The Bed Expert: Principled or Dinosaurs?

Vic Smith, owner of independent beds retailer Vic Smith Beds, talks about adapting to changing times and asks whether sticking to your principles makes you a dinosaur?

Principled or Dinosaurs? (well, it’s worked for years)

As owners of our own businesses, we can all be accused of following the same business formula that we have employed since we started the business. Yes, it’s the ethos of your company that should make you unique and be ‘the one to go to’. However, we have as a country hit huge challenging times. So, at what point do you stop, take stock, and work out what changes and what you need to make in order to survive, yes survive! There is a fine line between being principled and not wanting to compromise your business model, and being as my teenage kids would class as a ‘dinosaur’ and not able to exist in the modern world.

You need to analyse your market, see what it is you need to do to increase footfall – whether it’s having a great flash sale promotion advertised in the window, but put it on display at the back of the store so people have got to see and walk past your other offers to get to it – a bit like being the furniture equivalent of the piped bread smell at the front of the supermarket, but you’ve got to walk all the way to the back of the shop – passing many other temptations to get your French stick.

I’m not suggesting you change your entire business, because like myself, it’s not why you started in the first place. But we do all need to move with the times and stay ahead, and strike a balance – keeping your old customers coming through the door, and this is the biggie – spending once they are in your store and increasing their total spend! You’ve also got to cover your costs, and supply a product that your customer will be happy with and sing your praises from start to finish – the sales pitch, the lead time, delivery and the after value of the product.

Again, back to being principled – if you’re known for being a certain level in the market – there is no point selling throw away goods just to make a quick buck as your reputation could take a dive – not exactly ensuring repeat business! I know in my trade, if I sell the right product, my repeat customer isn’t normally fast returning if I’ve sold them the right product – Catch 22, but I should be able to pick up extra business via them buying for the spare room. They should be my best adverts – ask them to tell and push us to their offspring or even friends, ask them for their recommendations.

But I have to know where to pitch? – No point selling them a water filled, surround sound speakers TV bed for the spare room just to fund the retirement plan! (Disclaimer – not even sure that type of bed exists!) There is no one product that suits all needs – so listen to your customer. Today’s type of customer is not the same as 30 years or even 15 years ago! Or are they? I think they are but a little different.

Everyone’s biggest complaint is they are time poor, so make the whole process easy from start to finish and that’s what you need to tap into, move with the times, and your business model should evolve without being too far removed from the core of your original belief to continue to make money and survive.

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