Simplify Sleep

It always blows me away to think that one of the most technologically advanced products in the market comes with little to no direction on how to use it. Remember that moment when you opened your first box from Apple? Did you look for the instructions? If you are a guy you likely did not, but if you had, you would know that there isn’t much to read. If you can make something that complex, that simple, don’t you think we should be able to make things a little easier in the mattress industry?

 Simplify Sleep

Why is it that we have 40 or sometimes 50 beds on retail floors for consumers to shop? I understand a consumer wants choice, but seriously?!? I’m not saying that we open stores with one mattress on the floor but would 10 work? How about 15? My question to you is do you think that all of those beds staring your customer in the face is a little intimidating? Of course it is. As a matter of fact they tell us that it is and we keep things the same in spite of the negative feedback.

Going back to my days at Serta when I was selling to Sam’s Club, Sam’s had just two to three sku’s to sell from and we grew that business into one of the five largest mattress retailers in the country. QVC, HSN, and Shop NBC sell one bed at a time, not to mention all of the e-commerce people out there today. Back of the napkin guess says that collectively, if you stir Costco into this group, these guys are doing $500-750 million in business. Not bad for people that don’t offer up many choices.

Your right if your thinking that these are much different channels of distribution and that in order to prevent paralysis by analysis, you have to limit the offering but there is something to learn here. The consumer likes things simple. If you can take something that is complex and make it very easy to understand/shop for, don’t you think you might gain some benefit from that? Some producers and retailers offer a comfort testing system so that you can answer some questions and the computer can narrow that massive offering down to a handful of beds to look at. Mattress Firm has their approach to simplifying things using Comfort By Color to help organize the shopping experience. Are you doing something unique to help the consumer figure it all out?

Let’s not OVER simplify the very difficult job of the retailer by hitting the “easy button” saying that less sku’s is going to deliver the same sales but is it possible when done the right way? (You can’t just offer less sku’s and leave it at that. The new approach will require a brand new business strategy from top to bottom.)

What do you think, could retailers save some money by cutting back their square footage and offering less choice supported by a selling process customized for such an experience?

Bonus #1: My man Mark Kinsley is at it again with a fun marketing campaign for Leggett and Platt’s Quantum Edge product. Quantum Edge is a terrific steel border that encases your innerspring core so that you don’t have to use foam anymore. Why get rid of foam? Because Quantum performs better says Kinsley which is good enough for me. I am a big believer in the product and actually sleep on my new Spink and Edgar mattress that features….you guessed it, Quantum Edge. No foam in our beds!!! Check out their new web series called “Edge Heads.” Great to see companies out there getting creative in their approach to market. WELL DONE! (You gotta see what happens in the Titanic scene. So sad to know that Quantum Edge could have saved that poor girl.)

Bonus #2: My buddies Tony and Terry Pearce invented a new bed they call Purple. I am sure you have seen some of their very creative marketing with this new e-commerce product. I know these guys well enough to know that getting this creative with their marketing was not easy to agree to so my hat is off to them for busting through the comfort zone bubble. Anyway, check out their very first review from Sleepopolis HERE. Congratulations guys!

 

Is Your Light Shining?

I have a good buddy Craig, who’s been in this industry a long time and we share a strong Christian faith. The other day we were talking about an opportunity he was given to deliver a message at his church in Houston. (You can see that HERE if you would like, his talk starts around 18:45 and is titled The Mindset Of Ministry.) I watched this last night and it got me to thinking about how this relates to our business life everyday.

My question to you is, what influence are you having on the people around you at work? Do you take the opportunity to connect on some deeper level to your employees, your boss, your suppliers, your customers? Is your job something you just do day to day or are you taking full advantage of your proximity to others to be a positive influence in their life?

I’m not saying to get your bible out and start preaching in the cafeteria, although that would be pretty cool. I’m not even talking about this from the faith perspective. We have no idea what people around us are going through. We also don’t realize sometimes what impact our actions and words have on others. Business runs at a fast pace these days and we are so busy that it is hard sometimes to slow things down and remember the human element of what we are doing.

 Is Your Light Shining?

When I was at Serta, Inc. I had a guy working for me that was making all kinds of mistakes. One cost us about $25,000 so I was pretty upset about it to say the least. He was in my office getting his butt chewed on a little when it came out that he was going through a divorce. I didn’t pause on that too long because I really didn’t want to get into it with him for several reasons. He left and I knew right away that I had FAILED to take an opportunity to show this guy some compassion and possibly encourage him during a very difficult time. I can’t even imagine how hard that would be to go through. About two hours later he came back to apologize again and made a comment that he wasn’t sure why he felt the need to come back into the “lion’s den” as he put it. I laughed because I knew why he was back. It was so I would have a second chance to get that right. (Craig tells a similar story in his video.) We talked for about an hour that day and then many conversations after that. He called me a few years later after I had left Serta to tell me what an impact that had on him, and he shared some incredible stories about his life today with his new wife and little baby girl. I am so glad I got another chance at that. Has this kind of thing ever happened to you?

