Arrogance Can Cost You Everything

A softball field full of little girls taught me another life lesson last weekend. If you regularly read this blog, you have probably heard me talk about my daughter’s 11-and-under softball team. There are nine scrappy kids from three states that make up the Battitudes team, and when they put on the uniform they come to play. For a few different reasons, we decided toBattitudes 300x225 Arrogance Can Cost You Everything play in a state tournament last weekend that didn’t have an 11-year-old division, which forced us to play with older girls. 14-year-olds! Before each game, the coaches told the girls, “Nobody thinks you should be playing in this tournament except for you, your coaches, and your parents. You have nothing to lose, so just do what you know you can do.”

A few things happened I think are relevant to the business world: Continue reading

When Is Exclusivity a Bad Thing?

When I first started out in this business working for Stearns & Foster, I didn’t have a strong brand like my brothers and sisters selling the Sealy brand. (I use that hyperbole because we were related, but at the time the Stearns guys were the distant stepchildren of the family.) We had to work a lot harder to sell our line using other features to create value and leverage.

shutterstock 109381433 300x200 When Is Exclusivity a Bad Thing?

One of the things we used to say during RSA training was that Stearns & Foster was a great line to sell because our products were more exclusive in the marketplace. Translated, we didn’t have the distribution other big “S” brands did. I would ask the RSAs, “If I told you that I was going to give you a product as an exclusive in the marketplace with incredible features and benefits like 8-way hand-tied foundations and real foam-encased borders, would you be able to sell that line successfully?” They almost always applauded those comments because they were tired of being shopped to death on their other lines. Here is the reality, though…when people aren’t coming in to cross-shop you on popular products that are being heavily promoted in the newspaper, it is in itself a problem. Continue reading

Shorten the Cycle, Stop the Madness

I think most people in our industry accept that consumers shop for a new mattress roughly every 10 years. So much conversation surrounds that statistic and how we can drive consumers into the market more frequently. And where does that conversation almost always go? Warranties.

shutterstock 165270023 293x300 Shorten the Cycle, Stop the MadnessDo you think the teams at LG or Callaway Golf sit in their boardrooms and talk about how the industry has to lower warranties on televisions or golf clubs so they can sell more products? I really doubt it. They are hard at work driving innovation into the pipeline to create compelling products people want to actually buy. (See Scott Smalling’s article on innovation featured on Sleep Geek today, it is a great read.) This is, in my opinion, the key to getting consumers in the market more frequently! Think about how much time we talk about this reality versus warranties. I know what some of you are thinking: Electronics and sports equipment are “want” items and much easier to innovate around and convince people to buy. I call bullshit! Our products can help people look better, feel better, lose weight, improve memory, and reduce illness. There is NO WAY that doesn’t inspire the consumer, so the question is what do we do with it?

To shorten the cycle, we need to stop all of this conversation around warranties. Here are a few things that can really drive consumers into the market and grow our top line and share of consumer dollars:

1. Innovate new products with REAL technology that actually improves people’s sleep.
2. Drive the biometric conversation around sleep and how we can learn about and improve sleep when using our products. Consumers love to measure almost everything and there are only a few brands connecting to this growing trend. If you want to create the need for better sleep, show people how bad THEIR sleep really is. Remember that technology is sexy and people want more of it in every aspect of their life.
3. Change the way we talk about our products. I realize I am a broken record on this, but everybody in the industry has to invest in telling our story and by that I mean the tangible and intangible benefits of products that help you sleep better. All of this product-for-a-price nonsense is never going to get us the love we are looking for.

If we just do these three things, we will make huge improvements in the purchase cycle and make ourselves more profitable at the same time. Remember, we are in this together and if we work at it we can make the sleep products we sell more of a priority, therefore placing ourselves at the top of consumer’s MUST-HAVE list.

What do you think? Did I over simplify things? Tell me in the comments section!

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Is Your Team Happy? (And why you should care)

If you read this blog much you probably know that I have two kids, both very involved in sports. My daughter plays on a traveling softball team and they do a great job. Except that lately they have not been doing their best and the coaches and parents are frustrated that the effort isn’t there and the results are suffering. So what happens next? Parents andhappy business team 300x199 Is Your Team Happy? (And why you should care) coaches get stressed and as a result the girls are scared going to the plate in fear of not doing well or missing a ball in the field. So what ends up happening? You continue to lose. How important is it for your kids to have a great time on the field? How about your employees in the work place?

About six years ago, our creative services group started reporting to me. There are about 40 people that serve as graphic designers, photographers, copywriters, and web developers, as well as our own tradeshow services and print shop. Whenever I take on something like that, I do nothing at first and simply learn my way in to figure out how to best serve them so each person thrives and the company benefits. I discovered several reasons they weren’t happy. NOT GOOD. I brought in John Walsh to run things and he created a culture that focused on results but also on the people we counted on to deliver those outcomes. John made things fun and helped people understand and feel appreciated for the value they created for the company. As a result, we increased productivity and job satisfaction all at the same time.  Continue reading

Serta/Simmons Announces Warranty Changes

In the latest turn of events, Furniture Today announced that Serta and Simmons are moving to 5-year/10-year warranties in 2015. This comes after an announcement last month that they were going to a three-tiered program that included a 15-year, 10-year and one-10 year warranty. So what happened? Screen Shot 2014 06 17 at 4.20.14 PM 205x300 Serta/Simmons Announces Warranty Changes

I have to credit Dave Perry for some of this – he’s been a DOG ON A BONE. (I think I have lived in Southwest Missouri too long.) At the Furniture Today Bedding Conference over the last few years, Dave has made it a point to get some of the top companies on a panel for the conference and then grill them with questions about the industry and, of course, Dave’s favorite topic of warranties. This year was no different. A very healthy and lively debate ensued and Serta/Simmons were paying attention. My assumption would be that after leaving there, some tough conversations were had with key retailers and Serta/Simmons decided that following Tempur Sealy’s lead with a 5/10-year warranty was the best thing for everybody. I happen to agree.  Continue reading