#Whywait?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in charity, faith, Leadership, purpose

Have you ever heard the saying, “Be kind, always, because you have no idea what others are going through.” Empathy for others is important.

As you may have heard in a Dos Marcos podcast, Roger Magowitz has asked me to be the Honorary Chairman of the Seena Magowitz Charity Golf Classic this year in Boston. I wasn’t sure that Roger was making the best choice, however, because I didn’t have the big company resources behind me like previous Chairman Karl Glassman- CEO of Leggett and Platt, Gary Fazio-CEO Serta/Simmons Bedding, and Steve Stagner-CEO of Mattress Firm. Roger didn’t care about that because he knew I had a passion for his organization given my past involvement, and he thought I could bring something different to the event. That much I thought I could do, so here we are.

The challenge became how do we raise awareness about pancreatic cancer, bring in some money, and welcome new attendees to the Magowitz event if you don’t have a big company supporting you? You reach out to others in the industry and ask them for help. I created a small Advisory Board of friends that are leaders in their companies, and they helped me brainstorm and devise a way to accomplish these goals and I think we have landed on something that can be pretty incredible with your help.

Imagine for a minute that you went to the doctor’s office and got the news that you had pancreatic cancer. The doc proceeds to tell you that this is a pretty nasty disease and chances are you don’t have a lot of time left. It’s this exact scenario that thousands must face every year when they are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I spoke of empathy before…when you put yourself in their shoes, what impact will it have on you? That’s the catalyst behind the movement we’ve created called #whywait. Go to your favorite social media platform and use some of the marketing assets we have produced, download them from THIS LINK, and post an image along with this question, “What 4 things would you do if you only had 6 months left to live?” Tag your friends and make sure to use the hashtag #whywait and the following link so your audience can learn more. http://www.seenamagowitzfoundation.org/whywait/

CLICK HERE

I recently posted this to my personal Facebook and LinkedIn accounts and it’s pretty awesome to see the impact that question is having on people. When you pause and take a minute to consider this question, it will really get you to thinking and when I answered it myself, it was actually a little tough. I came to the realization that I wasn’t spending enough time with my 16-year-old daughter Gabby, and if I didn’t correct it, I was going to regret it later. Good news is, she and  I agreed to fix that.  Here’s my list, what’s yours?

  1. Plan a trip with the family to Europe. (On calendar for 2020.)
  2. Spend more time on dates with my daughter.
  3. Make Friday night date night with my wife.
  4. Write a book. (I’ve already started.)

It will be very easy for you to read this post and quickly move on to e-mail or making calls. Please don’t do that. Take a minute to make your list, even if you don’t share it. When you finish your list, start crossing things off like I have. I plan to post pictures of date night and other things as I LIVE MY LIFE and post them with the hashtag #whywait.

Can you give any of this to your company to get them involved by posting things to your social media accounts? Customers LOVE TO SEE companies that have compassion for things other than selling their own stuff! If you’re interested and want some more information, learn how to donate to the Seena Magowtiz Foundation, or see a list of the companies involved on the Advisory Board, click on THIS LINK.

A big thanks to Dr. Dan Von Hoff and the people at TGen, because they are looking after these pancreatic cancer patients and working hard towards a cure and early detection. I know the TGen group personally and I’m telling you that they are compassionate, caring people that really want to help those suffering. Please help me help them and get involved in the #whywait movement.

I am also very grateful to my friend Karl Glassman at Leggett and Platt. When he found out that Roger was asking me to be this year’s Honorary Chairman he told me that I had full access to Leggett’s resources which has been a HUGE help to me. The video and the graphics were created by them not to mention a host of other things. A special shout-out to my good friend and Dos Marcos co-host Mark Kinsley. Mark oversees the Creative Services group at Leggett and has been a very big part of everything we’re doing. Also to my friends on the Advisory Board…your involvement is HUGE so THANK YOU in advance for what we are about to do.

#WHYWAIT-get involved.

 

 

 

 

Stuck

Posted 5 CommentsPosted in creativity, e-commerce, furniture, Leadership, Management, marketing, mattresses, Retail

Before I get started I wanted to let you know that we just released a really great podcast featuring Alex McArthur, the Chief Marketing Officer at Purple. Drop in and hear the behind the scenes story about their business and their rapid rise to the top of the e-commerce segment. This guy is awesome, and you don’t want to miss his story so check that out HERE.

