From A Rep's Perspective

Mike Root

Summer Time and the Livin’ Is Easy

June 3, 2014

Can you name that tune?

Unfortunately for many in the furniture business this is more than opening lyrics sung by long ago greats like Ella Fitzgerald or Louis Armstrong. This is a way of life.

Retail customers get distracted after Memorial Day with all the great outdoor activities they and their kids can be involved with rather than be in a furniture store. The common thoughts say that the seasonality of the business makes the next couple of months an easier time of year because there is not as much going on.

Don’t get caught up in that mindset. If you are a retailer you can look no further than some of the biggest guys in our business and how they are taking advantage of the summertime easy livin’. Nebraska Furniture Mart is putting final touches on the world’s largest furniture store to open first quarter 2014 north of Dallas. American Furniture Warehouse is building its second large store in the Phoenix area so it can open this fall. Conn’s is opening stores at a frenetic pace adding all kinds of new outlets to sell furniture along with their appliances and electronics. I can name a dozen others that are taking advantage of this time to grow their brands.

If you are a factory, you should look no further than those that are beginning to see the great opportunities of bringing furniture production back to America. Viet Nam is going to be a real flow problem for a while because of the factory shutdowns. China is challenged with price increases, anti-dumping, etc. A countries like Brazil are having inflation issues leading to price increases across the board on all exports. Guys like Bruce Hughes with Serta Upholstery is looking at buying another factory and adding more trucks because ‘Made in America” means quick dealer shipments without any product delays. And he has figured out how to make furniture cheaper than imports and deliver it in 2 weeks not the 90 -120 day container lead times.

And if you are a sales rep, this is not the time you want to take your foot off the gas. The factories and the retailers need you more than ever. They need to sell stuff during these next few months to keep the doors open. They need you to be out in the dealer’s stores training the staff to be ready when a retail consumer walks in. They need you to be bringing special purchases, ad ideas and anything else creative you can think of to help ring the cash register while things are slow. Look at our major retailers --- they are planning and working for better times --- so should reps.

The other day I was talking to a manufacturer about business and how several reps had just stopped working. They were just starting to coast and his problem was he couldn’t afford to have them coast and he was going to be making some major changes. If you are a rep, you have a responsibility to your customers and your factories to continue to bring products that can sell through to the customer.

Don’t take this time of year for granted! When you stop providing value, and the boss looks around at who is selling stuff. If you aren’t one of the ones he sees, you may have to go find a new line. And that’s tougher in the summer as we all know because not much happens unless we make it happen.

Let’s finish with another song’s lyrics from Turn, Turn Turn “There’s A time to plant, a time to reap… To everything There is a season.” This is the season to get out and find some business. Good selling!

As always, feel free to leave your positive comments below…