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HFA Reports: I can’t believe it’s you!

Furniture World Magazine


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Content about HFA member-retailers contributed by HFA.

Oh my God, I can’t believe it’s you! It’s really you!

Many years ago, while participating in a class during an industry event, the presenter asked us to stand and walk over and greet another participant we didn’t know. I don’t enjoy awkward forced interactions, so my eyes immediately rolled and a wave of discomfort swept over my body. The presenter added a caveat: To behave as if the person was NOT important to us.

Once completed, we were asked to greet a second person we didn’t know, but this time to do it in a professional manner—like we would expect in a bank.

Much to my dismay, we were asked to do it a third time, but this time as if we were greeting our long-lost best friend from high school. Just then, from the corner of my eye, I see someone moving toward me. I look over to find a woman every bit of my size (I’m a large man) running down the row of seats in my direction. Her arms were waving up in the air as she very loudly proclaimed, “Oh my God, I can’t believe it’s you! It’s really you!” Hoping that she had her sights on someone else, I quickly glanced around the area only to find everyone else is watching her—and me. I knew it was too late.

Shifting Challenges

The new reality doesn’t necessarily mean museum displays, movies, or wildlife roaming through stores.

Her arms fully enveloped me, and I’m pretty sure my feet left the ground. All the while, she carried on about how long it had been since we had seen each other. When she released me, she grabbed my shoulders, looked me over head to toe, and squealed, “Oh my God, I’m SO glad to see you!”

Once I caught my breath, the presenter’s point became crystal clear. Although my new companion’s approach was super-sized (and too touchy-feely), the simple act of delivering a warm, genuine, human-to-human interaction, free of unnecessary formality, set the stage for a more dynamic and productive relationship. You could feel the difference. Whether I originally wanted to be engaged with her or not, now the ice was broken. I welcomed a dialogue with my new friend.

We all know that we must deliver a first-class in-store experience for our brick-and-mortar stores to remain successful. The new reality doesn’t necessarily require museum displays, movies, or wildlife roaming through stores. People just want to go to places that make them feel good. Think about your favorite restaurant. I’m willing to bet there is no entertainment there, just a dedicated staff, a nice ambiance, and good food or beverages.

Retail furniture stores are no different. The product must be good, but just as important are how we make our customers feel welcome, how we demonstrate our dedication to their wants and needs, how we deliver on our promises, and that we do it all hassle-free.

It all starts with that greeting at the front door. Your people should be genuinely thrilled to see each customer that enters the door. So, they should show some emotion. Be professional but not too formal, almost like saying hello to a long-lost friend.

For more information on what HFA is doing to empower furniture retailers for continued success, join the community at https://myhfa.org/.

A  feature about Home Furnishings Association's retail members, legislation affecting the furniture industry and other retail news from HFA.