I know that we want to be careful about crossing those lines at work with people from the HR perspective, but be on the lookout for those opportunities to connect. To assist. You never know when you are going to be the one looking for a little light to shine in your life.

 

Vegas Market Preperation

Vegas BABY! It’s that time again to start thinking about our upcoming trip to market. Seeing old friends, waiting for elevators, eating and drinking too much, long taxi lines etc. You know the drill by now right?

 Vegas Market Preperation

Mattress Mecca

So what is on your agenda for market? What are you looking for? What does success look like? I thought I would help all of the retailers out there reading this blog with a little checklist that they can use when shopping for that perfect bedding assortment. Read to the bottom today and don’t miss the BONUS CONTENT!

  1. Is the product a WOW from a comfort perspective or is it more of the same? Remember that your customer is going to be shopping the market so if you don’t have something different from your competition, then you are probably missing an opportunity. When it comes right down to it THE FEEL IS THE DEAL so that should be on the top of the priority list.
  2. Do your bedding partners work towards helping you grow your overall business OR are they in it to simply take a piece of the pie you have already baked?  What are you talking about in your meetings? Are they bringing you ideas on how to grow the overall business or are they just worried about their balance of sale? If their product and marketing programs aren’t capable of expanding your mattress category, then you might want to keep looking.
  3. Is your bedding company innovative or do they follow the industry? Review a list of the new and exciting products/programs that they have introduced to the industry over the last 5 years and determine if there is a future there. If your company is going to grow, you need to make sure you have partners that you can count on to keep your business relevant. That means buying from a company that can show you some evidence that they value creative solutions to complex problems.
  4. Does their marketing message pass the BS test? Bedding producers that don’t have much to offer typically try to hide that with fancy marketing or technical speak that the consumer doesn’t really get anyway. If the manufacturer represents a product for a price and are straight forward about that, then more power to them! If they instead try to pass themselves off as something they’re not then the consumer is going to smoke that out and you both lose. When you are in a showroom reviewing a new line and you are thinking, “This looks a lot like what I have now with new covers and labels” then you need to keep shopping.
  5. Finally and maybe most important, will the rsa get excited about your new bedding programs for 2016? I have cited this quote from  Brian Tracy before, “Sales is nothing more than a transfer of enthusiasm.” If your sales people can’t get fired up with your new program then how do you expect them to be passionate when selling your beds to the consumer? If you have an exciting story and product to support it, then you have the recipe for success. When you bring in new products, sales people get excited because they’re NEW right? Imagine bringing in a new line that was so good that your sales team couldn’t wait to talk about it with your customers. Isn’t that how things should be?

For those of you going to market I wish you safe travels. If you can’t make the trip I suggest you circle back with Sleep Geek as they always have a great recap of the latest and greatest coming out of Vegas.

If you are having trouble finding a bedding producer that delivers on the points I mention above DO NOT WORRY. I can get you connected to a guy that can deliver it all; just email him at markquinn@sibose.com and he will tell you all about this new product called Spink and Edgar. icon smile Vegas Market Preperation

BONUS CONTENT! When I was with Leggett and Platt I would do some reporting for Sleep Geek. During a Vegas market I had the rare opportunity to interview the star of the Serta commercials, the Alpaca. You can see that very compelling “Barbara Walters” moment HERE. 

 

 

 

BLAST OFF!

I have not written about my journey with Spink and Edgar for a while so I thought I would update you on what is going on.

My brother and I flew to Los Angeles and launched our products at Sit’N Sleep on November 16th, and we had a helluva good time! (To read more about this trip, visit Furniture Today and read about it from Dave Perry.) Jeremy Bercier is our rep at Sit’N Sleep and he is a total pro at what he does. He knows the account well having grown up around it his entire life, so his coaching on how to deliver our message was important to say the least. The rsa’s at Sit’N Sleep are not your typical group so when you talk to these guys you can’t come in speaking mattress 101; it’s insulting. The average time on the job for this sales force is 9 years. How many retailers can say they keep their sales force happy, and around for that long? We talked about our farm, the herd of sheep, the massive amounts of coils, the all natural story with NO FOAM, and the foundation that actually works with the bed to deliver comfort. We also talked about the big sales tickets, fat margins, large commission checks and our very limited distribution giving them something special in the market. They were fired up. Several veterans that had been around the industry for a long time even told us it was the best product presentation they had ever seen.

