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J o u r n a l o f t h e We s t e r n H o m e F u r n i s h i n g s A s s o c i a t i o n

western retailer rs a e y 0 2 g n i t a br e el c

www.WHFA.org

Member Profile:

Aegean Designing Whims Los Alamitos, CA

CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED Western Home Furnishings Association 500 Giuseppe Court, #6 Roseville, CA 95678 est.1944

March 2010


Visit Emerald Home Furnishings in High Point to see

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Emerald Home Furnishings

High Point Market April 17-22, 2010 Center Point Building Space 201 6RXWK+DPLOWRQ‡+LJK3RLQW1&‡‡ZZZHPHUDOGKRPHFRP


J o u r n a l o f t h e We s t e r n H o m e F u r n i s h i n g s A s s o c i a t i o n

western retailer

EDITORIAL STAFF Managing Editor: Melissa Dressler................................ mdressler@whfa.org Publisher: Melissa Robinson............................................ mrobinson@whfa.org

table of contents featured articles

Advertising Manager: Cindi Williams..............................cwilliams@whfa.org

It’s All About Sales & Marketing Utilizing SEO.................................. 10

2010 WHFA OFFICERS AND EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE WHFA PRESIDENT Claudia LeClair - Fiesta Home Furnishings, Scottsdale, AZ...............(480) 951-3239 PRESIDENT ELECT

The World Around Us Industry Forecast........................... 14

Angel Lopez - Dearden’s, Los Angeles, CA........................................(213) 362-9600 VICE PRESIDENT Chris Sanders - Everton Mattress Factory, Inc., Twin Falls, ID..........(208) 326-3407 TREASURER

SHOWROOM STYLE Business Behind Disney’s Magic..... 18

Valerie Watters - Valerie’s Furniture and Accents, Cave Creek, AZ....(480) 483-3327 SECRETARY Lael Thompson - Broyhill Home Collections, Aurora, CO...................(303) 360-9653 EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE CHAIR Marty Cramer - Cramer’s Home Furnishings, Ellensburg, WA...........(509) 933-2172

Operational Excellence Making Decisions Only on Cost Often Leads to More Costs............ 22

PAST PRESIDENTS George Nader - Nader’s La Popular, Gardena, CA............................(310) 327-8585 Cherie Rose - The Rose Collection, Los Gatos, CA...........................(408) 395-7773 EXECUTIVE director Sharron Bradley - WHFA, Roseville, CA.............................................(916) 784-7677

It’s All About Sales & Marketing From Old World To Real World...... 26

AT LARGE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBers Gary Absalonson - Walker’s Furniture Inc., Spokane, WA.................(509) 533-5500 Howard Haimsohn - Lawrance Contemporary, San Diego, CA.......... (619) 291-1911 Marvin Kerby - Kerby’s Furniture, Mesa, AZ.......................................(480) 834-3888 Karen Kohlman - West Harvard Furniture, Roseburg. OR.................(541) 673-4221 WHFA/NHFA Liaison

in every issue

David Harkness - Harkness Furniture, Tacoma, WA...........................(253) 473-1234 WHFA Board Members

Industry Beat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

Buzz Burnett - Treasures Furniture, San Diego, CA...........................(858) 586-1900 Gene DeMeerleer - Furniture West, LaGrande, OR...........................(541) 963-5440

Board Member Q&A with Mike Shuel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

Patti Evans - Consignment Plus, Walnut Creek, CA...........................(925) 927-6600 Mark Flegel - Flegel’s Home Furniture, Menlo Park, CA....................(650) 326-9661 Eric Foucrier - Linder’s Furniture Mart, Garden Grove, CA................(714) 210-4848

Retailer Notes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

Travis Garrish - Forma Furniture, Fort Collins, CO.............................(970) 204-9700

Program of the Month: Furniture Sales Training. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

Giff Gates - Gates Furniture, Grants Pass, OR..................................(541) 476-4627 Eric Harms - Black’s Home Furnishings, Yreka, CA...........................(530) 842-3876 Ron Hoesterey - Royal Mattress Company, Inc., Orange, CA............(800) 987-6925

Member Profile Aegean Designing Whims. . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

Jerome James - Hafer’s Home Furnishings, Manteca, CA.................(209) 823-2122 Julian Jeppe - Reeds Furniture, Agoura Hills, CA..............................(818) 597-7800 Doug Kays - Premiere Home Furnishings, Los Angeles, CA.............. (310) 268-0811 Chuck Kill - Bedmart, Tucson, AZ.......................................................(520) 887-7039

contact

Tim Koerner - Koerner Furniture, Coeur D’Alene, ID..........................(208) 666-1525 Don Lemieux - Naturwood, Rancho Cordova, CA..............................(916) 638-2424 Jeff Lindsley - Lindsley’s Home Furnishings, Grangeville, ID.............(208) 983-1040

Phone:

Robert Myers - Ashley Furniture HomeStore, Chico, CA....................(530) 345-2616 Mark Navarra - Jerome’s, San Diego, CA..........................................(858) 753-1549 Michael Nermon - Ergo Customized Comfort, Irvine, CA...................(949) 833-0338

est.1944

Scott Selden - Selden’s - Tacoma, WA...............................................(253) 922-5700 Mike Shuel - Meredith Furniture, Yakima, WA....................................(509) 452-6221 Tom Slater - Slater’s Home Furnishings, Modesto, CA......................(209) 522-9097 WESTERN HOME FURNISHINGS ASSOCIATION STAFF Executive Director: Sharron Bradley................................................(916) 960-0345 Asst. Exec./Marketing Director: Kaprice Crawford..........................(916) 960-0346 Business Manager: Janice Carlson..................................................(916) 960-0347

(800) 422-3778 (12 western states) (916) 784-7677 Online: www.WHFA.org Fax: (916) 784-7697 Mail: 500 Giuseppe Court, Suite 6 Roseville, CA 95678 Twitter: www.twitter.com/WesternRetailer Facebook: http://bit.ly/WR-FB case sensitive

Events Manager: Cindi Williams.......................................................(916) 960-0277

Western Home Furnishings Association is the western affiliate of National Home Furnishings Association

Operations/Warehouse Manager: Jef Spencer...............................(916) 960-0386 Communications Planning Manager: Melissa Robinson................(916) 960-0349 Managing Editor & Webmaster: Melissa Dressler...........................(916) 960-0385 Membership Manager: Michael Hill..................................................(916) 960-0263 Member Services Specialist: Margie Jacobs...................................(916) 960-0199 Member Services Rep: Adam Gardner............................................(916) 960-0291 Accounting Assistant: Melody King.................................................(916) 960-2476

Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.

est.1944

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WHFA

ACADEMY

RRC RETAILER

RESOURCE CENTER

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Your Industry. Your Future. Your Decision.

March 2010




Simplify…Simplement…Simplementation In order to focus on your business, not your computer network, you might need to simplify the whole process. If your perfect computer solution includes real-time inventory management, merchandising, warehousing and distribution tools, robust customer relationship management as well as a suite of financial and business metric reports - all without the need to manage a complicated computer network, PROFITsystems has the solution you are looking for. PROFITon-demand delivers the features and benefits that retailers have relied on for years, in an internet-based format that eliminates the expense of purchasing and maintaining a network, making it easier to run your business.

It’s just that SIMPLE. Schedule a FREE demonstration

800.888.5565 www.profitsystems.com

“PROFITon-demand fits the scale of our operation perfectly. It is straightforward and you get everything you need.” Ken Sissons Domaine Fine Furnishings and Design Calgary, AB, Canada

Making Retailers More Profitable

Software | Consulting | Advanced Education | Sales Training Performance Groups | Freight Program | e-Commerce | e-Marketing


President’s Message

“Experience The Business Behind The Magic" This is our tagline for the upcoming WHFA Conference being held May 2-4, 2010 at Disneyland® Resort. What perfect timing! Who among us couldn’t use a little MAGIC in our business right now? This year, thanks to the efforts of Cindi Williams and our WHFA staff, we have an opportunity that most businessmen and women aren’t fortunate enough to have. We have the privilege of learning and interacting with the best of the best. The Disney Institute will be a key contributor and will be sharing their MAGIC with all who attend this year’s conference. Disney is considered to be the pinnacle of inspiration, creativity, vision and leadership. It truly is perfect timing! I attended my first conference in San Diego in 2003 and haven’t missed one since. At the time I knew one, or maybe two, furniture retailers. Now, seven short years later, I have more friends in this industry than I can count. What a difference it makes to be able to share ideas about merchandising, marketing, operations, sales management, etc. How often are you able to be a part of so much brain power in one setting other than at conference? And how fortunate we are to have colleagues who are willing and anxious to share that brain power! We’ve survived this awful economy, let’s take some time to share our survival techniques and pick up some new ones! When times are tough, it’s nice to know there are others facing the same challenges. I know that everyone who attends our conference comes away with so many ideas that it’s usually hard to implement them all afterwards. Besides the education — there’s FUN! We have a charity golf tournament planned, great rates at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel® and Spa, and gala events planned in the evenings on Disney premises. Book early while rooms are available and bring your family. This is a perfect time to combine education with a family vacation. You won’t find a better value any where right now. So don’t think twice. If you haven’t made your reservations yet, just do it now. You won’t regret it — I promise. Join us and find out what MAGIC awaits!

