Austin, TX: Two of Furniture First’s performance groups for store owners recently held a combined meeting in Austin, Texas. Named Beta and Gamma, the two performance groups consist solely of Furniture First members in non-competing markets.
Austin-area member stores Austin’s Couch Potatoes (ACP) and Furniture Mall of Texas (FMOT) served as host of the joint meeting. FMOT is a joint venture of two Furniture First member retailers: Jeff and Jamie Winter of Furniture Mall of Kansas, and Brian Morgan and Dan Anthony of ACP.
The meeting started with the Gammas gathering to talk about industry and individual store topics, as well as reviewing the goals they set at their previous meeting. They finished the day reviewing valuable information, like best sellers and financials informed by the group’s composite report.
Day two was action packed as both groups met together. It started with a visit to an Austin’s Couch Potatoes store, followed by a tour of ACP and FMOT’s Distribution Center, which also serves as a furniture manufacturing facility for ACP’s upholstery line.
During their afternoon visit to the Furniture Mall of Texas store, four breakout groups were formed to discuss several topics: Marketing and Public Relations, how to increase protection sales and delivery income, FMOT’s sales and customer experience, and a general discussion pod. Each breakout group rotated through the discussions.
That evening the group had a bit of fun as they dined and networked at Top Golf, where a team building exercise took place. After a remarkably close competition, the Inaugural Performance 1st Top Golf Challenge and its trophy was won by the Beta group and their representatives: Sarah Bumps of Davis Furniture in Wenatchee, WA; Jessica Smith of Talsma Furniture in Hudsonville, MI; Travis Turner of Turner Furniture Avon Park, FL; and John Lott of Lott Furniture in Waycross, GA.
Day three began with both groups providing a review and suggestions to the host stores. This gave them many action items, problems to address and ideas to implement.
The review was followed by a “Best of the Best Idea” session during which past winning best ideas were chosen by each group and presented to all. Time was set aside for general topic discussions, as well as a best practices and challenges session.
One of the highlights of the meeting was a combined group composite session. This gave the 23 participants the chance to see how their store’s performance compared to the others in the group, discuss their financial numbers and best sellers. “The insights the composite provides these retailers is priceless,” said Mike Kordik, facilitator for the group and owner of Mike’s Furniture in Joliet, IL.
The last day of the meeting mirrored the first day, except it was the Beta group’s turn to talk shop and review goals.
“Furniture First took over facilitating our own performance groups back in 2017. We started with one core, tight-knit group of retailers and used it as a model to build two more owner groups and one store manager’s group,” said Andrew Kauffman, CEO of Furniture First. “The owner groups meet three times a year, rotating through member locations, and the store manager group meets twice a year. We hire experienced outside facilitators to manage the conversations, so our members’ financials remain confidential to the group. For retailers to join one of the groups they have to be voted in and sign a confidentiality agreement. While it is an added expense for the stores, they get much more value out of their participation. It’s been a huge benefit for our members.”
Furniture First is a cooperative national home furnishings and mattress buying group serving full line independent retailers with sales over $2 million. Collectively, the group sells $3 billion at retail with their approved merchandise programs in the 533 member storefronts. Furniture First is building a new four-story High Point property at the corner Main and Russell that will house their showroom, as well as Vaughn Bassett, Knorr Marketing and TD Retail Card Services. The building’s conference room will be a meeting site for their performance groups in November 2023. For more information on Furniture First Membership, please visit www.JoinFurnitureFirst.com or call 800-411-3477.