Failure is an option! | Furniture news magazine
Retail is changing so rapidly that it’s nearly impossible to offer advice that leads to guaranteed wins, writes US bed industry consultant Gordon Hecht – so why not focus on guaranteed failures instead?
About 150 years ago, one of the first advice books, Self-Help by Samuel Smiles, was a bestseller. In 1917, film star Douglas Fairbanks published his advice in Laugh and Live, followed by Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People a generation later – and the 1960s and 1970s saw an avalanche of self-help books. -assistance on how to succeed in everything from diets to parenting, running and other human “joys”.
Sam, Doug and Dale could never have predicted the unusual times we now find ourselves in. Every day brings a new challenge with supply shortages, staffing issues, fuel cost increases and more. It’s hard to give advice that guarantees your success, but it’s very easy to give advice that guarantees your failure.
Earlier this year, I presented the Canadian Serta Simmons team with the following scenario. Imagine your best and strongest retail operator has a new competitor in the market. In fact, their new store is located directly across the street! The competing retailer does not sell your brand, nor does it plan to sell it. However, the store manager invites you to lunch. She asks you for advice on how her store can succeed and dominate the market.
You see the opportunity! You can give him predestined advice to help him fail. Just give him a list of the wrong way to run a business, and soon there will be a vacant building where his business sits today. Here’s that negative advice Team Canada provided…
• Do not ask qualifying questions. Show the customer every mattress you present
• Ignore young people because they have no money to buy mattresses
• Create prices such that the customer always wants to negotiate
• Focus on weekday activities Monday through Friday. Closed on weekends
• Keep overhead costs low by not investing in your physical business
• Focus only on the mattress: Clients don’t care or need adjustable bases, pillows or any other accessories.
• Stick to a very small assortment and don’t offer other options
• Encourage sellers to pay more attention to their cell phones than customers
• If the customer has a problem after the sale, it’s not your problem anymore – just ignore it
• Never pay your supplier bills on time
• Tell them that an extra-firm practice is always preferable and recommended by orthopedic surgeons
• Do not advertise or promote your business in your local community. It’s a waste of money
• Do not offer a satisfaction guarantee like competing retailers
• Bash the competition (brand and retailer)
• Ask them to lean on a mattress with their hands, knuckles or knees; this is the best way to determine if the comfort level is right for them
• Pillows are not important. In fact, the bigger and harder the pillow, the better your neck feels.
• Tell your client that these pressure points mean nothing. More pressure points means the mattress is right for them!
• Discourage sleeping partners from shopping together. Promote that it is best for sleep partners to choose one main person to come in and choose the mattress – this saves time, confusion and arguments
• Do not store, show or sell a mattress in a box – it’s just a fad
• Do not store anything – no one ever wants their mattress as soon as possible
• Offer delivery to the customer, but minimize your level of service. Don’t worry about wearing shoe covers or damaging the customer’s house
• Continually mention and sell the fact that you have a six month comfort guarantee
• Don’t ask your customers for advice. It’s a waste of time for both of you. Plus new customers don’t read them anyway
• When a couple walks into the store, always talk to the man – the woman has no say in buying a mattress
• Do not offer financing options to the customer. This is time consuming and won’t help your average sale amount or closing ratios
• Only accept cash, this way you don’t pay any credit card terminal fees
• Don’t ask “When do you need it? ” early. Let them choose their favorite item and disappoint them later
• Always ask for accessory sales when the customer checks out and pays for the mattress. It is easier to add it than to include it in the sales presentation
• Offer to test the mattress with the client. Snuggle up to them!
• Don’t have a modern, easy-to-navigate website – your customers aren’t shopping online these days. And prevent your site from being e-commerce enabled
• Do not post reviews on your website. It’s too long to do that
• Wait for a staff opening to recruit new employees
You would agree that any retailer that follows these chips will soon have a permanent vacation. And, by reversing the advice – that is, doing the opposite – you would increase your chances of surviving, growing and succeeding.
You can also avoid failure with this bonus tip. Create your own “How to Fail” list with your store team. This includes sales, operations, finance, purchasing, and leadership (even if you hold each of these positions yourself). Ask them what advice they would give someone to help them fail. Write down their listings and keep them visible to your team (not buyers).
As long as they avoid the path of failure, they are more likely to succeed.
Gordon Hecht is a business growth and development consultant for the retail furniture industry. He can be contacted at [email protected]