Is a Furniture Rep Training your Staff?

HFA_Blog_Is a Furniture Rep Training your Staff

I was all set to tap out a blog post about something near and dear to my heart – good profits vs. bad profits. This topic is such a subjective one that it’s probably worthy of a complete book. Hey, there’s an idea.

However, the other morning, I woke up to an email chain from the IHFRA Executive Committee that completely railroaded my blog vision. Some backstory.

Part of Biden’s Infrastructure bill has a codicil buried deep within to begin levying a tax for every mile driven. The thinking is that with cars becoming more efficient, less gas is being sold, so their opportunity to derive tax income has diminished to an unacceptable level. Of course, we need infrastructure improvements, but not of the tax heavy and spend deep variety. I digress.

Naturally, a new per-mile tax would wreak havoc for the furniture reps on the road and would continue to escalate the nauseating freight rates holding us all hostage. If we have to pay more than the cost of gas to travel to see you or get stuff to you, at what point does the feasibility of being a furniture rep not pencil out. What would you guys do without seeing our smiling, hopeful faces strolling into your stores with our bag of tricks asking you how business is?

Everyone on the committee was up in arms about the new tax declaring this as just another nail in the furniture rep’s coffin. Someone gamely pointed out that the worm is turning to tech-based selling. Therefore, the frequency of visits by a furniture rep to a store can be drastically reduced using the new gadgets and gizmos we surround ourselves with to increase productivity. Smart people call this IoT (the Internet of Things). There was an inference that perhaps the old school way of doing biz had met its match.  Food for thought for sure, but not the topic of this post.

A senior member of the group who once was a rep was adamant that many of his dealers are missing the visits from furniture reps training their staff; something that got me thinking. I won’t bother to word for word the response but think about the importance of training while I turn a little Socratic for a moment.

  • What do you want training in general to accomplish?
  • How bought in are you to furniture reps training? Does store management, buyers, or owners attend the training or do they retire to an anteroom for more important paperwork?
  • Are you training your reps on how you want your staff trained? Do they know the nomenclature you use and the culture of your business well enough to stand up in front of your brigade moments before battle and inspire?
  • Suppose deviation is the enemy of consistency, and consistency is the mother of a healthy business. Does anything deviate more than the message reps left to their own devices give when they train your people?

Think about the value that good furniture rep training brings to your team. Most of us have spent a ton of time in the trenches and have a lot of interesting perspectives, knowledge, and stories to keep people interested to the point they can learn something. What if you were paying $10,000 to have someone come in to talk to your squad for 45 minutes. Wouldn’t you want to be there? Wouldn’t you want to know what the topic of the speech was going to be? Surely you would have some expectations for $10,000, so why not have them for the time and expertise of a well-intended and bought-in member of the effort? At the end of the day, like everyone on your team, reps want to do a great job for you. It’s in our best interest to do so. We just need to know what that looks like from your perspective.

Jonathan Schulman

Jonathan Schulman started in his father’s Los Angeles case goods factory, working the floor during college at Shelves and Cabinets in San Diego, and then owning his own stores that he later parlayed into a few Ashley Homestore locations. For several years, Jonathan was on the road as a furniture rep for the AICO family for his first eight years, then as a multi-line rep. Jonathan is the current President of IHFRA.

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