I always remind myself and other people that I am not a furniture retailer. I do have retail in my background, but I don’t own a furniture store. As CEO of the Home Furnishings Association, my job is to serve members and always advocate for them and their businesses.
My context of our industry comes from those of you who have been in it for a while. That includes retailers, manufacturers, vendors, and reps. All of them help me understand the complexities and the challenges of our industry. Sometimes the insights that I receive are surprising. There are times when I hear things that come not from someone’s head for business but their heart. I had one such conversation this week. I was talking with a long-time, successful furniture retailer who prefers to fly below the radar. However, his communication with me was pointed, poignant with a back-to-basics approach, and he’s OK with my sharing it anonymously.
Managing Price Increases
“The furniture industry finds itself in a unique time. With freight prices and goods themselves going through the roof, we find our customers confronted with everything skyrocketing in price. Many items such as clothes, household goods, autos, tools, etc., are being affected. This gives the furniture dealer some protection from being singled out as a price gouger or just “too high!” However, when making pricing adjustments, one must also make people adjustments. By this, I mean you can now only afford to have the “best of the best” on your sales floors. These are the folks that know the product like their own address as well as the competition. They present themselves as the “logical choice” when folks are buying furniture.
Attention to Detail
He believes that as a furniture retailer you have to pay attention to detail in this retail environment, driven by the customer more than ever.
The showroom must look pristine to justify the price. The lighting is more critical than ever to show off the product. Housekeeping must be a 10! Sales associates must be dressed for the part and look incredibly successful, as we all love success. Time to find out who suffers from “higher-priced altitude sickness?” Some folks sell “out of their pockets.” (when a salesperson sells based on what they think something is worth, generally underselling the customer) Your team can’t do this today, or you are headed into the mountain. (Out of business)
With all of the sad and bad news being broadcast 24/7, it’s time to be the bright spot. Now more than ever, price is not the ultimate decider. It’s “make me feel good,” and I’ll make YOU feel good with my credit card.
Time to Shine
Yes, freight prices are a terrible problem, but as professional people with common sense, it is also a time to enjoy an environment reserved for the “pros,” not the wannabes. Anyone afraid to take “pricing and people” action is writing their obituary.
Translation: Be smart, proactive, have attention to detail in everything that touches the customer, from pricing to the people on your team. As a store owner, those are the things you can control in a world where everything feels out of control.