Claudia LeClair 2010 WHFA president

Fiesta Furnishings / Brix Home Scottsdale, AZ (480) 951-3239 fiestaclaudia@aol.com

ON THE COVER Interior shot of this month’s Member Profile Aegean Designing Whims, Los Alamitos, CA. For the complete story, see page 16.

Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.

western retailer

March 2010




Editor’s Message New Homebuyers = New Customers Last October I purchased my first home and subsequently purchased new home furnishings for over half of my house. Having worked in this industry for almost five years, I know that new homeowners are a large percentage of home furnishings traffic. So, I was a little surprised when I did not receive a single piece of direct mail from any of my local home furnishings stores. With 120 new homes going into my housing development, wouldn’t it have been a great opportunity for local stores to inform customers about them? Many of my neighbors are from other cities or states and not aware of their current surroundings. Receiving a postcard in the mail could inform them of your store’s location, hours, styles, etc. There are even programs available in our industry that can provide you with new homebuyer information. With this information, you can send a simple postcard welcoming them to the neighborhood and you’ll have the opportunity to bring new customers through your door. Also, about a month after I moved in, I received a knock on my door one day from the “Welcome Wagon”. She welcomed me to the community and then gave me information and coupons for local businesses. From “Husbands for Hire” to dry cleaning services to even a local Wal-Mart, I now had coupons to utilize these businesses. Many of the coupons gave a small percentage off a service, or a small, free gift for visiting their store. Again, there was nothing from home furnishings stores in the area. Are you missing out on a prime opportunity to bring new customers into your store? If you aren’t going after these customers, how will they learn about you and what you have to offer? While the housing market has slowed down over the last few years, homes are still selling (and with the extension of the $8,000 first time homebuyer tax credit, there will surely be many more new homeowners in the upcoming year). And if my neighborhood is any indication, new homebuyers are still purchasing furniture. So look into new homebuyer lists and create an informal invite into your store. It won’t cost you a fortune and you may find fresh, motivated buyers walking into your store. Also, check into partnering with your local chamber of commerce or local realtors and offer something to go out in “Welcome Wagon” packages. This issue of Western Retailer magazine looks at what 2010 will bring to the industry, Search Engine Optimization, The Disney Way of doing business and much more. I hope you enjoy this issue and take the opportunity to learn about different ways of attracting customers into your store.

Melissa Dressler Western Retailer managing editor

(916) 960-0385 MDressler@whfa.org

looking forward

J o u r n a l o f t h e We s t e r n H o m e F u r n i s h i n g s A s s o c i a t i o n

western retailer ating 20 years

January/February 2010

celebr

Member Profile: Fiesta Furnishings/ Brix Home To Buy or Not to Buy?



to April 2010

www.WHFA.org

March 2010

• 17 Ways Consumers are Changing and How it Will Effect Your Store • Imagining the Store of the Future • Hosting Events in Your Store

Last month’s magazine is available online at www.WHFA.org.

... and much more

western retailer

Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.


VALUE

It’s Not Just About The Bottom Line With Conference Registration at $495 per person and $395 per person for groups of three or more, the value for your dollar is easy to see:

Tangibles. You can see ‘em.

All your meals included ($440 value) Over 20 educational sessions Expanded Expo & Unlimited networking Great hotel rate $189 plus tax (valued at $320) Free wireless access Free parking for up to two cars when you stay on property • Discounted park tickets (average savings $20 per 3 day pass) • Free Twilight Convention Pass ($41 value)* • $25 meal voucher* • • • • • •

Soft Tangibles. Not so obvious. • Easy and affordable destination • Bring more people, get more discounts • Business vacation with the family is suddenly affordable • Disneyland Resort campus makes everything®convenient • Up to four people in the same guest room for no extra charge. • Other local attractions minutes away. • Disney world class service 24/7 • Seamless conference coordination for a revitalizing, extraordinary, magical experience

*per hotel guest room booked.

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Western Home Furnishings Association

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• You want to get together and move forward with hope. • You look forward to talking shop and listening to what is happening beyond your doors. • You are confident and stronger; keeping current with trends, resources, ideas and knowledge. • You can’t wait to honor your peers. It feels great to be a part of an industry that really cares. • Putting your needs first, we want you to know that our staff is always here to make your experience magical.

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Intangibles. How does it feel?

May 2–4 Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel® & Spa Anaheim, CA (714) 520–5005 Reservation Code: GCWD10A

(800) 422–3778

www.WHFAconference.com


Industry Beat Emerald Home Furnishings Crowns a Successful 2009 with Holiday Open House Emerald Home Furnishings held their first Holiday Open House last December. The new products and Open House specials pleased customers by day, while the evening boat cruise provided a festive backdrop for socializing and holiday fun.  Emerald’s Open House events originated 20 years ago as a way of showing appreciation for its loyal family of customers. Along with arranging out of town hotel and travel, Emerald’s hospitality continued through the 2-day event with daily continental breakfasts and catered lunches. All Emerald staff was on hand to greet, entertain and assist customers. Building a strong relationship between its customers and staff is always a key ingredient to Emerald’s Open Houses; but coupled with the sights and sounds of the holidays, this Open House felt more ‘like being home’.   “The retailer gets payback well beyond their time investment”, says Mike Cohen, vice president of sales and marketing; adding, “our semi-annual Open House is such a successful and rewarding event because of the variety of

ideas exchanged, not only between vendor and retailer, but amongst the retailers as well. They can buy great products at discounted prices while helping each other learn ways to increase traffic and average ticket sales.” After a busy first day of writing orders in the showroom, Emerald customers and staff enjoyed an evening cruise on Elliot Bay in Seattle, aboard the Argosy Cruise Line Christmas Ship. Guests enjoyed a buffet dinner, live on-board music and festive serenades from a passing caroling flotilla. For more information on Emerald Home Furnishings visit: www.EmeraldHome.com.

board

member

Q: What is your biggest challenge in furniture retailing? A: To compete for the consumer’s disposable income against other large

Q&A

ticket purchases such as cars, boats, vacations and RVs.

Q: What CD is in your vehicle right now? A: If you can believe it, a rap conglomeration that my son left in there. I usually have Toby Keith.

with Mike

Q: What do you value most in an employee? A: Trust, honor, integrity and loyalty.

ne onth tu ber m y r e v E m ard Me into Bo learn more Q&A to ur WHFA o about y embers. m d boar

Q: What’s your secret indulgence? A: Chocolate, all types, shapes and such. Q: I earned my first paycheck: A: From my uncle’s meat business making cardboard boxes for packing. I

also was a paper boy, and I delivered it on horseback in the Seattle area.

Mike Shuel owner Meredith Furniture Inc. 2201 S 1st St Yakima, WA 98903-1622 (509) 452-6221 meredithfurn2000@yahoo.com



March 2010

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a WHFA member? A: The conferences, dealer interaction, speakers and the great venues. Also the GREAT staff at WHFA.

western retailer

Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.


