Traveling by car last week after a furniture consulting session, I planned to spend the afternoon conducting a bit of competitive analysis which I find most enlightening each time I invest the effort. In total, I visited seven furniture retailers within a fifty mile stretch of highway and yes, all seven showrooms were on the same road and certainly fighting for, and sharing some of the same consumer segments. Along the way, I had planned to visit one store in particular as I recall over the years the locally owned brand, as "old-school" as they were, always had a decent product assortment and a generally appealing experience for shoppers.
I love using everyday photos to communicate with my handful of followers how we all overlook everyday opportunities to improve our brand, capture more leads, increase sales or improve our profits.
When you sell sofas which are eight-way hand-tied and your advertising looks like a sofa you found on a curbside in your neighborhood, you have a serious problem. You are creating a major disconnect. Worse still, you are affecting all your peers in the brick-and-mortar furniture and mattress retail and RTO segment by continuing to display to today's savvy consumer that you are stuck in some self-inflicted time trap and what you say on the outside of your business is what they can expect on the inside.
A wise man once said, "If it doesn't add value, strip it out."
As this article seems to point to the level of risk this retailer is exposed to for furniture, let's also note the dozens of impact mattress players in the area such as Mattress Firm and Mattress One, who invest time and money creating, printing and deftly executing their advertising message.
I imagine this particular retailer just wants to grow sales and isn't so concerned with what category it comes from until you measure the sometimes double-digit percentage difference between furniture versus mattress profits.
We all tend to miss something each day in our business because of the blinders which have grown from our day-to-day involvement but to this particular retailer's credit, they have gotten so many, many things right! When I arrived they actually had a gentleman tending to their landscaping, even fertilizing it by hand! This storefront is resting in an "A" location, the parking lot freshly blacktopped, and the facade as good-looking as any store around. The disconnect comes with this specific sign and the other antiquated things we do in retail that we simply walk past on a daily basis. What are you missing in your own operation?
"We hired you for a fresh set of eyes on our business" - anonymous client
Take look at your own operation this week. Make it a group exercise or invite a trusted outsider to walk your retail space (outside and in) to see what they say about your operation. Is there a staff or management discipline or a behavior problem? Is there a capital expenditure problem or in this retailer's case, was there capital spent years ago that is actually working in a counter-productive method now?
If you insist on having your own version of this type of "reader board" then for goodness sake at least commit to it and make it look good, make it work for you and not against. Purchase a new sign for $850 with a fresh paint job, a complete set of letters, newly inflated tires and those flashy lights for that giant pointy arrow thingy! But before you jump online and place your order, think about what you are selling inside your location and maybe upgrade the way you reach your customer going forward.
Instead of a new "reader board", attempt some targeted digital display advertising campaigns, you know the ones people are looking at on their phones while they recklessly drive past your store. Perhaps you could invest in an ESP (email service provider), to connect to your customer's inbox and let's not forget how most of us get found these days in all honesty, Google. Yes, whether you build your presence organically or go the Pay-Per-Click (PPC) route, you will get noticed and not just by those who drive past your location. There is a myriad of more modern advertising and marketing solutions you can consider to match your business objectives and your budget alike.
Retailers, I beseech you to please give "fresh eyes" a serious thought be they free eyes or paid eyes because the game isn't just changing, it already has and it doesn't look like the other side of this sign either.