Sleep loss can make you vulnerable to cancer. Yet another recent study showed that even when people take preventive actions that have been proven to lower cancer risks (such as exercising and eating right), inadequate sleep seems to counteract those benefits. More research is underway on these and other health risks associated with cheating on sleep. Meanwhile, you might want to alert your family, friends, neighbors...and customers: Don’t shirk on the shut-eye.


SleepSavvy • September 2009



stuff you can use

New option for recycling used mattresses


his summer, the International Sleep Products Association (ISPA) conducted a successful test with Rubber Recovery, Inc. (RRI), a solid waste recycling business near Charleston, SC, as part of its efforts to establish cost-effective options for processing and recycling used mattress components. RRI used its stateof-the-art tire shredders to process 200 mattresses and foundations, which were contributed by Park Place and Simmons. It’s all part of the mattress industry’s ISPAEarth™ Sustainability Initiative launched last year. “Helping to grow the number of available mattress recycling centers

throughout North America promises great benefits for the mattress industry, retailers, consumers and the environment,” says Ryan Trainer, ISPA’s executive vice president. “The landmark effort with RRI provides an excellent solution for processing large volumes of used

mattresses, fulfilling our industry’s commitment to the environment and having better controls over what becomes of used mattresses.” For a list of 15 mattress recycling centers in the U.S. and Canada, go to www.sleepproducts.org/ RecyclingFacilities.

BEDDING BIZ BEAT The bedding sales decline moderated somewhat in June, with a dollar loss of just over 12% compared to last June. Unit sales were off by 9.2% for the month and the average unit price (wholesale) dropped 3.2%, reflecting stronger sales in the mid-priced to promotional models. For the first half of the year, dollar sales among leading companies in the ISPA sample were off by 15.8% and units were down by 13.2%.

Mattresses & Foundations - Millions of Dollars (wholesale) Sample of Leading Producers $330

$317 $275


$295 $261


$303 $246

$290 $258


Percent change -16.4%

Percent change

Percent change

Percent change

Percent change

Percent change












Source: ISPA monthly Bedding Barometer, a sample of leading U.S. mattress producers

12 SleepSavvy • September 2009

■ 2008 ■ 2009



stuff you can use

How female-friendly Luxury cars tackle drowsy driving is your store logo?


ave you noticed Walmart’s new corporate logo? If you look around, you’ll find that it’s just one of the companies recrafting their brand image and opting for a softer, friendlier, less corporate look—in short, more appealing to the female consumer. Here are some of the key changes, according to a story in The New York Times, “Warmer, Fuzzier: The Refreshed Logo” (May 30). ● Toned-down type. Blocky capital letters are being dumped in favor of rounder, lighter letters in lower case, “softening the stern voice of corporate authority to something more like an informal chat,” said writer Bill Marsh. ● Friendly touches. The friendliness of a smile is reflected in new logo designs, with elements like bursts, springs and twinkles that add a touch of whimsy to lighten the look and enhance the feeling of approachability. ● Happy colors. Amid all the gloom, people need a little joy in their lives, so go for lively, bright colors. Green is popular for its connection to sustainability and blue is a close second, but make it sky blue or clear water blue, not navy. Interestingly, women executives appear to have been involved in many of the recent logo overhauls, Rick Barrack, chief creative officer of CBX Strategic Branding, pointed out in a letter to the Times. “Female chief executives, with their cooperative, collaborative management styles, have brought a new point of view to their organizations and their logos,” he wrote. That captured the attention of Andrea Learned, an expert on marketing to women (www.learnedonwomen.com), who wrote in her online newsletter, “It’s a whole new, extratough business climate these days. Brands and consumers alike deserve the extra friendly flourish a little feminine thinking might bring to their day—shopping or otherwise.” So if you’re considering freshening up your logo to heighten your visibility in these tough times, be sure you’ve got the female perspective in the mix.

14 SleepSavvy • September 2009


oth Lexus and MercedesBenz are now offering hightech help to fight drowsiness while driving. The Lexus Driver Monitor System, a pricey option on the LS 600h, uses a camera mounted on the steering column to monitor shifts in the driver’s gaze and warns with a chime and flashing light. If the car gets too close to an obstacle and the driver still doesn’t react, the system will begin to apply the brakes. The newer Mercedes Attention Assist system, standard on 2010 E-class models, uses various sensors to monitor the driver’s behavior, including slight weaving of the vehicle, and emits an audible warning, accompanied by an espresso cup icon and ‘time for a rest’ message in the instrument panel. Drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 policereported crashes, resulting in 1,550 deaths and another 71,000 injuries each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Personally, Sleep Savvy thinks that 7-8 hours of sound sleep on a great new mattress is a much healthier—and less expensive—solution to the problem.

Clearer thinking may be just a dream away


ccording to a recent story in The New York Times (June 22), researchers from the University of California, San Diego, found a correlation between test performance levels and naps containing a significant amount of rapid eye movement (REM), which indicates dreaming. They evaluated study participants’ results on word-association tests conducted in the morning and evening and found that those who did not nap midday had the lowest scores, while those who napped without REM sleep had slightly higher scores on their evening test. But those whose naps included REM sleep had nearly a 40% increase on the evening test.


Black is the new Green. Introducing our new, environmentally-friendly bedlegs. For 40 years, Universal Bedlegs has been manufacturing sturdy, durable bed supports to replace unwieldy metal bedframes. And now we’re fabricating them from

100% recycled materials. Available in 3, 5, 7 or 10 inches, these are the same great bedlegs our customers swear by, with the same weight-bearing strength. Hidden under the bed, they’re neatly out of sight, but you can rest easy knowing you’re supported by the smart alternative. Finally, a bed support system that’s safer for shins and toes—and safer for the planet! Universal Bedlegs are made in the USA

Choose whatever size you desire: 3, 5, 7 — even 10 inches!

Visit universalbedlegs.com or Call 866.313.LEGS or 415.453.0255

RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene


Paul Sherman and sister Marsha Sherman-Weiss

Illinois independent bucks a bad economy with growth in bedding By Barbara Nelles Photography by Heidi Litchfield



andor and sincerity are what you hear in Paul Sherman’s straight-talking radio spots for his family business, Sherman’s, a central Illinois retailer with three locations. Paul is general manager of the electronics, appliances and home furnishings chain. His sister Marsha Sherman-Weiss is furniture and bedding buyer, and his parents Jack and Sharon Sherman are the mostly retired founders and owners. Several other family members work in the business, too. There is Marsha’s husband Rich Weiss, the operations manager; another sister, Sheila Sherman, in sales; and Sheila’s husband Glen Wiegand in merchan-

dising and commercial sales. What makes this family-owned independent retailer a standout in a tough economy is that they’ve expanded this year and—running counter to industry trends—dollar sales in the bedding category are up. In fact, they’re up 30% in the first eight months of the store’s fiscal year, while sales in other product categories are flat. What’s their secret? Paul and Marsha attribute the store’s expanding mattress market share to a seasoned sales staff that excels at crossselling, sharpened price points and special promotions, and a revamped brand image. SleepSavvy • September 2009


RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

$699 memory foam bed special!’— we take the time to explain the advantages of memory foam or why our supplier offered us such a good deal,” Paul says. “The ads aren’t high production quality. It’s just us talking.” More straight talk continues at Paul’s blog. “It’s just one more way to talk about your branding message and it’s free—why not do it? Plus, it’s nice to see compliments. We’ll send emails to satisfied customers and ask them to go online and make comments.” The new Sherman’s store in Peru, IL

Retooled brand message Expansion, especially among independent retailers, is a rarity in the current economic climate. But this spring, Sherman’s opened a 29,000-square-foot store in Peru, southwest of Chicago—four times the size of the old Peru store. Sherman’s also built a 35,000square-foot distribution center behind its 22,000-square-foot Peoria showroom. The third store, in Bloomington/Normal, is 18,000 square feet. A few years ago, with the help of a marketing consultant, Sherman’s did some research that led to a new brand message, tagline and advertising strategy—and set the stage for growth. “We discovered that customers love shopping here. They love that we’re local, dependable and family-owned and that our sales associates were familiar faces to them. But customers also thought they were paying more for the privilege,” Paul says. The solution? Add a 10% lowest price guarantee to their marketing message. The new tagline reads: At Sherman’s our 10% lowest price guarantee means you’ll always

18 SleepSavvy • September 2009

pay less at Sherman’s than you would at one of those big showrooms where the faces change every month. If a customer sees a product at a competitor for less, Sherman’s will permanently lower its own price to match the competitor’s and offer the shopper an additional 10% discount. The retailer also switched from print to mostly radio and TV advertising. “It was the best move we ever made,” Paul says. “With the new brand positioning, it really cranked our business.” While buying groups have been a mainstay of independent retailing for decades, not too many retailers make membership a key talking point. But in Sherman’s radio and TV spots, Paul and Marsha explain how membership in the Nationwide Marketing Group allows Sherman’s to compete with national chains and big box stores. They also relate anecdotes about shoppers who come in for a new mattress and find they are working with the same RSA they bought from a decade before. “In our ads, we don’t just scream price—‘Check out our

Bedding in the spotlight Appliances and electronics occupy 30% of the floor at Sherman’s, generate two-thirds of sales and account for 50% of the store’s gross margins. According to Paul, all that traffic boosts furniture and bedding sales, which account for a third of the store’s dollar sales and half of gross margins. “It’s just the right mix for us,” he says. “Each category always has a promotion going on. With bedding in particular, you need a focused promotion because a mattress purchase can always be put off.” The bedding department averages 2,200 square feet and features Sealy, Stearns & Foster and Therapedic brands. The most popular price points are $599 to $799 in queen. Prices open at $349 and top out at $4,299 for a queen set. Not surprisingly, average selling prices have dropped during the recession. But that hasn’t prevented Sherman’s from growing bedding sales by nearly one-third this year. At the new Peru store, lighting advances are key to creating the “perfect environment,” Paul says. “When you walk in, the lighting is fabulous. It’s so much brighter. We have sensor lighting for efficiency and have combined different types of lighting to get the desired effect— www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

while using half the energy.” An interior designer created a vivid but intimate mattress showroom with floral murals and chesthigh room dividers. The new bedding space is free of clutter, with no point-of-purchase signage. “Our associates know how to relate information and talk to customers. We’re very proud of that,” says Paul. “They discuss the importance of a good night’s sleep and ask lots of questions. We like to start with how you’re sleeping, the quality of your sleep, your likes and dislikes about your current bed.


