Meet the Agent: Colin Boyce

In the next instalment of our series of interviews with agents across the furnishings industry, we spoke with Colin Boyce who highlights what is most challenging and why being tenacious and patient are key to being an agent.

Meet Colin

Colin Boyce, co-founder of Passage House Agency, and represents Contract Upholstery, Enchanted House Beds, Mattsons Beds and Sofa Connections.

How long have you been an agent in the industry?

I have been in the industry for over 25 years.

What drew you into the life of an agent and what’s the day-to-day like? 

I was very frustrated at being employed as representative for a bed brand so I looked to become an agent in 2009. My first agency was with a company called Furmanac but stopped working with them some time back to focus on Mattsons Beds and Enchanted House Beds, and just this past year with Sofa Connections.

What is the best part of your role?

The thrill of establishing a new brand and gaining distribution of products is the best part of the job, alongside getting in consumer orders, which is, of course, the best feeling.

What is the most difficult?

 Selling in top end products from manufacturers that are not known.

Do you have any particular highlights so far? 

Yes, plenty! Between myself and James Leach we have brought onboard over 40 new retailers in the first year of working with Enchanted House Beds and Mattsons beds. It has been an incredible journey so far and we’re always looking to grow our brands in the UK. Also, setting up a whole new way to help retailers sell upholstery with their own choice of fabrics has been great fun too.

What challenges do you think currently face agents in the furnishing industry? 

I think it’s the time it takes for old floor models to be sold off to make room for your ranges. It seems to be much longer these days.

What would you like to see change? 

Many more young people in the game, mostly on the retail side is needed.

What would help agents more? 

Assuming you have reliable suppliers, the best help has to come from within, invest in growing your own skills, such as being able to use presentation software to get your proposal across and also being able to use software to show potential retailers what your products would be like in their space. This is stuff that employed reps tend to do as they work for bigger companies that provide these tools as they have a marketing department, so as agents, we need to do this ourselves.

What would you say to someone considering becoming an agent? 

If it’s to start up a new brand from scratch, make sure you have at least a year of income put by, but more importantly, only do it if it’s a product or brand you have fallen in love with. If you get a chance to take up existing business for your first agency – what you waiting for? Do it!

What is the most important attribute to have as an agent and why?

This is a very friendly and warm trade, but agents get knocked back and even ignored all the time.  Agents have to accept that’s the case and be okay to keep going, so I guess it’s tenacity. But you also have to understand it’s all about timing, so patience is another must have attribute.

Can you share an insight into your plans for the year ahead? 

I have started work to launch a contract/hospitality brochure for my agencies in 2025. With the plan to exhibit at hotelier trade shows.

What’s the next big thing you are seeing in the industry and why?

For many years we have all seen retailers change model names etc. to try and protect margin. I am recognising that some retailers now know this does not work well enough. Some retailers I work with are going way further. I think the next big thing could well be more and more retailers wanting to work with manufacturers that allows retailers to be in control of the swatches they offer. This way, any quote given for their own products, would be much better protected.

Final thought?

Becoming an agent for me was the best ever career decision. So far, it’s been fantastic. I have enjoyed every minute of it, especially these past couple of years. If you would like to become an agent, all of us on this side on the fence would be delighted to help and share some advice, so reach out to any of us. / 07876 198938 /

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