Is Serta/Simmons In A Death Spiral?

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in culture, furniture, Leadership, Management, mattresses, Retail

First of all, I would like to say that there are a LOT OF GREAT PEOPLE working at Serta/Simmons Bed (SSB), so if you’re not the ones making the decisions that have brought things to where they are today, then this is NO reflection on you. Keep working hard, that’s all you can do.

So what are the facts and perceptions out there around SSB? I’ve had many discussions with large retailers and other industry insiders about this topic so I thought I would share some of those insights plus a few of my own.

  • Furniture Today announced that SSB was cutting more than 160 employees as part of a corporate restructuring that says it will better position the company for long-term success. Really? They want to be a “lean, more nimble consumer-focused organization which is even easier to do business with.” So how does that work? Does this really mean that they are right-sizing to get more aggressive with their direct to consumer business?  They want to be more consumer-focused, how about customer-focused meaning their retail base?
  • There have been many complaints about the service level already coming out of the SSB factories so how is this cost-cutting exercise going to help that get any better?
  • In the press release, they say, “We are proud of our leadership position and look forward to continuing to create great sleep and shopping experiences for consumers.” Based on the conversations I’ve been having, there aren’t too many that consider SSB to be leading anything. Just because you are big, doesn’t make you a leader.
  • The product launch for SSB in Vegas was not received well. Not the right time to hit a single if you’re them.

I’m not entirely sure how things got to where they are, but I am pretty confident about the fact that when companies try to “cost cut” their way to success, it rarely ends up the way they want it to. For the retailers out there that have been suffering from lackluster product and service, I think it’s a hard sell to convince them that any of this is in their best interest.

What do you think, can they pull out of it?

Mark Kinsley and I talk about this in a podcast we will publish next week available at dosmarcospodcast.com or you can watch the live video of that below.

For the record, we look better on the podcast.

 

Face To Face

Posted Leave a commentPosted in culture, Leadership, Management, mattresses, Retail

When I was a kid and wanted to break up with a girl, my parents would NOT let me do that over the phone. If I was going to deliver bad news I had to muster the courage to do it face to face which I hated, but I get it now. Today, my kids and their friends ask each other out via Snapchat and break up the same way, no problem. I started to insist on a face to face like the olden days but was quickly rebuked; “that’s NOT HOW YOU DO IT TODAY DAD!!!!!!” Got it.

I bring this up because I have been hearing that bedding brands have been sending out bad news via snail mail. Raising prices, taking away co-op etc. You can’t do everything in person I realize because logistics make that tough, but how about a phone call? It stinks to have to be on a call or worse, in the room with someone as you give them bad news because nobody likes an ass chewing, but isn’t that also an opportunity to address the problem? If you were going to give your customer an increase of 5% in their co-op advertising fund, would you do that with a letter?

To my manufacturing friends out there, all I’m saying is that if you choose to take an “arms length” approach to your business, your retailers are going to do the same so get ready for that. How would you like to get an email with the subject line, “So Sorry” which goes on to say that you have been thrown off the floor?

THIS JUST IN

As I was writing this blog post I received a phone call that the anticipated cuts at SSB have happened and there are a lot of people out of a job today, some of them good friends of mine.  For all of you that now find yourself in the job market, I will say what I always say. This is your path so take a beat, and then start looking for the meaning in it all. Dip down into the relationships that you have invested in over the years and something will come your way; companies are always looking for great people. You may start to doubt yourself or feel some self-pity which is normal, but crush that crap and charge forward, there is something even better waiting for you if you believe it to be true.

More on the current state of Serta/Simmons bedding in next weeks blog. Send me your thoughts, please.

Don’t miss this week’s Dos Marcos podcast about my trip to the big Brand Source Better Together Summit in Nashville, TN. Some great commentary from Jason Dorsey on generational marketing and my HUGE fail with a live band at BB Kings Blues Bar.

 

 

BrandSource Is On The Move

Posted Leave a commentPosted in creativity, e-commerce, experience, furniture, Leadership, Management, marketing, mattresses, Retail

This last weekend I had the honor of speaking at the “Better Together Summit”, a national meeting put on by the buying group BrandSource. These guys bring in thousands of people representing over 4,500 stores across the United States and they were fired up.