Things are really tough right now for some in the industry. There are legitimate competitive pressures out there making growth difficult so I feel for them when they say they are struggling.

My problem is I have a hard time being compassionate towards people that want to complain about business when they aren’t doing anything different to drive better results. If your partners aren’t supporting you or if they are not lined up with your best interest, get new ones. Not getting the traffic you used to? Then stop advertising the same way you always have. Closing rates dropping? Then move your people around for a better result. Not capturing any of the online business because your digital strategy isn’t what it should be? Start learning your way into that world because it’s not going away.

I realize that this is me hitting the easy button, but it’s time to get inspired and find your path. Do NOT follow the rest of the industry, carry the same products everyone else has, give away adjustable bases just because everyone else is. There is a big idea waiting for you if you just start opening more doors.

Not sure why it happens but sometimes we just get stuck. We are trapped in this place and just can’t seem to get any traction to improve on where we are. If you look back on your own life think about what happened in the past to get you…un-stuck. Was it an event that took place that rattled your cage? Was it a person that pushed on you to get you to see the light? Was it inspiration from an unlikely source?

There are people having record years in the same economy, with the same competitive pressures so there is no reason that can’t be you. Keep pushing, the answer is there waiting.

 

Still Making Waves

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

Before I get started today I want to remind you to save the dates, August 25th-27th, for the Seena Magowitz Golf Classic that will raise money to fight pancreatic cancer. This is without a doubt one of the best events of the year but don’t take my word for it, check out a few of THESE PICS and you can see for yourself. I was asked to be the Honorary Chairman this year and I really want to help make 2018 big for them, so please join me and help us fight this really horrible disease!

If you haven’t been around mattresses too long, you probably don’t know, that without waterbeds we wouldn’t be where we are today as an industry. It’s true. There’s a lot of great retailers out there that started out selling waterbeds and City Furniture is one of them, so when I was invited to go see their new waterbed product launch, I didn’t hesitate to make the trip to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

I started out visiting their Rest and Renew concept where they’re selling Spink and Edgar and was able to say hello to Luci and Carlton the managers there. They are in the middle of a great neighborhood and have a beautiful boutique mattress shop. My thanks to Luci and Carlton for all that they do and for rolling out the red carpet for me; you guys are awesome.

After that I was able to get together with Kevin Split, the head merchant of the mattress category for City Furniture and he gave me a full-blown tour of their operation. I have never been through a business so dialed in to operational efficiency. Their understanding of continuous improvement concepts and living that culture in every department blew me away. If you haven’t visited one of their stores recently you need to check it out and see for yourself where retail should be going. We talk a lot about the e-commerce platform being disruptive to the brick and mortar channel. Fact is, if you want to insulate yourself from that you create experiences that give consumers a reason to visit your store. City Furniture is doing that.

The best part of the trip, however, was getting to sit down with Keith Koenig the owner and CEO of City. Keith is a great guy that got into the business with his brother Kevin back in 1972, making and selling waterbeds out of a 900 square foot store in Ft. Lauderdale. Their business, Waterbed City later turned into City Furniture and the rest is history.

Keith Koenig

The new waterbed brand is called Afloat and Keith’s team is ready to get these in the bedrooms of his customers. His partners include Charlie Hall the original patent holder on the waterbed which dates back to 1968, Garry Ikola who is the Senior VP of Sales for City, and Steve Wilder who is their current CFO. Together these guys are going old school and launching a line of waterbeds that they hope will bring back all that was good about that business. The waterbed experience isn’t going to be for everybody, but there are a lot of raving fans for the waterbed feel and they perform well according to Keith. “They have better pressure relief for less tossing and turning, less capillary restriction for better blood flow, and you can control the temperature for a great sleep experience.”

All I know is that if you have one of these beds and you’ve had too much to drink, it’s best if you keep one foot on the floor or at least that’s what my brother tells me.

