During the 2016 Furniture First Symposium in San Antonio, the members of the buying group were introduced to a new suite of sales reporting and analysis tools called “Tools 2 Win.” The program was developed by Furniture First member and former chairman of the board, Jeff Winter and his brother Jamie Winter. Jeff and Jamie are the owners of Furniture Mall of Kansas which has locations in Topeka and Overland Park, Kansas.
It started with a few spreadsheets and macros pulling data form the store’s point of sale (POS) system. Soon it grew to the powerhouse system that allows their team to easily make data driven decisions to continuously improve results in advertising, merchandising, buying, sales and operations. These data driven tools have helped propel the growth of Furniture Mall of Kansas over the past decade.
The Winters shared information on the data they use to make decisions and drive their success with the other members of a performance group made up entirely of Furniture First members. The enthusiastic response from other retailers convinced them to market the suite of sales analysis tools as “Tools 2 Win.” An agreement with Furniture First followed shortly thereafter, reducing the price for members, adding members-only enhancements, and rebranding the suite to “Tools 2B First.” Brian Dodge joined the Tools team of four engineers and now represents the program to the members of Furniture First. In addition to sales presentations, Dodge hosts weekly webinars with existing Tools clients to make sure they are getting the most out of the program.
20 Furniture First members are currently on the program. Commitments have been received from additional members who will be onboarded soon. Many note a dramatic impact in a short time. “Tools 2B First has totally changed how I work,” said Bo Coconis, Buyer and Merchandiser at Coconis Furniture in South Zanesville, Ohio. “It used to be that I only had time to run reports and work on main categories between markets. Now with the reports in Tools 2B First, I can look at trends and sales on all departments – that includes entertainment, living room tables, accents, etc. Those normally would get overlooked. We found out that we had a best-selling occasional table set at our main location that we didn’t show at our other location.”
“I hear stories like that a lot,” said Amanda Daubert, who is overseeing the program internally for Furniture First as Director of Services. “Another retailer told me that he was about to pull a sofa group from his floor because he thought it wasn’t selling. It wasn’t until he looked at the analysis from Tools 2B First that he realized it was his top-selling frame, but not in the cover that was shown on his floor.”
Tools 2B First is not a POS replacement, but it is a utility that turns POS data into actionable information, as a virtual war room. These tools automatically analyze POS data highlighting a retailer’s biggest improvement opportunities to be more effective advertisers, merchandisers, buyers and salespeople. “Our members use a variety of POS systems,” said Daubert. “Tools 2B First is integrated with the most widely-used systems right now and we will be adding many more over the next several months.”
“It’s really exciting to see how Tools 2B First can transform our members’ business and give them the ammunition they need to operate at a higher level,” said Andrew Kauffman, COO of Furniture First. “Every member who is currently using the program has seen an increase in their margin because this program allows them to truly focus on all sales trends, categories and especially best sellers in their stores. We’ve had retailers take steps to join us just so they can get access to this program.”
Furniture First will host representatives for Tools 2B First in their High Point showroom, IHFC G-770, at the upcoming market.