Then we try to zero in on something that will help the customer sleep better.” “It’s important to remember that shoppers may not have bought a bed in a long time,” Marsha adds, “and things have changed. We’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of foams, innersprings and hybrids with them.” Floor models are grouped by construction type, then by brand. The RSA handles the entire transaction from the initial greeting through post-delivery follow-up. Delivery is free with purchases

over $700; otherwise there is a $50 charge. It’s available seven days a week, including some evenings. “The impression our delivery people make is an important part of our business,” says Paul. “We talk to customers about it and walk them through the delivery area. We want them to understand how welltrained we are and how careful we will be inside their home.” Better CRM Sherman’s manages its customer database more effectively with the help of new retail CRM software

SleepSavvy • September 2009


RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

from Profit Systems. Among its benefits, it allows for the collection of key customer information at the point of purchase, including email addresses. “Before, we used to provide an explanation of why we wanted their email addresses and what we would do with them. People would refuse,” Paul says. “Now we just ask for the information during checkout and enter it into our system—90% of people comply.” The system tracks all customer purchases and sends out emails and mailings targeting existing customers in other product categories, depending on past purchases. At its website, Sherman’s builds its prospect database by allowing visitors to opt into regular email updates.  

20 SleepSavvy • September 2009

In addition, each home-delivery customer receives a store survey, which enters them into a monthly drawing for a $500 store gift certificate. “The surveys are incredibly valuable,” Paul says. “They allow us to reinforce to various staff what they are doing right. And when something goes wrong, I learn about it and have the opportunity to contact the customer and correct it.” Twice a year, Sherman’s stages a large private sale event for existing customers. Items are specially tagged and the events are well attended. Keeping RSAs engaged Sherman’s has a total of 80 employees and many of them have

been with the store long term. “I just saw a 2001 brochure for the Peoria store and all seven of the salespeople mentioned are still with Sherman’s,” says Marsha. “We do have a feeling of togetherness here. We work a lot of hours, so we try to keep it fun.” One key to employee retention is “to keep people’s brains working,” Paul says, “and avoid getting in a rut. The store manager may have the staff take home a training chapter to study and come in ready to discuss and share. Or we’ll have contests and competitions to keep staff engaged.” All new RSAs will read John Lawhon’s Selling Retail and are trained in the “MASTERS” selling process—an acronym for


RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

“Meet’em, Ask’em, Show’em, Tell’em, Encourage’em, Reach agreement with’em and See’em again and again.” Nationwide Marketing Group makes the program available in online modules. Paul also conducts a once-a-month MASTERS refresher workshop. A mentoring program was used to get new employees at the Peru store off to a good start. Seasoned sales staff from Sherman’s other two stores were specially compensated to partner with the fresh recruits. Each store has an Excellence Score Board that is tied to bonus pay. It’s a motivational tool that allows RSAs and store managers to track weekly and monthly performance goals. It also adds an ele-


ment of peer pressure. “But we keep it lighthearted and it works,” Marsha adds. “Let’s say someone didn’t make their accessories goal for the month. Co-workers will poke fun and joke—but sure enough, the next month, that person is right on target.” Selling the whole floor It takes about a year for a new Sherman’s employee to be able to sell effectively across all store categories. But having them learn to do that has distinct advantages, says Paul, who believes it’s one reason the store is so strong in every category it sells. Here’s why: ● Sticking to just one department is boring for the salespeople.

Working the entire floor keeps Sherman’s RSAs engaged and always learning. ● Engaged RSAs stick around longer. Sherman’s has better-thanaverage employee retention. And the stores can operate efficiently with fewer employees. ● The best RSAs build relationships with customers that allow them to be more effective at selling across departments. “We get crossover all the time. Someone will buy a TV, a refrigerator and a sofa,” Paul says. ● Cross-selling is important in driving mattress sales because a new appliance or even a new TV is often considered a necessity, while a new mattress is often considered postponable. ●

SleepSavvy • September 2009


Please visit us in Las Vegas Space A-504

THE SERVICE CENTER improving the customer experience

Top-notch customer service makes all the difference—especially in times like these By Kurt Ling Customer Kinetics


usiness is still not stellar. And intuitively, you might think that when retail home furnishing organizations are doing more with fewer resources, customer service would take a hit. But from the polling we’ve done, it seems the opposite is true. Retail sales associates and delivery people are going the extra mile. They are doing more than what the customer asks. Their follow-through and follow-up seem to have improved. From a consumer perspective, doing business with many retailers seems to have gotten easier. Complaints and problems are being dealt with more thoroughly and in a timelier manner. So it just may be true that we learn the most when we are stretched. That’s what is happening at a macro level across the industry. Great customer service is one of those practical things we can do in this economy to gain not only business but loyalty going forward. And the why and how of it is worth digging into further. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

SleepSavvy • Special Section • September 2009



improving the customer experience


A signature experience. An experience that a consumer doesn’t get anywhere else. One that is a benchmark of best practices. The one that is talked about as the gold standard of the industry. This is the experience that everyone wants to duplicate.


A world-class experience. An experience that creates added value because the consumer gets something they didn’t get in the other five places they shopped. And the “something different” matters. Customers think you are great and they tell their friends. Everyone gets a grade In retailing, everyone gets a grade. That’s just a fact. It is a little like high school. Even if you don’t take the test, you get a grade. When consumers leave a store, they unconsciously grade the sales associate as well as the store. For most stores, the sales associate’s grade drives the overall store grade. It is always amazing to me how much is spent on a store build-out or marketing to get a customer into a store, yet how much of the grade is totally sales associate dependent. It appears that the living, breathing sales associate is still the core part of the experience. As we’ve researched shopping over the years, we’ve identified five grades, with descriptors that dimensionalize the customer’s experience:

4 SleepSavvy • Special Section • September 2009


A good customer experience. An experience that is average. There is nothing wrong with it—but it’s just as good everywhere else. There is no competitive advantage. Consumers get what is expected, their questions are answered and nothing more.

How responsive are you? Let’s use a simple example. If you are out to eat and a napkin slips from your lap onto the floor, what happens? Sometimes the answer is “nothing”—it sits on the floor until you leave and step on it. Sometimes, if you ask for a new napkin, the wait staff will bring it to you. Sometimes, you will be brought a new napkin before you even notice it fell off your lap. And every once in a while, the wait staff will surprise you and do something totally unique like bring back a napkin shaped like a swan (that happened to me on a cruise). Hopefully, you graded the example above. If the napkin stayed on the floor, that is pretty much an F. The swan, of course, is an A or B. The other dimension worth noting is the degree or level of the wait staff’s responsiveness. Chances are you have personal habits and your organization’s culture has habits that put you in a predictable place on the responsiveness scale. Let’s go back to the example and identify the levels.


A basic customer experience. An experience that is a commodity. It meets their needs and nothing more. There is absolutely no “above and beyond” in any dimension of the experience.


A bad customer experience. Consumers are ignored or given an experience that doesn’t match what others in the industry provide. How do you move up the grade scale? It starts with your level of responsiveness. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


Ignored level If the napkin stayed on the floor, the wait staff’s degree of responsiveness is at the ignored level. That’s where no one notices that something is wrong. If you sell things, it seems unimaginable that people would deliver this level of customer service, but it happens. I have been in stores where people were greeted and then ignored until they left. Once, when I asked why this happened, a psychic salesperson told me he knew that customer wasn’t going to buy anything anyway. Personally, I don’t have this power, so I still don’t understand. That example is extreme. Here’s one that might be more practical and doesn’t point a


finger. I was in a store where I watched three customers try to walk out double doors where one side was locked. (Poor lefties of the world!) I asked the sales associate why she didn’t unlock the door on the left side and she said because she never does. Now I admit this probably didn’t keep someone from buying a bed, but I think you get what I’m driving at.


