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May/June 2010

The cover story

There’s money under the mattress

RETAIL ROAD TRIP

Ruby & Quiri’s new bedding department rings up sales BE MY GUEST

The 7 deadly sins of mattress retailing —an insider’s view CLOSING WORDS

Is offering so many mattress choices a good thing?


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IN THIS ISSUE where to find it

12

THE COVER STORY there’s money under the mattress

If you’re only focusing on the mattress and ignoring the importance of the matching foundation, throwing in a cheap metal frame or letting an adjustable base languish in the back corner, you’re missing the money under the mattress. Vendors share their thoughts on how you can maximize these categories.

3 5

WAKE UP CALL from the editor’s desk

“Support” is an important concept in today’s market. Retailers who support their customers at every level will have the competitive advantage.

SNOOZE NEWS stuff you can use

Bedding is leading the recovery in furniture sales—mattresses up 17.8% in March; separate beds may be the answer for suffering sleepers; “contented” is the emotion for bed-buying; asking insightful questions is key to successful soft selling; getting on the road to “value chain reconstruction”; the 19 Es of excellence from Tom Peters; seven do’s and don’ts for using Twitter; sleep and bedtime routines revealed in 2010 Sleep in America poll...and more.

29

BACK TALK

30

WHAT’S NEW

32

supporting customer dreams

Be sure to tell consumers in your market—research shows that sleeping on a new mattress is good news for bad backs.

for stores like yours

Sleep Savvy’s place for vendors to share new products and services for retailers—this time spotlighting four new mattresses.

CLOSING WORDS by Gerry Morris Are we making mattress shopping more confusing for consumers by offering too many choices? Studies suggest the answer may be “yes.”

21

RETAIL ROAD TRIP

27

BE MY GUEST by Dave Robben

A mattress sales pro identifies the seven deadly sins of mattress RSAs and offers tips on how to avoid committing them.

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

the selling scene Ruby & Quiri’s Rick Ruby credits a new emphasis on bedding for a strong start to 2010 at his upstate New York home furnishings store.

SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

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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 Gerry Morris Dave Robben Larry Shinkle Creative Director 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. 9, No. 4 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, North Carolina 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. ©2010 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.

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

WAKE UP CALL from the editor

Good support: We could all use a little more of it

S

olid, dependable, reliable, lasting support. That idea has been running around in my brain a lot recently, in a variety of contexts. When the bottom fell out of the economy, that sense of having something solid under us seemed to vanish overnight. Nothing was certain anymore—jobs, homes, investments, partnerships, businesses—all up in the air. Now it looks as if we are finally coming in for a landing, or at least circling the airport. But I wonder if we’ll ever again take support of any kind for granted. The idea that somebody has our back and will be there for us is a very precious thing in today’s world. As we emerge from a very scary recession, it strikes me that we need to work harder than ever to be there for our customers, our colleagues and our business partners. Retailers who go the extra mile to demonstrate to customers that they can count on you, no matter what, will have an edge on the competition. Support is what consumers want—in the quality and dependability of the products you sell, the reliability of your service, the credibility that promises made will be promises kept. The same goes for the vendors you choose to do business with. If you’re going to be successful in selling their products, they have to have your back, too. Don’t settle for less. Three little words While researching this issue’s cover story on maximizing the potential of foundations, frames and adjustables beds—i.e., the support under the mattress (starting on page 12)—I

made a note and pinned it to my “idea board.” I don’t recall where the thought came from, but here’s what I wrote: “Three words/concepts that really resonate with today’s consumers: 1. Security 2. Comfort 3. Function.” “Security” is virtually interchangeable with support as a vital concept in successful selling, and it has strong emotional connotations when it comes to mattresses. It goes hand-in-hand with “comfort”—if this word isn’t already in constant use as part of your mattress-selling lexicon, it should be. And “function” is increasingly on the list of consumer expectations for the products they choose to spend precious dollars on. These concepts are relevant to almost any sales transaction you hope to close, especially with women. They can be used very persuasively to bring value not only to the mattress, but also to what goes under the mattress. If you can tell me why a quality support system is important to lasting comfort and performance—how it protects the investment I’m making in a new mattress—I’ll buy it. Tell me how a product’s special functions support my lifestyle and my health, and I’ll pay a premium for it! nbutler@sleepproducts.org SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

3


SNOOZE NEWS stuff you can use

Jerry Epperson

Bedding leading recovery in home furnishings sales

Evidence is mounting that the furniture business is on the rebound, with mattress sales in the lead, industry analyst Jerry Epperson of Mann, Armisted & Epperson, reported during the High Point Market April 18. “The bedding sector is the purest indicator of the health of our business because there is no inventory cushion that you’ve got to work through like most furniture categories,” he said. Mattress shipments have increased every month since October, with a 17.8% dollar gain in March. “The mattress sector is the best indicator we have of what’s to come.” Here are other key signposts that the recession is winding down, Epperson reported at a National Home Furnishings Association-sponsored session: ● Starting in December, advertising spending on home furnishings has been at its highest runrate since the third quarter of 2007, a sign that retailers are spending to create traffic. ● New store openings are being announced almost weekly across the country after 18 months of minimal activity and a string of store closings. ● Many stores are evolving into a more normal product mix after offering extreme value placements for the past year or more. “That should help sales levels and both the sources and the retailers restore profit margins,” Epperson commented. ● Credit availability for both the furniture retailer and for the consumer has improved substantially in the past several months, reversing a severely harmful scenario.

The game is a lot more enjoyable when you’re trying to do more than just

make

money.

— Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com

Separate beds for suffering sleepers?

W

ould-be sleepers suffering from disturbed shut-eye lost an average of two hours of sleep every night, according to a recent study of 1,000 British adults. In fact, 80% of these Brits have considered moving into a second bedroom in order to get a more peaceful night’s sleep. “Research shows that one in 10 couples currently have separate beds,” noted Jessica Alexander of the Sleep Council—the U.K.’s counterpart to the Better Sleep Council in the U.S. “However, one out of five would love to have their own bed if only their partner would suggest it.” “A really big bed and separate bedding might solve some of the problems,” she said. “But if sleeping habits are desperately different, then separate beds or bedrooms is the only answer.” For more results from the U.K. study, turn the page.

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

5


SNOOZE NEWS

stuff you can use

TRAINING TALK

Asking insightful questions By Larry Shinkle A recent Gallup poll found that consumers have little trust in furniture and bedding retailers. With that mindset, hardsell tactics are unlikely to be met with success. The clear alternative is soft selling. The objective of soft selling is to create a good experience for your customers when they shop at your store, making them feel that their time and money is well spent. Asking insightful questions is one of the most important tools of soft selling. ● It shows you care. When a customer comes to your store, chances are good that she has problems +with her sleep. If you start a dialogue by asking questions about the quality of her sleep and her sleep habits, you show interest in your customer and make her feel important. ● It helps you find the best solution. Remember that your goal is to be your customer’s “sleep improvement consultant” and help find the best mattress and accessories that meet her needs. That can only be achieved if you ask the right questions to understand her situation. ● It establishes your credibility. Asking the right questions also helps demonstrate that you know your products. This is critical when you give advice and offer choices in the later stages of the selling process.