 

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Yes, we brought our head sheep Harrison along for the meeting. He was a hit.

I think we did a good job with the presentation, but that is not why we got the reaction that we did. There were many in the group literally thanking us for bringing them something that was both unique and compelling. Many commented on the authenticity of what we are doing and appreciated the lack of BS marketing spin. Others just enjoyed the romantic nature of our story and how it could help them justify the price they would be asking. Whatever the reason, the sales force really liked it and we are so incredibly glad that they did.

After the presentation we had everybody get up and try out the products and I think this is when we really sealed the deal with these guys. If you are going to stand in front of a room and tell veteran rsa’s that you have the next big thing,  you had better deliver when it comes to that moment of truth of actually testing the bed itself. The primary take away from the product experience can be summed up in two comments. 1.) It’s not like anything we sell on our floors today; totally unique. 2.) Wow.

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Larry Miller gives Spink and Edgar the thumbs up.

What did my brother and I learn from this week in Los Angeles? We were just blown away at the quality of sales people Larry Miller and Nelson Bercier have assembled to work at Sit’N Sleep. This group really knows their stuff and define all that is good in a retail mattress store. There is no doubt that these guys set the bar as to what a mattress sales person should be. How is it that Larry and Nelson can keep sales people around for so long and fill their stores with “A” players? They show that they value their people and they keep them happy. (A lot of companies say it; these guys do it.) Over the course of three days you would not believe how many people told us that they LOVED working for Sit’N Sleep. UNSOLICITED! For all of you running companies today I hope you agree with what I say next…the intangibles matter. The ownership at Sit’N Sleep really does care about the people that work for them and it clearly shows. Happy people create a happy experience for the consumer and there is no doubt in my mind that this is the reason for the success of this particular retailer. What a pleasure it was to experience this first hand.

I am not concerned about anyone thinking that I am pandering to this retailer because any of you that are reading my blog that have visited this group like we did, know what I am saying is true. So to all of my new friends at Sit’N Sleep, on behalf of myself, my brother Jeff, the Ellman brothers, and Jeremy, we want to thank everyone  for the best product launch that we could have hoped for. You guys really did help us make an incredible memory. We understand that sales are great the first few weeks on the floor so THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

From my family to yours, I hope that all of you have a fantastic 2016.                               Happy New Year!!!!!!!

Christmas Presence

I walk into my 13 year old daughters room the other day and she was hanging out with a few of her friends. When I came into the room they were all sitting there, music playing, not saying a word to each other. Why? Their faces were buried in their phones. That isn’t to say that they weren’t communicating to one another. They were sending each other Snap Chats, text messages, Instagram messages, and laughing uncontrollably, sitting just inches away from one another.

Phones, tablets, Netflix and most other things electronic are changing the way we live our lives and in many ways, for the worse. I have been out to eat with my family on more than one occasion where I look up from my own phone to find everyone at the table doing something on theirs as well. New rule in the Quinn house; no phones at meal time. The point I am attempting to make here is that all of these electronics can really get in the way of connecting with people on some deeper level. I’m not saying to throw everything out, but I am saying that we have to be intentional about being IN THE MOMENT with the people we care about or we could miss something important. The following story would suggest this is true even when it comes to complete strangers.

 Christmas Presence

I was flying home last week from Arizona and a guy plops down in the seat next to me and I could tell that he was having a bad day as he huffed and puffed and threw his bag into his seat. I continued to work on my computer and put my headphones on hoping that would deter him from wanting to chat me up. After take off this little voice told me to put my work on hold, take off my head set and see if there was anything I could do to make this guys day a little better. (I say a “little voice” but as a man of faith I really believe God was telling me to get off my butt and SHINE THE LIGHT.) After delivering the right ice breaker, I found myself in a conversation with this guy; Jim from Dallas. Jim told me that his daughter had just died after years of drug abuse and he was heading to her funeral. The last few years had been very tough on the family. He lived in a different state than she did, and was carrying around a lot of guilt for feeling as though he had not done enough to save her. We talked about what he did to help, what he didn’t do, and we celebrated her life rehashing some of his best memories of her. At the end of that conversation he extended his hand, fought back some tears, and thanked me for listening. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have met Jim.

As you move into the holiday and have some extra time with friends and family (or even a stranger), turn your stuff off every now and then. Play a board game, tell some stories, but most of all just be present and in the moment. Engage. You never know what you might learn if your allowed to communicate using more than 140 characters.

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“We Still Believe.” Gabby 13, Nick 11

From my family to yours, I hope that you have a terrific holiday and that you connect with people in a very meaningful way.