Respond level If the napkin fell on the floor and the wait staff brought another upon request, this is good, but there is nothing extraordinary about the experience. In mattress retailing, customers expect you to answer questions and show them what they want to see. I think our industry does a good job with product knowledge and demonstration, but again and again,

surveys show we miss the “extra 10% factor.” I see it when we do store observation. A consumer asks a question. The retail salesperson answers it. And if you look at the customer’s face, it’s painfully obvious they don’t understand the answer. But the sales presentation goes on anyway. Most of the time, it is industry terminology the customer doesn’t understand or doesn’t understand the benefits of. I’ll give you examples of the most common. Consumers don’t understand tack and jump, continuous coils, foam encasement, self-tape or the difference between a box spring and a foundation. The key to reaching the respond level is listening.


Proactive level If the napkin fell on the floor and the wait staff brings you a new one before you even notice, that is proactive service. This is when a sales associate notices there is a problem before the customer notices there is a problem. The Ritz Carlton calls this “anticipating needs.” This is where the true customer service professionals live. If you play sports or games, this is just figuring out what needs to happen next. It’s easy to see on the field or around a game table— and just as easy to do on the sales floor. I have a retail friend who tells me he knows when a customer is lying on a bed that is too firm because those customers will cross their feet when lying on their back on that bed. I never knew that. My friend notices that when something happens over and over again, it means something. I know another retail sales associate who is a master at managing SleepSavvy • Special Section • September 2009


The elements of great customer service If you’re going to create a strategy for great customer service, there are five essential criteria you have to meet:


Great customer service is what people do that is above and beyond the normal operations of business. Do you always go the extra mile? Is your “normal” above and beyond what other companies do? Do you stretch yourself to do things that are right for customers, even if they are hard for you?


Great customer service is what people do that is different and unexpected from what your competitors do. Is your customer service strategy different from everyone else in the bedding business? Do you surprise customers with the things you do for them?

personal space when she is with a customer. With some customers, she gets close; with others, she keeps her distance. She just pays careful attention. I have also seen the opposite of that. I watched an incredibly knowledgeable sales associate dump data on a consumer to the point I thought the customer’s head was going to explode. Why did he do it? Because he wasn’t paying attention to the fact that she wasn’t listening. In fact, the less she listened, the more he talked. It was brutal to watch. Good information, wrong approach. The key to reaching the proactive level is observing.


Surprise level Now for the swan level. This is where few operate—only the best. Here is the basic question: What are you doing for your customer that

6 SleepSavvy • Special Section • September 2009


Great customer service treats customers with dignity and respect. What do you do that elevates the importance of your customers so they know they matter to you? What do you do to make sure that every customer knows she is the most important customer in the store that day? What little thing do you do that is a big thing?


Great customer service recognizes that personal relationships are primary. Do relationships come first in your business? Do you know what is going on in the lives of the people you work with? Do you get to know people before you attempt to sell them anything?


Great customer service is a result of individual creativity in every situation. Do you do something every once and awhile that surprises even you? Do you do things that make you a little uncomfortable because they are a little crazy? Live on the edge a little. Have fun! Customers love it.

no one else in the industry is doing? Most stores pretty much all do the same stuff, they just have different levels of execution. This is both a corporate-level issue and a personal issue. What does your store do that no one else in your market does? What do you do personally that no other retail sales associate does? If the answer is “nothing,” beware—you are close to being a commodity. Value is created in difference, especially in customer service. The retail sales associate that does something extra gets added respect and loyalty from customers. One of my favorite mattress stores is McRoskey Mattress in San Francisco. What an interesting experience—if you have never been, go. It will challenge everything you know about the mattress business. My customer experience there was equal to

that of working with a sommelier in a really old and respected high-end wine store. The key to reaching the surprise level is creativity. If your store doesn’t have any, do some dreaming. One of my good friends, Chic Thompson, has a model that says this: To practice our creativity, we should look at the opposite of what we are naturally inclined to do. A great exercise is to look at everything you do from a process standpoint and write that down on left side of a piece of paper. On the right side, write the exact opposite. This is an excellent way to explore—and perhaps find— something unique and differentiated that will make a big difference in your business. It’s interesting to see that all of us do much of what we do because we have always done it that way and everyone else does it that way—which is exactly why we shouldn’t be doing it. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


improving the customer experience DWYSYWD Do What You Say You Will Do. This is a service minimum. I think everyone agrees with that. As we do different surveys, we find that this is truly one of those little things that make a big difference. There is a very interesting effect worth noting: When you do what you say you will do, the consumer doesn’t add lots of dollars to your “respect and loyalty account.” It’s simply expected. However, if you promise something and don’t do it, there is a big fine levied against your respect and loyalty account. That is surprising and frustrating to a lot of people, because we always want to be rewarded for doing something right, but we see this play out time and time again on surveys. So how do you add dollars? Simple—do above and beyond what’s expected. Here’s the math: ● Do what you promised = A couple of dollars to your account ● Don’t do what you promised = A big fine ● Do above what you promised = A big deposit to your account. Let me give you an example of something that happened to me recently. I ordered an item from a catalog through an 800 number. I was told standard shipping would be five to seven days but they would try to get it to me in three to five days by prioritizing it at no additional charge. Stop right here—I was delighted already. But imagine how surprised I was when the UPS truck stopped at my house the very next day with my purchase. For all I know, they do this with every customer—but it worked. I was thrilled. Now, imagine what would have happened if my purchase had arrived in seven days after being told probably three to five. By the way, it seems to me that www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

our industry is doing much better at following through. That’s really positive. The key to DWYSYWD is organization and processes. Keep it simple Are you easy to do business with? If you don’t know, ask your customers. Then listen. Great customer service is directly related to the simplicity of your business model and how easy you are to do business with. This insight is one of the newer truths to be uncovered in the customer service world. It’s why ATMs and pay-at-the-pump can get higher customer service scores than full service banks and gas stations. It’s why drive-through accounts for more than 50% of most fast food retail businesses. It’s also why wholesale clubs are one of the fastest growing channels in our business, even when customers can’t test mattress comfort at retail and need rope to take the product home. The proposition is simple—name brand and low price. The younger you are, the more attractive it is. And to top that off, these stores are incredibly easy to do business with. Have you ever made a return to Costco? Doesn’t get much easier. Let’s be honest. For the most part, the mattress business is complicated on purpose. So we all have a choice. We can keep the retail experience complicated and confusing or make it as easy and simple as possible. We’ve talked to a great number of people over the past four years who say they bow out of mattress shopping, not because they don’t

have a need but because the more they shop, the more confused they get. They simply give up. A lot of them end up in the aisles of WalMart, Target and Kohl’s buying toppers for their old mattresses. Did you know Kohl’s has an entire aisle devoted to toppers? And I’m not talking $50—these are $200 to $300 toppers. Ask your customers If you want to find out where you are on the customer service front, here are some questions to ask your customers: ● How easy was shopping for a mattress in our store—on a scale of 1-10? ● Was shopping for a mattress easier at our store than other stores you’ve shopped? ● What specifically made shopping for a mattress in our store easy? ● Was there anything we did that made shopping for a mattress difficult? ● Was there anything we did that made your decision or selection difficult? ● Was shopping for a mattress in our store simple? ● What could we have done to simplify your shopping experience? Why would I give you a list of questions like that? Because if you SleepSavvy • Special Section • September 2009



improving the customer experience Invest in people There are three axioms that should shape our customer service strategies, especially when business is as tough as it is right now:


will ask them and then listen to what the customers say, you’ll be amazed at what they tell you. Here is a secret I learned from one of my favorite writers on customer experience, Shep Hyken: “Complaints are gifts. Problems are opportunities. The difference between the two is that customers will complain to you. But they won’t tell you what the problems they have with you are.” You have to ask. A final thought on this subject. We are in industry where a fair number of customers buy beds, get them home and realize they bought the wrong one, which begins a cycle that’s bad for the customer and bad for the retailer. Our current solution is not simple for the customer, it’s not easy for the customer and it’s not inexpensive for anyone. We need to be simpler. We need to be easier to do business with.

The inside determines the outside. The way you treat your associates will determine how they treat customers. This is hard in a time of downsizing and uncertainty, but treating employees well is by far the most important thing a company can do. I have heard absolute horror stories about the lack of dignity and respect given to good people in this economy. My nextdoor neighbor was told to lay off 50% of his staff. He did that on a Friday. The following Monday, he and everyone at his level were fired at a breakfast meeting. Times like these bring out both the very best and the very worst in people. We all have a choice.


One thing determines everything. Establishing a good customer service strategy is simple. If you can answer the question “What do we do that no one else does (that matters)?” you are well on your way to garnering the respect of your customers and earning their loyalty. In this economy, the ones that stand out are the ones that survive. Your greatest challenge may be your answer to this question: “What is the one thing that you have never been able to do to satisfy a customer?” It’s time to solve it, whether personally or organizationally. When you do, you will be set not only for this economy but for the gradual growth that lies ahead.


The people principle. People drive loyalty and profit—period. In these times, it’s difficult to figure out what to cut and how much to cut it. But never forget that people drive customer service. There is no way around that. Investing in people is more important than ever in uncertain times. ●

Kurt Ling has spent his career helping companies discover innovative solutions and has been named to Fast Company magazine’s Fast 50 list of innovators, dreamers and doers. His work spans 20 years in sales and marketing, first with Maytag Appliances and then with Simmons Company. Kurt is president of Customer Kinetics, which specializes in consumer research, retail sales associate research and consumer experience design development. He is currently working with some of the largest U.S. mattress and furniture retailers. Kurt can be reached by email at kurt@customer-kinetics.com or by phone at 770-773-0440.