Active listening Next, you need to actively listen to what your customer says and interpret what she means. Show your customer that you’re listening by restating what she has said in your own words. Use receptive language to show that you care and make your customer feel you are interested. Pay attention to your customer’s body language, facial expressions and tone of voice. This allows you to identify unspoken needs and helps you give the best advice and make accurate product recommendations. Allow your customer to finish describing her situation. Don’t start talking about your products before she has fully explained her problem—sadly, this is all too common. This will not only hurt your customer’s feelings, it also will make her question your interest in finding solutions to fit her needs and the credibility of your advice. Larry Shinkle is a director of sales with Leggett & Platt Consumer Products Group, where he has held a number of sales positions over the past 10 years. Currently, his focus is on training for bedding retailers on the West Coast and overseas. Prior to joining Leggett, Larry spent 15 years in sales and training for W. Simmons Mattress, a California factory direct retailer. He can be reached by email at Larry.Shinkle@leggett.com.

Irritating bed habits revealed in British study

A

ccording to a recent study of 1,000 British adults, the biggest complaint among those who share a bed with another is the “tuck and roll”—where one sleep partner holds onto the covers and rolls away from the other—cited by four in 10 couples. Coming in second was the “midnight shuffle,” where one sleeper moves away from the other and is slowly followed across the bed by their partner only to wind up precipitously close to falling over the edge. Nearly one in five complained about this problem.

6 SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

Here is the list of the top 10 bedroom complaints from the study, conducted by major U.K. department store Debenhams: 1. Tuck and roll 42% 2. Midnight shuffle 19% 3. Snoring 9% 4. Teeth grinding 7% 5. Kicking and fidgeting 6% 6. Talking 5% 7. Drooling 4% 8. Twitching 4% 9. Sleep walking 3% 10. Flatulence 1% For more on this study, see page 5. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


SNOOZE NEWS

stuff you can use

‘Contented’ is the bed-buying emotion

I

f you want people to buy beds, you need to make them feel contented, according to a new study that will be published in the August Journal of Consumer Research. “Previous research shows that positive feelings produce a ‘rose-colored glasses effect,’ leading products to appear more desirable,” write researchers at the University of Minnesota and Arizona State University. “But we find that rose-colored glasses come in different shades.” The study examined how product preferences changed depending on whether a person was feeling pride, contentment or a neutral emotional state. They found that pride enhanced desire for “public display products” such as nice watches, shoes and clothes for going out. Pride did not enhance desire for home products. It was the emotion of contentment that led participants to be more attracted to products such as “beds, dishwashers and clothing for lounging around the

house,” the researchers write. “Our findings suggest that shoppers are likely to want to buy different products depending on the specific emotions that they are feeling. “If a retailer is selling products that allow the consumer to ‘show off’ to other people, this retailer may want to induce feelings of pride through store atmospherics or advertising. In contrast, a retailer selling primarily home furnishings might want to try to induce feelings of contentment.” The researchers recommend that retailers consider using lighting, store displays and service to induce the right emotion. For contentment, retailers would be wise to create a home-like atmosphere with places to sit and relaxing music. The researchers also suggest that a good location for home furnishings retailers is next to a restaurant because it’s filled with “full and contented potential shoppers.” A preprint of this article can be found online at http://journals.uchicago.edu/jcr.

What are you doing to reconstruct value?

M

arketing consultant Sam Geist, in a recent online newsletter, noted that the recession forced everyone into a phase of “value chain deconstruction,” but now that things are looking up, we should be moving into “value chain reconstruction—that phase where we look at how we can renew our value chain to meet the demands and expectations of today’s savvy consumers—and even go so far as to surprise them with benefits they had not yet fully realized were available to them.” According to Geist, making gains along the path of value chain reconstruction basically requires you to answer three questions honestly. 1. What do I (really) sell? 2. What problem does it solve for my customers? 3. What does it ultimately help my customers achieve? Visit Geist’s website at www.samgeist.com to learn more.

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

7


SNOOZE NEWS

stuff you can use

The 19 Es of EXCELLENCE

btw:

7 do’s and don’ts for Twitter users 1. D  o upload your picture to your Twitter profile. Accounts with pictures average 10 times more followers than those without, says marketing software provider HubSpot, which analyzed 9 million twitter profiles. 2. Don’t just look human—act human. Let your personality show and share real stories, advises Dan Frommer, deputy editor of BusinessInsider.com., which also offers the five tips below. 3. Don’t stray too far from your main focus and definitely do not discuss politics, religion or sports. 4. D  o share links, photos and videos that tie into your products, your stores and your employees. 5. Don’t retweet too many customer compliments or you risk turning off and losing followers. 6. Do use Twitter as a customer service portal, but only if you are able to offer consistent, appropriate care. You may want to use Twitter simply to send customers to your regular service channels, such as phone or email support. 7. Don’t negotiate with an unhappy or irate customer publicly on Twitter. Instead, try to communicate privately via email, phone or other form of direct messaging.

BEDDING BIZ BEAT March marked a watershed for the mattress business as dollar sales (wholesale) rose 17.8% compared to March 2009. Unit sales were even stronger, with a 21.4% gain for the month. Value-driven sales prevailed, as reflected in an average unit price decline of 3%. Mattresses & Foundations in Millions of Dollars Sample of Leading Producers

$350

$356

$342

$384

$379 $321

Percent change +1.7%

Percent change +12.2%

Percent change +17.8%

January

February

March

■ 2009 ■ 2010

8 SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

In Search of Excellence author Tom Peters is at it again. His newest book, The Little BIG Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence, is out. Here’s a taste of his latest thinking about what constitutes excellence—from Seth Godin in his new ebookWhat Matters Now. 1. Enthusiasm. Be an irresistible force of nature. 2. Exuberance. Vibrate—cause earthquakes! 3. Execution. Do it! Now! Barriers are baloney. Excuses are for wimps. Accountability is gospel. Adhere to the Bill Parcells doctrine: “Blame no one. Expect nothing. Do something.” 4. Empowerment. Respect and appreciation rule. Always ask, “What do you think?” Then listen. Then let go and liberate. Then celebrate! 5. Edginess. Perpetually dance at the frontier—and a little or a lot beyond. 6. Enraged. Determine to challenge and change the status quo. Motto: “If it ain’t broke, break it!” 7. Engaged. Get addicted to MBWA—Managing By Wandering Around. Be in touch, always. 8. Electronic. Partner with the world 60/60/24/7 via electronic community-building of every sort. 9. Encompassing. Relentlessly pursue diverse opinions—the more diversity the merrier. Diversity per se works. 10. Emotion. The alpha. The omega. The essence of leadership. The essence of sales. The essence of marketing. The essence. Period. Acknowledge it. 11. Empathy. Connect, connect, connect with others’ reality and aspirations. “Walk in the other person’s shoes”—until the soles have holes. 12. Ears. Effective listening is strategic advantage number one. 13. Experience. Life is theater. Make every activity/ contact memorable. Setting the standard: Steve Jobs“Insanely Great”; BMW-“Radically thrilling.” 14. Eliminate. Keep it simple! 15. Error-prone. Ready! Fire! Aim! Try lots of stuff and make lots of booboos, then try some more stuff and make some more booboos—all of it at the speed of light. 16. Evenhanded. Straight as an arrow. Fair to a fault. Honest as Abe. 17. Expectations. Michelangelo: “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” 18. Eudaimonia. Pursue the highest of human moral purpose—the core of Aristotle’s philosophy. Be of service, always. 19. Excellence. Never an exception. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


