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Ferocious Focus: Why Now is The Time To Reignite the Bedding Business Fundamentals

Dust off those sales manuals and refocus your ferocious energy on sales fundamentals!

In this episode, Sleep Summit Show host, CEO of Englander Mattress and founder of The FAM, Mark Kinsley, shares his insights from his visit to the BrandSource convention. Packed with interviews from all levels of leadership in the mattress retail industry, each discusses how they and their brands are navigating economic headwinds.

Key Takeaways:

1) It’s time for retailers to get back to basics and focus on sales fundamentals with intensity and intention. As BrandSource CEO Jim Ristow explained, retailers can no longer rely on inventory alone to drive sales. They need to refocus on sales training, promotions, vendor partnerships and more.

2) Retailers should also dust off old sales manuals and restart former practices of old that made an impact in a more casual environment (hint: bring back those Saturday morning sales meetings). As Mike Juoni of Corsicana said, “look back at what worked in 2019 and prior. The focus has to come from owners and flow through the entire organization.”

3) Bring “ferocious focus” to sales interactions, whether on the showroom floor or over the phone. Treat every customer interaction as vital. Plus, don’t ignore other keys to success as well, like maintaining ad spend during downturns and promoting holiday sales.

Most importantly, Kinsley stressed getting back to sales fundamentals with intensity and intention. As he put it, “More intention with intensity.” This combination will enable retailers to compete and thrive even in challenging conditions.


Mark Kinsley: More intention with intensity. According to retailers I talked to at the BrandSource convention, it’s time to get back to the basics and feed those flames of refocusing on the fundamentals with the fuel of intensity. The Sleep Summit show begins right now.

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Mark Kinsley: Hey fam, it’s Mark Kinsley. Now check this out. The words intensity and intention do not share the same Latin root, but they share the same concept. And this is what I want to talk about today because I have the chance. The honor, the privilege of going to the brand source show and spending time with the executive leadership team and many of the wonderful people who comprise the brand source team.

And not only that, the members as well. And of course, it’s all about the members and we had just a wonderful experience talking to retailers. On the floor about what they’re thinking about in terms of building their business with economic headwinds, with high interest rates, with an economy that may not be the most suitable for people to buy furniture and mattresses.

And one of the things that they mentioned overwhelmingly was this idea of getting back to the basics because for several years, let’s face it, you know, you people walk in, if you had inventory, you’re the winner. Sign in the check, write in the check and say, let’s go bring it to my house or put it on top of the station wagon.

But those days have changed, you know, being a clerk and writing the orders. We’re not having to get back to selling. We’re having to get back to some of those basics. We’re having to kind of refocus ourselves on some of those fundamentals that are so important to building your business. And so think about these two words, intensity and intention.

Because intensity comes from the Latin word meaning the state of being stretched. So intensity implies, right, you’re going to be strained, exerted, concentrated to an extreme degree. That’s intensity. Intensity requires maximum work. Now, intention comes from the Latin word that, like I said, was different, but it means a stretching out or directing of the mind.

So intention implies this mental state of purposefulness, a stretching of the mind toward a goal. So when you have intention, you direct your attention toward an effort. So intensity is more about that extreme degree, while intention is more about having a purposeful direction. And that’s the combination I call ferocious focus.

And that’s what I think we need right now to compete and win. In business. Like I said, I went to the brand source show. I had just a wonderful time, incredible hosts. I got to spend time with Alan and Dave and Jared and Shelby Anderson. And of course the CEO, Jim Risto and Dave Meekings and John White from the executive leadership team and many others.

And I thank you so much for your hospitality. It was a wonderful experience and I had just a great time walking the floor and talking to people about what retailers should be focused on right now. And the first person that I was able to talk to was Jim Risto himself.

Jim Ristow: It’s all going back reinforcing what we used to do, our sales people. We had to get them to sell again because they used to clerk. Do we have our inventories now at the right level? Do we have the right marketing and budget set for promoting? Because we need to promote now, not just let the business come in the door.

Have stand up sales meetings. Do things like bringing vendor partners in to do training. There’s online tools that are available for the dealers. But it’s really a focus from the owner on down, that they’re reinventing and refocusing on sales.

Mark Kinsley: I think that’s a major key right there. It has to come from the top and we have to focus once again on sales and on those fundamentals. And I think, you know, Mike Uni from Corsicana summarized it very well.

Mike Juoni: talking to a lot of retail partners about ways that they can invest and grow their business, even when market conditions are tough. One of the things that we’re talking to everybody about is continuing to get back to basics and look at things like your sales management process. Go back to 2019 and prior.

And what did you do from a sales management perspective? Look at maybe things you haven’t been doing the last couple of years when the climate’s been a little bit different. Dust off those sales management manuals. Have a Saturday morning meeting. Talk about what you’re gonna focus on for the month. I really lean into it.

