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Don't Get Loaded Down With Administrative Tasks

Furniture World Magazine


Administrative tasks rob stores of management talent.

The most valuable asset of any family furniture store is it's owner/manager. Unless their store is totally automated (and most home furnishings retailers aren't), you'll find that her/his days are filled with administrative functions. For example, here is a list of less than half of the administrative functions which might be associated with a single order entry:

  • Write the order.
  • Go to the inventory system and reserve the items so no one else sells them.
  • Take the customer's name and address to create a ledger card and record the deposit.
  • Put the deposit in the cash drawer, and enter it in the cash receipts journal.
  • Add the customer's name and address to a mail list.
  • Check out inventory after delivery.
  • Enter daily sales on a spreadsheet to get sales and cost of sales registered for the day.
  • All this must be posted to the general ledger and totaled for the month.
  • Then paddle through the sales to isolate special orders and write special orders to the manufacturers.

It's hard to believe that I and thousands of my contemporaries did these things for years, spending more time with paper than people. I was buried 5 to 8 hours a day by these tasks. It's even harder in this age of computers to see the vast majority of furniture merchants behind a desk and not out on the floor selling.

In a well designed, totally integrated computer system, a few inputs accomplish all the aforementioned, plus much more. A few simple computer commands will result in a sales order, will reserve the merchandise, create a special order "P.O." (ready to print), record the customer's name on a ledger with the amount of deposit, add the customer's name to a mail list, build a customer sales history file for ready retrieval, create a daily sales register and cash receipts journal and post both to the general ledger.

There's a danger in acquiring a computer without the appropriate software. Here's the bear trap - the wrong software may lead you to do as many redundant things as you did with a hand system. It's important to find the industry specific software that integrates every action into a single entry. Software and hardware exist that have stood the test of time in hundreds of retail operations.

Fortunately, computers today are extremely capable and have tremendous capacity at comparatively low costs. In fact, the hardware for a million dollar retailer can be leased for as low as $90 a month or depreciated for around $65 a month. Ongoing service wouldn't cost more than 5% of that. A word of warning, if an inappropriate system is obtained, it may not do a thing for you, other than adding overhead.

The good news is that there are approximately 12 furniture industry specific systems. They vary in cost, complexity and ease of use. Make sure you find an industry specific package which will free you to sell more... and avoid the horror of finding that the "off the shelf package" you bought has substituted a keyboard for a pencil... but not saved you any time.

Sid Levitz is the founder and CEO of Sid Levitz Furniture Marketing systems and former president Of Levitz Furniture Corporation. Questions on any aspect of furniture store computer automation can be directed to FURNITURE WORLD at editor@furninfo.com.