Many thanks to NATURA for sponsoring this special section. 8 SleepSavvy • Special Section • September 2009


BE MY GUEST by George Whalin

Yes, opportunities for growth are out there With much of the country suffering the effects of the housing crisis, increased unemployment and consumers who have become extremely cautious about spending money, some believe there are few opportunities for retail growth. But even amid all of this doomsaying, some retailers are finding and taking advantage of opportunities in their communities to do more business. Consumers may be cautious in their spending, but they have NOT stopped spending. They are still buying mattresses, beds, bedding accessories and other products for their homes. And they still look to do business with consumer product manufacturers and retailers who understand their wants and needs and who genuinely care about giving them products that represent real value. At a time when few retail and consumer product segments are experiencing growth, one way to grow your business is to take customers and market share away from weaker competitors who may not be able to take advantage of the opportunities. I’m always surprised at the number of merchants who waste energy complaining about the www.sleepsavvymagazine.com www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

economy and moan about how difficult it is to do business. That same energy and effort is far better spent focusing on improving their businesses and maximizing opportunities—it can even result in prosperity during these tough times and into the future. The independent advantage As an outspoken observer, commentator and retail consultant, I frequently talk with newspaper and other media reporters about what’s going on in the retail business. About five years ago, many of them began asking whether Wal-Mart, Costco, Target and other national chains were putting independent retailers out of business. I told them that wasn’t my experience, and it still isn’t. I know any number of very successful independent retailers with businesses that are thriving and growing. Many of the nation’s best independent and small-chain retailers continue to do well, even in today’s economy. What I find so exciting is the number of opportunities for smaller retailers to grow and prosper. Yes, I know some will be skeptical when I say there are real opportunities for independent retailers during a recession. But among the greatest assets smaller retailers have is the ability to move and adapt quickly to a changing business climate and the changing needs of consumers. Larger retail organizations just don’t have that kind of flexibility. Where are those opportunities in your business? In every retail business, opportunities occur every day. You just have to recognize them and capitalize on them. For example, how many customers enter a SleepSavvy • September 2009



by George Whalin store and leave without buying? Sure, some of those customers come back and buy later, but I wouldn’t want to count on that happening too often. Retailers usually know why their customers buy, but do you know why customers don’t buy? This is one of the most important questions you need to ask and answer. Why customers don’t buy Customers may say they want or need to visit several other stores before making a decision about which bed to buy. But you can be sure if it’s a couple out shopping together, at least one of them has absolutely no interest in visiting multiple stores before deciding what to buy. Another reason they walk out the door empty-handed may be that they couldn’t find the right bed in your store or they didn’t find one within their price range. Another possibility may rest with the sales staff. Did they do the job they were hired to do—ask the right questions and take the time needed to help the customer find a bed that best suited their wants, needs and expectations? If you could convert just one of those customers a day into a buyer, what would that do for your business? What if you could convert two a day? There is a tremendous

24 SleepSavvy • September 2009

Among the greatest assets smaller retailers have is the ability to move and adapt quickly to a changing business climate and the changing needs of consumers.

opportunity for every retailer to increase sales by converting more be-backs into buyers. Now is the time to take a critical look at how many customers leave your store without buying and take immediate steps to decrease that number by increasing your conversion rate. Step merchandising Take a look at the layout and merchandise positioning within your store. A proven effective way to merchandise mattresses and furniture is to lay out the floor the same way your salespeople show the merchandise. Many floors are laid out by brand, category or using the WAP approach—Without Any Plan! The WAP approach usually means, “Fill the hole on the floor where we sold whatever was there before. Anything will do.” The alternative is to look at how you want your salespeople to show beds. If they present a mid-priced mattress with particular features and benefits and the customer doesn’t seem to be excited, what is the next logical mattress to step them up to or down to in order to give the customer a viable alternative? Positioning merchandise the way you sell products to customers can help you and your salespeople

achieve several goals. You can maximize profitability by placing two similarly priced beds near each other. The salesperson can start by showing the customer the bed with the fewest features and maybe even the least profit, then step to a similarly priced, feature-laden bed that’s more profitable. If presented in this sequence, with all of the second bed’s features and benefits demonstrated, the second bed is more likely to be the customer’s choice. The key here is to display the highly featured, more profitable bed in a position where the comparisons are easily seen and explained by the salesperson. Another way to maximize these opportunities is to keep training your salespeople. Training is more than formal classes and should be an ongoing process. Anytime the store isn’t busy, have your salespeople role-play different customer scenarios that include asking questions, explaining benefits and demonstrating products. Training should also include a short daily sales meeting to get everyone focused on ways to help customers select the right bed so they can make an informed buying decision. As you look at ways to maximize opportunities, always remember that what you’re selling customers is a better night’s sleep. In today’s stressful environment, a good night’s sleep is a terrific value at any price. ● George Whalin is the president and CEO of Retail Management Consultants in Carlsbad, CA. His new book, Retail Superstars: Inside the 25 Best Independent Stores in America, is now available from major online and store-based booksellers. Visit George’s website at www.whalinonretail.com.


very very quiet

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Retiring for the night: Baby boomers still biggest opportunity for growth The wave of baby boomer retirements is just beginning. Their lifestyles and health are changing. How can bedding retailers sell to this enormous and powerful demographic group?

26 SleepSavvy • September 2009


By Patricia Frank his is the year that many baby boomers hit the economic wall. This is the year, according to economic forecaster Harry S. Dent, that turned boomers “from spenders into savers.” This is the year that added a third “b” to the description of boomers: As a demographic, they are big, bold and now— broke. Since 2008, many nearing retire­ment have watched their nest eggs shrink from ostrich to hummingbird size. The boomers—all 76 million of them—remain a “pig-in-the-python” demographic bulge. And they remain trendsetters. But the economic melt­down has made many boomers fiscally cautious. “In general, the baby boomers are hanging on for dear life and waiting for the storm to pass”—especially the leading-edge boomers who turn 62 in 2009, says David Baxter, senior vice president at Age Wave, a San Francisco-based research and consulting group focused on the widespread effects of popula­tion aging. A recent AARP survey found that 57% of people age 45 and older who are working or looking for a job and have lost money in the stock mar­ket during the past year are planning to delay retirement. They are facing a disturbing financial picture: shrunken IRAs and 401ks, a housing market slump, falling home valuations and declining interest rates on investments. But not all boomers are in the same situation, Baxter says. “Younger boomers, in their late 40s and early 50s, are reasonably distant from retirement. They’re at their spending peaks and they’re not hold­ing off as much,” he says. “As the economy recovers, there will be a lot of pent-up demand.” With 60% of discretionary income held by people age 50 and older, that’s good news. And other emerging trends among boomers also show considerable potential for savvy retailers.



SleepSavvy • September 2009


THE COVER STORY retiring for the night

Who’s a boomer? Demographers and social scien­tists can argue about the exact parameters of the baby boom generation, but it’s generally considered to be the cohort of 76 million Ameri­c ans born after World War II, from 1946 to 1964.

Home simple home One significant trend: Boomers are staying home more. They’re eating at home, finding entertainment at home and even vacationing at home—“staycations” are big. When people spend more time at home, they tend to focus on the items in the home and are more willing to purchase essentials.

“While boomer women have cut back, they’re still spending on things that make their home more comfort­able and healthy,” says Carol Orsborn, chief strategist of VibrantNation.com, a website devoted to well-educated women over 50 who make $75,000-plus a year. What could be more com­fortable and healthy than a great bed?

Simple living—another hot trend—means making do with less and getting rid of clutter. This purifi­cation process is what Orsborn terms the “new antimaterialism.” “Women are thinking, ‘If what I have is less, then what I have has got to be wonderful,’” Orsborn says. “Beds are mythical, especially for boomers. Mattresses are one of those essentials that are going to be elevated over time. It’s funny how when you really want something, it moves from being a want to a need.” Bedding retailers can posi­tion bed sets as the one crucial ele­ment that boomers shouldn’t skimp on when creating their dream bedrooms. Picture an ad featuring an uncluttered, Zen-like room with the spotlight on a luxurious bed float­ing in a sea of muted natural colors.

7 boomer trends to target


‘Green’ is mainstream. Keep in mind that baby boomers are interested in living and shop­ping green. “The green and sus­tainable movement is here to stay. Eighty percent of all adult Ameri­cans think and act in a green man­ner” at least in some areas of their lives, says Matt Thornhill, founder of The Boomer Project, a research and consulting group in Richmond, VA, and co-author of Boomer Con­sumer: Ten New Rules for Marketing to America’s Largest, Wealthiest, Most Influential Group.


Less is more. Baby boomers are paring their lives down to basics—it’s the new anti-materialism. But beds are mythic among baby boomers, says Carol Orsborn, chief strategist of Vibrant­Nation.com, a website devoted to successful, well-educated women over 50 who make $75,000-plus a year. “Boomers think, ‘If what I have is less, then what I have has got to be wonderful.’ ” Beds will play a star­ring role in the new, unclut­tered bedroom.