Speaking of brothers, that’s one of the great things about Keith, he does an incredible job of keeping his brother’s memory alive at the company. There is a great private label program named after Kevin called Kevin Charles, and I am sure that this passion project was done with his brother in mind given the fact that it was he who started this whole waterbed thing over 47 years ago. I love when companies stay true to their culture and roots.

My thanks to Keith and his entire team for inviting me to be a part of their event and a special shout out to Gurtegh Singh the project manager who made it all come together. Well done!

Gurtegh Singh

 

 

 

 

The Advantage Of the Click Over the Brick

Posted 8 CommentsPosted in advertising, creativity, e-commerce, fun, furniture, Leadership, Management, marketing, mattresses, purpose, social media

Last week I talked about the advantages that the brick and mortar, (B&M) guys have over e-commerce companies selling sleep products primarily online. Today, I want to flip that over and share some thoughts on why the digital approach to this category is capturing most of the growth in the market. As a reminder to everyone, this is just one guy’s opinion so be sure to share thoughts wherever you might be reading this.

  • Giving consumers a choice on what to buy is a good thing, HOWEVER, you know what they say about too much of a good thing. E-commerce companies have really done a great job of simplifying the purchase of a bed. I am not of the mind that there is one bed for everyone, but to not have to decide against 50 different products feels a little less intimidating to the consumer; especially if there is no one there to facilitate the sale. Bed in a box company’s (BIB) are starting to expand their offering so we will see how far they take it.
  • Not only have BIB companies made the decision-making process easy, they have taken the pushy retail sales associate out of the picture. This isn’t a fair thing to point out for all of the retailers that have created good buying experiences for the consumer, but there are plenty of stores out there with the “used car” mentality. That and many people today prefer to buy things online because they are just used to it now and when you consider the 10’s of thousands of positive reviews from consumers buying a bed from a website, they make a pretty good case for purchasing this way. If your in-store experience isn’t good enough for her to tell a friend about when she leaves, why should she even come in?
  • When you consider which bedding brands are spending the marketing money at the national level, the advantage definitely goes to the BIB guys. If they own the share of voice the way that they do, they are going to get the attention, click, view, share, and eventually the sale.
  • It’s not just that they are advertising more, take a look at the message the BIB guys are delivering. I visited some of the top retail B&M websites against the top BIB websites and you know what one of the biggest differences was aside from design? Message. If all you do in your marketing is pimp the sale, then you are building no value with the consumer.  Don’t stop at retail, it’s the same for many of the manufacturer’s websites. If you have products that deliver a wonderful night of sleep, fix her problems, and help her achieve a better quality of life, don’t you think this is something we should share?  Of course you need to tell them that you have products cheaper than anyone else, and make sure they know about your financing options, but if you don’t BUILD VALUE in the products that you sell, you are missing out in a big way. (That financing plug is a shout out to my good buddy and loyal Q’s View’s reader Dan White at West Creek Financial . 🙂  Don’t take my word for it, visit some of these sites for yourself and see who builds value and who doesn’t. If you’re buying a new pair of dress shoes and the guy selling you spends 98% of his time on how cheap his stuff is instead of how great his products are, what kind of impression does it give you?
  • Since we’re on the marketing message, what group does a better job actually connecting to the consumer these days and by connecting I mean making the consumer actually FEEL SOMETHING? (Consumers make buying decisions based on emotion right?) Who has the more creative approach to telling their story? Who makes it more fun to shop for a bed? If you insist on looking at this category through the same old lens, then you are going to suffer the fate of the buggy whip. Many of the BIB guys were never mattress people to begin with so their comfort zone is much larger than many of the long-time industry people and it shows in what is being said to the consumer.

Here’s the good news for both sides, there’s plenty of business out there for the people that are willing to grow with the market, build solid strategy based on what’s going on around them, and form strong relationships with other companies that can help them achieve the end goal of profitability. I don’t care if you’re ringing people up with a brick or a click, my question to you is simple; are you skating to where the puck is or to where the puck is going?

 

That’s What I’m Talking About!

Posted 3 CommentsPosted in creativity, fun, furniture, Leadership, marketing, mattress industry, Retail, service

I was pleasantly surprised to see this story run in Furniture Today about Raymour & Flanigan and their approach to taking on the bed in a box guys (BIB). I’m not here rooting for one or there other, but I am calling out a brick and mortar company for getting it right.

