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Kids Say the Darndest Things

Furniture World Magazine
Volume 149 NO.5 September/October


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Advice from a half- dozen half pints that may just help you grow your retail furniture business.

There was a time in this country when daytime TV programming consisted of game shows, local movie hosts, and gentle men and women hosting family-oriented talk shows, unlike the scream-fests, divorce shows, and fake courtrooms you see today. One long running national talk show was Art Linkletter’s House Party. Each show’s final segment was called “Kids say the darnedest things”. He would pose a problem or scenario to a half-dozen children and hand them the microphone. No script, no censor-just unfiltered pure simple advice.

Because of the travel I do for work I am a big Facebook guy. Recently one of my everlovin’ bride’s friends posted similar advice from a bunch of half pints. I hand-picked a few examples and added my own notes about how the generation behind the millennials can help us grow our business.


Never trust a dog to watch your food.
- Patrick, age 10

 

If part of your in-store sales presentation includes inviting your shoppers to go out and check the competition before buying, you are trusting a dog to watch your food.

All dog owners know that their friendly hound will do anything to get human food, and then look innocent after taking some. It’s the same with your competitors! If part of your in-store sales presentation includes inviting shoppers to go out and check the competition before buying, you are trusting a dog to watch your food. And your profit/commission, just like a tasty T-bone or veggie burger, will soon be gone. BTW- not asking every shopper to buy TODAY is the same thing as inviting them to shop the competition.


When your dad is mad and asks you, "Do I look stupid?" don't answer.
- Hannah, age 9

The thing called a “rhetorical question” exists, and the best way to respond is to say NOTHING. In the business world, we plan to avoid conflict and errors, but STUFF HAPPENS! Chances are good that in the next week or so you will have an irate customer. (You may even be an irate customer!). Sometimes the best way to respond is to say NOTHING. We are fixers by nature and want to make bad things good. But in most cases, allow your customer to have their say—bad words and all. Let them let it out—completely. Then, you can get to the real point and fix it. Further advice-giving patronizing answers makes your customer look and feel stupid. Dad won’t let you get away with it, nor will Mr. or Mrs. John Q. Public.


If you want a kitten, start out by asking for a horse.
- Naomi, age 15

Almost all kids who want pets really don’t understand the time, commitment, and cost of having a fur baby. But most kids still want a cat, dog, hamster, or if you are lucky, a horse. Top salespeople EXPECT to sell something to everyone who walks into their store. They know that selling a $299 queen mattress or recliner beats selling NOTHING. However, these same top salespeople know that showing the best merchandise FIRST leads to more sales in the medium to medium-high end range. Essentially, they want to average $1200-1500 a sale (kitten) and do it by showing a $3000-7500 (horse) room package first. Savvy retail store owners know that they will sell the second highest priced merchandise in the store more than the highest price. That means if you want to raise your average sale, add a few thoroughbreds to your lineup. And since you need a few kittens too, keep a few $299-399 beds, recliners, and sofas in a back room ready to go!


Never tell your mom her diet's not working.
- Michael, age 14

Take it from me, losing weight is not easy and it is never fast! It takes perseverance, and a lot of “won’t power” (the opposite of willpower). It’s about the same with furniture and mattress shopping. While a shopper can try out merchandise in your store and make a 10-year decision in about 45 minutes, her time investment also includes hours of online research, clearing the schedule to shop, getting advice from friends, and visits to other stores. When your shopper says she is looking for a brand, technology, or even packaging that you don’t carry, belittling her selection is equal to telling her “the diet isn’t working”. Respect the effort and research she put into her request by letting her know that her option is a good one, but you may have a more perfect solution.


Don't wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts.
- Nellie, age 11

Many kids, and some adults, don’t think about the long-term effects of their wardrobe choices. Bright underwear under white shorts becomes a case of “Wait ‘til the sun shines Nellie” and things become more transparent then they should be. In business, being transparent is a good path to follow, because anything you are hiding will eventually be seen. Over-selling merchandise as “cure-alls”, fuzzy explanations about warranties, and under-quoting delivery expectations generally leads to customer dissatisfaction. It may not be today or tomorrow, but one day those polka-dots are going to show, and the result won’t be pretty!

Conclusion

Some store owners think about hiring a star marketing consultant to review their business, which can be a good idea. I generally suggest that before they do that, they bring in some 20-35-year-old women (probably your main audience) to let you know what changes you can make to meet their expectations. Perhaps we would all be better off if we invited local middle school students to check out our stores. One thing is for sure, their comments would be simple, honest, and true.

Note: I have a couple of dozen more quotes from kids most likely excerpted from "Kid's Little Treasure Books on What We've Learned... So far" by H. Jackson Brown Jr. - ed. E-mail me at ghecht@serta.com if you would like me to send you the entire list.


Gordon Hecht is Senior Manager-In Store Concepts for Serta Simmons Bedding Company, introducing and expanding bedding business in conventional and non-traditional venues. He started his 30+ years experience in the Home Furnishings industry in Las Vegas, NV as a delivery helper and driver and later served in sales, retail management and consulting roles.
Read other articles by Gordon Hecht