SNOOZE NEWS

stuff you can use

Create an ‘air of excitement’ in your store

K

ip Tindell, CEO of The Container Store, offered a few lessons for retail success in a segment on ABC’s Good Morning America March 30. One of the elements this company works hardest on is how customers are greeted. Old standbys like “May I help you?” are tossed in favor of more specific communication with customers about products and special store events. “You have to have great people that love what they’re doing and are really well trained. And somebody that says ‘Can I help you?’ spurs a subconscious response from the customer that ‘No thanks, I’m just looking.’ So we try to have true engagement,” Kindell told GMA. The Container Store has been one of Fortune magazine’s “Best Companies to Work For” for 11 years and has a loyal customer base—many of its employees were once customers. Tindell’s goal has been to create what he calls a “yummy” corporate culture. “We call it ‘air of excitement.’ If you walk into a retail store and everybody there is excited to be there, you can sense it three steps in the door,” Tindell said. Container Store employees receive a whopping 240 hours of training. “We put the employee even before the customer,” Tindell said. “If you take care of your employees better than anybody else, they’ll take care of the customer better than anybody else.”

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

Freebies can drag values down

O

ver the many months of retail gloom, retailers have been making more use than ever of the “freebie”—free pillows with mattress purchase, for example. Researchers have known for a long time that this diminishes the perceived value of the freebie, but according to a paper published in the Journal of Consumer Research, the product that was promoted with the freebie also loses value in consumers’ minds. Michael Kamins, a professor of marketing at New York’s Stony Brook University, tested several offers on eBay. He sold Indian pennies from 1865 individually, in combination with a less valuable 1901 penny and in combination with the 1901 penny positioned as a freebie. When the two-penny bundle was not billed as including a freebie, the individual pennies all fetched higher prices.

Just for laughs

“You’ll love this mattress Mr. Handleshacker. We guarantee you’ll grow at least 3 inches taller in 30 days or your money back!”

SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

9


SNOOZE NEWS

stuff you can use

Sleep in America Poll

Sleep, bedtime routines show ethnic differences

T

he latest Sleep in America poll from the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) reveals similarities and differences in the sleep habits of Asians, blacks/ African-Americans, Hispanics and whites. It’s the first poll to examine sleep among different ethnic groups, NSF says. The poll of 1,000 adult Americans—approximately 250 of each ethnicity—found that more than three-fourths of respondents from each group agree that poor sleep is associated with health problems. The poll also shows that all groups report similar experiences with missed work or family functions because they were too sleepy—between 19% and 24%. Bedtime routines revealed The hour before bedtime is a very active one for many Americans. Overwhelmingly, watching TV is the most frequent activity for all ethnic groups. Black Americans are the most active in the hour before bedtime. Three-quarters specifically watch TV and 71% pray or do another religious practice. Blacks also spend significantly more time in bed without sleeping than do other ethnic groups—54 minutes on weekdays/workdays and 71 minutes on non-workdays/weekends. At 52%, Asians are least inclined to watch TV before bedtime, compared to 75% of blacks, 72% of Hispanics and 64% of whites. However, Asians were much more likely to report using a computer or the Internet in the hour before bed—72% vs. 45% of whites, 43% of blacks and 41% of Hispanics. Among those who are married or partnered, 90% of whites sleep with their significant other, com-

10 SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

at their best during the day, which is significantly less than Asians and Hispanics—nearly 7 hours and 29 minutes each. At least one-third of whites (38%), Hispanics (36%) and blacks (33%) report using “sleep aids” at least a few nights a week, compared to one-fourth of Asians (25%).

pared to 84% of black Americans, 76% of Hispanics and 67% of Asians. Interestingly, whites are also the most likely to sleep with pets—16% vs. 4% of Asians and Hispanics, and 2% of blacks. Not sleeping enough Roughly one-third of adults in all ethnic groups report getting less sleep than they need to function at their best. About a quarter—26% of Hispanics, 25% of blacks, 23% of Asians and 22% of whites—say that their current work schedule doesn’t allow them to get enough sleep. Asians are the most likely ethnic group (84%) to say that they had a good night’s sleep at least a few nights or more a week. Asians also report the lowest incidence of sleep problems. Black Americans report averaging the least amount of sleep—6 hours and 14 minutes. That’s 34 minutes less than Asians and 38 minutes less than whites. Blacks also say that they need only 7 hours and 5 minutes of sleep each night to perform

The impact of sleepiness Overall, more than three-fourths of respondents in each ethnic group completely agreed or mostly agreed with the statement “insufficient or poor sleep is associated with health problems”—83% of whites, 81% of Asians, 78% of Hispanics and 76% of blacks. Not getting enough sleep is having a significant impact on job performance among all ethnic groups—72% of whites, 69% of Asians, 61% of Hispanics and 57% of blacks/African-Americans. Also, about six in 10 whites (62%) and Hispanics (60%) say that their relationship with family or friends is affected by insufficient sleep, while fewer Asians (56%) and blacks (52%) agree. Overall, more than three in 10—37% of whites, 33% of Hispanics, 32% of Asians and 31% of blacks—indicate that their quality of life has been affected in some way by sleepiness. About two in 10—24% of Asians, 22% of blacks, 22% of Hispanics and 19% of whites—report that they missed events at least one day in the past month because they were too sleepy or had a sleep problem. ● For the complete Summary of Findings of the 2010 Sleep in America Poll, visit the National Sleep Foundation’s website, www.sleepfoundation.org. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


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There’s money un

12 SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


The cover story

nder the mattress By Nancy Butler

The right support systems make sure a mattress offers the best possible performance for the customer…and for the retailer. If you’re only focusing on the mattress sale and ignoring the importance of the matching foundation, throwing in a cheap metal frame or letting an adjustable base languish in the back corner, you’re missing the money under the mattress. “Retailers are getting fewer customers, so you have

adjustable bed manufacturer Hollandia. “If you believe

to increase the dollars for every sale,” says Bill Jahn,

that, then a mattress is what you will sell. But if your

president and CEO of storage base producer Seahawk

beds are shown with adjustable bases and you explain

Designs. “You need to sell sleep systems, not mattresses.

the benefits, that’s what you will sell.”

There’s a profit center under the bed. Astute retailers are beginning to realize this.” Everyone in the distribution and sales chain—mat-

“A quality bed frame? Most RSAs can’t be bothered,” says Neil Dwyer, executive vice president of sales and marketing for frame maker Mantua. “But putting a

tress manufacturers, case goods companies, retailers,

mattress on a weak frame means it won’t perform the

RSAs and consumers—has a stake in a well-supported

way it’s supposed to and the consumer ends up com-

bed. The right support, vendors point out, maintains

plaining that the mattress is failing when, in fact, it’s

the comfort of the bed, prevents problems that lead to

entirely related to improper support. Retailers just need

customer complaints and returns, and reduces warranty

to give customers the option to protect their investment

claims. Retailers who put emphasis on what’s under the

with a better frame.”

mattress can both make money and save money. Unfortunately, says Jahn—who recently toured some

Vendors are quick to point out that, whether you’re persuading the customer to buy a new foundation to go

40 retail stores where he had the opportunity to see

with her new mattress, upselling to a better bed frame

what is and isn’t happening on the floor—“Most of the

or specialty support system, or showing her the lifestyle

salespeople are just talking about mattresses.”

benefits of an adjustable bed, it takes no additional

In part, that’s because the mattress is where consum-

floor space, it’s the same customer and it’s the same

ers are focused. “Our research shows that when con-

delivery. What it does take to make money under the

sumers go shopping they think they are in the market

bed is a little extra training, a little extra selling time

for ‘a mattress,’” says Avi Barssessat, CEO of luxury

and a few tools to use with your customers.