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Learn more at: www.WHFAconference.com


It’s All About Sales and Marketing

Utilizing SEO

(Search Engine Optimization)

U David Lively The Lively Merchant owner

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March 2010

sed to be, the company with the biggest Yellow Page ad won the local search wars. Businesses vied for newspaper ads above the fold, billboards at prime intersections, drive time radio and prime time TV. Now, when print media is experiencing cutbacks, layoffs and declining readership, it comes as no surprise that businesses are turning to online marketing alternatives to reach customers. Where many print media companies require a minimum commitment to display an ad over so many issues, website space and domain names can be purchased for low annual fees. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising on sites like Google and Yahoo allows site owners to set their own budgets and targets when setting up campaigns. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the new normal for businesses looking to compete in the 21st century. Once a niche product, SEO will continue to gain ground into the near future. According to the “Search Marketing Trends: Back to Basics” report from eMarketer, $1.5 billion was spent on Search Engine Optimization in 2008 (see table on page 11) — a number that is

western retailer

Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.


expected to increase 153 percent to $3.8 billion by 2013. (Source: Brafton.com) Understanding these key ideas and terms will help you make the best decisions for your search marketing strategy: Title – Each page on your website is coded with a unique title that is different than the page name. Depending on your Internet browser, check the name of the tab or the command bar to see if your site optimizes titles. The title should contain carefully chosen keywords, because this is the first thing search engine web crawlers, bots and spiders read (these are automated computer programs that methodically browse the web gathering information). Your titles should be no longer than 100 characters; however, Google will truncate the title if it is more than 60 characters including spaces. Example: “Home Furnishings, Home Décor, Outdoor Furniture & Modern Furniture” or “Bedroom Furniture, Dining Room Furniture, and more quality Home and Office Furniture” Keywords – Keywords and phrases drive SEO campaigns and fuel your site’s success. Keywords are a tricky business though so take your time, research your keywords and make sure you select keywords that are in your niche. Often amateurs will not take much time in this area, simply plugging in obvious words. For example, suppose a small store called ABC Furniture automatically chooses the key phrase “furniture store.” They’ve unwittingly gone to head with major players who are throwing big bucks at the “furniture store” key phrase. While not impossible, it will be very difficult for ABC Furniture to outspend these players and reach the first page of the major

search engine search results. Unique niche phrases can yield effective results and cost pennies by comparison. Example: furniture store, sofas, dining room furniture, mattresses or “pillow-top mattresses Oakland CA” or “leather rocker recliners Oakland CA” Body text – The main content of your website should also contain keywords. The keywords should be used naturally to avoid being pegged as a “keyword spammer,” someone who uses the word “sofa” 48 times on their living room page in attempt move their site up in the rankings. This will get you booted from Google and other search engines, who carefully measure your “keyword density.” Too low, and you may not achieve optimum results. Too high, and you’re considered a spammer. Google will only tolerate a 2 percent keyword density; Yahoo and MSN are considerably higher at around 5 percent. Qualified web designers who use qualified and trained copywriters can help creatively optimize your keyword density, unlike hackers who jam nonsensical words into your body and footer. Example: Central Oklahoma Furniture. ABC Furniture is a family company. Browse our selection of Central Oklahoma Furniture or visit our store to sample Central Oklahoma Furniture. You deserve Central Oklahoma Furniture from ABC Furniture! or From San Antonio to Austin, ABC Furniture delivers beauty, quality and value to your home. Heading Tags – Each page on your website has a heading tag that should also contain your keywords. Ideally, the tag should be right up there at the beginning of the page, as close as possible to the top of the page. continued on next page

US Search Engine Marketing Spending Growth, by Type, 2008-2013 (% change) 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Paid search 23.2% 15.9% 14.0% 13.3% 14.8% advertising Contexual 19.4% 14.0% 11.2% 9.2% 11.8% advertising Paid inclusion 11.4% 8.2% 7.7% 7.4% 7.5% Search 21.4% 14.9% 13.0% 12.1% 13.7% advertising subtotal Search engine 29.2% 17.7% 15.1% 21.4% 25.5% optimization (SEO) Search marketing 23.3% 15.3% 13.3% 13.3% 15.4% subtotal Source: eMarketer, February 2009

Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.

western retailer

2013 11.3% 8.3% 6.5% 10.4% 20.3% 11.4%

March 2010

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Example: “Living Room Furniture” or “Directions to ABC Furniture” URL – Consider purchasing a domain name containing your keywords. If ABC Furniture sells solid wood furniture in Columbus, Ohio, they should consider columbussolidwoodfurniture.com. Search engines use the domain name as an SEO qualifier so keep that in mind when choosing your domain names. With a little savvy programming, keywords can also be incorporated into the URL of each page. If your keywords for a particular page are solid wood bedroom, the page name should be www. abcfurniture.com/solid-wood-bedroom. Example: www.abcsolidwoodfurniture.com/ bedroom-furniture or www.phoenixsolidwoodfurniture.com Links – Make sure there are no broken links in your site. Search engine algorithms consider broken links as incomplete, so the overall rating of the site is affected. Restrain yourself from the traditional “click here” link. When web bots, crawlers and spiders come across a “click here” link, they will associate the destination page with the words “click here” instead of your valuable keywords. Instead, optimize your site’s searchability and usability with full-sentence links that use verbs to direct the user what to do. Example: “Click here for a price quote.” or “Explore your furniture design possibilities.”

then buy what you’re selling. Don’t get so involved in SEO that you junk-up your site with links and keywords beyond the user’s ability to read the page. Balance your site design between bots and people. Don’t lose your users for the sale of search engines. Remember, bounce rate (the time your users spend on your site) is a part of SEO as well. Patience is a virtue – SEO campaigns are not for instant gratification junkies. Give your site about three months to sink in. Check your analytics, watch to see how the site is doing and adjust accordingly. Keep your efforts simple; make a minimal amount of changes so that you can accurately see what works and what doesn’t. Updates – Stay on top of things. Keep an eye on the search engine guidelines to ensure your SEO is always up-to-date. The last thing you want is for your long sought efforts to slowly wash down the drain as technology advances. Taking even a fraction of the money from your radio or print budget and setting it aside for online strategies can have a profound effect on the visibility of your business. Be sure to research the best SEO companies to determine what services are offered and which company is suited to meet your needs. By applying different techniques used to achieve organic search results, you’ll find online marketing to be a cost-effective, simple solution to promoting your business and products.

David Lively has over 20 year’s hands-on experience in the home furnishings industry. Twice named to Furniture Today’s “Beyond the Top 100” list of independent retailers and 1997 “Ohio Retailer of the Year,” David’s wisdom was won on the front lines and his battle scars have given him compassion for counseling today’s retail warrior. David is on the forefront of a new phenomenon that will soon rock the home furnishings industry: the transfer of authority, responsibility and wealth from one generation to the next. Four out of five family-owned furniture stores are still led by their founder, and 40 percent of them will change hands in the next five years. David has developed a proprietary and unparalleled system for helping identify goals, strengths and opportunities during this crucial time. You can reach David at (740) 415-3192, david@thelivelymerchant.com or visit www.thelivelymerchant.com.

Inbound links – Links from other websites are supreme to the rating of your site. Inbound links are like personal referrals, so these links should be from sites that are of high quality. The higher the rating of the sites that link to yours, the higher search engines will rate you. Getting inbound links is the hardest part of SEO by far. You can pay for quantity, but quality is often compromised if you do so. Example: www.popularlocalblog.com/ abc-furniture-is-the-place-to-shop or www.arketplacespammer.com/abc-furniture Beyond technology, here are three principles to remember when planning and Come hear David Lively speak at executing an SEO campaign: the 2010 WHFA Conference and Flow – Remember, the reason you are trying to get your website to the top of the Expo, May 2-4. first page is because you want people to www.WHFAconference.com come to the site and look at your content,

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March 2010

western retailer

Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.


Meet the New Members

New Members Who Joined WHFA in July – December 2009

Alexander’s Furniture & Accessories Tucson, AZ Founding Year 1962 American Furniture Co. Grand Junction, CO Founding Year 1959 Aria Furniture Sacramento, CA Founding Year 2008 Better Bed & Back Spokane, WA Founding Year 2007 Broadway Furniture Portland, OR Founding Year 1936 Comfort Zone Oxnard, CA Founding Year 1969 Creative Leather Furniture Chandler, AZ Founding Year 1991 Custom Comfort Mattress Company Inc. Anaheim, CA Founding Year 1987 Douglas Bedroom Design Nampa, ID Founding Year 2003 El Colchon Mattress Sylmar, CA Founding Year 2008 Forbes Furniture Kent, WA Founding Year 1991

est.1944

Furniture Interiors Tulare, CA Founding Year 1991 Furniture Mania Eugene, OR Founding Year 2003 Futon and Sleep Pleasant Hill, CA Founding Year 1980 GateHouse no. 1 Orem, UT Founding Year 1979 Gateway Furniture Valencia, CA Founding Year 2009 Great American Furniture Bremerton, WA Founding Year 1979 Greenbaum Home Furnishings Bellevue, WA Founding Year 1959 Hacienda Furniture Las Vegas, NV Founding Year 2001 Harmony Home Furnishings Cedar City, UT Founding Year 1989 Heaven On Earth Furniture Salinas, CA Founding Year 2008 Home Accent Warehouse Loveland, CO Founding Year 1981

