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Ray's Furniture Management Tip #1: How Tough Retail Managers Respond

Furniture World Magazine


by Ray Morefield

During the American Revolution, Thomas Paine said, "These are times that try men's souls."

All things are relative.  Although times are tough, we can be thankful that because of stout hearted men and women, America is still the most blessed country on earth. Our furniture industry and the economy may be uncertain at the present, however an irrefutable principle that has stood the test of time is:  THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

Ralph Waldo Emerson advised: "This time like most times is a very good time if we know but what to do with it."

It's difficult to forecast how long the current economic conditions will  last, but compared to European economies our business climate remains bullish both for now and the future.

Fortunately the mark of most American entrepreneurs is perseverance, persistence and a positive faith in the future.

Six steps that you should consider to insure that your furniture business continues to survive and remain stable until we see a return to consumer confidence, an easing of credit and a reduction in frequent market fluctuations are:

Analyze expenses. Reduce overhead if it does not affect revenues.  Review both variable & fixed costs.  Analyze costs by asking your employees for their recommendations.  When you ask their opinions you receive their cooperation.

Stress "continuous" training.  Remember people relate to people more than things.  Encourage well managed and well trained front line personnel to understand that attitudes are more important than facts.  Encourage all in the "funnel of distribution" to participate in personally selling your customers during promotions.

Analyze your cash flow.  Consistently review inventory turns. Rid your floor stock of slow movers & reinvest in products that provide return on investment.  Ask your suppliers to consistently advise their top 10 movers.  Actively monitor credit & collections.  Establish ratios & benchmark previous performance.  Seek continuous improvement.

Evaluate return on investment from your marketing.  Encourage your sales personnel to become proactive during "off-hours" with your existing and past customers.  Explore new markets.  Consider the power of publicity.  Create promotional events that the news media will report.

Promote "new" concepts.  Stock & sell new products and trends.  Rid your inventory of old, shopworn merchandise.  "New" ideas may have  more appeal than long discounts and savings on obsolete or old goods.

Be flexible.  Do not lock into long term commitments.  Sign short term contracts.  Competitively bid all contracts and major investments.

Joseph Kennedy said:  "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."


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