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

13


THE COVER STORY

there’s money under the mattress

Foundations Selling a system

“There’s only so much differentiation you can do in a mattress,” says Dwayne Welch, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Hickory Springs. “The next logical step is the foundation—sell the sleep system, the complete package.” Sounds like a no-brainer, yet industry statistics suggest that perhaps 20% of mattresses are sold without the upholstered foundations they are meant to be paired with. While some of these mattresses are sold with specialty bases that don’t require the matching foundation— adjustable beds, platform beds, storage bases, etc.—the fact remains that too many retailers are letting consumers slip out with a mattress only, knowing that in all probability they’ll be putting the new mattress on an old foundation. This is not good news for anyone. What can you say to consumers about the matching foundation and why it’s important? Here are some messages from the mattress industry-

supported Better Sleep Council: ● “The matching foundation is engineered to work with this mattress for the best support. It enhances the performance, durability and feel of your new mattress.” ● “Your old foundation may still look good, but if your mattress is worn out, so is its foundation— they’ve both been taking the wear

Flammability: Don’t ignore the risks

T

he subject of mattress fires may be the last thing you want to bring up when trying to close a sale. But there are good reasons to rethink that. Open-flame tests required by the federal mattress flammability standard that became effective in 2007 show that, in many cases, a faulty foundation will cause a mattress set to fail the test. This means that a customer could easily compromise the new safety features of an FR standard-compliant mattress if she uses the new mattress on her old foundation. So you may want to advise customers who purchase a mattress by itself that, “Using a new mattress with an old foundation may pose a safety risk to you and your family. The mattress and foundation should be replaced at the same time.” Manufacturers’ product labeling now specifies which foundation(s) should be used with each mattress in order to meet the standard. Ignoring the labeling not only puts your customers at risk, it could also expose your company to significant fines imposed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This is a complex regulatory and legal issue. Sleep Savvy suggests you learn more about ithe regulations by going to the Sleep Savvy website at www.sleepsavvymagazine.com/editorial-information/retailer-toolkit.html and reading the Flammability Information & Materials section.

14 SleepSavvy •

May/June 2010

and tear of nightly use for the same amount of time.” ● “Putting your new mattress on an old foundation may change the way the mattress feels, affect its performance over time and shorten the comfort life.” ● “It’s important to buy the manufacturer’s recommended foundation—the two will perform best together. In fact, buying the mattress without the recommended foundation may affect the terms of the manufacturer’s warranty.” ● “Putting your new mattress on the matching foundation assures that the set will meet the federal flammability standard. That may not be the case if you put it on an old foundation.” Use caution with the last two messages. If the customer has asked about the warranty and you know it’s an issue, bring it up. But some customers may view this as a “threat” and be turned off. Similar care should be used with a flammability message—an unpleasant subject (see box at left for more on this topic). But either one or both can be useful with a customer who is on the fence about the foundation. Selling full value Customers need to know that a foundation, not just the mattress, has a value. “What does it say to the customer if only 50% of the product has value and function?” says Mark Quinn, executive vice president of marketing for the Leggett & Platt Bedding Group. “Selling half the product makes no sense.” If there are flexible steel components in the foundation you’re presenting, a shock absorber analogy is a good one: “The foundation acts like a giant shock absorber. You wouldn’t buy a new car and install old shocks. The comfort and support would be compromised.” A large number of today’s upholwww.sleepsavvymagazine.com


THE COVER STORY

there’s money under the mattress

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

Frames

Today’s bedding is thicker and heavier than ever—without the right support, the mattress and foundation risk premature breakdown. Poor support can cause valleys and ridges to appear in the mattress. The consumer may blame your mattress vendor, but you’ll be the one she complains to.

the mattress, but that’s what gets the blame,” says John Fiore of Knickerbocker Bed Co., maker of frames and support systems. “And the retailer’s reputation is shot. The right support needs to be emphasized at the front end because it makes such a huge difference at the back end.” “When a company promotes free mattress supports, it hurts the customer and the company,” Fiore

“It’s a huge mistake for retailers to provide a giveaway frame with no center support—the warranty claims increase and they’re adding the expense somewhere else on the balance sheet,” says David Cline, president and CEO of Universal Bedlegs. “You may not see it, but it’s very real.” “RSA sell-through to what’s under the bed contributes to the box spring performance and gives the product a longer lifespan. A good support system avoids the ‘uh oh,’” Cline says. “Approximately a third of all customer complaints are directly related to improper support under the bed. It has nothing to do with

says. “Customers don’t recall if their frame was free, they only remember the end result, which is damaged bedding.” Warranty policies differ, but most manufacturers require that some type of sturdy center support be used on all queen and king sets. A good recommendation: At least one center rail and leg for queen in a side-to-side configuration (a good idea for full sets as well), and at least two rails and legs for a king set in a head-to-foot configuration to support the two twin XL foundations. Some bedding manufacturers have partnerships with frame makers to make sure the support is correct.

Avoiding the ‘uh oh’

Photo from Leggett & Platt

stered foundations are build-ups of wood and foam without steel components. They’re often paired with specialty sleep mattresses with visco-elastic or latex foams. A message for a customer switching from more traditional support might be, “Your old foundation was built as a companion to an innerspring mattress, so they may not work well together. The newer technologies require a different type of foundation support.” And don’t overlook a possible “green” message to establish value in wood build-up foundations. Constructed from byproducts of construction-grade lumber manufacturing, they represent a sustainable use of wood, notes Dean Woods at Hodder Lumber. “More and more mattress makers are documenting the sustainably forested wood they use in their beds.” Quinn reports that steel, despite rising prices in recent years, is regaining ground in foundations. “Manufacturers are taking a fresh look at building a working foundation. In our focus groups, it was clear that consumers perceive steel in a foundation to be a better value,” he says. “Steel messages put meat on the bones for retailers, giving RSAs more to talk about in function and value.” Whatever type of under-the-bed support you’re planning to present, an effective approach may be to match the customer to the right mattress first. Don’t try to deal with a foundation objection up front or you may irritate the customer and lose both sales. Once you’ve worked together to select a quality mattress, that’s the time to bring the conversation back to what base the new mattress needs for the best comfort and support— which paves the way for the entire range of support categories and options.

SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

15


THE COVER STORY

there’s money under the mattress

16 SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

Adjustables

Wowing the customer

Adjustable beds are the norm in Europe, where German adjustable manufacturer Jobri—which markets in the U.S. through Mantua—estimates that 43% of mattresses are sold with adjustable bases, including mechanical and electric types. In the U.S., adjustable producer Ergomotion estimates it’s 2%-3%. But the numbers are climbing, especially with the rising popularity of specialty foam mattresses. Some specialty majors are closing as much as 20% of sales with adjustables, according to Niles Cornelius, general manager of the Hickory at Home division of Hickory Springs, which markets Ergomotion’s adjustable bases. “It’s an opportunity to increase the total ticket exponentially without using any more space. I think it could be 10% within the next five years.” “Just put any one of your specialty foam beds on an adjustable base and it will automatically double the ticket and improve your margins if you merchandise it right,” says Glideaway’s Fredman, who markets adjustable bases from Reverie.

Lifestyle and health Adjustable beds have become a lifestyle product—and some of the category’s evangelists would love to change the name to “lifestyle bases” to eradicate the old hospital bed image. But adjustable bed makers say the health benefits are as valid as ever in today’s market. Fitness-obsessed Americans like the adjustable bed’s ability to raise their feet and speed their recovery times. Adjustables are also coming to the rescue of the growing number of aging boomers who represent a huge portion of U.S. buying power. “We’re bringing some of the hospital features into residential products,” says Aaron Goldsmith, president of adjustable frame company Transfer Master. “These products can solve a host of problems, including sleep problems. You just have to package it right and make it attractive.” “The whole baby boom generation is moving toward retirement age and looking for ways to help them sleep better,” says Ben Groce, controller for adjustable manufacturer Flex-a-Bed. “So 55-plus is a perfect group to promote to. But it’s also a luxury product that appeals to younger crowd—I’m 31 and I like to read in bed.”

Photo from Hollandia

Some bedroom case goods producers have also aligned with frame suppliers in encouraging retailers to stock supplemental support systems and to educate consumers that unreinforced wood slats have a high probability of bowing and may break. According to Richard Polevoy, president of Knickerbocker, the proliferation of single-sided beds is another factor. “You need a stronger, heavyduty frame and a more rigid foundation to reduce flex and damage with the one-sided mattress,” he says. Retailers and consumers are increasingly interested in more innovative frames and support systems, including storage bed designs and attachable legs, so vendors are offering a wide range of options to explore and use for store differentiation. The “free frame with purchase” is definitely still around, but more and more retailers are successfully moving away from the giveaway. “Bonus frame events backfire because of lost profitability,” Fiore says. “Retailers are now turning it into a profit center instead of a drain on profits.” “We’ve scrapped the model of being a simple commodity,” says Ron Fredman, executive vice president of sales at veteran frame supplier Glideaway. “We taught our customers’ salespeople how to upsell the frame by focusing on durability, strength and warranty. Within a year, we doubled sales in the premium category.” The message for the customer at the point of sale is really pretty simple: “Now that you have the best bed, you need the best frame,” Fredman says. “Treat it as a foregone conclusion.” “A good frame may seem more expensive—to both the customer and the RSA—but in the long run, it’s not,” says Mantua’s Neil Dwyer. “The extra amount they spend on the frame will extend the life of the mattress.”

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


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THE COVER STORY

“People are not only concerned with a good night’s sleep, but also in creating relaxing environments that allow them to de-stress at the end of a busy day,” says Dani Serven, project manager at South Bay International, which is emphasizing a new adjustable program. “Adjustable beds provide an exceptional sleep experience, as well as unsurpassed comfort for reading, watching TV, working on your laptop. Adjustable beds are redefining how all ages relax and rejuvenate for optimal health.” Hickory’s Welch points out that people are used to function in today’s products. “Consumers expect the extra comfort in their cars, with seats that move and conform, in the family room and in the bedroom—the comfort opportunities of built-in electronics,” he says. “It’s about lifestyle. It’s about engaging the customer.” “New technology that’s being incorporated into adjustable bases is adding new interest—technology is the story today,” says Herman Tam, group vice president of sales and marketing for the Leggett & Platt Consumer Products Group, which has introduced several versions of hightech adjustables with built-in bells and whistles such as Internet connectivity, surround-sound speakers, iPod docking stations and sleep monitoring systems. “That’s where retailers really have the opportunity for something that will make the consumer say ‘Wow!’” Selling the experience “Adjustable beds are experiential,” says Jimmy Grimes, vice president of sales for Leggett & Platt Adjustable Sleep Systems. “Show it to everyone who comes in. If you focus on it you can sell it. Your conversion rate can triple. But the customer has to experience it—get on it and feel it.” One of the biggest obstacles is the RSA’s fear of price objection—electric adjustable bases with head and foot

18 SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

articulation, plus massage, start at around $1,200. “But all they need to do is invite the customer to ‘just check it out—it’s the latest thing!’” says Grimes. Two years ago, Hollandia’s Barssessat bought a chain of sleep shops in Israel that focused just on mattresses. “Now they sell 95% adjustable,” he reports. “It’s a matter of making the decision that that’s what you’re going to do.” “Retailers have trouble wrapping their heads around placement—it’s always a twin XL in the back, which perpetuates the institutional image,” says Ergomotion President Kelly Clenet. “Front and center placement with a queen takes no more square footage and it helps you sell mattresses by offering this quality option.” “It’s very easy to convince a consumer to move up to a king from a queen with adjustable because they get separate units for personal comfort,” Barssessat says. “And I double my turnover for the same customer— they’re happier and so are we.” Ideas differ about when and how to show an adjustable base, but many vendors suggest leaving it in a fully reclined position while you concentrate on selecting the right mattress. “Leave it flat, then when customer lies down, ask ‘Do you like the way that feels? Now, try this!’ Raise the head, then raise the foot, then turn on the massage,” says Seahawk’s Jahn, who makes a storage bed with an adjustable deck from Leggett & Platt. “Leave it flat and show it to the mattress customers who aren’t looking for adjustables,” agrees Johnny Griggs, Ergomotion vice president of sales. “No customer ever says ‘I don’t like this.’ Once they’re in, it’s hard to get them out. If you do it right, you can close one in four.” To do an adjustable presentation right, says Griggs, “The RSA must become engaged in the customer’s personal life as much as they’ll permit.”

Photo from Jobri

there’s money under the mattress

Both Griggs and Julia Rosien, communications director for Natura World, a veteran marketer of adjustable bed systems, recommend that RSAs do the following: ● Ask questions to find out what customers do during the day— hunched over a computer, on their feet, driving, dealing with active children? ● Ask questions about their bedtime habits—watch TV, read, use a laptop? ● Ask questions about health issues—lower back pain, neck pain, leg or shoulder pain? These are health issues that an adjustable base can help to alleviate, says Rosien. “And when you look at the cost of adding an adjustable base, can you amortize over time for the customer so the health benefit outweighs the cost difference?” But Flex-A-Bed’s Groce offers a caution to RSAs: Don’t go too far with medical claims. The best way to handle it is to say, “A lot of people tell us that it helps them with circulation, acid reflux and back problems.” In other words, don’t promise cures that you can’t deliver. Rosien suggests using your website and social media like Facebook to “let your happy and satisfied customers speak for you. Give real-life examples to prove your points.” ● www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


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RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

Ruby & Quiri Owner Rick Ruby and sister Amy Karas, design center manager

Mattress department remerchandising, community-based promotions lead to business upswing By Barbara Nelles Photography by Bill Trojan

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

T

he economic recovery has arrived—at least at Ruby & Quiri in upstate New York. Mattress sales were almost 50% higher in the first two months of this year over the same period in 2009. February was the biggest month in store history, thanks to federal rebates for energy-efficient appliances and increases in bedding sales. The average bedding ticket, which had been on a downward trajectory due to the sluggish economy, recently rose to $1,100 from $800-$900.