28 SleepSavvy •

September 2009


Sun Belt losing allure. Boomers are less likely than their parents to migrate to Sun Belt locations and age-restricted retirement developments. Many will stay closer to home or relocate to vibrant communities in other parts of the country. An example is an entrepreneur who moved from New York City to Boulder, CO, and still works full-time at age 80. As boomers downsize or retrofit their existing homes to fit their needs, expect to see an emphasis on universal design, ergonomic fixtures and furnishings that will help to keep them comfort­able, healthy and safe.


Wired and well-read. Boomers are online in huge numbers. The Internet is where they go to research and buy products. Online shopping is growing by leaps and bounds. Retailers’ web strate­gies must consider how boomers use the web and build sites that give them what they’re seeking.


THE COVER STORY retiring for the night

Health issues rise Many boomers think of themselves as “forever young” and, for some, the concept of middle age extends into their 70s. But while they may remain healthier than their parents’ generation, aging brings more chronic and acute health conditions. It also brings opportunities for marketers of products that ease the pain and problems associated with aging bodies. Arthritis is a particular problem for the baby boom generation. From 2000 to 2004, the number of hip replacements in the U.S. increased 83% and knee replace­ ments jumped 115%. If the trend continues, Arthritis Care & Research reports that we can expect to see “1.4 million knee replacements and 600,000 hip replacements by the year 2015”— with the largest increase among those 45 to 64 years old.

Obesity also causes health issues. Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have found that “baby boomers have significantly higher rates of obesity than their parents’ generation, born 1926 through 1942.” As boomers begin addressing mobility issues, products of all types are being re-engi­neered for ease of use and access. Baxter predicts we’ll see “more universal design products and services of high quality that meet people’s needs. Among them are cabinets that are easier to reach, larger grips on gardening and household tools, and bathrooms that are safer with less slip­pery surfaces and better lighting.” As more and more boomers cross into their 50s and 60s, aching bodies and stiffening joints prompt them to look for and invest in products that offer relief and

enhanced physical comfort. Savvy mattress manufacturers and retailers are well positioned to serve this burgeoning market. Rx: Take one bed There’s evidence that boomers do see a link between their health and their mattress. A Better Sleep Council survey found that women age 55 and older are more likely to consider a mattress purchase an investment in their health. But they are also more likely to keep their mattresses longer than their younger counterparts—14.5 years on average, versus 10.2. There’s clearly an opportunity for mattress makers and retailers to not only tout existing health and wellness benefits but to create new ones. Advertising, PR and web content targeting this group could make a compelling case for replacing old bedding as an invest­ment in good health.


Solo sleepers. These days, the market for beds is not neces­sarily for a coupled duo. According to the Brookings Institution, in 1980 about two-thirds of Americans age 55 to 64 lived in married-couple households. That percentage fell to less than 58% in 2005 and is likely to continue falling.


Health issues on the horizon. Expect to see many more hip and knee replace­ments as boomers’ age and grow­ing girth takes a toll on joints. Also consider their vision changes, dia­betes and other age-related illnesses and disabilities. More prostate problems will lead to climbing out of bed for more nighttime bathroom visits.


Oldest boomers turn spiritual. As leadingedge boomers reach retirement and beyond, they are beginning to ask “How can I leave a legacy?” Volunteering and a new interest in giving something back is on the rise. As a result, boomers support com­panies that are philanthropic. Aligning your company with a cause you care about makes sense.


SleepSavvy • September 2009


THE COVER STORY retiring for the night

Retirement becomes retro In 1950, nearly half of men 65 and older were still in the labor force, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That percentage bot­tomed out in the 1980s at less than 16%. It has since climbed to 19%. As the oldest baby boom­ers reach 65, experts predict this figure will rise even more. Retire­ment, as we know it, is being redefined. Some 80% of boomers plan to work part-time after retir­ing from full-time jobs. For some, this is less a choice than an econom­ic necessity. For others, staying active and engaged is the driver. For marketers, it may mean extra financial resources to tap into.

Testimonials from health experts such as orthopedic surgeons and chiropractors could provide meaningful recommendations and testimonials to help shorten the mattress replacement cycle among aging boomers. Sleep products will likely see some changes in design to address this huge demographic. For example, “get­ting in and out of the bed will become as important as the bed itself,” says Chuck Nyren, principal of the Nyren Agency in Snohomish, WA, and author of Advertising to Baby Boomers. That may mean boomers will have less interest in thick mattress sets and seek lower profiles. To combat problems associated with arthritis and other conditions, the pressurerelieving properties of mattresses will likely take on increased importance. For obese boomers, sturdier and perhaps larger bed sets will be important. Mattresses that monitor vital signs or beds equipped with motion-activated lights to provide illumination as people return after late-night trips to the bathroom— innovations such as these, and many more, are almost certain. Opportunities extend beyond the mattress category into bed accessories and top-of-bed. Changes to frame designs and a new emphasis




“Comfort Controls”

30 SleepSavvy • September 2009

Bed Warmers

Benefits of Our Bed Warmer


The controls regulate the heat you select. Dual control units regulate the heat on your half of the bed. Automatic ten hour shut-off. Quick warm-up on all settings. Quiet operation. Ten heat settings for exact heat control.

Getting connected Boomers are connected, wired and plugged-in. David Weigelt, a partner at Im­mersion Active, a Frederick, MD-based marketing agency focused on older consumers, and author of Dot Boom, reports that about 80% of boomers are online. “Adults over 50 make up the fastest-growing constituency on the web,” he says. “What’s even more important is that, even in this econ­ omy, they outspend younger adults two-to-one on a per capita basis.” And it’s not just men who are online. “Boomer women make up


You Slee not u p on an nder an E le Heat Rises

on adjustable beds will make it easier for aging boomers to get in and out of bed. Pillows specifically designed to address their health issues should be a boom category, and so should protective pads. Given this health intelligence, Orsborn recommends that advertising “turns the focus from productcentric to how your products deliver solutions for boomer problems. How do your products solve nighttime arthri­tis and back pain, snoring issues, mobility challenges, decreased night vision and depth perception, and the diminished strength that makes mat­tress flipping difficult?”

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THE COVER STORY retiring for the night

the fastest-growing segment on Facebook,” Weigelt says. Those women are often seeking the opin­ions of others about products. According to Orsborn, 88% of women 50 and older say referrals from others, including online testi­ monials from strangers, are among the top three things that lead them to make a final purchase decision. According to Weigelt, the key to a successful web strategy is what Immersion Active calls “meaningful online engagement.” “Our mantra is ‘lead with the right and follow with the left.’ We want to introduce marketing mes­ sages not by listing left-brain stuff like features and benefits, but by engaging the senses and evoking a right-brain physiological response,”


he says. But with boomers, it’s important to follow-up with the details. “A lot of boomers who have discretionary income to buy any bed they want are on the web investigating,” Nyren says. He works with clients to make their websites boomer-friendly and reminds them that boomers, regardless of educa­ tion level, were taught to read. “People in their 50s and 60s, if interested, will read every word. Then they’ll get out their reading glasses and read every word of the fine print,” he says. So detailed web content is cru­cial. But the sites have to be designed with boomers in mind. “Older eyes find it difficult to read white or colored type against a

dark back­ground or over graphics. And some widgets are hard for older minds and fingers,” he says. But, “if the website hierarchy and font sizes work for the older brain, they’ll click on every link and will want to know everything there is to know about the product.” Relevant cultural icons Some marketers think boomers are a monolithic demographic that can be reached with a universal message and theme—just use hippies wearing bell-bottoms and flashing peace signs at Woodstock and you’ve got the boomer demographic nailed, right? Not quite. An 18-year age span among boomers means that they are really two generations in one. The youngest

SleepSavvy • September 2009


THE COVER STORY retiring for the night

It takes one to sell one Baby boomers tend to respect and value the judgment of people in their own age group (Never trust anyone under 40?). Because they put a lot of stock in the recom­mendations of their peers, there’s an opportunity for mattress and furniture retailers to use this experienced work force in sell­ing to other boomers. Who better to help fit the boomer customer to the right prod­uct?

boomers, born in 1964, were only five during the iconic musical festival. Remem­ber also that 15% of boomers born between 1956 and 1964 are foreign-born. Make sure you market to their relevant cultural icons. “Music from the ’60s can alienate the whole boomer market,� Baxter warns. However, “if artfully done with the appropriate icons, music can be an effective shortcut target­ing specific age groups.� Marketing to specific life stages works especially well with boomers. “Think about targeting by life stage rather than age—such as an older couple mov­ing into the house


of their dreams,� Baxter says. Pivotal life stages for boomers include seeing their kids off to college and becoming empty-nesters, downsizing their lifestyles, partial retirement and full retire­ment. Marketers agree. The key to successful boomer marketing is threepronged: 1) touch on boomers’ life stages, 2) differentiate advertising to various economic levels and 3) use relevant symbolism. New ways of living Some boomers with money concerns are putting a fresh spin on com­ munal living. This is especially true for single women whose retirement

income is often smaller than that of couples or single men. “‘Caring collaboratives’ describes this trend of buying apartment buildings or larger residential dwell­ ings for independent cooperative living ventures,� says Matt Thornhill, founder of The Boomer Project, a research and consulting group in Richmond, VA, and co-author of Boomer Consumer: Ten New Rules for Marketing to America’s Largest, Wealthiest, Most Influential Group. Often the residents are united by shared interests or simply a need for companionship. One woman writing on a retirement forum for single women recently acknowl­edged, “My worst fear is growing old alone.� There’s a sizable boomer popula­ tion of men and women who are divorced, widowed or have never married. What are their mat­tress needs? Will they be more comfortable in smaller, full-size mattresses, for example? Marketing messages to ‘solo’ sleepers may pay handsome dividends. Featuring a photo of an appealing pup or cuddly cat on the mattress can serve to attract the eyes—and wallets—of the pet-loving boomer population. Experts on this group expect that in coming years, we’ll be see­ ing more boomers staying put to



