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Anticipation: It’s Making You Money!

Furniture World Magazine


With apologies to Carly Simon who sang the theme song to “The Spy Who Loved Me”, Anticipation doesn’t have to make me wait. Work it right and Anticipation can make you MONEY!

I recently saw a photo from inside an Uber Driver’s car. You’ve heard of Uber, the online service for ride-sharing that cuts out the worst part of taking taxis. Like waiting, unknown cost, and tipping. Uber Drivers are self-employed and use their own cars and gas. The passenger of this Uber car posted a picture showing both Android and iPhone charging cords connected in the back seat of his driver’s car, ready to recharge mobile devices.

It wasn’t really hard for the driver to figure out that Uber passengers use mobile devices all of the time. Mobile devices need to be charged. Cars have plugs available for recharging. Different devises need different cords. This was a lesson in anticipating the customer’s need and satisfy it BEFORE the customer asks.
Anticipating shoppers’ needs, rather than simply reacting to those needs, is the hallmark of LEGENDARY SERVICE.

Think about the shoppers who visit your store. Many enter your store with common needs, which may hinder the pathway to completing a sale. Ignore those needs and you will lose the shopper and the sale. Figure a way to solve those needs and you have cleared the pathway.

Some common issues
you may have encountered

One-Leggers. That’s what they call shoppers in the North East who share a home with a partner, but only one partner comes into your store to shop. How often have you lost a sale when you hear “I have to bring in my (spouse/partner) before I buy.”

Anticipate that need. How about creating a “missing persons report”; a short questionnaire for your shopper. For mattress shoppers, include simple questions like what side of the bed does your partner use, what position do they sleep in, any health/snoring issues, and ask if they are larger or smaller than the shopper. The bottom line question has to be, “What would you change about your partner’s sleeping habits”.

For sofa shoppers, questions could include what is your partner’s favorite color, do they like to take a nap on the couch, are they more likely to sit on a sofa or a chair.

When you review those questions, you will have the answers needed to select items that would satisfy both partners.

Mini-Skirts are BACK! I am not a fashion expert, so don’t ask me what hemline is in fashion. But I do know that some shoppers will enter your store wearing clothes that render them unprepared to comfortably test rest mattresses or recliners. The cool thing is that most people sleep with a blanket of some sort. Why not have a TEST REST BLANKET on hand for those occasions when your shopper comes up short. Hand it to them, just like a test pillow. I suggest a light washable neutral colored “throw”, kept in a plastic bag or wrap for cleanliness. Those run $10-14 on sale, so invest in a half dozen, and wash them often. Be sure that they don’t “leave pills” or you can anticipate disappointing a shopper. Be a real HERO and let your shopper take the blanket home when they make a purchase!

The Time-Space Continuum. I heard that term once on The Big Bang Theory. Since I only went to UNLV, I am not quite sure what it means. But, I am very sure that you lose sales every week because “Be Back” shoppers don’t want to drive back to your store because of time or distance. Or, your store hours don’t match their free time hours. Imagine having your store open 24/7 and located no further than the distance from your shoppers’ kitchen to their living room.

As they used to say on the TV show the 6 Million Dollar Man, “We have the Technology”. It’s called your ONLINE STORE, and if you have a website, it’s easy to convert it to an online store. While you may picture that online store being an option for out-of-towners, it really is an option for your local shoppers to place their orders ANYTIME-after they shop your store.

Anticipate that shopper who has to talk or think it over, or wants to shop every store from here to Tucumcari. Simply create an ONLINE ORDER form to be filled out in the store and given to the shopper. Print your web address, brief instructions on how to place an order online, and a list of the items they want. Let them know that they can place their order securely online with any major bankcard.

Along with that, anticipate that your sales staff may have an ego issue with online orders, so devise a system, like prospect cards-or copies of the online order form to ensure they get paid for the presentation they make.

We have weather today. It seems that weather is unavoidable. Make it work to your advantage. For COLD WEATHER-have a coat rack in your store. Shoppers may want to test rest a bed wearing heavy coats. That adds 1-2” of padding and give a false feel to the mattress. Offer to hang their coat and hat.

For WET WEATHER-keep a clean dry floor mat in your store, and on your truck. Your shopper will appreciate the chance to wipe their shoes, and will love the fact that your delivery team is concerned about their home. Have a large gold umbrella at your store door to walk your shopper to their car free from rain drops.

For HOT WEATHER-anticipate thirsty shoppers with a cool bottle of water, or a spring water dispenser at the front door. Anticipate the outcome of water drinking with a clean well stocked restroom!

No Charge for Charging. Remember that Uber Driver? Your shoppers also carry mobile devices. Anticipate that they may be a little low on battery power and offer to charge their phones while they shop. They’ll love the offer, even if they don’t take advantage. You’ll love the fact that they are checking your beds and not their phones. And since most phones need 20-30 minutes to charge, you may even keep them in the store a little longer!

I am anticipating that you may want to get started today. If you are not tech savvy, get an outside supplier to help you set up your website. You’ll find some fine companies advertising in this month’s issue. Get your team to create the “Missing Person’s Report,” and then rehearse it a few times. You’ll find that rehearsing is less frightening to your staff compared to Role Playing!

Get ready for next season’s weather, it’s coming soon. Invest a few bucks in a universal charger, and locate it in a secure area.

After that, look for the next service that you can offer to give your shopper a richer buying experience, offer it, and anticipate your success!

About Gordon Hecht: Gordon Hecht is a business growth and development consultant to the retail home furnishings industry. You can reach him at Gordon.hecht@aol.com