Store owner Rick Ruby attributes the improvement to a number of factors: A larger selection of better beds, a department redesign, a popular cash-for-clunkers sales promotion (see story on page 22) and a new emphasis on selling up in bedding. The small appliance and hardware store opened by Ruby’s father Carl in 1949 (with a partner who left early in the game) is now a thriving one-stop home store offering furnishings, bedding, lighting, flooring and appliances. In 2006, the store moved to a new SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

21


RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

‘Cash for clunkers’ strikes chord

T

he federal government’s cash-for-clunkers program last year, which inspired many to turn in gas-guzzlers for new cars, also inspired Ruby & Quiri to develop its own version in August. The program garnered coverage in the New York Times the following month and is ongoing. Ruby & Quiri customers receive a $25 gift card for turning in used bedding or furniture or $50 for upgrading to an Energy Star appliance. The store donates reusable clunkers to charity and breaks down old bedding and furniture on site for recycling. “People really like that their castoffs will be given to someone or recycled, instead of ending up in a landfill,” says owner Rick Ruby. “This promotion has really helped us grow our bedding business” —to the tune of 30% sales growth during the first few months of the promotion last fall. Ruby expects to continue the program indefinitely due to its popularity. The store has added a roof to the loading dock to shelter used furniture and appliances until they can be picked up. Old mattresses get broken down into their component parts and placed in a tractor-trailer along with all other recyclables. The store has found a local recycler who picks everything up.

65,000-square-foot showroom and warehouse on a seven-acre campus in Johnstown. It’s a popular destination for full-time and vacation residents of bucolic Fulton County and environs. Ruby & Quiri prides itself on providing ultimate customer service. In fact, if you’re a customer with a gripe—or a compliment—Ruby wants to hear about it. And he does. His personal email address, cell phone and home telephone numbers are published on the company website. Bedding accounts for about 10% of Ruby & Quiri’s total business but is growing. “Years ago, if you’d told me we’d be selling $6,000 mattresses and $3,000 washer and dryers, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Ruby says. The store shows three brands in its 3,000-square-foot mattress department and adjacent bedroom vignettes.

22 SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

Used mattresses are broken down on site and components are recycled.

Tempur-Pedic and Englander each have their own galleries, which are separated by low walls and archways. Corsicana beds are displayed within the vignettes. The department was enlarged and redesigned last fall after an inspirational visit to Sherman’s in Peoria, IL (featured in the September 2009

issue of Sleep Savvy), for a retail software conference. Wall colors were warmed up and murals change with the season. Night tables and lamps accent the space between beds, and the amount of POP materials has been reduced to eliminate clutter. Ruby says the three brands create a perfect balance. There are about 35 mattresses on the floor, including a number of recently added luxury models. Prices for queen sets open at $399 and top out at $6,000 (a Tempur-Pedic with an adjustable base). “We ask customers, ‘Why buy a Chevy when you can afford the Cadillac?’” quips Ruby. “Selling up takes more effort—you have to give customers a clear picture of why they need to buy better bedding.” Both visco-elastic and latex are growing categories, as are sleep accessories. The store recently added pillows and mattress toppers, displayed adjacent to mattresses. Decorative top-ofbed is showcased in bedroom vignettes and mattress protection is sold at checkout as part of an enhanced mattress warranty program. A guaranteed lowest price promise is backed with a 10% discount off the competitor’s price. “While it’s seldom used, the promise adds credibility that our prices on bedding and electronics are low,” Ruby says. Upon entering the store, shoppers receive low-key greetings from sales associates. The emphasis is on creating a rapport, not accosting people, Ruby says. “We don’t say, ‘How may I help you?’ but, perhaps begin with ‘Isn’t it a beautiful day today?’ “Many customers are outfitting second homes and tell us they don’t want to spend a lot of money. We always counter with, ‘Is it when you’re on www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

Soothing blue walls, seasonal murals and bedside lamps were key elements of a mattress department redesign.

Ruby & Quiri’s customer service desk exemplifies the store‘s reputation for service excellence.

vacation that you don’t want to get a good night’s sleep?’ “We ask a series of questions to zero in on their preferences and talk a lot about how they feel when they wake up in the morning. I hold myself up as living proof of the importance of choosing a good mattress. I was stiff and achy all day at my daughter’s college graduation because we stayed www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

at a hotel with mattresses General Grant must’ve slept on. The next night, we switched hotels. I had a good bed and woke up feeling great. “I think people are starting to realize as they age that it’s not like when we were 20 and could bounce back from sleeping anywhere, including in the back of a pickup truck. Those days are over.”

Motivational culture Ruby & Quiri has 45 employees, many of whom have more than eight years with the company. RSA compensation is commission-based, and employees receive profit sharing and a recently added 401(k) savings plan. Most RSAs cover all categories, except for those in flooring—which requires a different skill set—and there is a strong emphasis on cross-selling. “Our employees understand it’s all about exceeding customer expectations,” Ruby says. “We depend on salespeople to bring their ‘A game’ and try to provide them with the resources and tools to sell customers properly. When employees feel appreciated, they are more conscientious about delivering good customer service.” In January, the store conducted “reverse evaluations,” where all employees had the opportunity to anonymously fill out evaluations for any manager or team leader in the store. On average, the store holds two SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

23


RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

sales meetings a week. “We have informal presentations from reps in different product categories a couple of times a month,” Ruby notes. “And one evening a month we have pizza, snacks and a rep and sales trainer will come in and go into a greater level of detail.” The company also stages sales contests to reward the RSAs with the highest close rate for a particular product or category. “Some last for just a weekend, other programs can go on for 90 days,” says Ruby. “We just try to change things up and keep them fresh.” Attentive salespeople and tried-and-

24 SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

draw store traffic. At last check, the store had more than 1,000 fans on Facebook and the number is growing. When its fan count hits 2,000, the store promises a pair of plane tickets to anywhere in the U.S. to the lucky fan. Freebie Friday giveaways have included a washing machine, sofa and a bed set. Winners must come to the store to claim their prize and have their picture taken. One recent winner of a new bed set spent an additional $2,200 on furnishings, Ruby says. In advertising and on his blog, Ruby enjoys telling stories of how he and son Rick Jr.—who is the store’s oper-

The Ruby & Quiri storefront is hard to miss, even on a busy roadway.

true promotions are marketing staples, more recently coupled with a growing presence in the social media sphere. A summer-long tent sale, frequent truckload and invitation-only private sales, as well as “Freebie Friday” giveaways on Facebook, capture attention and

