The Key to Staying in Business

As we’ve called thousands of furniture stores to discuss our training services it has become abundantly apparent that most furniture store owners and managers are anxiously working to improve the customer experience in their stores. In fact, I recently attended a convention for a buying group and listened as the CEO announced new benefits for the members including upgraded websites, electronic price tags and store makeovers. Clearly, the group leadership understands the need to continually help its members upgrade their customer’s experience.

Continue reading “The Key to Staying in Business”
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Customer Reviews Reveal Sad Truth

As we participate in industry shows and events around the country we hear a persistent call for furniture stores to improve their customer experience. We hear about the need to upgrade signs, websites, and showrooms and the use of gifts, surveys, and contests. Unfortunately the experiences described on Yelp, Google, Facebook and other social media make it clear that despite these changes and improvements, many furniture customers continue to have poor shopping experiences. To often they feel unappreciated, neglected, judged, and disrespected. Read these reviews posted by customers who recently visited a furniture store.

We got less than zero help, not even a person to walk up and greet me! And we were THE only ones over there so we went across the way to …”

“Talk about high pressure rude sales people.”

“I concur with other reviews that characterize their staff as haughty and aloof….which is absurd for anyone in the customer service business.”

“They carry awesome brands and assortments of furniture, too bad most of the employees are rude and stuck up.”

“The store and the product are fine, but the delivery and lack of customer service around delivery events display a lack of concern for their customers.”

“…No sales person would help us, some were busy with customers,  the other sales personal were too busy talking with each other.”

“I’d give it zero stars if I could. HORRIBLE from beginning to end. Most of the staff was rude and could care less about customer service.”

“Their salesmen are heavily commissioned so when you walk in they just follow you around relentlessly trying to see if they can be the one to get you to buy something.”

“I don’t know if they just decided to not treat me as a customer because I wasn’t wearing fancy clothes and assumed I was going in to spend only $200 bucks on a couch.”

Reviews like these make it clear that while an effort is being made to improve the furniture shopping experience, too little is being done to ensure that the most important interaction in the customer’s shopping experience, working with the RSA, matches the quality of the advertising, websites, and showroom aesthetics. Until the RSA becomes prepared to provide the high quality experience the customer needs and wants, the industry will continue to receive poor ratings that will drive customers to the Internet and elsewhere.

Is Your Sales Manager Helping or Hurting?

Peter Drucker is credited for writing down the idea so many people had already experienced in their own lives, “Good employees quit when management is bad. Bad employees quit when management is good.”

While bad managers are rarely the primary reason an employee actually quits a company, they certainly cripple and even kill companies that might otherwise have a bright and prosperous future. Bad managers are not necessarily bad people. They’ve just not been prepared to complete the tasks that are required to efficiently and effectively manage a company. Someone can be a bad manager, and still be a great friend, a great spouse, a great golfer or a great listener.

Determining whether your sales manager is helping or hurting your cause is actually very simple. Carrying out the proper course of action created in Step 4 may not be very easy.

Step 1 – List Activities Your Sales Manager Should Engage In

List the activities your sales manager should be engaged in each day/week/month. Everything you list for your sales manager should fit into these three categories. 1) Hire and maintain the sales team, 2) Teach/coach the sales team, and 3) Manage the sales team.

Step 2 – List the Activities Your Sales Manager Is Engaged In

List the activities your sales manager is engaged in each day/week/month

Step 3 – Categorize the Activities Your Sales Manager Engages in

Look at the list of activities your sales manager is engaged in and place a plus sign (+) to the left of each activity he/she should be engaged in. Place a minus sign (-) to the left of each activity he/she should not be engaged in.

Step 4 – Decide a Course of Action

Look at the plus and minus signs and decide whether your sales manager can be taught to 1) successfully engage in the activities he/she should be and 2) eliminate the activities he/she should not be engaged in. If you believe they can quickly be taught then create a plan of action to help the receive the training they need. If however, you believe either the list is too long, or your sales manager is unable to become the manager you need, then you need to develop a plan for replacing them.

Stop holding your sales team and your store back. Have a great sales manager so you can unleash their potential and enjoy the benefits of good sales management.

You can learn more about our 14 lesson Retail Management Essential course by clicking here or visiting www.furnituretrainingcompany.com

Handling More Informed Shoppers

With the power of the internet, shoppers are coming into furniture stores more informed than ever before. In fact, many shoppers would tell you that they know more about the furniture they are interested in than your salespeople who assist them. Could this be why many stores are struggling with low closing rates and high turnover?

Often times, furniture stores are so concerned with the advertising and marketing that it takes to bring a shopper into the store, that they forget what it takes to consistently and effectively turn those expensive shoppers into customers. Continue reading “Handling More Informed Shoppers”

Salespeople are Losing Too

Do you remember the “good old days” when droves of customers came into your store to see if there was something new they should think about getting for their home. They seemed to enjoy listening to you talk about new products and fabric options while you walked them through the showroom. They even had time to listen to your spiels about prices, delivery and credit options.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that customers have changed a lot over the past few years. Not only are there far fewer of them, but they rarely have time to listen to your ramblings. Thanks to the Internet, they’ve spent countless hours browsing Wayfair, Amazon, and even your own site. They’ve made dozens of comparisons, and they’ve written pages of notes. The research phase is over and they decide to visit just a couple of stores in their search for a professional who will validate their ideas and help them buy the furniture they need. They’ve chosen your store and now it’s up to you. Continue reading “Salespeople are Losing Too”

Your Dealers Want More Training!

We are in constant contact with our furniture dealers. We regularly ask them about their training experience and what gaps still need to be filled. We get nearly a universal response: We want better training from our manufacturers.

Put yourself in a dealers shoes. After investing thousands of dollars to carry a new product you have to hope the sales team can actually sell and make your money back. You have to hope the manufacturer rep will teach your sales force to like the product like you do.

Unfortunately, a visit from a rep every 8 or 10 weeks just doesn’t cut it. This is a high turnover industry and reps simply can’t be in the stores as quickly as they’re needed. It doesn’t really matter though because the rep doesn’t teach very well and the visits are often unhelpful. The fact is most of your reps are better at finding new dealers and making sales than they are at training sales people. Ask yourself this: If you were a dealer would you be happy with the training your company provides?

We recently surveyed our dealers to learn about the training they receive from their manufacturers. We learned some amazing things from the survey respondents:

  • 78% of them say that brand specific training is very important to their company.
  • Only 5% of them are very satisfied with the manufacturer specific training they are receiving.

Continue reading “Your Dealers Want More Training!”

Don’t Assume Your Folks Are Selling the Right Way

Several months ago, I showed our training programs to a potential customer.  I decided to show this potential customer our lesson on handling “I’m Just Looking” customers.  As many of you know, we teach 4 steps to helping folks who are just looking to feel comfortable in your store and hopefully accept assistance.

  1. Let your customer know it’s okay to look.
  2. Tell your customer something helpful about your store.
  3. Encourage your customer to tell you the purpose of their visit.
  4. Have patience with your customer

Continue reading “Don’t Assume Your Folks Are Selling the Right Way”