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The Traveling Retailer's Tip #17: Are They Getting The Message?

Furniture World News


For those of us who grew up with a landline telephone provided by Ma Bell and celebrated birthdays with a party at our house, you may remember playing the telephone game. It’s the old game where you sit in a circle and get a message whispered in your ear, then passed it on by repeating it to the person sitting next to you.

The fun part was hearing the message at the end-after it had been passed on ten or twelve times. It was often laughable how much it had changed from the original meaning. What’s not laughable is how often messaging gets changed in business.

Whether you have 2 employees or 200 or more in your organization, the information you are sending down (or even up) the chain gets diluted and revised until it barely recognizable. In his book FLAWLESS EXECUTION, James D. Murphy talks about the 100/80/80 rule. It boils down to this: You start out at 100% enthusiastic about your newest plan, concept, advertising promo, merchandise assortment, or HR revision. You pass it on to your GM, who will be about 80% as enthusiastic, and an 80% promoter. She passes it on to her manager team, who are 80% as enthusiastic as she is, or 64% as enthusiastic as you are. Then the sales team hears the message from their managers and old 80% kicks in again. I had to take out my calculator for this one to find out that your message is now 51.2% as powerful as when it started out. Finally your shoppers hear about your BURNING HOT PROMOTION with about 40% of the strength of where it started.

There are ways to avoid the 100/80/80 loss.

  • Communicate directly with the troops responsible for carrying out the message. If your entire team is over a few dozen strong, you may need to do this via a BREIF conference call or webinar. You need to tell the story in 10-15 minutes. If your organization consists of fewer than 20 people, nothing ever tops a face to face meeting so you can deliver your message directly. You can also clarify any fine points at that time.

  • More importantly, get the ground troops involved with the creation and planning of your new initiative. Remember this-no one knows more about what shoppers want than your people in the store. And your delivery team knows more about the demands of your customers for placement and scheduling. Your customer service people (formerly known as THE COMPLAINT DEPARTMENT) know how the WRONG MERCHANDISE is being sold to the WRONG PEOPLE. When you ask for input from your team, you will get a lot of advice and suggestions, and also ORGANIZATIONAL BUY-IN when you need to implement your plan. 
Retail Guru Harry Friedman talks about the SHOW ME step in sales training. You don’t have to be from Missouri to understand that you need to verify that the right message has been received. Simply by asking the people on your team to tell you how they plan to execute at ground level will let you know if they got your message and can deliver at 100%. It’s also a great time to sift out any roadblocks to be sure your plan is successful.

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

Furniture Industry News and in depth magazine articles for the furniture retail, furniture manufacturers, and furniture distributors.
Read other articles by Gordon Hecht