 32 SleepSavvy • September 2009




THE COVER STORY retiring for the night

be close to relatives and longtime homes instead of migrating in mas­ sive waves to the Sun Belt and agesegregated retirement developments. “As money opens up again, some boomers will downsize or ‘age in place,’” Nyren says. “This means retrofitting their homes to do so.” A fresh, new mattress—one built for exceptional comfort—for a fresh, new lifestyle has high appeal at this life stage. Closing the sale This is a group that responds best to consultative selling. Posing questions about lifestyle and sleep problems helps establish trust and builds a relationship. Hard-sell is likely to alienate them. Remember that boomers are read-


ers and want details. Use informative, detailed signage or brochures. Positioning products as problemsolving, using older sales consultants—boomer contemporaries—and encouraging word-of-mouth recommendations all help win sales. Advertising and web content featuring peer testimonials and recommendations from health experts and

boomer celebrities move these customers toward purchase. Focusing on how your product helped a satisfied customer with a specific problem or health condition—and led to a good night’s sleep—will be effective with this demographic. Baby boomers may have tight­ ened their purse strings lately, but retailers who promote their bedding products strategically will find boomers ready to buy beds that deliver solutions for their comfort, health and new life stages. This, most of all, is a generation that takes good care of itself. ● Patricia Frank, a former advertising executive, reports and tracks trends, habits and lifestyles of the baby boomer generation.

SleepSavvy • September 2009



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CONSUMER CHECK profiling your customer

Couples’ differing sleep styles can be a real nightmare


nybody who sleeps with a partner is familiar with the problems. Maybe the two of you settle in for the night and you’re just drifting off when you get hit in the nose with an elbow. Or you’re sleeping peacefully only to be rudely awakened by your snoring spouse. Then there’s the partner who can’t get to sleep without rearranging the bed, plumping the pillows and yanking covers. You’re always too hot; she’s always too cold. One of you can’t sleep and decides to catch up on a missed favorite show by turning on the TV. These are just some of the hazards that couples encounter when climbing into the same bed. Even couples who are compatible during the day may find themselves at war at night. Sleeping style conflicts or sleep disorders that result in sleep deprivation for one or both partners can significantly impact a relationship, experts say. A recent study from the insomnia clinic at Pittsburgh’s Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, “Marital Happiness and Sleep,” (Behavioral Sleep Medicine, January 2009) found that women who reported being happily married had fewer sleep problems— troubled sleep may reflect a troubled relationship. It also showed that couples who are able to negotiate nighttime problems are the happiest. Another new piece of research found that for men, a better night’s sleep led to happier interactions the www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

next day. For women, uncomfortable and unresolved partner interactions during the day were associated with poorer sleep efficiency at night. The study—“Sleep disturbance and daily relationship quality in couples: Evidence for bidirectional associations”—by Brant Hasler, doctoral candidate from the University of Arizona, examined sleep diaries kept by 29 heterosexual couples and concluded that a couple’s relationship quality affects how soundly they sleep and, conversely, the soundness of their sleep affects how they function in their relationship. Hasler also concluded that going to bed late and being sleep-deprived adds stress to a relationship because both partners are not at their best physically, mentally or emotionally.

Snoring continues to be the most potent sleep disrupter for couples. Often, it’s the spouse who initiates a decision to get help, not just because it’s so annoying but because it can indicate a serious health problem, like sleep apnea, according to Wendy Troxel, an assistant professor at Western Psychiatric in Oakland, CA. Sometimes the best way to cope with nighttime conflict that can’t be easily resolved is to sleep in separate bedrooms. “It’s one more thing to add to the stresses of the marriage,” says Dr. Sukhdev Grover, medical director of the Sleep Center of Greater Pittsburgh. “We have couples who are sleeping in separate rooms because one partner can’t tolerate snoring issues, but not everyone admits to that.” Better sleeping apart? A survey recently conducted by Britain’s Sleep Council—the U.K.’s counterpart to the U.S. Better Sleep Council—shows couples in that country resorting to separate sleeping quarters. The survey found that one in four Brits regularly retreats to a spare room or a sofa for a good night’s sleep and that 7% of couples already have separate beds. Nearly half of those taking part in the survey—two-thirds of them women— said that their sleep was disturbed by their partner’s bedtime habits. Research shows that women sleep lighter than men, so in a traditional pairing of male/female, she is the one more likely to be awakened SleepSavvy • September 2009



profiling your customer by a partner’s tossing and turning—or his snoring. Evolutionary psychologists believe that women are programmed to be lighter sleepers as part of their biological role in bearing and caring for children. So women are on the alert, with or without little ones to listen for. Then too, sharing a bed with a spouse or partner is a relatively modern idea, and although many couples prefer sleeping together—problems and all—it may not be the best idea for our health. Studies suggest that being constantly jostled awake can seriously disrupt the sleep cycle. According to the U.K.’s Sleep Council, studies of people sleeping with restless partners revealed that they awakened at least six to eight times, which can amount to more than an hour’s lost sleep and contribute to chronic sleep deprivation. “Historically, we were never meant to sleep in the same bed. It’s an offshoot of romantic love,” says Dr. Neil Stanley, a sleep expert at the University of Surrey. “Sharing a bed with someone who snores or fights for the duvet disturbs your sleep, and there is no shame in having separate beds.” ●

36 SleepSavvy • September 2009

Checklist for comfy couples


ere are some tips for sleeping better together—ideas you can share with consumers in your area—from the bedding industry-supported Better Sleep Council: ✓ Resolve daytime problems before going to bed. Don’t wait until you’re nose-to-nose at night to work out problems or disagreements. If you associate your bed with worrying or quarreling, you’ll have trouble associating it with a good night’s sleep. And a bad night’s sleep can make a good relationship harder to restore. ✓A  gree on a set of ground rules. Have an honest talk about your nighttime differences. Then work out an agreement that you can both live with—“Lights out by 11,” for example. If she wants to read in the middle of the night, she goes to the living room or uses a high-intensity reading light that lets her see, but leaves him in the dark. ✓M  ake sure your mattress is right for the both of you. Your mattress needs to be spacious enough for two active, adult bodies, supportive enough for the heaviest sleeper and comfortable enough to cradle you both to sleep. If your bed set has seen more than 5-7 years of nightly service, it probably isn’t giving you and your partner the comfort you need for the best night’s sleep and should be evaluated for replacement. ✓A  rrange your sleeping environment together. In addition to a joint selection of the right mattress, couples need to consult on such factors as bedroom temperature (mid-60s is optimum for sleeping), fresh air or air conditioning, a little moonlight or total darkness. And before you purchase blankets or pillows, find out what your partner prefers. ✓D  on’t let a serious sleep problem persist. If your partner has any symptoms of a sleep disorder—loud snoring, teeth grinding and continuous leg jerks are a few—you may be the only one who knows about it. Since a sleep disorder can rob you both of a good night’s sleep, make sure it receives medical attention. Nearly all of these problems are treatable at local sleep disorders clinics. For more information on buying a new mattress or on getting a good night’s sleep, visit the Better Sleep Council’s website at www.bettersleep.org.


IT’S THE LAW for your protection

Congressional bill would provide retailer & consumer tax incentives for mattress & other home furnishings purchases


n late July, Congressmen Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Nathan Deal (R-GA) introduced the Home Improvements Revitalize the Economy Act (HIRE Act, H.R. 3382) in the U.S. House. If enacted, HIRE would provide consumers and retailers with tax credits and deductions for the purchase of mattresses and other home furnishings, as well as building products used to remodel or repair a home. HIRE has bipartisan support from 10 additional lawmakers and is currently awaiting further consideration by the House. Making a strong case In introducing the legislation, its sponsors pointed out that during the current economic downturn, home furnishings purchases and home repairs have been dramatically curtailed. This has had a significant impact throughout the U.S. economy and, in particular, on the home furnishings and building products sectors. These industries have experienced a steep decline in sales, job losses and other financial hardships, including: ● A loss of $67 billion in economic value in 2008 and a projected loss of another $74 billion in 2009 ● A loss of 273,000 American jobs in 2008 and a projected loss of another 299,000 jobs in 2009. The HIRE Act is a targeted effort to put money in the hands of consumers and incentivize their purchase of home furnishings. Additionally, HIRE would provide retailers with up to $10,000 in tax savings to supwww.sleepsavvymagazine.com

port their purchase of mattresses and other home furnishings. These purchases would serve as a significant economic stimulus for everyone in the industry—manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and retailers.

● A doubling of the applicable tax deduction or credit for the purchase and/or installation of qualifying home furnishings or building products that meet recognized environmental standards.

