Furniture stores have ghosts

Ghost in the store

We use facial recognition traffic counters on our front doors to get as accurate of a count as possible of the people entering our furniture stores. It also captures a small image of each individual.

A couple of years ago, we discovered that on more than 30 occasions, a particular man’s photo was taken by the door counter, each unique with different apparel and facial hair. Normal in every way except one: The access to our store was after hours when the door was locked.

Further, we recognized the man was Jeff, our sales manager’s best friend who had passed away about two years prior and one year before installing the cameras. After talking with the counter vendor, there appeared to be no technology answer to Jeff’s appearances. Upon asking staff about this, we learned there had been other unusual and unexplained encounters in that store. Things were going on in my stores for which I had no context, with questions that I didn’t know needed answers.

It reminded me that our front-line staff has many daily experiences of which we are unaware. They are the ones who must explain our policies, see customer reaction to a product, hear their questions, know what causes customers to buy or not. They deal with the ghosts of past good and bad policies, failed experiments, and Ill-conceived ideas that legislate to the exception rather than the rule.

Since so much about retail has changed so quickly, could it be that we all have ghosts of policies, procedures, and just general way of doing business that suddenly haunts us in this new reality? Customers and employees have become accustomed to new choices and conveniences because of the pandemic. Yet many of us likely have a few old ghosts that scare customers away and chase key employees to other careers.

Have you updated your delivery policy for the safety of staff and customers? What about restocking fees after a customer endures our new longer delivery cycles? Do your hours need to be adjusted? Do you have some positions that could work from home? Do you have protocols for wearing masks, including dealing with customers who don’t want to wear one without losing their business? The list is endless.

Take a moment and ask your staff what they find scary when they arrive at work each day. You may find like I did, that your furniture stores have ghosts.

The Jeff story above is real. Let me know if you would like to hear more. dgunn@knightfurniture.com

 

 

David Gunn

David Gunn serves as the 2021 president of the Home Furnishings Association. As a retailer himself, David understands the challenges facing our industry and will help lead HFA to pioneer solving those issues. David is based out of Texas and owns Knight Furniture.

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