Hometown Furnishings Ketchikan, AK Founding Year 1992 Howie’s Furniture Mesa, AZ Founding Year 2007 LA Furniture Store Vernon, CA

Sleep E-Z USA, Inc. Tempe, AZ Founding Year 1974 Southern Accents Inc. Portland, OR Founding Year 1992 Stephies Furniture Los Angeles, CA Founding Year 2005 Super Buy Furniture Visalia, CA Founding Year 2003 Sweet Dreams Mattress Gallery Las Vegas, NV Founding Year 2006 The Chestbed Store Sonoma, CA Founding Year 1977 The Futon Shop San Francisco, CA Founding Year 1976 ToadnWillow Billings, MT Founding Year 2004 W & A Interior Consultants Torrance, CA Founding Year 2002 Wisers Furniture Lynden, WA Founding Year 2007

Lakeport Furniture & Design Lakeport, CA Founding Year 1963 Living Collections San Francisco, CA Founding Year 2006 Lloyd’s Custom Furniture Los Angeles, CA Founding Year 1969 Lucas & Howard Furniture Klamath Falls, OR Founding Year 1920 Maple Cottage National City, CA Founding Year 1963 Moore’s Sleep World Eureka, CA Founding Year 1984 Natural Stone Source San Luis Obispo, CA Founding Year 2007 Relax The Back Sacramento, CA Founding Year 2005

To join WHFA call (800) 422-3778 or visit www.WHFA.org for more information.

Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.

western retailer

March 2010

13


The World Around Us

Industry Forecast

T Jerry Epperson, Jr. Mann, Armistead & Epperson, Ltd founder and managing director

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March 2010

here are lots of things I would rather do than forecast the economy, a joyless task these days, but someone has to do it — and publish it for all to see. Everyone has opinions and expectations, but you do not have to put yours in print to haunt you in the future. Before I start, please never say, “it can’t get worse!” Trust me, it can. It always can. That is what is so scary these days. While we believe and hope the worst has passed, our economy is extraordinarily fragile, and we are only one catastrophe away from being back in an even hotter stew pot. Consider the last couple of decades with political scandals, war, terrorist actions, bank failures, massive embezzling and other shocks to our combined comfort in this economy. Any of these would reverse a very modest recovery that is showing a few encouraging signs. To no one’s surprise, the West Coast has one of the most complex outlooks. From a housing perspective, three of the five worst hit states were California, Nevada and Arizona (the other two states were Florida and Michigan). Because of the severity of this decline, some expect these states to have a more vigorous recovery, thanks largely to the home values available in these hard hit markets. The many foreclosures and the glut of unsold homes have forced home prices to levels not seen this decade. Combined with today’s low mortgage interest rates

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and government-created incentives to encourage home buyers, housing may reverse from being a massive economic drag to fueling a recovery. Of course, we are talking existing home sales, not new home construction. As long as we have a large inventory of unsold homes, home prices will not be stable, and that will keep new home construction weaker than we would like. New home construction impacts a lot of industries and is a major factor in employment, so we hope to see stronger new home construction in 2011 than 2010. No one predicted the severe collapse of the financial sector beginning in September of 2008, but with it now more than a year past, the massive double digit declines appear over. For example, the respected southern, 121 store furniture store chain Haverty’s reported a 2.0 percent sales gain in its fourth quarter of 2009 vs. 2008 after the first 9 months experienced a 19.5 percent decline. Of course, its fourth quarter of 2008 was down 26.2 percent!

Our Forecast Our recent detailed economic forecast for the residential furniture and mattress market uses the excellent University of Michigan economic model for the U.S. It notes that our recovery declined 3.7 percent over the 21 months prior to June, 2007, the most severe decline since the 1930’s. The 2.2 percent GDP gain in the September, Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.


2009 quarter was largely fueled by the costly “cash for clunkers” auto tradein program, the $8,000 home buying incentive and other federal stimulus spending. The economic model is calling for a 2.3 percent gain in the fourth quarter of 2009, +2.1 percent in the first half of this year, and +2.9 in the second six months. In 2011, the Michigan model calls for a GDP growth of 2.6 percent. Unfortunately, the weak economy, underutilized capacity and large numbers of Generation Y entering the workforce will likely keep unemployment at or above 10 percent in 2010, dropping to only 9.6 percent in 2011 — still twice as high as it was in 2007. This is a key reason real disposable income gains will remain anemic in 2010 and 2011. On the plus side, housing and auto sales should recover momentum in 2010 and show steady gains for a few more years.

credit markets and for consumers to have more confidence in the recovery. Keep your fingers crossed. The recovery should be soon.

Wallace W. “Jerry” Epperson, Jr., CFA is one of the founders and a managing director of Mann, Armistead & Epperson, Ltd. Jerry head the research efforts and has in excess of thirty years of experience in the publication of hard/soft dollar research which focuses on demographics, consumer products, furnishings (residential and contract) and related issues. More specifically, Jerry’s research in the furnishings industry is recognized on a world-wide basis for its in-depth coverage of suppliers, manufacturers and retailers. Contact Jerry at: wwe@maeltd.com or online at www.maeltd.com.

Furniture and Mattress Sales The furniture sector began its decline in the last months of 2007, a year or so after home sales began to decline severely. Mattress sales held steady until late 2008, when the constriction in consumer credit availability became obvious. Of course, the financial system collapse late in 2008 lead to even more severe double-digit declines for both furniture and mattresses. After flat home furnishings retail sales in 2007, and severe declines in both 2008 and 2009, our forecast expects a hardly perceptible low-single digit gain in the first half of 2010 followed by a much more substantial and visible 5.0 percent to 6.0 percent gain in the second half. For the year, we expect a gain of 4.0 percent or so. The next year, 2011, should see more vigorous, substantial growth with home furnishings sales growing 7.5 percent. By sector, we expect upholstery and mattress sales to recover more quickly than the more housing-dependent casegoods. In wood, we see youth and home entertainment cabinetry continuing to do well. Needless to say, in order for this to happen, we need a loosening in the Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.

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Member Profile

Aegean Designing Whims Los Alamitos, CA

Back row: Chrysteen Braun, front row: Wendy Braun Seeley and Larry Braun

From Retailer to Party Planner

“I Melissa Dressler Western Retailer managing editor

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vividly remember the first time I fell in love with homes; I was five and at a birthday party at a home in Virginia Country Club in Long Beach,” said Chrysteen Braun. Fifteen years after opening her full service interior design company, Aegean Designing Whims, Chrysteen still feels the same way about homes. Designing Whims offers its customers just about anything they would need for their home: window coverings, kitchen and bath remodeling, floor coverings, upholstery, accessories, furniture and design. Homes were a large part of Chrysteen’s childhood. Her parents, Nick and Mary Patridis, owned Nick Patridis Painting, Damis Construction and later Aegean Floor Coverings. It made sense then after 25 years of specializing in insurance restoration that Chrysteen, and her husband Larry, would begin their own business that focused on people’s homes. Not knowing quite what they were in for, Chrysteen and

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Larry learned to operate their business by trial and error. “It wasn’t the best way to operate a business. Customers would ask for a new service, and we would add it to what we did. Slowly we evolved into a full service interior design company,” she said. Operating the business wasn’t the only thing they learned by trial and error. After spending $11,000 a year on a door-to-door brochure promoting the business that garnered zero response, Chrysteen read about a retailer doing a charity function in their store, “I thought, we could do that here,” she said. “We hosted a charity function in our store for We Care from the Heart, and I was delighted that almost 300 people attended. The organization did the work, and we just hosted the event. During the event, I began thinking that I could do it on a much smaller scale all on my own.” With the wheels turning in Chrysteen’s head, she decided to reallocate the $11,000 budget she was spending on her failed brochure and spend it on hosting mini-fundraisers in the store. “We will Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.


