“Cherry Picking” Season Is Over

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It’s common knowledge that the furniture shopping experience has changed over the past several years. Not long ago furniture salespeople practiced the fine art of “cherry picking.” There were crowds of interested shoppers and the salesperson got to decide which ones to serve and which one to ignore.

Alas, cherry picking season is over.

Not only is traffic down dramatically, but shoppers today are different from the ones we used to get. They seem a lot smarter and better prepared to shop.

The Internet gives shoppers important information about brands, styles and specific pieces of furniture. More importantly, and often with devastating results, the internet also tells them which stores they should shop in and which they should not. Reviews let them know which stores will treat them well and which will not. They learn which stores have sales people who have product knowledge and which do not. They find out which stores have manipulative salespeople and which do not. In other words the tables have turned and the furniture shopper gets to do the cherry picking now. Read More

According to the consulting firm BRP, 79% of consumers say personalized service from a sales associate is an important factor in determining where they shop. In fact, consumers want personalized service more than they want product incentives, easy return policies, credit options, and virtually every other incentive they can be offered. Furthermore, 63% of consumers are likely to stop shopping at a retailer where they’ve had a negative shopping experience.

Our success secret this month is that you acknowledge that “cherry-picking” season is over for the retailer. Take whatever actions are necessary to improve every customer’s shopping experience in your store by ensuring that your salespeople are able to ask meaningful and helpful questions of their customers. During the course of conversation and in a natural way, salespeople need to ask questions to learn about each of the following:

What are the required product features the customer is seeking?
Who will be the end user of the product?
How will the new piece effect the customer’s room?
What is the customer’s degree of time urgency?
What are the customer’s budget resources?
Who is the real decision maker?
Why is the customer motivated to think about buying now?

Asking the right questions is the first step to helping customers have the personalized experience they want and expect. You’ll be surprised at the change that will come over your customers when they are truly served and valued. They’ll appreciate being treated like important individuals who deserve a top notch shopping experience…and maybe they and their friends will start cherry picking your store.

The Furniture Training Company has an entire course focused on teaching salespeople to provide personalized shopping experiences. Schedule a brief demonstration by calling 866-755-5996.

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Improve Customer Experience and Increase Sales

Every furniture store carries the same or very similar home furnishings products. Not only that, they typically present very similar “unique selling points”; family owned, lowest prices, best selection, and so forth. Unfortunately, offering similar products and touting similar selling points places you in a price war with your competition. Price wars are messy, discouraging, and fraught with thin margins that lead to thin hair.

Continue reading “Improve Customer Experience and Increase Sales”

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”

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”