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Five Big Mattress Discoveries

Furniture World Magazine

Volume 146 NO.3 May/June



Many hardworking retailers
struggle to earn the money and live the lifestyle they deserve.

If you find yourself overworked and under-paid, you are probably focusing hard on bringing new customers to your front door. Yet if your closing rate is low, and you aren’t maximizing the sales tickets you already write, you may find yourself using excessive and wasteful advertising in an attempt to fix this problem. It’s a recipe for failure and there is a smarter way to operate your business.

Trying to improve poor closing rates by relying heavily on vendors to bring in information and support is a another common tactic. It’s easy to rely mostly on reps for training, and it’s economical, but if that’s the only place you’re getting information, as a fellow retailer, I’m here to tell you that’s a very dangerous way to go about improving your business. I can count on one hand the really great reps I know who have the talent and take the time to help retailers grow their businesses.

You may also have invested money in programs to train your salespeople, but most sales training programs only focus on what to do once a customer is in front of you. They don’t tell you how to get more customers and how to actually grow your business. And no matter how many times and in how many ways your salespeople ask customers to buy, if you don’t have a process in place to dramatically increase close rates, you are leaving a lot on the table.

If you find yourself on this kind of treadmill, I think you will be interested in the following five discoveries that came to light from recent conversations with retailers just like you.

1. Use Your Vendors Differently: You may already have all the information and products you need to run an amazing store. It is likely, however, that the biggest issue holding you back, revolves around doing what you’ve always done and expecting a different result. Take an honest look at your advertising over the last five years, three years, even the last year. What, if anything, has changed? What was different about your product merchandise mix over these years? What was different about your sales training process? Most retailers who are being honest will admit that almost nothing has changed in spite of their desire to sell more, and make more money. Trying the same thing and expecting different results is Einstein’s definition of insanity.

The first area I suggest you look at is how to merchandise your products in ways that you never thought of, to get more sales at higher and more predictable profits. For example, one of our ‘natural’ vendors offers a certified organic foundation at $900. For the person wishing to have an organic certified mattress set and base, it has value.

A starting price adjustable bed base from Serta in our store is the same price as this certified organic foundation, also $900. A customer might choose to purchase the organic set paired with the organic flat foundation, but most customers who buy an organic mattress only care about what they’re directly lying on. So, we now offer customers the option of “upgrading” to an adjustable base as a package deal! What this does on the back-end for us is stop “show-rooming”. By offering the adjustable bed base packaged with the organic sleep set at the same price, but with more value and function, we are able to win the business of the handful of customers who previously used our showroom to test out the mattress and then went online to buy. It’s a value Gardner’s Mattresses & More customers can only find within our four walls. As an added benefit to us in this example, the adjustable bed base package option actually puts an extra $75 to the bottom line, as the adjustable base is less expensive than the organic foundation!
Another example of creative re-merchandising includes bundling lower cost but good quality, pillows, sheets, protectors and protection plans into a package. This is something we do to provide a great value for customers, at less cost.

One vendor affords us the opportunity to promote a $419.34 value package while having a hard cost of only $105. This package includes a choice of two pillows with three options, a mattress protector and pillow protector, plus 600 thread count sheets in a choice of four colors. We’ve also found that when bundling or packaging our offers, it’s a good idea to give customers the opportunity to choose the specific pillow, mattress protector or sheet set that goes into their package. Customers who get a choice of options, view our package deals as an opportunity, and not as just stuff we want to give them or get rid of.

2. Find The Missing Piece: There’s a saying that little hinges swing big doors and that couldn’t be more true in our industry. Often you need just one more piece in your business puzzle to explode sales. For our store, Gardner’s Mattresses and More, this missing piece was to offer a store-wide comfort guarantee.

We developed a Dream Room, inspired by car dealerships that allow customers to take a car home for the weekend, before buying. We built a room that looks like a high-end hotel room in our store. When a customer shows an interest in a mattress, we allow them to try that bed out for an hour or two. Once a customer has thoroughly “drive tested” a mattress we feel confident that we’ve found the right fit and can stand behind it.

Our Dream Room closes at a 100%. Each and every week we have 2 to 4 appointments that yield four thousand dollar average tickets. We can forecast sales by just looking at the number of Dream Room appointments we have booked. That’s very freeing, gives us tremendous peace of mind and is also very profitable.