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

ations manager—personally step in to set things right or make in-person deliveries. Perhaps it’s a new clothes dryer to a desperate homemaker or a surprise Christmas Eve delivery to a last-minute holiday shopper. In addition to Rick Jr., Ruby’s sister Amy Karas is head of the store’s design center and his daughter Elizabeth handles appliance and electronics ordering and billing. Many other longtime staff members are “just like family,” Ruby says. Community activists Store promotions often revolve around supporting local businesses and the community. Ruby has a strong sense of obligation to his community and a desire to give back. It’s rooted in the support shown him after his father’s sudden

death at 46 in 1969. At the time, he was a junior at Colgate University. Without a second thought, he rearranged his classes, commuted 160 miles to campus three days a week and learned to manage the family business. He graduated on time and by 1972 had enlarged the store and its offerings. “I did it with the support of so many great people in this community, including my dad’s competitors,” Ruby says. The store’s large working kitchen is often the setting for Little League and Boys & Girls Club spaghetti dinners. The parking lot is the site of community car washes and bake sales. It was also the site of a recent home show for local contractors. And then there was the black-tie event for the hospital, held under the Ruby & Quiri big

sale tent. Ruby serves on the hospital foundation’s board and his sister is on the community college foundation board. The store’s large digital roadside sign is used as a community bulletin board. During the winter holidays, the store gave away $17,000 in “chamber checks” issued by the chamber of commerce. Shoppers received 10% back in checks—good for use at any chamber member—for every purchase. Another successful recent promotion was dinner for two at a local restaurant and movie tickets with any $399 purchase. “We grew up around here—this area has been very good to us,” Ruby reiterates. “Promoting the local community and local business is a big part of what we do. It’s our tie-breaker.” ●

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SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

25


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BE MY GUEST by Dave Robben

The 7 deadly sins of a mattress RSA—an insider’s perspective Not long ago, I was talking with an industry colleague about a consumer poll that rated mattresses as the second most hated thing to shop for. We were second only to tires! Shortly after that discussion, I read a column by Sleep Savvy Editor in Chief Nancy Butler. The column discussed a friend’s negative reaction to bedding store visits and gave some tips on creating a better experience. This got me thinking about the things we in the industry have done in the past—and continue to do—that create this negative feeling. No one in this business enjoys the reviews we read online or the polls of consumers’ sentiments about their mattress shopping experiences. I believe that the majority of mattress sales associates, including myself, have a deepseated desire to create an atmosphere where consumers trust and respect the advice that we give. As all of us continue to strive for progress in our industry, it’s important to stop and review the “sins” that have plagued us for long enough. Identifying and avoiding these decisions and actions is the first step to removing the proverbial “used car salesman” stigma that has followed our fine industry for so many years. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

1

Sloth

We commit this sin when we are lazy with our greeting. We often go hours without seeing a customer. During these times, it can be difficult to maintain a positive attitude and high level of enthusiasm. But we can’t let this make us lax or affect our greeting and presentation. Taking too long to greet our customers gives the appearance that we are busy with other things—that they are not our top priority. Most consumers are not excited to be in the store and it is our responsibility to transfer our enthusiasm to them. It will make both their experience—and ours—better.

2

Greed

The majority of all mattress salespeople work on a commission or bonus structure. This makes it important to all of us to close the sale. Yes, a sale is important—but we shouldn’t put our own financial desires before the needs of our customers. Greed causes us to be too concerned with selling a mattress when we should be concerned with finding the correct comfort solution for every customer. While this may not always seem beneficial for your paycheck, solving problems will actually open the door to financial success. It’s important to realize that we are representing a product that has a very direct impact on every aspect of our customers’ lives. Assuring shoppers that you are helping them find the right product will lead to a long line of repeat and referral sales. SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

27


BE MY GUEST by Dave Robben

3

Lust

It’s imperative to remember that many of our customers feel self-conscious or uncomfortable lying on beds in front of strangers. We need to understand that this is not the time to make inappropriate comments, jokes or anything that can be even remotely construed as sexual innuendo. Even if you come across a customer who initiates this type of conversation, it’s important to maintain a consistent, high level of professionalism.

4

Gluttony

When did it become socially acceptable to eat in front of customers? I once worked at a store with someone who ate fried chicken out of a bucket next to me while I wrote up an order. None of our customers wants to see a half-eaten pizza sitting out on the desk, or for that matter, smell your Philly cheese steak leftovers in the trash. It’s a good idea to take food wrappers and trash outside immediately.

5

Envy

We spend too much time consumed with how some people acquired their positions, whether our competition has better pricing or product selection, or whether the higher-ups will notice our talents and accomplishments and give us the praise we deserve. I’ve seen many newcomers try to mimic the most successful veterans when they first start. Typically, this does not prove to be beneficial for the cus-

28 SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

tomer or the sales associate. Also, many of us spend too much time explaining why the shopper should not buy from the competition and forget to tell them why they should buy from us. Embrace your individual strengths—don’t allow yourself to become consumed with your colleagues or your competition—and the customer will appreciate you more.

6

Pride

As I spend more time in this industry, I see pride causing many of us to fear progress and change. This industry is changing so dramatically and rapidly that all of us have to remain open to new ideas, new questions and new revelations. We’ve all dreamed of a time when consumers would become serious about the importance of sleep and place a high value on the quality of their bed. I think that time is here! So, are we just going to stick to business as usual? In the past five years alone, I’ve heard a large number of consumers change their language from “firm” and “cheap” to words like “arthritis,” “acid reflux,” “hip pain” and “motion transfer.” Now, I will admit that I am few credits shy of getting my M.D., but finding a bed that provides a solution to someone’s problem gives me a sense of pride that is not sinful. I see how I am personally affecting people’s lives, and I look forward to seeing where science and technology will lead this industry in the future.

7

Anger

When customers first walk into the store, they may be a little (or extremely) standoffish. As soon as I greet them, I realize that I am starting my battle uphill. They don’t want to listen, lie down

or basically do anything but wander aimlessly, pressing their fists into the top of each mattress. We take this personally and are angry that they won’t allow us to help them. We need to realize that this is a direct result of the sins we have committed or the salesperson at the customer’s last stop committed. We can’t let this diminish our efforts to provide a great experience. It won’t be easy to change the consumer’s perception of our profession, but if we don’t even try, then we are destined to fail. I have enjoyed success in this business and, until recently, have not looked at my job with this type of self-scrutiny. I know that I have committed all seven sins and may commit them again in the future. But now I recognize the benefits of change. I am beginning to experience rewards from my job that are not just monetary. I encourage all mattress salespeople to combat these seven deadly sins and instead begin to focus on the following seven virtues: Diligence, generosity, patience, chastity, moderation, contentment and humility. Can we be perfect? No, but we can be better. Doing this will ensure a good experience for your customers and it may just help to change their outlook on the entire mattress buying experience. ● Dave Robben has been in the mattress industry for seven years and currently works as a market trainer for Mattress Firm Inc. He began his career in sales and has also worked as a consultant to bedding/furniture retailers and manufacturers. Dave offers consumers advice on selecting the correct mattress on www.liveperson.com. He can be reached by email at dmrobben@hotmail.com.

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BACK TALK

supporting customer dreams

Study says new mattress good news for bad backs

H

ere’s some important information to share with consumers and customers, because 85% of them will experience back pain some time in their lives. A study at Oklahoma State University found that sleeping on a new mattress results in significant improvements in lower back discomfort, spine stiffness, sleep quality, sleep comfort and sleep efficiency (time in bed spent sleeping). “Our findings alert people who are having problems sleeping that the problem could be the mattress,” said Dr. Bert Jacobson, lead researcher. “A new mattress is a much healthier alternative than many of the other methods people try such as over-the-counter or prescription sleep medications or even alcohol.” Old beds = bad backs Importantly, the age of study participants’ original mattresses was one of the stronger predictors of back discomfort and stiffness. In each case, participants had been sleeping on mattresses that were at least five years old. The mean age of the old mattresses was 9.7 years. Here are some of the impressive findings after four weeks on a new mattress: ● 63% reduction in low back pain ● 63% reduction in spine stiffness ● 66% improvement in sleep quality ● 77% improvement in sleep comfort Even study participants without back pain or other problems benefited by sleeping on a new mattress, Jacobson pointed out. “I was not surprised at the levels of improvement for the people in the study with problems sleeping. What did surprise me were the significant improvements among the people who thought they had been sleeping well,” he said. “Maybe we should replace our mattresses just the way we do our cars-—every five years.”