Brand Source CEO, Jim Ristow took the stage in the first general session and let the audience know that the sole purpose for his group is to support them, the small furniture and appliance retailer that make up the “backbone of America”. He talked about the changing landscape with the growth of e-commerce, and how Brand Source is well positioned to help all of their members succeed by utilizing their AVB marketing division to create copy, video and photography that will make the members websites come to life. CONTENT IS KING! Jim also pointed out that “we don’t celebrate, we innovate”, and shared even more ways that Brand Source was going to help its members thrive in their local markets.

Later that afternoon, Jason Dorsey took the stage as one of the world leaders on research around Gen Z and Millennials. Jason isn’t just a speaker, he is a researcher and he knows his stuff. To be honest, I just about walked out to make phone calls because I had a lot going on and I really didn’t want to sit through another boring speech where a millennial stands on stage and lectures me about how I don’t understand his generation; as if it’s ALL ABOUT THEM. It was one of the most entertaining speeches I have heard in a long time with great content, some eye-opening stats that I had not heard before, and  he brought me to the realization that it is ALL ABOUT THEM. Well, a lot of it anyway, as they represent more buying power than any other demographic by a long shot and if you are going to sell them, you certainly need to understand them. There are some big misconceptions about the different generations so check out this Ted Talk by Jason, be entertained for 18 minutes and learn a few things along the way.

My speech at the event was based on one of our Dos Marcos podcast “Top 10 Reasons Your Business Might Suck” which must have rung a bell with people because we had a good crowd in our session. It’s clear that people are looking for answers. Traffic is down for many and this shift to e-commerce has a lot of people off balance. How do I get my traffic back? How do I sell more to the people walking in my doors? How do we deal with billboards telling our consumers that we are greedy when we are just trying to make a living like everybody else? These retailers told me about their stores, some were brand new to the industry and some were 4th generation family owned businesses but they were all there for the same reason. To learn something that would help thrive in their markets. My guess is that the people attending events like this, taking an active role in finding a solution, are the ones that will be around for the 5th and 6th generations to come.

Jeff Willis, Karaoke Host, and Me

Kinsley and I are going to unpack this a lot more in a podcast that we record next week so tune in and hear all about it, including the story about how Jeff Willis from Famous Tate FORCED ME ON STAGE during a moment of weakness to participate in the LIVE BAND KARAOKE at BB Kings Blues bar. This one could have gone better! Remember, our new podcast website is DosMarcospodcast.com or you can find us in most of your podcast apps, just search DosMarcospodcast.

A big thank you to Brand Source for bringing me out to speak to their members, and to all of my new friends from the event. You made it awesome for me and I am grateful! Sorry but I gotta go. I ripped up the emergency check in my wallet so now I have to figure out what Venmo is. Thanks a lot Jason.

 

Why Should You Attend the National Sleep Foundation Expo?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in creativity, experience, fun, Leadership, marketing, mattresses, purpose, Sleep

Before I get started, just a reminder that Mark Kinsley and I moved our podcast to DosMarcospodcast.com so check out the new site or search for us on your favorite podcast app. You can also watch video of each podcast on our Facebook page, just search for Dos Marcos Podcast. Finally, I will be speaking at the Brand Source Summit event this weekend in Nashville, Tenessee so if you are attending come pay me a visit. I am part of Mattress University and will be talking about the things that can destroy your business, so check it out in room Bayou E, Saturday at 1:45.

On March 8-10 our industry has an opportunity to rally around something way more important than mattresses, sheets, pillows, protectors and adjustable beds. We can connect all of these things to the amazing thing that occurs from buying these items. It’s something everyone wants, that’s emotional and can deliver a happy life. Great sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) will have it’s first ever Sleep Show in Houston, Texas. They are expecting to see over 10,000 consumers at this show who will be coming to buy products from vendors and learn more about sleep and how it can benefit them and their family.  Some of the companies showing at the expo will include Bed Bath and Beyond, Mattress Firm, Gallery Furniture, Tempur-Pedic/Sealy, Serta, 24 Hour Fitness, The Pillow Bar, and the meditation app Head Space just to name a few. There will also be some great speakers there talking about sleep and our industry.

