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Mike Root

Former Rep Turns Retailer and Bedding Guru

January 17, 2014

I have the good fortune of meeting lots of interesting people in the furniture business. About five years ago I met a bedding salesman from Pennsylvania named Jeff Giagnocavo. What I liked about Jeff was his constant interest in making himself better. He knew that marketing was important and worked very hard to learn all he could to help his small and medium sized dealers sell mattresses in the highly competitive niche.

For 12 years Jeff specialized in selling mattresses and bedroom furniture as a sales representative. I know how frustrated he would get when he learned marketing that he was sure would help his retailer and yet no one really wanted to listen to him.

Three years ago he got a chance to partner with a progressive thinking mattress retailer and together they bought Gardner's Mattress and More in Lancaster PA. This is a city of 125,000 people with lots of mattress retailer competitors from major chains to mom and pop stores.

Jeff took the leap to becoming more than a rep even though the economy was not yet robust. He had a confidence in himself and his partner. But Jeff also kept his rep job by day so that income would come in the door for a while until he had a proof of concept. And I am pleased to say that to date, it has worked very well for Jeff allowing him to retire from being a rep last year and concentrate full time on marketing his bedding business.

In a few short years he has helped drive revenue up almost 45% in less than stellar retail conditions. And other retailers that Jeff tried to help when he was their rep are now calling him to learn his secrets. Now that retailers are finally taking notice, Jeff decided to document how he has achieved this success and share it with others. His goal is to make sure as much of discretionary income as possible stays in the furniture business by helping retailers do a better job communicating the benefits of a good night's sleep to the end consumer.

Jeff's approach has been anything but conventional. He had 12 years looking at best practices of manufacturers, retailers, and competitors. He worked retail floors so he knew what the consumer wanted. And now he has applied those experiences of being a rep into a nice business that fulfills his current ambitions.

I love Jeff's creativity also. Together Jeff and Ben, his business partner, pioneered the Dream Room a try before you buy consumer experience. Here a consumer can try out a mattress prior to purchasing one in their store and with a proper sales presentation and process he reports their closing ratio on Dream Room appointments is 100%

Now here's the kicker, for the highest end consumer that wants the ultimate, Jeff has an arrangement with a boutique hotel to create a unique experience where the customer spends the night on the most luxurious of mattresses. And it's not just any mattress they sleep on but rather a $30,000 retail mattress. How do you sell a $30,000 mattress? Get the customer to experience it before they part with their money! Pretty cool concept!

So for those of you reading who are currently reps, know that guys like Jeff have used our great occupation as stepping stones to an occupation they find more rewarding. And to those of you that are retailers, when a professional rep shows up with ideas on how you might be able to get more business, just remember this story of Jeff, the mattress guy who is now a mattress guru.

PS. Jeff actually wrote a book entitled "77 Quick and Easy Strategies to Thrive in Today's Economy". Jeff sent me a copy and I asked if he was willing to send readers of my column a copy as well. If you are a rep selling to any retailer there are plenty of good ideas to share with them. If you are a retailer Jeff is happy to send you a copy to hopefully improve your business. Get a free PDF copy of the book at www.megamattressmargins.com/mmmbook.

PPS. If you have an interesting rep story you would like me to spotlight on how being a rep has made you a better business person, drop me an email (meroot@mikeroot.com ) and we can set up a time to chat.