When I started to write this column it was 6:15 AM on Sunday morning during market. But then I had to leave for a 7:00 AM meeting and three days later after market is over I finally am getting back to it. The nights are way too short and the days are long.
Here’s one big tip that I discovered Sunday morning as I rolled out of bed at 4:45 …do not bring a pair of new shoes to wear at market, especially when one of you major lines is a four block walk from your other lines. At least the shoes are calibrated because I have the same blister in the same spot on each big toe.
Sorry, I digress…
What I really wanted to talk about is youth in our industry. My son has joined me in the business so I have started to pay attention to how many young people are around. It actually is very encouraging for our industry though it may not be as widespread as glamorous industries like technology or new media companies.
Many of the new buyers I work with are younger and are looking for products that appeal to their generation. This is very smart since that is the generation destined to spend the most for furniture in years ahead. Us baby boomers are on the back end of the furniture buying curve. We may spend more per unit but we are not going to need or want near as many units in the years ahead.
The whole brave new world of Internet companies is bringing a different kind of buyer to the industry as well. Most are younger and depending on the website, are looking for a specific niche or product feel. But chief concern among them is can the factory ship it to their customer in one piece without damages. Some companies are embracing this while others have not as of yet.
In sales management, I see youth as well. A sales manager at a very large upholstery company is 25 years old. He is a sharp guy, lots of energy, enthusiasm and most exciting is his desire to update the technology in helping make the rep more efficient. Very cool stuff.
And as for us reps, our new IHFRA president is Matt Keepers, an energetic youthful President. And though our board may not all be youth, but they are just as enthusiastic and excited as a teenager going to their first prom. Full of ideas, some of which may or may not happen. Here’s Matt’s four big ideas for this year as outlined in his Presidential Address last Friday night.
1) Get youth involved in the industry and the organization. One idea would be to partner somehow with High Point University to get students involved in our industry, either as interns or sub reps during markets to get a feel for the business.
2) Make membership more valuable through increased benefits. Lots of good things happening here including a national deal with Staples that mirrors the Office Depot deep discounts. Other ideas include an Association cash back credit card and an at large golf outing.
3) By continuing to offer the very best value for reps we will drive membership through word of mouth and membership benefits, creating a larger association allowing us to get even better benefits.
4) Offer “tips from the road.” Tips and money saving ideas that we learn from years in the business.
With technology like iPads, smart phones, and technology applications, our business is bound to change. The younger furniture guys and gals are positioned well to be open to new ideas and changes that need to occur to drag our industry into a new era. Be open to their ideas, because they are the future direction of the furniture business both as a consumer and as future leaders, management, and sales reps.
Hope you all had a great market. Be sure and leave your positive comments below.