There has been a lot of conversation about the BIB segment and questions as to whether it’s helping or hurting the industry. One thing is for sure, if you’re a brick and mortar retailer (B&M), without a digital strategy then it’s hurting you, but if you’re making an investment to learn your way in, and trying some new marketing messages along the way, you will be able to thrive during this shift in our business. (If you have not heard it you need to click on over to Sleep-Geek.com for the Dos Marcos podcast episode #71 where we talk to my buddy John Collins at OmniiX where he tells us about Amazon and how that should absolutely be a part of everybody’s digital strategy. Without a doubt one of my favorite episodes so check it out!) Based on my conversation with the good people at Raymour this campaign has been great for them. The retail sales associates really love it, consumers are reacting the way they are supposed to, and they are getting some good PR as well. In my opinion, they got creative, a little cheeky, and offered up some great reasons to expect a better experience when you buy a mattress. Bravo, I love this stuff!

If you are a brick a mortar retailer you really have a HUGE advantage don’t you?

  • A place for the consumer to actually try your product. Yes some of the BIB guys are popping up stores but they have not been able to scale that idea yet and even when they do, I would argue that the B&M guys will have products that can not only compete but win that battle.
  • There are more choices today than ever before and consumers like the idea of being able to pick from a list. There is certainly something to be said for the BIB guys making it simple stupid with fewer choices but even they are adding some choice.
  • A mattress is still a blind purchase for consumers. You can certainly chat with someone online about your purchase but there is something really great about touching and feeling the demonstration units, being led through a fitting for the right bed, and trying each mattress out with the proper pillow which is a really big deal if you ask me.
  • For many a BIB is going to be good enough for what the consumer is after but it’s that exact thing that gives the B&M guys the edge on the master suite. There are many people out there that may buy a guest bed or a kids bed from the internet, but doesn’t the luxury category belong to the B&M players?  If you’re going to spend $2,500-$8,000 on a mattress aren’t you going to want to experience that in person? There is a significant difference in story and feel for the B&M guys that are carrying the right lines. If you have an incredible luxury mattress being presented in your department, you can definitely set yourself apart from anyone selling beds online. Getting those big ticket/high margin deals is very important these days wouldn’t you say? Spend money bringing in more people or sell more to the ones you already have.
  • I don’t care what you say, there is no way you can deliver the same kind of customer service experience online compared to what you can do with the personal touch in the store. I’m NOT saying that BIB guys don’t take care of their customers because they do and the reviews support that. I’m saying that if you have the right people working your stores, it’s really hard to compete with a warm smile, firm handshake, and your ability to create a personal bond with that customer.

Consider what Steven Stone, owner of Bedmart said recently in the Mattress Industry Executives thread posted by Brian Tippetts.

Steven Stone -“Bed in a box is simply a well-marketed delivery method. I respect this channel as it has earned it’s place and is maturing and growing. Typical B&M must evolve to stay relevant. Too many B&M retailers have boring and dull experiences. Vendors drive the sales experience because too many B&M are not driving their own businesses. The showroom experience from the moment they walk through the door to the delivery experience must be memorable. The experience needs to be honest, credible and relevant to their needs. The customer of today and tomorrow wants to be entertained, inspired and motivated to buy. I think we forget it’s not about the mattress, but the value of improving sleep. Great B&M will be defined by those who embrace the evolution of mattress retailing. There will always be competitors from different channels, it’s how you choose to compete that earns you a seat at the table.”

Doesn’t this about sum it up? If you’re a B&M guy it’s time to step it up and earn that seat at the table. The commoditization of the mattress category has become worse with the foam blocks being dumped into the U.S. at crazy prices, and the BIB companies are kicking the crap out of almost every traditional mattress brand making themselves WAY MORE RELEVANT to the consumer with their marketing spend. So what do you do with that? Make sure you have some unique products the others don’t, and create an EXPERIENCE that nobody can compete with. Thanks Steve, you offer some sound advice!

Next week to be fair, maybe I should talk about the advantages the e-commerce guys have over the B&M approach? What did I miss here, tell me in the comments section!