One of the gatherings included a visit from Tupperware.

get a group or charity, whether it is a museum or hospital, and they get 25 to 30 people to come to the event. Each person pays $25 and the group or charity gets to keep the money, so they could easily earn $500 to $800 in one evening,” Chrysteen said. Designing Whims then provides the food and gets the added benefit of new customers coming in through their doors. “Last year we did about 12 to 15 fundraisers in our store, which raised almost $10,000 for different organizations in the area. We also had 600 people visit our store that would have never walked through the door if we had stuck to our old promotion,” said Chrysteen. With the huge success of holding the mini fundraisers in the store, Chrysteen now focuses a lot of her time on being a party planner. “I have a calendar, and I have a list of foods that we serve — being a party planner has added another dimension to what I do, but people love it and they want to come back. We are doing even more events this year and the great thing is, we usually get work from the fundraiser — whether we sell a window treatment or a piece of furniture.” Along with the fundraisers, Designing Whims also hosts a Ladies Night Out event where boutique vendors are brought into the store to sell jewelry, purses and other accessories. The store provides food and drinks, such as chocolate and wine, and the vendors set up stations throughout the store. Last year Designing Whims also held a boutique in the store’s parking lot and showcased 22 vendors. Over 150 guests attended the event and had a great time. All of the different events held in the Designing Whims showroom are a part of Chrysteen’s new approach to selling, “Our approach lately has been in creating a non-selling, non-aggressive environment for our customers. I want them to leave the store and say, ‘Wow, we went there and had a great time,’ and remember the store for that reason. I want our customers to come out and have fun!” Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.

Women gather in the store for a fun evening.

Besides ensuring customers have fun in her store, Chrysteen has created her own furniture bank to assist them in disposing of furniture that they no longer need. “It has been a very long road to develop this furniture bank,” she said. “It all started with our partnership with the We Care program, which gets people back into work and living on their own. Twice a year, when we have our sales, we ask customers if they want to donate any furniture. We then will sell or donate the furniture to We Care if they have a need for it. We pick up the used furniture from the customer and then store it in our warehouse. It isn’t a formal furniture bank where people can come in every day and make use of it, it’s more of our way of helping out people in need. If we don’t find a home for the furniture, we will sell it, and then the proceeds go into the furniture bank checking account. Then, when We Care calls us and says they need two twin beds for children, we have that money and we will purchase two twin beds. It’s a great way for us to help a wonderful cause.” With her newfound joy in party planning, Chrysteen is looking to the future and what it might bring. A selfproclaimed workaholic, she believes she has at least 10 years left of working and during that time, she would like to mold her daughter to take over the business. “Our daughter, Wendy, wants to take over the business, so we need to start training her and find out what her strengths are in order to have the business carry on,” Chrysteen said. “I would also like to keep offering the same services as we do today and while not physically growing, I would like to see us become more profitable.” Finally finding her niche in the business has helped Chrysteen and Designing Store Location: Los Alamitos, CA Whims create a unique and rewarding way of promoting Type of Store: Full-line the store. Along the way, Year Founded: 1970 Chrysteen and her team have Number of Employees: 10 assisted organizations and Number of Store Locations: 1 groups in the local area raise almost $80,000 in the last Website: www.designingwhims.com year various through events WHFA Member Since: 2003 and has exposed the business to hundreds of potential clients in the area.

At a Glance

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Showroom Style

Hey There, Hi There, Ho There: The Business Behind Disney’s Magic

E Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender KIZER & BENDER owners

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very time we find ourselves anywhere near a Disney theme park, we spend a day immersing ourselves in Disney Magic. This year we have the perfect reason to plan a Disney field trip: our two general session programs at WHFA’s “Experience the Business Behind the Magic” 2010 Conference & Expo. Through stories, photos and an actual trip to Disneyland, you’ll see first hand how Imagination + Merchandising = Success. We admire Walt Disney — he really got it right. Disney didn’t open a theme park just to open a theme park; his dream had a very deep philosophical goal: that entertainment wasn’t a luxury, but a necessity for a productive life. He said, “Disneyland is a work of love. We didn’t

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go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money.” and “You don’t work for a dollar – you work to create and have fun.” Rich remembers “Kid’s Day” at his local movie theater, where each Saturday morning he would watch the black and white images of Disneyland flicker across the big screen. He saw lucky boys and girls dressed in their Sunday best, hanging on to moms’ and dads’ hands as they entered the Magic Kingdom. He saw the Monorail and Tomorrowland and thought how awesome it would be to be able to go there one day. He never made it there as a child, but as they say, you’re always a kid at The Magic Kingdom, and Rich is no exception. Georganne visited the New York World’s Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.


Fair in 1965 with her family. Here Disney unveiled four attractions, but George’s favorite was “It’s a Small World — The Happiest Cruise That Ever Sailed” — where nearly 300 Audio-Animatronic® children from more than 100 nations danced and sang to the song you will be singing for the next five days, merely because you read this article. “There is just one moon, and one golden sun, and a smile means friendship to everyone, though the mountains divide, and the oceans are wide, it’s a small world after all. It’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all …” We apologize for that. All together now: “There is just one moon …” Walt Disney’s attention to detail — his attention to telling the Disney brand story in the proper light — is legendary. At the World’s Fair opening of “It’s a Small World”, Disney, aided by a group of children, poured bottles of water from all seven continents into the ride’s water, making it truly an international attraction. If you look very closely, you can see Walt Disney’s many loving touches – brand touches — throughout his parks. And this was no easy task at Walt Disney World, considering that he never saw it in completion. The story goes that as Disney lay in the hospital on his death bed, he described his plans for the Florida Magic Kingdom to his brother Roy by pointing out locations on a ceiling tile (“The theme park goes here, EPCOT goes there…”). It fell upon Roy to make sure Walt’s dream came true. We find that the best ideas come to us in the most unlikely places. Disney is one of those places — we filled four pages before we even left Walt Disney World’s Main Street! Check out Disney’s attention to detail and how each can translate to your own business: Unlike other theme parks that sell tickets near the front gate, Disney tickets are sold before you enter the park. This is all part of how Disney creates and controls the guest experience. • As you approach the front gates of the Magic Kingdom, you are immediately hit with the incredible colors of thousands of flowers. You’ll begin to think of freshly baked cookies because the scent of vanilla is being pumped into the air. And you’ll find yourself humming along to the Disney songs playing in the background. Disney is setting the stage: a guest’s first 10 seconds of contact is what builds the perception they carry with them into the park. That tiny amount of time creates a lasting impression. • Go outside and look at your front door — right now. What’s your customer’s first impression of your store? Walk inside. Does your choice of music set the stage to sell? We like disco because it’s upbeat, fun and it encourages people to shop. Does your store’s ambiance make customers feel good? Aromacology, the science of scents and their effect on our minds and moods, can help. Grapefruit, for example, gives shoppers more energy, vanilla is calming when the store is hectic, pine inspires positive feelings and cinnamon is said to attract money. Visit ScentAir.com to learn more about the science of smell.

Main Street is said to be on a slight incline, rising up towards Cinderella Castle. It’s not noticeable to guests entering the park for a day of fun, but they’re grateful for that downhill walk to the parking lot at the end of a long day, even if they don’t realize it’s there. • Have you installed that ramp outside to help customers get strollers, wheelchairs and motorized scooters up and over the curb and into your store? You sell furniture so a comfortable place to rest should be a no-brainer, yet we’ve been in plenty of stores where signs warned customers to keep off the displays. If you’re not sure if your sales floor — or showroom — is welcoming, spend a few hours being a customer and see what it’s really like.

Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.

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If you look very closely, you will notice that the shops on Main Street get slightly smaller the closer you get to Cinderella Castle, making it loom even larger than it really is. • In retail language, this is called a “sight line.” You can do a sight line like Disney’s in your store, but you’ll need to reverse it. The displays and/or fixtures in your store should start out shorter, and then get taller towards the rear of the store. If you want customers to see your entire store from the front door, this is the way to go. Look up at the shop windows and you will see the names of businesses and business people painted on the glass. Like the opening credits in a movie, this is Disney’s tribute to the people who helped build The Magic Kingdom. Take a close look as you leave as well because you’ll see closing credits too, including one for Walt himself. • You can do opening credits, too. Line your front windows with all of the cool brands, products and services available at your store. Begin at the upper left-hand corner and list each one in reflective, bright white 4” letters. Do this around the entire perimeter of each window — its okay to repeat! We happened to visit Walt Disney World a day after former President Ronald Reagan passed away. The American flag at the front gate, as well as all of the flags outside of The Magic Kingdom, were at half-staff. Inside the park the flags on top of the Main Street shops were all at full-staff. • Thinking we had found a flaw in the Disney brand, we asked a shop manager why these flags were not at half-staff as well. He explained that inside the gates of The Magic Kingdom, the outside world is, well, left outside. No matter what’s happening in your personal life, or the world at large, Walt Disney World will always be the same happy place where you can check your troubles at the front gate. • Disney carefully safe guards the guest experience inside the park by making sure that experience is a direct reflection of the Disney brand. Similarly, the ambiance inside your store is a reflection of its — and your — personality. Can customers check their troubles at your front door? Is a customer’s experience in your store a happy one where he or she can shop to their heart’s content? Disney thrives on its myths and stories. And they have a story for everything! While waiting on Main Street for the parade to start, we saw a little girl point to a cable high above her head and ask a man selling balloons what it was. He told her that Tinker Bell sometimes gets frightened when the fireworks begin, so Peter Pan drew a line in the sky for Tink to follow when she’s scared. The kid bought it and so did we. And sure enough, at the BOOM! of the first firework, Tinker Bell flew along that line right out of the park.