On the main stage you can hear from experts like Dr. Harvey Karp, author of Happiest Baby, and The Sleep Doctor/ Dr. Michael Breus among others. I will also be giving a talk with Mike Magnuson, founder of Goodbed.com on March 8th at 4pm, as we expose the underbelly of the mattress industry. Are the reviews and influencers out there legit and how can you tell who is shooting you straight?!  I will be giving a second talk on March 9th at 2:45 where I speak to consumers about the 5 best ways to make sure your children are getting the sleep they need. In addition, I will be the emcee for their Sleep Tech Awards on the main stage all day Saturday the 9th, as the NSF looks for the very best technology out there focused on helping us sleep better.

You need to go just to hear Mike and I speak of course, but believe it or not, there are more important reasons for you to attend. 🙂

When I was the Chairman of the Better Sleep Council we had many conversations with our PR firm about how to connect products in our industry to better sleep. Sure, consumers understand that sleep is important to a happy life, but consumers don’t make the connection that says…mattresses, pillows and sheets deliver happy life. If there is an industry event that is focused on the consumer, educates the public on the importance of sleep to the quality of life in a HUGE WAY, and then offers our products up as part of those solutions, why in the world wouldn’t we rally around that event? Consider the dots connected. If you’re a manufacturer and want to sell direct, this is a great place to do it. Do you have a new innovative product that you want some national media exposure for, this is a great place to launch.  Or come to learn and create some marketing content during the show that you can use to demonstrate to your customers that you really are about more than the products you make or sell. Interview speakers after their talks, take some photos of your team at the event and post this gold to your blog or social platforms. Sure beats more pictures of cats taking naps.

Remember what Theodore Roosevelt said…”People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” If you are connecting your company to something emotional like “happy life”, and show people that you have their best interest at heart by learning more on their behalf, then you give purpose to what you are doing. Stop selling the things you make and start selling the “why” behind it all.

Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

Own It

Posted Leave a commentPosted in culture, experience, Leadership, Management, mattresses

I am reading a book called Extreme Ownership written by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, a couple of Navy Seals that have experienced a thing or two. There really isn’t too much in the book that is groundbreaking on the subject of leadership, but the stories they tell are pretty dang cool.

As you probably know, to become a Navy Seal you have to endure one of the most rigorous training programs ever put together. In fact, only about 6% of the people that try to make it through actually become a Seal. These guys have to be tough.

By night three of “hell week” many of the recruits have quit. They have either been hurt during the exercises or they are just flat broken from the physical demands of the training. So they have to ring a bell three times to let the Navy Seal trainers know that they are tapping out; ending their dream.

During hell week they are put into boat crews of 7 men per boat and are given an IBS boat that weighs 200lbs but significantly more when it’s filled with sand and water. These guys have to carry this boat around, run races with it and essentially make it an extension of their body. They have a series of competitions between the teams with these boats and the winner gets to sit out for the next drill, which may not sound like much, but having a few minutes of rest is a BIG DEAL.

In this particular story, boat team #2 was winning everything. They had a bright young crew captain that was a strong leader and helped his team figure out a way to work together, compensate for each other’s weaknesses and they took pride in winning almost every competition. On the other hand, boat team #6 was losing everything and getting a lot of unwanted attention from the instructors. They told the captain of boat team #6 that if he didn’t get his crew in order, he was never going to become a Navy Seal. His argument was that his crew wasn’t as good as boat team #2 and if he had those guys on his team he would win everything. So the commander of the training made a switch and put the captain of boat #2 in charge of boat #6 and vice versa.

The very next race boat team #6 finished in first place and boat team #2 finished in second place. So what is the learning here? The team is rarely the issue; it’s the leader.

Take a look around the industry or inside of your own company where a group of people are not getting it done. Where this is taking place there is likely someone sitting on top of that team blaming outside influences like the economy, market conditions, product inferiority, people problems, competition etc. If there is a leader on top of a failing business or group that IS taking ownership of the problems, I would bet money that he/she just got there and the problem won’t be a problem for long.

I know that there is nothing new in what I’m saying in this post, but I thought the story was a great way to drive this very important point home. Weak leaders want to blame others, strong leaders own the result. Period.  If your traffic is down then change your advertising. If you aren’t making enough margin, bring in new products. If you are being beaten down by your competition and aren’t sure why, they go to school on the subject, talk to your customers and LISTEN for the solution. But stop blaming others and playing the victim because it won’t get you anywhere.

The best leaders I have ever worked for are the first ones to accept blame for the problems and divert praise to their team for a job well done. What kind of leader are you?

Thanks to Karl Glassman and Perry Davis at Leggett and Platt for not telling me how to do it, but showing me how it’s done.