Specific provisions To help reverse the recession’s negative impact on these industries, the HIRE Act would provide the following incentives for three years: ●A tax credit of up to $10,000 for contractors and retailers for the purchase of qualifying home furnishings or building products for resale ●A  tax deduction of up to $2,000 per family ($1,000 per individual) for the purchase and/or installation of qualifying home furnishings or building products for families making up to $300,000 a year ($150,000 for individuals) ●A  tax credit of up to $500 per family ($250 per individual) for the purchase and/or installation of qualifying home furnishings or building products for low-income families and individuals

ISPA’s leadership role The HIRE Act is the result of the work and lobbying efforts of the International Sleep Products Association (ISPA), which spearheaded and leads the American Home Furnishings and Building Products Coalition. Other coalition members include the National Home Furnishings Association, American Home Furnishings Alliance, Carpet and Rug Institute and Polyurethane Foam Association, along with 10 other organizations representing home and building products. Additional HIRE co-sponsors in the U.S. House include Representatives Gresham Barrett (SC), John Barrow (GA), Sanford Bishop (GA), Travis Childers (MS), William Lacy Clay (MO), Howard Coble (NC), Robert Latta (OH), Bill Pascrell (NJ), Heath Shuler (NC) and Bart Stupak (MI). ●

Your support is critical Grassroots efforts by people in the mattress industry, including its retailers, are critical to securing passage of this legislation. Lawmakers need to hear from everybody who has been impacted by the business downturn and who would benefit from the sales generated by the HIRE Act. To join the effort to pass HIRE, contact your Congressional representative. ISPA has created a letter of support that you can send to Congress, available online at: http://capwiz.com/sleepproducts/issues/alert/?alertid=13499206.

SleepSavvy • September 2009



Welcome to the World of NEW. This September, step into a world of “new” at Las Vegas Market. A world focused on new styles and trends to inspire you—and tempt your customers. Where virtually every manufacturer will be introducing new and exclusive products in all home furnishing and accessory categories—before you see them anywhere else. At a time when “new” is necessary and business-as-usual doesn’t work––come to Las Vegas Market for new products, new promotions, and new events that allow you to win. Enter the world of “new.”

New World. New Way. www.lasvegasmarket.com

S howcase Consumers’ interest in natural sleep products is growing. RejuveNite’s natural Talalay latex pillows are the newest addition to our ComfortMatchTM pillow personalizing system, which fits consumers to their perfect pillow based on their size, comfort preference and sleep position. These natural pillows are available in high profile for side and back sleepers and low profile for stomach sleepers. The pillows include a certified organic, 100% cotton washable cover and ecofriendly consumer packaging that uses jute and hemp fibers. For more information, contact Kevin Stein, VP Marketing and R&D, at KStein@LatexIntl.com. Visit us in Las Vegas at our new showroom, B-945. Latex International 510 River Rd. Shelton, CT 06484 Phone 800-528-3987 x347 www.latexinternational.com

Universal Bedlegs—strong, simple, green. Bedlegs are the only environmentally friendly bed support solution on the market. They are made with 100% recycled material for a minimal carbon footprint, and they are easy to install!  For years, metal bed frames were the standard for bed support. Today, our versatile Bedlegs are designed to screw directly into a standard box spring, eliminating the old metal frames. All you or your customers need is a power drill and a few minutes. Available in 3”, 5”, 7” or 10” heights, Universal Bedlegs also provide extra under-bed storage. Choose the shorter legs for kids and seniors or the taller ones for storage. Help your customers say goodbye to stubbed toes and bruised shins caused by metal frames, forever! 

Restonic has been awarded the Consumer Digest Best Buy for seven consecutive years. In recognition, we are offering a “7th Heaven Bed” program with strong consumer values—a collection of our best sellers in price points from $999 to $1,499. These beds feature our 660 and Marshal Coil units with special micro coil and upholstery applications. The program follows the same format as our “Limited Edition Imperial” promotion and features a package of support materials that includes TV and radio spots, floor banners, ROP ads, mail inserts, price cards and large window banners. Restonic is also remerchandising its entire Health Rest line of eco-friendly sleep products for the Las Vegas Market. For the first time, the Health Rest line features products from $699 to $1,199 for today’s price-conscious consumer. These strong value price points include offerings with latex, memory foam and our BIOflex patented Magnetic Sleep technology. Visit us in Las Vegas, showroom B-0926. Restonic 737 Main St. Buffalo, NY 14203 Phone 800-898-6075 www.restonic.com

Improve your business’ bottom line results with STORIS Management Systems’ Executive Vision, offering 360degree analytical visibility of your sales data in real time. STORIS’ Executive Vision serves as a single, customizable gateway to your company’s sales information, enabling vast amounts of sales data to be displayed as manageable, actionable information. Executive Vision takes advantage of portal search technology to provide up-to-the-minute, intelligent business content to decision makers, utilizing user-friendly dashboard displays that include odometers, gauges and graphs. Conveniently view sales data within one graphical screen including: Today vs. Yesterday Written Sales, Inventory Vendor Valuation, Written Sales, Sales Rep Performance and much more.

See us in Las Vegas, showroom C-1350.

Visit us at the Las Vegas Market in the WHFA Retailer Resource Center, B-1630.

Universal Bedlegs 625 Du Bois St., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94902 Phone 866-313-5347 www.universalbedlegs.com

STORIS Management Systems 400 Valley Rd., Ste. 302 Mt. Arlington, NJ 07856 888-4-storis www.storis.com

This information was provided to Sleep Savvy by the advertisers

SleepSavvy • September 2009


S howcase If your customer is searching for a perfect night’s sleep, the answer is the Flex-A-Bed Premier. Handbuilt by expert craftsmen in LaFayette, GA, using the same principles of care and consideration that we have built our reputation on since 1969, our quality beds are welcoming, durable and comfortable. They are your customer’s bed for life. With just the touch of a button, the Flex-A-Bed Premier precisely adjusts to achieve the perfect sleeping position, enabling every sleeper to wake refreshed and rested. And they wake with peace of mind, knowing that the Premier comes with a lifetime warranty. Flex-A-Bed For additional informaP.O. Box 568 tion on our full line of LaFayette, GA 30728 products, please give us Phone 800-421-2277 a call at 800-421-2277. www.flexabeddealers.com

Do your female customers hate being cold? Do your male customers complain a mattress sleeps warm? Latex International now offers CelsionTM, patent-pending Talalay latex that helps regulate body temperature to create a more comfortable sleeping environment. It acts like a sponge to absorb heat energy released from the body and re-uses a person’s own body temperature to help cool down a warm body and warm up a cool body. Celsion can be used on top of innerspring, viscoelastic, polyurethane foam and latex support cores. The product, which comes in various thicknesses and firmness levels, feels plush and silky like classic Talalay latex, but has a step-up story with its phase change capabilities. Contact Kevin Stein, VP Marketing and R&D, at KStein@LatexIntl.com. Visit us in Las Vegas at our new showroom, B-945. Latex International 510 River Rd. Shelton, CT 06484 Phone 800-528-3987 x347 www.latexinternational.com

Leggett & Platt’s Consumer Products Group is introducing ShipShape™– their newest adjustable base– at the Las Vegas Market. ShipShape features a Whisper Quiet motor, wired remote control and lift capacity of 425 lbs. ShipShape can even be shipped via UPS or FedEx. ShipShape™ helps consumers rediscover wellness and customizes to the needs of each individual. It’s available in twin XL, queen and king sizes, and retail value starts at approximately $1,000. The height from the base to the top of the platform is 16”. CPG is also introducing the Doral bed as a part of their new Basics by FBG. Available in full, queen, king and California king, the Doral features transitional styling, textured metal grills and solid wood posts in a walnut finish. Available as a bed or headboard only. Headboard height is 51”, footboard is 31”. Approximate retail price for the queen bed is $199.

SleepTrust is the industry’s first complete customer care program specifically designed to sell more beds. Developed by retailers and demanded by customers, SleepTrust eliminates challenges associated with manufacturers’ warranties, comfort exchanges and replacements due to accidental damage, stains or odors. SleepTrust’s proven merchandising, training and support tools help retailers generate increased bedding sales while improving the bottom line. See what hundreds of dealers have already discovered.

Visit Leggett & Platt in Las Vegas, showroom B-1326.

SleepTrust 1065 Clarke Rd. London, ON N5V 3B3 Canada Phone 866-228-7070 www.SleepTrustDealer.com

Leggett & Platt P.O. Box 674 Carthage, MO 64836 Phone 417-358-8132 www.leggett.com

40 SleepSavvy • September 2009

There really is A Better Way to Buy a Bed. Visit: www.SleepTrustDealer.com

This information was provided to Sleep Savvy by the advertisers

S howcase Introducing Bedding for the Human Race™ by Perfect Fit Industries, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of basic bedding products. Perfect Fit has partnered with T3 Recovery Products to produce and market the official bedding of Ironman®. The new lineup, touted as “Bedding for the Human Race,” was introduced in New York during the textile industry market in August and is now available to retailers. T3 Recovery Products are designed to provide better sleep and faster recovery. To that end, the product line—which now includes mattresses, mattress pads and bed pillows— utilizes Ironman Sleep Technology, designed to give active, hard-working, hard-playing consumers the quick recovery needed for healthier, more productive lives.