free est.1944

Western Home Furnishings Association

Retail Software Systems Survey 2008 - 2009

CDS Solutions Group • Custom Design Software, Inc. • Escalate Retail • EZ Process Pro Software • FROG, Inc. • Furniture Wizard • FurnServ, LLC • Genesis Software Systems • Myriad Software • PROFITsystems, Inc. • STORIS Management Systems

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Retail Software Systems Survey

www.WHFA.org 800.422.3778

The retail software systems survey reflects a direct comparison of various computer systems available in the market today for use in retail furniture stores. This survey is for informational purposes only, meant as a quick reference tool when evaluating a number of computer systems for use in a retail store. WHFA recommends that you do further research on the companies listed before you purchase a particular system. For more information on the Policy Manual program, contact your WHFA membership representative at (800) 422-3778.

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Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.


• Are there stories being told about you or your store? Put them to work! Set aside a block of time and write a short essay about who you are, and what makes your store unique and dramatically different from every other store that sells similar product. List your passions and why you got into this business in the first place. It doesn’t have to be Pulitzer Prize winning quality; you just have to get your story down on paper so that it can be told the way you want it to be told. Use your story as the foundation for all future marketing.

People who work for Disney are not employees; they’re called Cast Members because each person plays a unique role. When they’re in a public area, Cast Members are Onstage. Behind scenes, they’re Offstage. You might not know it, but one of the most important positions at Disney is that of the Street Sweeper. Pushing a broom might not seem very taxing, but correctly answering a guest’s questions is. That’s why every Street Sweeper goes through an intense two week training program. • Make training an important and on-going part of your business. Don’t be like the retailer said, “Why should I bother to train my people? They’re just going to leave anyway.” Yeah? Well what if you don’t train them and they decide to stay? The customers who walk in your front door each day are counting on your associates to be nice people who know the store, and the product, inside and out. And the competitor down the street, who wants to steal your business, is counting on them to be just average or worse. It’s a management mandate to set standards that control all customer interactions; including on-going customer service training for everyone associated with the store. In Disney’s world, customers are not customers, they are Guests. We like that. Aren’t the people who come to your store each day really guests? Shouldn’t they be welcomed with the same courtesy that you welcome a guest in your own home? We think so, and from this point on, we’ve decided to refer to customers as guests. We think you should, too. • We have a Walt Disney quote hanging on our office wall, “You don’t build it for yourself. You know what the people want and you build it for them.” Those words have just as much meaning for your store as they do for Disney’s theme parks. You’ll see for yourself when you join us at WHFA’s 2010 Conference & Expo and Experience the Business Behind the Magic! Copyright Kizer & Bender. All Rights Reserved

Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender are professional speakers, retail strategists, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business. Internationally, large corporations and independents alike depend upon KIZER & BENDER for timely advice on consumers and the ever changing retail market place. Named “Two of Retailing’s Most Influential People”, KIZER & BENDER are experts on consumer trends, generational diversity, marketing and promotion and everything retail. They are widely referred to as retail anthropologists because they stalk and study that most elusive of mammals: today’s consumer. Contact them at info@kizerandbender.com, (630) 513-8020, or www.KIZERandBENDER.com.

Come hear KIZER & BENDER speak at the 2010 WHFA Conference and Expo, May 2-4. www.WHFAconference.com

Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.

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Operational Excellence

Making Decisions Based Only On Cost Often Leads To More Costs Employers overly-focused upon COST frequently set themselves up for disastrous results.

I Eric Martin, MBA The American Consulting Group senior vice president

ncreasingly challenging economic pressures this past year have dynamically changed the way that many owners and senior managers now make business decisions. Actions including dramatic salary cuts, employee benefits program reductions and significant layoffs are still commonplace. Unfortunately, in an earnest effort to reduce costs, many businesses have also found themselves creating more costs and even liabilities simply by being too cost conscious. Whether shopping lower insurance costs such as employee benefits and workers’ compensation, or comparing fees for workplace safety, HR, legal or other such support services, cost cutting frequently creates a temptation for many owners and senior management persons to make hasty decisions simply based upon costs alone. Even more potentially troublesome is when a manager or owner makes a decision to use either a “free” or ready-made program related to legal compliance issues without truly understanding if the content accurate or applicable to their own environment. Bottom line is that owners or managers being cost-focused are often actually incurring potentially greater legal exposure or fines as a result of hasty, cost-only decisions.

Check the Source One common business practice is when an “overly cost conscious” business seeks access to 22

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“free or discounted” materials and programs to save money. They may ask for free programs from their vendors, insurance brokers, a relative or their “general counsel”. In fact, in today’s very competitive environment, many vendors will try and either retain or attract clients by simply providing HR or safety documents for free. Think about potential fines or legal exposures in the following scenarios. A local financial services advisor offers to provide a separation agreement template or an insurance broker offers a business a California required Injury and Illness Prevention Program simply as a “favor” to keep a client or gain a new one. Neither vendor is an expert in employment or workplace safety however the business “trusts” these vendor provided documents. Today, it is extremely common for documents such as these to be simply “passed around”. Additionally, the procuring parties most often are unaware of their own potential liabilities for providing the documents. Notwithstanding legal copyright or other proprietary materials protections, a “good deed” by a vendor can leave a client business worse off than when they actually had no program at all. Examples of a company’s willingness to seek out, or accept “free” or “discounted” services in an effort to try and simply cut costs while later incurring much greater fines or Plaintiff settlement amounts are many. In fact, many of Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.


the California employer safety policy programs and employee handbooks that our consulting group reviews each year were off the shelf “boilerplate” programs. In early 2009, we were referred by an employment law firm to help assist a Los Angeles based company with development of some required safety policy and employee training programs. Earlier the following year, the company had approximately 500 employees and was required to have, in addition to other California and federally required safety programs, fall protection training for its warehouse employees. The company originally solicited proposals for development of their fall protection policy program as well as for applicable employee training from a third-party vendor. Ultimately, the company decided that rather than employ an outside specialist, it could save money by simply directing one of it’s own managers to find a copy of this type of policy and modify it and then ask the manger to deliver the training herself. About one year later, the company was inspected by CalOSHA for an unrelated matter and the inspector happened to ask for their fall protection training records.

After reviewing the training company’s training records CalOSHA ultimately determined that the manager/ trainer was NOT a “qualified fall protection safety trainer” and quickly issued a $7,000 citation for the violation. Then, based upon these findings, the inspector additionally requested all of the company’s other training program records and consequently issued additional fines in excess of over $56,000. After paying reduced fines on these citations, the company still had to incur the expense of having yet another outside specialist properly develop these required safety policies and training program. Employers should remain aware that these types of template electronic support pieces are more often truly designed for sophisticated HR managers. Knowing how to modify, fill in the blank, or adapt such information is where potential pitfalls exist. Bottom line…electronic fill- inthe- blank documents, “borrowed” templates or web-based training products are still no substitute for advice provided directly by an employment law attorney or consultant with expertise specific to employment, HR or workplace safety. The old saying that “you get what you pay for” seems to be more than applicable today especially in terms of making hasty decisions on important employment documents or programs just for the sake of cost reductions. We advise clients not to sacrifice quality when it comes to properly protecting their business.

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continued from page 23

Recommendations The following are some recommendations to business owners and senior managers regarding acceptance of “free” or “discounted” human resources, labor or safety program documents: 1. Employers should ask vendors or service providers offering to furnish these types of documents which person(s) will actually be responsible for drafting the documents? (CalOSHA safety programs, separation agreements, confidentiality agreements, arbitration agreements, employee handbooks, job descriptions, management and employee training programs). 2. Managers need to “qualify” their source. Determine whether the company or individual developing employment, insurance, workplace safety program documents actually have specific expertise and qualifications within the specific field, e.g. was the Injury and Illness Prevention Program template you are giving to me designed by an actual specialist within the field with many years of experience who knows YOUR particular work environment? 3. Find out if the party either preparing or supplying the applicable documents will actually stand behind or guarantee the work.