Mark Kinsley: Yeah. I don’t want you to be the people that it worked so well, we forgot to keep doing it. And that’s what the fundamentals and the basics are all about. I have a friend of a friend, this guy was. Uh, world class, uh, uh, in karate. He actually was the first world champion from Portugal in karate. And so this story kind of came secondhand, but when he was asked, what really made the difference, what made you a world champion, maybe compared to other people that you were competing against?

He said that every day he would go in and work with his master, right? The master that was teaching him at his dojo. And he said, we worked on punches, basic punches and basic kicks every single day. My, remember Karate Kid, you know, Karate Kid was a wax on, wax off. And he was just over and over again, wax on, wax off.

But eventually that became what he needed to, to become a champion himself. And so getting back to the basics, don’t forget what worked and just know that so much of what has worked does not need to be reinvented. It’s like Mike said, in that clip, just dust off the manuals, the process. The Saturday morning meetings and get back to drilling those fundamentals.

You know, be Kobe Bryant, shoot free throws every single practice over and over and over again. And it’s like, uh, my friend Todd from diamond mattress said, work the phones.

Mark Kinsley: Yeah. Are you taking advantage when the phone rings in your store? You know, there was an old, uh, it was an old stat in politics that, uh, for every. A voter or every constituent that would send a letter, like they would actually take the time to send a letter that represented. Like 24 other voters. So those phone calls are of critical importance.

That’s like somebody doing their research, making the phone calls at a time and saying, Hey, I’m, I’m trying to get this ironed out because it can be a painful process. I’m picking up the phone. I’m calling you. So you do need to take people through that sales process and be sure that you’re not short circuiting that, you know, walk through it as if they were in the store, make sure that you treat them, uh, with the respect they deserve, even though they’re not standing right in front of you.

And, and work it like it’s an actual up that’s coming in the door. It’s a great tip, Todd. And Todd was actually, Todd and I were talking about this and it was something that he got from her nanny Alves back in the sleep train days. And they were very good about, uh, working the phones, especially during that, that climate of post 2008, during the, the housing crisis.

And, uh, they, they knew that, Hey, every interaction matters. So we got to make sure and bring that intensity and that focus. To those phone calls as well. I remember I heard Tom Brady speak on stage, uh, back in February and Tom was talking about how he went to the university of Michigan and the people that brought him to the university of Michigan, actually the, the, the head coach and the coaching staff left.

And so new coaching staff, you can imagine they weren’t the ones that recruited Tom. So he didn’t feel like he had a place there and he would talk to his parents and he was expressing some of his frustration. And through those conversations, he decided, I’m going to make every rep count. Every rep is going to count in practice.

In training, in games, every rep is going to count and he’s going to bring that ferocious focus to every moment. Then, fast forward, he ends up as the fourth string quarterback for the Patriots and eventually he worked his way up to become backup quarterback. And when he was back up quarterback, he was whispering to his friends on the sideline and saying, the moment I go in, I’m never coming out.

I’m never coming out. And he didn’t. Tom Brady knew that he had to have that ferocious focus and bring that intensity and that commitment to every single moment. And we have to also watch out for becoming our own worst enemies. And I think Greg Gent did a great job capturing this.

Mark Kinsley: You know, there was a stat that came from a previous podcast. I got a couple of great data points. I did a podcast with Eric Grinley from Esquire advertising, and that was actually last week’s episode, I believe.

So I would highly recommend you go back and listen to it because there’s some, there’s a data dump in there that I think is very meaningful for people. But one of the stats that stood out the most to me was, uh, Esquire advertising looked at 1300 mattress locations over the course of 2023, and they compared it to 2022 and how they do that is they have, you know, location services that are enabled on phones.

And so when a consumer crosses through basically the doorway of a mattress store, furniture store, they’re able to see what they do then and where they go next. And they found that through their matchback data, they were able to identify that 88 percent of people are only shopping at one. Store So that’s good news for you.

If you’re getting the people in the door, it’s not so great news. If you’re not working to get people in the door, like Greg said, are you dialing back on advertising or are you continuing to spend? And the other stat that goes way back to a previous conversation I had with Eric was around this idea that.

If you maintain your advertising spend, people tend to keep business flat, even during a down economy. But it’s what happens on the backside of that. They were seeing north of 30 percent increases in business once that recession climate decided to go away, shall we say. So, continuing to keep your foot on the gas pedal in terms of your advertising spend.

And, you know, one of the things I’ve found lately that retailers are more willing to lean into is, okay, where do I put those dollars? I’m comfortable putting them into the holidays and the promotions. And I got a chance to talk to Fawad Zavery and Mike Smith about this very topic.

Mark Kinsley: And by the way, Fuad’s Avery’s with exclusive furniture, Mike Smith, uh, with Malouf home. And I think that’s very well put, um, if you’re unsure about where to put your dollars in terms of keeping your foot on the gas pedal with your ad spend, I think people are typically in this industry. Consumers in this industry are very trained to pay attention to the holiday sales.

