“Stay the course” – to pursue a goal regardless of any obstacles or criticism.
If you were to ask most furniture retailers what their “plan is”, their strategy, their rally cry – most responses would feel like a muddy less than confident “stay in business”. The reality is (sadly) that years of incremental erosion for a plethora of reason leaves most dealers hoping for a better tomorrow – yet many continue doing the same thing they did yesterday (insert definition of insanity). They are “staying the course”. (Insert the burnt out bulb)
A great article on the announcement by IKEA a few months ago (link below). Pivot. A word often used way too freely in business – yet a pivot is an honest reinvention based on a firm strategy around an opportunity. Maybe a test and exploration first, but a true pivot is not a plan “B” in case plan “A” loses steam. A pivot is the new plan “A”; no plan “B”. I love this quote “IKEA’s latest move illustrates the need for continuous reinvention and innovation–from the smallest startups to the biggest firms. Only the most agile survive economic evolution. To stay ahead of the game, you must regularly revisit your business model to see if there’s a business model innovation worth testing. Every venture should undergo changes as it grows and (hopefully) becomes successful.” So, if you are expecting different results from the same activities – think again.
While we could spend a great deal speaking about the new, cool, innovative, the leading edge, the disruptive – I want to bring it back a notch to your showroom. Your store. Where you may be sitting right now. Look around. I had an opportunity to spend some time at the new Dallas location of Nebraska Furniture. If you ever get the chance – I encourage you to look. Now I caution you – do not dismiss this too quickly “oh I could never.. blah blah blah.. they have resource.. they are a top… on and on and on). Whether you are a single location or a top 100, there is always something to be gleaned from other leaders. I have seen tiny dealers with incredible showrooms (I have also seen top dealers with crap showrooms). So as an exercise, go visit the showrooms in your market. Don’t go in with the intent to “see what they are carrying and at what prices” (well learn from that as well); go in with the eye for aesthetics, for merchandising, for colors, for creative layouts, for lighting, for signage, for staffing, for demeanor and skill levels of their team. All the items listed above (and more) play into the “experience” that we continue to discuss. The experience you deliver. Benchmark yourself on these items. This is a great opportunity to identify attainable improvements to your retail location or locations. Ask yourself When is the last time that you “blank”? You insert the word or phrase: “Replaced or improved lighting”, “Painted the walls”, “Did something truly unique on the showroom floor”, “Moved the best sellers to the high traffic areas”, keep the list coming – you have plenty of examples from those competitive visits you just did (and will continue to do).
We fall in love with big words like “Pivot”. The “wow” words. Exciting, drastic, big, full of glamour. But you are a retailer, and you need to be the best at location location location! Benchmark. Improve. Go measure again. Find all the little things. Better signs. Letter lighting. New wall colors. A fresh baked cookie smell. Whatever it is – the little things matter! KEY POINT – no matter what you do, do it with a plan, purpose, and conviction. A half-baked poorly executed anything is often worse than the original!
Here is the link to that INC IKEA article I mentioned: https://www.inc.com/sean-wise/ikea-is-testing-a-44-billion-pivot-to-its-business-model-heres-why-its-a-brilliant-strategy.html