4. Determine if the supplier of programs also provides follow-up assistance such as assistance with implementation. Often overlooked is the fact that inexpensive or “free” services come without any ongoing support services. Above all, do not be fearful to request an attorney, consultant or other third-party’s biography or references. Remember that it remains an extremely competitive environment and many vendors will promise or provide almost any assistance whether it falls within their expertise or not in order to gain or retain business. Once again as the old saying goes…“You get what you pay for!”

This article has been prepared for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute specific legal advice. Individual circumstances may limit or modify this information. Transmission of this article is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader. Eric Martin, MBA, is a senior vice president at The American Consulting Group, Mission Viejo, CA, which assists organizations on a broad range of human resources, employee relations, and employer safety compliance issues. A Senior Consultant with the company’s HR and Safety Advisory Group, he has also helped hundreds of small and medium-size companies in wage and hour auditing, supervisory / management training, and complaint response, among other areas. He can be reached at (949) 452-1840.

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• Unlimited telephone access to Human Resource lawyers and consultants • Access to an entire data and labor law library, and wage and hour laws • Wage, salary and benefits data • Personnel forms and many other resources. • Discounted rates for professional Human Resource seminars held throughout the country. • Guidance to problems with: • state labor code • federal wage and hour compliance • OSHA compliance • Workers’ Comp & unemployment insurance

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For more information on this free consulting service, contact your WHFA membership representative at (800) 422-3778.

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Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.


Safety Spot

Helping Workers Manage

Stress

I

n today’s world, we deal with a multitude of stressors… the economy, uncontrollable world events, our work, and personal or financial pressures, etc. When the stress-defense response is continually activated without recovery downtime, it could have negative consequences on an individual or in the workplace. Feelings of stress can lower morale, reduce productivity, and increase accidents, injuries, health problems, or violent outbursts — all of which can affect the safe and efficient operation of the workplace. Individuals can’t control all the stress-producing elements in their lives but they can learn to balance those stresses and control how they respond to them. Make sure stress awareness is part of your employee training program. Acknowledge that it exists in everyone’s life and that individuals vary in their stress thresholds and recovery rates. Let employees know that although some stressors can be controlled and managed, some stressors cannot be changed. But, also let them know what resources are available to them should their stress become a condition they’re unable to manage on their own.

Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.

Keep communication lines open by talking to employees. Periodic staff meetings may provide a forum where employees can air their frustrations or share their ideas and perhaps develop stress reduction solutions. If changes in employee attitudes are observed, talk about what’s going on. Keep employees informed of job changes and allow them to participate in decision making, where possible. Make sure your compliments on work practices outnumber your criticisms. It helps if the employee is a good match for the job. Encourage employees to adopt a healthy personal lifestyle including practicing relaxation techniques, establishing good eating habits, monitoring alcohol or drug consumption, exercising and developing a personal support network. Stress management is about balance. Balance stress with relaxation, compliments with criticisms, work with play, problems with rewards, and positives with negatives. Negative workplace stress takes a toll on employees and employers but constructively managing it can have significant payoffs to employee productivity and business profitability.

western retailer

Kaprice Crawford WHFA marketing director and WHFA safety director

March 2010

25


It’s All About Sales and Marketing

From Old World To Real World A

David Lively The Lively Merchant owner

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March 2010

furniture trade publication recently estimated that an amazing 42 percent of retailers do not have a website. At the same time, an online poll revealed this about retail customers: “The Internet has become an important part of consumer shopping behavior, with 66 percent of consumers telling a Harris Interactive poll conducted for Yahoo that they shop online before making an online or offline purchase. Seventyfive percent say that going online to research products and services is the first stop in their shopping experience. Ninety percent say they have a better overall shopping experience when they research products online before shopping in-store.” This growing disconnect between furniture retailers and consumers is costing the industry millions of dollars in top line sales. Instead of developing an online presence, 42 percent of furniture retailers are still relying exclusively on print, television, radio, yellow pages, billboards and mail to reach their market. While each of these mediums still has a place in a modern marketing mix, overreliance upon old world techniques will cost real world dollars. Craigslist is outpacing print media and classifieds, and your competitor is now anyone with a computer and a spare sofa. Since its launch in 2003, Craigslist has grown to 16 million unique visitors in 700 markets who search for 651 million products each month. Today’s youngest generation don’t even know what the Yellow Pages are, let alone how to use them. New York Times bestselling author Roy H. Williams recently said, “Google has replaced the Yellow Pages but most advertisers haven’t figured this out yet so the Yellow Pages continue to make money on the momentum of previous years.” Marketing today just isn’t the same as it was just a few years ago. New terms like SEO, PPC and eComm have expanded your reach and changed the shape of the traditional marketing budget. A website is merely one tool for communication; it should not be the only component of your online presence, or the only online marketing tool you use

western retailer

to grow your business. Before you hire a website developer, consult with a marketing expert, develop an online strategy or adapt your offline plan, ask yourself one question, “What I’m I trying to accomplish with my website?” There are two types of sites, static and dynamic, that can help you meet the goals of your overall marketing plan. A static website, also known as a brochure site, looks the same all the time to every user. The content changes rarely, if ever. A classic first-generation web strategy, static sites typically include a handful of pre-set, pre-designed pages of pre-planned information. Users will find the history of the company, a description of the products they sell, an explanation of the company services, and possibly animation known as flash or audio/video players. As with a printed brochure, the format and order of the information is permanently set in place. The user must follow the menu navigation to get to where they want to go. A hardworking static website provides consistent information over an extended period of time, which is useful for store hours, phone numbers, contact information, street addresses and maps. Because of their long-term nature, brochure sites are likely to receive only periodic updates because the manual process to edit the text, photos and other content requires at least basic programming, design skills and software. Updates are usually performed for a fee. The customer cannot control the information they can review on a static website. They see everything the business owner and programmer decided to offer at the time the site was built. The benefit of a brochure site is the simplicity of completing the information, the quickness of getting the site live on the Internet, and the likely stability of the platform because of infrequent modifications. Another type of site is called a dynamic website. A dynamic site presents content that has been personalized for each individual viewer. Instead of static menu navigation, links to other Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.


parts of the site are offered in the content, sidebars, footer, buttons, banners and images that allow each user to decide which route to take to their destination. Unlike the more classic brochure designs, dynamic web pages can provide a real-time user experience. Content like text, video, product images and user sign up forms all change in response to the different conditions or requests of each individual user. Users can leave comments, reviews and ratings on dynamic websites and display content that meets their exact search and filtering criteria. Dynamic sites often allow the website owner to easily access the administration of their website through a Content Management System (CMS). While the website programmer implements the hardcoded elements of the site such as page layout, animation, headers, footers and sidebars, the owner can access, add and edit individual page content. Product catalogs, store events, staff and promotional offers are some of the common areas a retail furniture store owner would be likely to change frequently.

A blog is another common feature of second-generation dynamic websites. Blogs combine text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other related media in an online diary of personal commentary, industry tips and trends, and stories about events and happenings in the store. Successful blogs engage the customer through educational and entertaining information (not selfaggrandizing promotion) and encourage comments and feedback. Whether your website is static or dynamic — or a combination of both — creating your company’s online presence and maintaining current, engaging information on your website is one of the most efficient investments you can make for your business. David Lively has over 20 year’s hands-on experience in the home furnishings industry. Twice named to Furniture Today’s “Beyond the Top 100” list of independent retailers and 1997 “Ohio Retailer of the Year,” David’s wisdom was won on the front lines and his battle scars have given him compassion for counseling today’s retail warrior. David is on the forefront of a new phenomenon that will soon rock the home furnishings industry: the transfer of authority, responsibility and wealth from one generation to the next. Four out of five family-owned furniture stores are still led by their founder, and 40 percent of them will change hands in the next five years. David has developed a proprietary and unparalleled system for helping identify goals, strengths and opportunities during this crucial time. You can reach David at (740) 415-3192, david@thelivelymerchant.com or visit www.thelivelymerchant.com.

