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The Traveling Retailer's Bedding Sales Tip #8: Delivering Great Sleep (And Great Furniture) Can be a Nightmare!

Furniture World News


by Gordon Hecht

It seems simple enough-your delivery team is bringing that new SuperGel Hybrid Queen Mattress and Power Base up to your customer’s Master Suite. The new owners are looking on proudly, thinking of that first night of blissful restorative slumber. Then, accidentally, the base rubs against the highly polished bannister of their new McMansion, leaving a smidge of a nick in the faux-wood.

And then you learn-there is no fury like the damaged owner of a new home taking delivery. Ongoing calls for repairs, replacement, compensation and legal action now fill your afternoon. And you ask yourself, “Why?” it’s not that big of a deal!

Whether your scenario involved delayed delivery, wrong or missing items, no-fits, soils or tears, it often seems like the reaction is over the top. Here is where it comes from:

The #1 reason shoppers buy new home furnishings is moving into a new home or apartment. The #2 reason is a remodel or refresh of their current home. Having experienced both recently, I can report that the process is far less than smooth!

On our last relocation I decided to count how many companies and people that we contracted with did WHAT THEY SAID THEY WERE GOING to do, and WHEN THEY SAID THEY would do it. Then I would count how many lived up to their promise. When you add up the realtor who sold our house, and that house’s new buyer’s realtors, the mortgage company, the moving company, our new local realtor and new mortgage company, various inspectors, contractors, moving companies, utilities, the DREADED cable company, and insurance company, we totaled 17 entities. AND IF YOU GUESSED that ZERO lived up to their service promise you win the GRAND PRIZE. Chances are good that your next shopper has had the same experience. If you have moved recently and hit 50% or better, let me know.

Now here’s the KICKER-After all of the dust has settled and the moving truck and cable installation van has left their last oil stains on the driveway, it’s time for the MATTRESS or FURNITURE DELIVERY! And when you are the 18th Guy or Gal to fail, you get to incur the wrath of previous failings!

Good to know, you may say, but how can you avoid being the company that crushed your customer’s dreams, world and well-being. A smart policy is under-promise and over-deliver. Plainly said, it means don’t tell your shopper (in their minds, written in blood) you can do things that really can’t happen. Whether it is getting a rush factory delivery, or arriving at their home at 12:31 pm and no later, let them know that there are factors outside of your control that can affect their service.

Have a Plan B-if you can’t (or shouldn’t) meet unrealistic constraints be prepared to offer a back-up solutions. Whether it’s alternate merchandise, a weekend delivery, or speedy replacement/upgrade, always offer a resolution instead of an excuse.

Think about a FIRE ESCAPE PLAN. Almost every hotel or public building posts information about what to do in case of fire. There is information on how to get out of the building, and what to do if trapped. Today is the day to set up your CUSTOMER IS ON FIRE Escape plan. To us, it’s just merchandise, but to your customer-the world is burning. Your market, margin, and business practices should all be considered and here are three tips you need to include:

  • Any issue should be resolved in ONE PHONE CALL. You need to empower whoever answers the phone to do what it takes to solve the issue. And YOU need to live with that decision.
  • Cancel and Refund does not solve your customer’s issue. Even if they ask for/demand it, they still need your product, and cancellation means they have to start the buying process all over again. That is not fun. 
  • Money off does not ensure shopper loyalty. The main reason for doing a price adjustment is to keep a loyal customer. However the end result is that your refund lands up getting spent elsewhere. Instead, give a generous product gift or store credit. Make it about equal to TWICE as much as any price adjustment. Imagine if you sent a twin size mattress set for that customer with the damaged railing, instead of $100 refund. They’ll have the bed forever.
Accidents should happen rarely, if it’s more than once a week than you are selling tremendous volume or have a sloppy operations team! Be sure your sales and operations team are reading from the same book and delivering great customer service. But accidents do happen, and there are no mulligans in retail. Set good expectations, don’t try to be Superman, and keep an Ace in your pocket, and you’ll be known as the store that delivers on its commitments!

Gordon Hecht is a Growth and Development Manager for National Bedding Company’s America’s Mattress stores, nearly 400 locally owned and operated bedding stores across the country selling Serta-branded and America’s Mattress-branded mattresses. He started his 30+ years experience in the Home Furnishings industry in Las Vegas, NV as a delivery helper and driver. 

He has been recognized for outstanding sales and management achievement with several organizations including Ashley Furniture HomeStores, Drexel-Heritage, RB Furniture, Reliable Stores, and Sofa Express. He has served as Store Manager, Multi-unit manager and National Director of Sales. With his first-hand knowledge of our industry’s front line, Gordon has devoted his career to guiding others to exceed their goals.

Joining National Bedding Company in 2014, as part of the Serta Retail Concepts Group With over 400 stores, America’s Mattress stores is one of the fastest growing bedding retailers in the country. 

Co-author of the “Better Bedding Selling Tips” featured on Furniture World Online, Gordon has been a frequent contributor to company newsletters, and contributing writer for industry magazines. 

Read other articles by Gordon Hecht

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Read other articles by Gordon Hecht