Gotcha Covered’s 100% ECOCERT® certified organic combed cotton sheet sets are constructed with superior singleply yarns and single-pick sateen weaving in 300 TRUE thread count, producing a silky, buttery hand feel that is the ultimate in luxury and natural living. They are packaged in earth-friendly biodegradable bags and are expertly made in Thailand in an OekoTex certified mill. ECOCERT® certification guarantees the practice of genuine environmental respect throughout the manufacturing of the product. The certification ensures that 100% of the components are of a natural origin. Over the past 13 years, Gotcha Covered has developed relationships with factories worldwide to ensure all products are made strictly by the highest standards. The company only works with resources providing the finest quality fabrics, yarns, weaving and finishing processes. And with the PURE line, we have identified partners in the USA (organic protectors) and Thailand that conform to those standards, as well. Visit us at the Las Vegas Market, showroom C-1278.

Perfect Fit Industries 8501 Tower Point Dr. Charlotte, NC 28227 Phone 800-299-1378 www.perfectfitindustries.com

Therapedic’s Hour Glass Back Support features our exclusive HourGlass polypropylene insert, increasing support and firmness by 18% at the shoulders and hips, and 13% at the lumbar area. This flexible technology can be combined with virtually any coil unit to offer improved performance and added value at any price point. • Exclusive, enhanced support grid increases firmness in critical areas. • Open spring design provides progressive resistance as weight is applied, improving support where body weight is centered. • Zoned coil configuration allows for the density of coils to vary across the sleep surface in order to tailor support for every part of your customer’s body. See this exclusive feature in our Las Vegas Market showroom, B-0822. Therapedic Sleep Products 103 College Rd. East Princeton, NJ 08540 Phone 800-314-4433 www.therapedic.com

Gotcha Covered 274 W. Spazier Ave. Burbank, CA 91502 Phone 818-848-5656 www.gotchacovered.com

InnoMax does more than just say green—they really go green with their newly manufactured lineup of Roll N’ Go mattresses, reversible duofirmness natural overlays and pillows. InnoMax helps you separate yourself from the pack with this drop-shipper’s paradise of products. Natural pour and original Memory Cell® or 5-Zone Talalay are all “por-n-fresh” ready, encased in organic cotton and earth-friendly, renewable bamboo fabric, and packaged in an eco-friendly and reusable knapsack. Call InnoMax today and you’ll make more “green” with this one-of-a-kind offering, where nature truly meets innovation. Let us give you a free dealer display kit and more when you sign up with InnoMax to partner as your natural resource for the freshest ideas in bedding! InnoMax 530 W. Elk Pl. Denver, CO 80216 Phone: 800-466-6629 www.innomax.com

This information was provided to Sleep Savvy by the advertisers

SleepSavvy • September 2009


S howcase Tempur-Pedic Retail Partners enjoy a collection of powerful benefits not available from any other mattress company. When you partner with us, you’ll take advantage of our unrivaled brand leadership, our incredible customer loyalty and satisfaction, high dealer margins and industryleading product innovation centered around our proprietary TEMPUR® material. TEMPUR pressure-relieving material is ONLY used to make Tempur-Pedic® brand products—no one else has it. This unique material gives our products a competitive advantage— providing the most comfortable, restful, rejuvenating sleep surface in the industry. Grow your business by partnering with Tempur-Pedic. See us in our Las Vegas showroom, A-1036.

Protect-A-Bed 624 Haverford Rd. Haverford, PA 19041 Phone 866-297-8836. www.protectabed.com

Tempur-Pedic 1713 Jaggie Fox Way Lexington, KY 40511 Phone 800-416-9618 www.tempurpedic.com

Did you know that September is National Home Furnishings Month? Be sure to visit the National Home Furnishings Month Retailer Activation Center at the Las Vegas Market for information on the event, culminating in a special 10-day promotional period for retailers, Sept. 19-27. It’s part of the brand new “Is it Home yet?” campaign, a broad-based consumer marketing initiative for the benefit of the entire home furnishings industry, underwritten by the Las Vegas World Market Center and endorsed by the major home furnishings industry associations. Get a free digital retailer toolkit and information on how you can benefit from this program. Plus there will be a workshop offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration providing retailers with new ways to infuse resources into your business. Find out more at the Las Vegas Market, showroom C-412. World Market Center/ Is it Home yet? Phone 702-599-8124 Email retailstores@homeyet.com www.homeyet.com

42 SleepSavvy • September 2009

Protect-A-Bed®, a premier provider of mattress and pillow protectors and encasements, has introduced a Plush Mattress Protector. The product provides superior allergy protection by guarding mattresses against unhealthy dust mite infestations and other harmful allergens. The Plush Mattress Protector features a luxurious velour fabric surface for superior comfort and a super-soft feel. It has the added benefit of being waterproof and absorbent while still remaining air-vapor porous. Protect-A-Bed is the leader in mattress protection innovation, developing the proprietary Miracle Membrane® and patented Bug Lock® Secure SealTM for bed bug protection. Protect-A-Bed products are listed as a Class 1 Medical Device with the Food and Drug Administration and have received the Good Housekeeping Seal.

Mantua Manufacturing introduces you to the BetterRest Electric Adjustable Bed by Jobri®, a premium, German-engineered bed now available to retailers in the U.S. BetterRest is touted as being superior to any other adjustable bed in the marketplace—and for good reason. BetterRest is quieter, smoother and stronger than any other adjustable bed, with an 800 lb.-rated motor for queen beds for more lifting capability. The Jobri® features a double rail system with increased wall thickness, heavier gauge steel and larger fasteners for greater strength. The massage mechanism is effective and quiet because the motor is mounted on a rubberized plenum, instead of the hard plastic used on other adjustables. BetterRest’s styling and durability is manufactured to the highest European quality standards. BetterRest by Jobri® is not only the best option for the health-conscious consumer, but also for the discriminating consumer who sees an adjustable as a lifestyle choice. See us at the Las Vegas Market in showroom A-504. Mantua Manufacturing 7900 Northfield Rd. Walton Hills, OH 44146 Phone 800-333-8333 www.bedframes.com

This information was provided to Sleep Savvy by the advertisers

Š 2009 Tempur-Pedic Management, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


evolution continues.


SEPT. 14-17


CLOSING WORDS by Gerry Morris

How to make your downtime count


t’s just the nature of retail— those inevitable periods of time between ups or when there are just no customers to wait on. So what do you do with your idle time? When you’re bored, it’s normal just to find some way of passing the time. But this unproductive method of coping can lead to despondency when traffic is particularly slow. Consider these empowering concepts to help keep your attitude positive: ● There are things you can control and things you can’t. Spend your mental and emotional energies on the things you can. You can control your thoughts and actions. ● Business is neither good nor bad. It simply is what it is at this particular time. It’s best to accept reality and play the hand you’ve been dealt. ● People’s lives are determined not so much by what happens to them as it is by how they react to what happens. ● Everyone sleeps on a mattress every night. Mattresses wear out and always will. ● There is an opportunity for mattresses to become more important as people reprioritize their needs and wants. The truth is that dormant intervals are actually a wonderful aspect of retail. How many careers offer on-the-job sales training opportunities every day during business hours? Instead of having to take a night course or study at home,

44 SleepSavvy • September 2009

you can improve your selling skills while at work. In addition, there are many things you can do to help maximize your selling opportunities. Here is a checklist of some you might want to try: ✓ Read Sleep Savvy (or other industry or sales training magazines). ✓ Read a sales training book (I can recommend a couple). ✓ Practice role playing, either with someone else or by replaying situations in your mind. ✓ Learn more product knowledge. ✓ Track and analyze your selling productivity. ✓ Write thank-you notes to customers. ✓ Keep a follow-up file and call your customers. ✓ Check your floor models every day. ✓ Make a checklist of daily tasks to keep your store neat and clean, inside and out. ✓ Test all of your mattresses to learn how they feel. ✓ Prepare questions for reps.

✓C  heck the local paper for competitors’ ads so that you’re prepared to respond if a customer is shopping around. ✓ Check inventory to make sure you aren’t selling a bed that is out of stock to someone who needs it now. ✓ Talk to others in your company to see how their jobs relate to yours. ✓ Walk around your store, inside and out, and try to see it as a customer would. ✓ If you have Internet access, use it to your advantage professionally, not just to pass the time. ✓ Take time to think, dream and imagine new ideas that can help increase your skills and your sales. ✓ Keep a journal of all your thoughts and actions throughout the day. ✓ Take advantage of the information available on my website: www.betterbeddingsales.com. Be creative and use your downtime to make sure your “up time” really counts. ● Gerry Morris is director of training and development for SleepTrust. As a bedding sales rep for more than 20 years, Gerry has shared his insight with thousands of bedding sales professionals. He is also the author of Spring Training: A Supplementary Guide to Mattress Sales and Sell More Bedding…Guaranteed. You can reach Gerry by email at Gerry.Morris@SleepTrust.com or by cell phone at 903-456-2015. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

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Profile for International Sleep Products Association

Sleep Savvy September 09  

The magazine for sleep products professionals

Sleep Savvy September 09  

The magazine for sleep products professionals