Update Your Member Profile and Use the Online Membership Directory The Online Membership Directory is a powerful reference tool designed to put you in touch with other home furnishings retailers who share the same experiences as you. If you have business questions about freight carriers, computer systems, financing companies, HR issues, lines of furniture or accessories, take advantage of your access to association peers and find solutions fast by searching through this easy to use tool. While you are connecting with other retailers, make sure to update your profile as well — it only takes a few minutes! To quickly update your profile, click on Membership > Update My Account > Edit/Update Profile.

If you forgot your username and password, call your WHFA membership representative at (800) 422-3778.

Western Home Furnishings Association • www.WHFA.org • (800) 422-3778

Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.

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March 2010

27


Program of the Month Affordable Sales Training For Members Are you a store owners looking to boost store profits? Are you a training manager seeking an easy way to solve training problems?

Kaprice Crawford marketing director WHFA

Only $12 a Month “We’ve found the Furniture Training Co. the perfect complement to our sales training efforts. It made good sense for us to invest in an outside professional educational program for new hires and our existing sales staff. In the past we have had trouble finding the time and available staff to do this type of training. This program allows us to get education at home or on the job.” Giff Gates, president, Gates Home Furnishings, Grants Pass,OR

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March 2010

If you answered “Yes” to the above questions, then you are the perfect candidate for our sales training available through The Furniture Training Company. This monthly subscription allows 24/7 access to award-winning lessons, podcasts, worksheets, games and more. Simply log on and use whatever you need. Its fast, easy, fun and it works. We have learned from our members that nine out of 10 salespeople sell more furniture, many by as much as 100 percent or more. At just $12 dollars a month (an $8 discount to members) your investment will pay for itself in a single sale, and over and over again. Don’t settle for status quo selling. Learn the secrets to sales success and watch your income soar. Furniture retailers who subscribe to the Furniture Training Company website, www.FurnitureTrainingCompany.com, give their salespeople unlimited access to over a thousand facts, techniques and skills, and attitudes essential to becoming certified furniture sales experts. Associates master the latest trends in furniture product knowledge, how to sell furniture, the essential principles of room design and much more. Every month salespeople learn and relearn from the website’s incredible array of scientifically designed and validated training lessons, podcast interviews, entertaining review games, showroom practice worksheets, video role-play examples and dynamic customer simulations. You will see constant improvement in sales associates’ closing rates and average sales as they turn more “lookers” into buyers.

Components of the training: Training in Three Critical Areas Of Furniture Salesmanship • Sales associates will be trained in product knowledge, sales techniques and basic room design. Printable Worksheets • Printable lesson worksheets, sales meeting lessons, optimized training schedules for both new and experienced sales associates. Interactive Games • Interactive games provide a fun, simple and effective way to reinforce and review key concepts. Podcasts with Industry Experts • Weekly podcasts present business owners, managers and sales associates with the up-to-date information they need to keep their skills sharp and current with trends and new ideas. Daily Tips • The dashboard provides daily tips for both sales associates and managers. Increase your bottom line one tip at a time!

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Discussion Boards • With the new discussion boards being offered by the Furniture Training Company, questions can be asked and answered by sales associates, business owners, and managers through their peers. Real-time Progress Reports • View the progress of your sales staff in real time. Then use the interactive games and printable activities to help reinforce those areas where staff members are struggling. Training Certification • As your sales staff successfully train in sales techniques, product knowledge and basic room design they will receive finely printed, embossed certificates that can be proudly displayed in your store so that your customers will know that your sales staff are well-trained professionals.

Don’t delay and get started today, call your membership representative at (800) 422-3778. Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.


Celebrating 20 Years

Celebrating 20 years of Home Furnishings Reporting Twenty years ago, Western Retailer magazine (then known as Western Reporter) blossomed from being a small newsletter, to a full magazine. Join us throughout this year as we look back at the last 20 years with stories, past articles and fun.

What was going on then compared with now...

Then

Following the Iraq invasion of Kuwait, Desert Shield begins as the United States and UK send troops to Kuwait. The U.S. enters a bad recession which will have repercussions over the next few years throughout the world. This is also the year "The Simpsons " is seen for the first time on FOX TV. In technology Tim Berners-Lee publishes the first web page on the WWW, and it shown that there is a hole in the Ozone Layer above the North Pole, also the First in car GPS Satellite Navigation System goes on sale from Pioneer.

How much things cost in

Now

Ongoing financial crisis and recession which began in late 2007 continues with many calling it the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s causing house prices to decline, and unemployment to increase. In 2009 governments in the U.S. and around the world pumped trillions of dollars into the financial system and into the economies hoping to avert another Great Depression and by the end of 2009 although unemployment had continued to increase, markets had recovered and most thought the worst was over. The World Health Organization declares H1N1 influenza strain, commonly referred to as "swine flu", as a global pandemic.

1990

2009

Yearly Inflation Rate U.S.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.39%

2.7%

Year End Close Dow Jones Industrial Average. . . . . . . . . 2,633

10,428

Average Cost of New House. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $123,000

$232,880

Average Income per Year. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $28,960

$39,423

Average Monthly Rent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $465

$780

Cost of a Standard Postage Stamp. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25¢

44¢

Cost of a Gallon of Gas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $1.34

$2.73

Cost of a Dozen Eggs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $1.00

$2.89

Cost of a Gallon of Milk. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $2.78

$3.75

Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.

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March 2010

29


le a S s nes

Mad h c Mar

Make rearranging your showroom a breeze and save your back while doing it. For the month of March save 15% off the entire line of EZ Moves through the WHFA Products Program. As a special bonus, purchase the EZ Moves 2 and get a FREE* set of Slip on Slides**. Use the Slip on Slides with the EZ-Moves 2 on hard surfaces like tile and hardwood floors. No more scuffing and scaring the hard surface floors.

Ask About the Special Bonus Available!

* While supplies last. Slip on Slides are available for the EZ-Moves 2 only. EZ-Moves 2 Part number W908. **Slip on Slides regularly sell for $9.99

March Madness SaLE from the WHFA Products Program.

Follow us on Twitter for product updates and promotions. www.twitter.com/WHFAproducts

Call Jef Spencer, warehouse manager, today to place an order. (916) 960-0386 • (800) 422-3778 • www.WHFA.org

Advertisers Index Please support the advertisers that support your magazine. Advertiser

Page

Phone

American Consulting ........................... 24........................ (800) 422-3778 Cruise4Two............................................ 23........................ (866) 541-8077 Emerald Home Furnishings................... 2......................... (800) 685-6646 Furniture Wizard.................................... 15........................ (619) 869-7200 High Point Market.............................19 & 21................... (336) 869-1000

Advertising Inquiries & Rates Contact: Cindi Williams, WHFA Advertising Manager, 500 Giuseppe Court, Ste. 6, Roseville, CA 95678. (916) 960-0277 E-mail: cwilliams@whfa.org. Subscriptions: $35.00/year, USA. Published by Western Home Furnishings Association, a National Home Furnishings Association affiliate, in the interests of retail home furnishings dealers, manufacturers, ­distributors and salespeople. Distributed to home furnishings retailers handling ­furniture, ­accessories, bedding, floor coverings and specialty home furnishings in ­Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Mailing list compiled by WHFA. Official publication of Western Home Furnishings Association, which is ­responsible for editorial content and advertising policy. The views expressed in articles appearing in Western Retailer are not necessarily those of Western Home ­Furnishings ­Association. Western Retailer magazine is copyrighted by Western Home Furnishings Association. March 2010, all rights reserved.

Western Retailer:

Read by furniture retailers in the West

Las Vegas Market........................... Back cover................. (888) 416-8600 PROFITsystems, Inc............................4 & 31.................... (866) 453-5010 WHFA 2010 Conference........................ 7......................... (800) 422-3778

Distribution: Western Retailer is read by more than 10,000 home furnishings retail store personnel handling furniture, accessories, bedding, floorc overings and specialty home furnishings in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Marketing Philosophy: WHFA Warehouse Products................. 30........................ (800) 422-3778 WHFA Website...................................... 27........................ (800) 422-3778

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March 2010

western retailer

Western Retailer focuses on business market trends in the furniture, bedding, flooring and accessories industry. It highlights sales, marketing, operations, showroom design, trends, succession planning and industry events.

Contact WHFA at www.WHFA.org or (800) 422-3778.


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www.profitsystems.com 800.888.5565 “Using PROFITprofessional, we learned to manage our inventory and our profitability has improved substantially. We are able to stay ahead of our competition.” Chuck McMillin McMillin’s Furniture Inc. Yale, MI

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March 2010 Western Retailer  

This issue focuses on Search Engine Optimization, The Future of the Industry and The Magic Behind Disney Merchandising.

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