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October 2017—

If every sale is a performance, make it encore-worthy

I share a lot about my business and how I help other retailers who sell mattresses increase their tickets and close more sales while beating the big boxes. I’ve never said I’m perfect and I, too, have struggles. Sometimes those struggles are small learning moments easily digested, but other times they are larger, business-altering discussions.

I believe every retailer must fight and rally for their vision of what they want their company to be and what impact they want to have on their customers’ lives.

At present, I’ve adopted a belief system that I’m no longer going to strive to be successful. By most metrics, I’m already there. However, I’m looking every day to be more significant, and this journey, I feel, is still in its infancy. I want to be more significant at home with my family and friends; increase the significance our products have on our customers’ lives; be more significant to our team and enable them to do the same in their personal lives. And, finally, I want to be more significant to our community, which is why we began our Gardner’s Gives Back charity initiative in January.

In a nutshell, I’ve moved from chasing the goal of success to striving to be as significant as possible to those I know personally and professionally.

With that in mind we’ve had and will continue to have many conversations in our company with all team members about every action having significance. In its simplest form, I’m fighting every day for the vision of our company to shine through.

When we have a break down, the very first question we ask ourselves is, what do we need to do to not only make this right, but go above and beyond to show that we feel the frustration too, just as our customer does?

An example of this was a recent mistake on ordering a mattress for our customer. We had a glitch in receiving a previous week’s order and our system said we had the mattress in stock when we didn’t. And, of course, the day of delivery was also the same day in which this young couple was settling on their first home. Remember those emotions and stresses of settling on your first home? I remember mine! The last thing I wanted was for my company to be a negative moment on the first day in their new home together. Long story short we remedied the situation by loaning them our floor model and I had a very nice house warming gift basket delivered overnight on a Saturday morning to their new home. Needless to say, we have re-earned the right to have them speak positively about our store, so much so that they referred two of their friends who turned into customers.

This real-life customer service example brings to life my belief that no longer should we strive for success, but significance. Success would have been to simply deliver the goods later and offer a discount for the troubles. Significance is considering their emotions of the day and moving beyond the dollars and cents to have a lasting impact on their lives and subsequently the others they referred.

From here on out you should ask these questions during a customer service issue, “Is this resolution merely successful or is it significant? Will this moment be remembered positively or have we simply completed the exchange of goods and services for money at a discount?”

I felt compelled to address these questions because I knew our store was growing. We continue to max out capacity in many areas—sales floor staff and hours, warehouse space and delivery schedule. There are fixes to this, but none of them are easy or cost effective.

This doesn’t excuse the fact that we simply must earn the right with every phone conversation, every presentation, every sale, and every delivery to say that we are Lancaster County’s premier destination to buy a mattress and a favorite place to purchase a mattress. We must earn this every sale, every time.

Singer Tony Bennett turned 91 this summer. Fans and the media often ask him how he manages to put on such an amazing performance at his advanced age. His response resonates with me. “I’ve sang any given song thousands, likely tens of thousands of times live, but for most in the audience they are hearing it live for the first time. I owe them one hell of a performance; it’s what they paid for and what I owe them.”

As a furniture or mattress (or both) store owner, I want you to keep this in mind with every phone conversation, every presentation, every sale, and every delivery.

There is no excuse for us to not understand fully what a customer expects from us when we deliver their items. There is no excuse for us not to understand what it is we are selling. There is no excuse for us to not attempt to uncover every potential issue that may arise. We are the professionals, this is what we do.

There’s enough competition from the internet to the store down the street. We’re supposed to deliver exceptional service. That’s the ante today—to be a stellar business. Simply making an exchange—green money for a white rectangle—is not something I can accept in any way, shape, or form. And this approach is not one that I will back, support or allow to grow within the four walls of Gardner’s Mattress & More. This is a cancer that I will not allow to take hold.

I will not accept an answer or excuse of 98 percent of the time there are no issues. Remember the Tony Bennett story above? In an audience of 5,000, 2 percent feeling let down means 100 people will eagerly express their disappointment to their friends, and soon enough Mr. Bennett is only selling 500 seats a night. The same is true for retail. You may think it crazy of me to expect near perfection from you and your store, but “98 percent of the time there are no issues” is not an acceptable excuse and it doesn’t align with our goal of being the best choice for the customer.

We have the customer in front of us, we have the assessment as a tool to remind us to ask all the questions. We are not selling online to a customer we never see, and we are not amateurs. I know you are all very capable of avoiding these mistakes.

When we all align with the belief that we must re-earn, on every single sale, the right to say we are the best we will see our growth continue. In fact, I believe our growth will skyrocket. Our reviews and referrals will grow. And our customers will be happier with us.
Every sale is a performance, a performance most customers only participate in once every decade. Let’s make sure we knock their socks off. Let’s do what we do so well, they can’t help but tell others about us.

About the Author

Jeff Giagnocavo
Jeff Giagnocavo is owner of Gardner’s Mattress and More in Lancaster, Pa., a multi-unit destination boutique mattress store. He also co-wrote the book Mega Mattress Margins and Retail is Dead and created the industry’s only turn-key, done-for-you, sales-and-marketing machine called Automated Mattress Profits that creates, captures and converts prospects into paying customers.