Take a step outside your store. Turn around and look at your store.
Look at it in a way you haven’t in a long time.
Don’t look at it like it is as a fixed asset. Don’t look at as a vessel to help the community as employment. Don’t look at it as a business that needs to make money on the bottom-line. Don’t look at it like a 2nd, 3rd, 4th or even 1st generation business.
Look at it in a way you’ve never looked at it before. Think about where your customer spends all of her time with you. Think about where your people spend all of their time with the customer. Recall where all of your greatest joys and darkest days come from.
Now take a deep breath. Head back into your store with this new thought process in mind: You don’t sell furniture, fashion, or sleep. You sell service.
IKEA sells furniture because the consumer does all the work. Casper sells sleep because the consumer clicks and opens. Wayfair sells fashion because only cool looks sell on a small screen.
You, the independent furniture store owner, sell service. As you began thinking about where your company really spends time with the customer, you’ll realize it does not happen on the sales floor with all the beautiful merchandise. It happens once an order is received, how it is communicated to the consumer, how issues are dealt with and how the entire experience happens.
Look at these reviews for one of our partners in upstate NY:
These reviews highlight what really matters to your long-term customers.
How problems were dealt with
How easy (or not) the delivery process was
How the post-purchase experience was handled
Do you view your store through this lens? Have you invested in coaching and leading culture that addresses the real return on your mark-up, which is your service after the item is sold? Do you advertise your service process as your true competitive edge? Or do you pretend like your most important asset is the furniture you are selling?
Price and product matter. Right merchandise matters. But that all of that gets lost if you don’t impress the customer after she has swiped her card or filled out her credit application.
So, are you going to step outside your store, take a deep breath and begin looking at your business from a different perspective? Because at the end of the day, this is the perspective that will give you the right to make a 50-point gross margin. Not just being able to buy the furniture wholesale.