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Back Talk sponsor Restonic and Sleep Savvy want to hear from those of you on the mattress sales floor. Let us know what you think about the information we’re presenting and what you need to know to help you sell more and better beds. Talk to us at talkback@restonic.com.

SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

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WHAT’S NEW

for stores like yours Mattress designed for children

Foam bed for visco customers

Glideaway Sleep Products has a new memory foam mattress designed specifically for children. Jubilee uses 3-pound visco instead of the standard 5-pound, which makes it more responsive to a child’s body, according to the company. “With the Jubilee, our research and development team specifically designed a mattress for children from the ground up,” says Carmi Fredman, president. “Kids are smaller than adults and need a mattress construction better geared to their size and weight. We use memory foam that is less dense and this provides more support and comfort because the child’s body conforms to the mattress.” Available in pink or blue velour, each Jubilee mattress comes with a matching pillow and retails for $399 in twin. Call Glideaway at 800-428-3999 or visit the website at www.glideaway.com.

Jamison Bedding has unveiled the European-design Oceania, its first venture into an all-foam bed for customers who prefer the feel of visco. It integrates a highresilience foam core, a layer of densified fiber, a 5-pound ventilated visco layer and a Belgian double-knit cover in a zippered, smooth-top design. Oceania is expected to retail at $1,799 in queen. Jamison has also redesigned its twosided, spring-based Vitapedic collection to provide more comfort choices and value to customers who like more traditional, firmer feels. The line offers a new selection of Smart Coil® LFK innerspring designs—some with steel edge supports—with high-density foam toppers, densified fiber and damask or knit covers. Vitapedic beds are available primarily in plush designs from $499 to $799 in queen, and in a pillow-top (shown here) expected to retail at $999 queen. Call Ken Hinman at Jamison, 800-255-1883 (x228), email khinman@jamisonbedding.com or visit www.jamisonbedding.com.

Two-sided bed under $1,000 Gold Bond recently introduced its new two-sided SacroSupport Imperial, a step-up model to the company’s two-sided Chelsea, introduced earlier this year. The Imperial is available in a firm or plush 13.5-inch profile and a 14-inch profile for pillow-top. It features a stretch knit ticking in mocha with black accents on both sides and a latte colored linen border on both mattress and box spring. “The Imperial brings back the attraction of the hefty, heirloom-quality mattress that offers twice the bedding for your money,” says Bob Naboicheck, president. The collection carries suggested retails in queen of $799 for firm and plush and $899 in pillow-top (shown here). Call Gold Bond Mattress at 860-549-2000 or visit www.goldbondmattress.com.

Mattress with scented cover

The newest addition to the GeoEthic line from Magniflex is the Bellagio Lavender mattress, with a suggested retail of $2,699 in queen. It’s a step-up model to the Lavender Comfort introduced in 2009. The Bellagio is a two-sided, 10-inch mattress offering a soft feel on one side and a firmer feel on the reverse. A removable cover is infused with essential oils of lavender to support relaxation. Using nanotechnology, microcapsules of lavender are infused into the fabric; body pressure releases the aroma. Under the cover is a layer of waterbased Memory Magni foam. Call Magniflex at 646-330-5483, email the company at infousa@magniflex.com or visit www.magniflex.com.

Information for What’s New is provided by the vendors. It is neither verified nor endorsed by the publisher.

30 SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

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CLOSING WORDS by Gerry Morris

Are we offering too many choices?

A

uthor John Naisbitt in his 1982 bestselling book Megatrends predicted a trend from “Either/ Or” to “Multiple Option.” He made the point that life was changing for consumers with the proliferation of choices in almost every category of goods and services. That certainly has proven true in the mattress industry. The good/better/best approach of old has exploded into retailers offering 40, 50, 60 or more models. But is having so many mattress choices really a good idea? While the intention is to attract shoppers, the unintended consequence of offering lots of choices is that it may be negatively impacting our sales and customer satisfaction. We’re in a jam Consumer behavior expert Ned Welch reports that in a classic field experiment, some grocery store shoppers were offered the chance to taste a selection of 24 jams, while others were offered only six. The greater variety drew more shoppers to sample the jams, but few purchased. In contrast, although fewer consumers stopped to taste the six jams, sales from this group were more than five times higher. Another experiment using a multiple choice of 401(k) plans found that as the number of plans increased, the number of participants decreased. Sheena Iyengar, author of The Art of Choosing, calls this common response to multiple choices “option paralysis.” “We’re just looking” may really mean “We just can’t decide.” With so many choices of mattress

32 SleepSavvy • May/June 2010

view mattress shopping as a positive or a happy experience. Iyengar found that children with few choices of toys played happily, while those with a roomful were listless and disengaged. Could too many mattresses be contributing to our customers’ unhappiness?

brands, styles and comfort levels, the differentiation between them can be subtle and hard to discern from the consumer perspective. The amazing lack of choice when it comes to fabric color is a complicating factor. The net result is that a burden is placed on the RSA not only to know and understand all of the differences in features and benefits, but also to be able to explain them in a way that makes sense to the shopper. Not an easy task. In response, some RSAs opt out by limiting the choices they show to a select few beds in their comfort zones—their “go-to beds” that they’ve become most familiar with and have the most success in selling. It’s understandable, but unfortunately, models that could possibly be better choices for some customers get ignored. Too many mattresses simply make consumers and RSAs work harder to find the right model, which is a potential barrier to a purchase. Too many mattress customers suffer buyer’s remorse, wondering if they really did make the right choice. After all, they may have only tried a handful of the numerous floor models. We all know that few consumers

Experiences, not choices The January/February issue of Sleep Savvy took an in-depth look at how social media is changing the way business is done. Facebook and Twitter are rapidly becoming major influences on consumer shopping and buying choices. Fewer people are paying attention to what companies are saying about themselves and paying more attention to what their social network peers have to say. This is making the buying experience and customer satisfaction more important than ever. Instead of trying to be everything to everyone by offering so many choices, maybe we should focus on creating outstanding buying experiences for our customers. Limiting the number of mattresses on our retail floors to more distinctive and discernable choices may be a good place to start. ● Gerry Morris is an author, consultant, training coach and a member of the National Speakers Association. With more than 20 years of experience in the mattress industry, Gerry has helped manufacturers, retailers and RSAs in countries around the world increase their sales. To find out what Gerry can do for your company or to just talk, call him at 903-456-2015, email gmorris@innerspring.net or visit www.innerspring.net. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


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Sleep Savvy May/June 2010  

May/June issue of Sleep Savvy magazine

Sleep Savvy May/June 2010  

May/June issue of Sleep Savvy magazine