3. Focus On Conversations: What mattress retailers think they need, they don’t really need at all. Most everyone says, “I need more customers”. I’m here to tell you, you don’t need more customers. What you need are better systems, and better processes to convert shoppers to buyers. What you need is something to take all the momentum you’re creating, and all the advertising that you’re doing, to capture all those eyeballs, all those impressions, all that awareness.

You’re flushing money down the drain if you don’t have a way to immediately begin a conversation with somebody once they’ve hit your website. If you don’t start a conversation, you are just collecting impressions, and impressions can’t be deposited in the bank. More new customers in most cases isn’t what you need, and I’ve seen retailers spend themselves right out of business. You need to convert better, you need to raise that closing percentage number from 45 to 50 to 55, 60 to 70% which is where our stores sit. We do this by converting all those “be-backs” automatically in a timely, relevant and personal way. You don’t need more customers, you need a system to manage what’s already coming to you to better monetize the investments in advertising you are making.

4. To thrive you must curate a better experience: Today, just creating impressions and clicks is not a recipe for success. To get real results, you need to create desire. The best way to do this is not necessarily to change vendors or bring in new merchandise. What you need to embrace is a better way to present, propose and deliver your solutions. Your number one job is to create an exceptional consumer experience.

If you are satisfied with selling customers a quality mattress at a fair price, and delivering it, you will continue to struggle because that type of consumer experience can be had at Costco, Sam’s Club and, without even leaving home, by using Amazon.

You probably already have all the pieces to be super successful. You’ve been in business for a while, you’re the local expert, you’re the guy who does right by his community, you support the local little league team. When the phone rings and a charity needs a bed for a displaced family from a fire, you’re there. If it seems like customers have forgotten about you, it’s probably because you have not developed a better experience to create desire and a better connection with customers so they want to do business with you
.
5. Run Your Business. Don’t Let it Run You: There is a foundational solution for every store owner. And it resides in having a commitment to implement systems and process in your business. That means you can’t afford to have a fly by the seat of your pants mentality.

A McDonald’s store owner is contractually NOT allowed to be in his restaurant flipping burgers, it is NOT part of the system. You too should have a system in place that allows you not to be in your store and still have it run smoothly and profitability. Such a system can have your sales staff sending one-off emails to “be-backs”, handwriting thank you cards, and scribbling down phone numbers to make follow up calls. But with all the technology available today you can make it much easier and effective via a series of complex and reliable pieces of software, plug ins and third party vendors.

A proper automated system based on your curated experience, and focused on conversions can run your business for you, and not the other way around.

If you find yourself overworked and under-paid, you are probably focusing hard on bringing new customers to your front door. Yet if your closing rate is low, and you aren’t maximizing the sales tickets you already write, you may find yourself using excessive and wasteful advertising in an attempt to fix this problem. It’s a recipe for failure and there is a smarter way to operate your business.
Trying to improve poor closing rates by relying heavily on vendors to bring in information and support is a another common tactic. It’s easy to rely mostly on reps for training, and it’s economical, but if that’s the only place you’re getting information, as a fellow retailer, I’m here to tell you that’s a very dangerous way to go about improving your business. I can count on one hand the really great reps I know who have the talent and take the time to help retailers grow their businesses.

You may also have invested money in programs to train your salespeople, but most sales training programs only focus on what to do once a customer is in front of you. They don’t tell you how to get more customers and how to actually grow your business. And no matter how many times and in how many ways your salespeople ask customers to buy, if you don’t have a process in place to dramatically increase close rates, you are leaving a lot on the table.

Jeff Giagnocavo and Ben McClure co-own Gardner’s Mattress & More in Lancaster, PA a multi unit destination boutique mattress store. They also co authored the book “Mega Mattress Margins” and “Retail is Dead” as well as created the industry’s only turn key, done for you, sales and marketing machine called Automated Mattress Profits that creates captures and converts prospects into paying customers. Questions on any aspect of bedding promotion can be directed to Jeff and Ben care of JeffG@furninfo.com. To get more information on their “Automated Mattress Profits CRM system visit http://www.AutomatedMattressProfits.com.
Read other articles by Jeff Giagnocavo