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Norwalk Rolling Out Shepherd Sales Program to Franchise Stores

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Norwalk Furniture Corporation is rolling out Shepherd Management Group's StoreTeam and HomePlan sales training programs to its over 60 franchises after the terrific success of two test programs in Dallas, Texas. The test stores were monitored over a seven month period during which time the close ratio increased 25 percent at one store and more than doubled at a second store. The average sales ticket increased approximately $500 at both stores, and the combined sales increased 72 percent over the previous year. Plus, the newly implemented in-home sales program, HomePlan, produced closing ratios that reached almost 100 percent. "The test results speak for themselves," Ted Shepherd, CEO of Shepherd Management Group, said. "In-home sales and designated sales managers are cornerstones of our approach to maximizing store performance - both of these concepts were validated in the Norwalk stores. "Norwalk implemented our program to the letter to ensure the test programs' success, and they proved to be one of our most successful projects ever," Shepherd continued. "I am very impressed with Norwalk's care and concern for both their dealers and franchisees; they truly want to help them achieve peak performance." Norwalk Vice President of Retail Jim Gerken said, "Obviously, our goal is to improve the average ticket size, closing percentage, and store volume. We have no universal targets, but look for improvement in each of these areas throughout our franchise operations after implementing this training. "The thoroughness and professionalism of the Shepherd sales programs allow us to bring the same type of structure we use in company owned stores to our franchise stores," Gerken explained. The decision to implement the program in the franchise stores was based on the test results. "Unlike many sales training programs which use such things as rnanipulative closing techniques, Shepherd's program invests in people, making sales people more professional and thus more valuable to our customers," Gerken said. "By making our sales representatives a part of the equation, we are making Norwalk Stores a much better place to shop." Jim Busek, Director of Training for Norwalk, saw the importance of adding the Shepherd sales program to the broad array of training already being provided for franchise stores. He explained, "We have always thought that we provided the most outstanding training in the industry for conventional retail stores. The fastest growing segment of our business is our franchise, which is called Norwalk - The Furniture Idea."' "With franchise stores all over the U.S. and Canada, individual owners began demanding more and more training, and we had to go to a higher level of training," Busek said. "We had to offer training for the entire selling process while, in the past, training concentrated on product knowledge, greeting, and handling objections." Norwalk also had to begin training franchisees on in-home sales. Busek continued, "Shepherd's program addresses in-home sales, including how to secure a home visit, what to do while there, and how to make a presentation to the customer." Mike Kenney manages Norwalk's company-owned stores and has advocated, developed, and implemented similar sales management strategies in those stores. Shepherd's sales system will bring uniformity to Norwalk's sales management process in franchise operations and replicate the sales process Kenney advocates for company stores. Approximately 75 percent of the Norwalk franchise stores have scheduled the courses which are now standard training for all new franchise stores.

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