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How Independent Furniture Retailers Can Attract Quality Employees and Enhance Retention

Furniture World Magazine


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Content about HFA member-retailers contributed by HFA.

Inviting company cultures attract quality employees
and enhance retention for independent furniture retailers.

Every home furnishings retailer knows that it’s essential to hire competent, committed employees, maintain low turnover and control retention costs. Recently, however, it has become more difficult—especially for smaller retailers—to realize these goals. That’s because independent retailers may not be able to afford to lure potential employees with large signing bonuses and substantial financial and benefits packages.

So how can these businesses compete? One strategy that can be cultivated and used to attract and retain good people is to develop an outstanding company culture. It’s a factor that many owners and managers overlook but can be instrumental in attracting the best people and guiding the fate of new hires in retail organizations.

Changing company culture is not something that happens overnight. Typically, hundreds of hours of management time and attention must be poured into an effort to make it the best it can be. That effort is dictated by two main factors:

  • Internal factors that take place within the business.

  • External factors that have a direct influence on the direction of the company.

Internal factors

  1. The first step for any retailer is to create an aspirational vision with the goal of helping to make sure employees feel comfortable working for your business—comfortable enough to convince staff members to seriously consider remaining at your store selling sectional sofas and kitchen tables even if they are offered a bigger paycheck by a larger retail organization.

  2. Part of any successful plan to create an inviting corporate culture must include a belief in fostering diversity within your organization. It is a lesson no business has perfected better than Netflix, which recently committed over $100 million toward this effort. Providing team members with a supportive environment that feels like a “home away from home” will make your business harder to leave. To do this, managers need to implement and insist that their company becomes a place where everyone is accepted and appreciated.

  3. Create a company culture where employees’ views are heard and valued. An essential part of talent retention is the ability to allow workers to own a stake in their positions. Show them that their ideas are valued and useful. Empower them. Apple’s Steve Jobs said that it was illogical to hire intelligent people only to tell them what to do. Talented people are at the forefront of any successful business operation. Frontline workers who work directly with customers gain insights into what shoppers want in terms of products and services. Such information is vital to businesses that want to stay ahead of the competition. It should be sought out and rewarded.

  4. It’s not enough to develop a mission statement that incorporates a wish list of company culture objectives. Changing a business culture can be difficult. Policies and procedures must be put in place. Then everyone in an organization must buy into the new program if they want to continue to be employed.

New hires want to feel that they are joining a furniture store that will give them a measure of job security, where they will be respected, listened to and valued.

External Factors

Most businesses understand the importance of social media and word-of-mouth advertising. Your store needs to reach out aggressively using media tools to let your customers and the broader community you serve know that your store is a desirable brand, committed to its customers and employees. Send a clear message that your company is successful because it invests in the success of its people. Everyone wants to be affiliated with a winner. This will do more than anything else to attract people with the attitudes and skills you are looking for.

New hires want to feel that they are joining a furniture store that will give them a measure of job security where they will be respected, listened to and valued. Consideration of quality-of-life issues is often as important, within limits, as signing bonuses or benefit packages.

Keeping up with creative ways to attract and keep talent in today’s climate can be burdensome, but spreading the word about what makes your operation a great place to work can make all the difference in a competitive hiring market.

By asking about his business and then listening to his challenges, we helped him make significant changes to the way he offers consumer financing. You see, he already loved having Synchrony as his primary financing option (which he can access thanks to his HFA membership); however, he doesn’t offer a secondary option, only a no-credit option.

What concerned him was alienating customers who might get turned down due to their credit score. He wasn’t aware that HFA offers single-application solutions that provide a range of financing options. A customer fills out a short credit application. If they don’t qualify for the primary, they are seamlessly reviewed by a secondary finance provider, and if that doesn’t work, then a no-credit-needed finance company. They don’t know if they have been denied at any point. Instead, they are given only options they qualify for.

Solutions to Challenges

He was also curious about credit card processing. HFA offers the lowest rates in the industry through our partners at Trekstone, so he signed up for that too! He walked out feeling valued and heard. I am happy to say that was the first of many similar interactions with retailers that all started with a willing ear and ended with HFA’s team finding solutions to retail challenges.

That is the goal of the HFA team each day—to listen and respond to retailer’s needs so they can sustain and grow their businesses.

What are your challenges? Come visit the HFA Resource Center at Las Vegas Market #B1050, we’re ready and we are listening.

Visit myhfa.org/webinar to access on-demand webinars that provide more information on hiring top talent.


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