So if you’re going to deploy dollars, think about the before, during and after now, here we are, you know, coming up in early fall. We’re not even really that close to black Friday yet. And I’ve already seen some black Friday starts now advertising, uh, maybe a little bit premature for most people’s days, but I understand the idea of thinking through the before, during and after.

Because you’re going to have some people that shop on the front end. Some people are going to wait for the holiday moment. Some people are going to say, Oh no, I should have taken advantage of this. And you can keep those sales sticking around, but it is a good spot to put your money right now. Um, you know, the, the, the great Jim McInvale is.

Famous for saying always, always be promoting, always be promoting and do it with that ferocious focus and that intensity. So, Hey, thank you very much to everybody that I had a chance to talk to. One of the things I wanted to add as maybe my tip for going to get that traffic, going to get those consumers.

Is find out where people are already hanging out. And go there. Uh, I just talked to my friend, Matt Smith with snooze mattress company a few weeks back and we FaceTimed and I see Matt and his famous pajamas. Of course, as everybody knows, Matt is the Hugh Hefner of the mattress industry because he always has on his silk pajamas, but his entire team does as well.

And I’m FaceTiming with Matt and they are at the Colorado state fair. They’re at the Colorado state fair. They’ve got their pajamas on and they’re there because they know that’s where people are hanging out. So go to where people are hanging out. Everyone sleeps, whether it’s the Colorado state fair, the state fair in your community.

Uh, it could be a cycling or a running event where they have an expo opportunity. Lots and lots of people focused on health and wellness and presumably on getting a good night’s sleep so they can perform are at those locations. So figure out how you can deploy a team, be effective with your setup and develop the skills necessary to do a little more of that carnival barking type selling, which is different.

I had a, had a great conversation with my friend, friend, Nate Grindle from Mattress King in Nashville. And he had participated in this type of business and was talking through the different skillsets. So really think it through and go out there and get your reps in, but go to where the people are. Don’t always just wait for the door swings, or don’t always just wait for the advertising to bring the traffic in the door.

Sometimes you got to get creative and you got to get ferocious with that focus. So, Hey, if you haven’t followed me on LinkedIn, I want you to head over there. I want you to follow me up and share your tips for getting back to the basics. How are you thinking about intention and intensity? What is your ferocious focus at the moment?

And how are you making sure your team understands that? And how are you executing on that? Um, I hope everybody is managing at the moment. With, uh, all the craziness in the world. Uh, and speaking of the craziness in the world, we want to help you bring definition and clarity to that. And that’s why sleep summit 2023 has happened in October 9th through the 12th in Bentonville.

The hotel is sold out, but if you want to attend. We will help you find a place. The team at the fam is all prepared, uh, to help you find an Airbnb or other hotels locally. The tickets are still available. Um, we did sell out of all of our VIPs, but we have general admission tickets available. And that gets you a lot of stuff, including a couple of breakfasts and all the sessions and all kinds of fun stuff happening down at the world class breathtaking crystal bridges museum of American art.

Um, Harry Roberts. The industry legend himself is going to be there doing a fireside chat with me. Harry, for those of you who don’t know, is the original co founder of Mattress Firm, built it to over 200 stores, sold that business. And then after he sold it, that’s when the story, in my opinion, gets interesting in its own way.

Uh, but Harry is going to be like Santa Claus, except with a sack full of toys. He’s going to have a bag full of golden nuggets of wisdom. And he’s just has a heart for serving this industry and sharing. And so if you’re a retailer or manufacturer and you want to know more about that world. Uh, Harry’s still in the game.

It’s not like he, uh, you know, hung up, hung up his cleats and left the field. Harry is still out there. Uh, he’s the mattress firm franchise. They got them all down the gut of the Midwest, up into Oklahoma and South Dakota, North Dakota and, and, and Minnesota. So it’s going to be great to have him and his entire executive team there.

We’re going to be talking about AI with the founders of nBrain. So if you think AI is scary. I hear that a lot, but if you want to understand how to harness the power of AI and automation in your business and really turn yourself into a superhuman, we’ve got Kerry Johnson and Danny DeMichelle, and they’ve got this incredible story to tell that’s going to help you understand AI, and they’ve got some tools, tips, and tricks that are going to help you put this into play in a way that you never imagined how easy it’s going to be.

Do you have to go out and learn a new platform? No. Do you have to download some sort of like software and technology and integrate it into all your systems? Absolutely not. I’m so excited to bring them to sleep summit to help us learn and grow, especially whenever it’s not adding complications so we can maintain that ferocious focus.

Uh, beyond that sales training, um, galore sales leadership galore with uncle Bob Munkle and Steven Ferguson. We’ve got Megan Anderson from mattress firm. We’ve got Dr. Kimberly Lempke and Nancy Watt harnessing the power of humor. For sleep and sales. It’s going to be absolutely bananas. We’re going to have Eric Grinley there talking about this hyper targeted marketing and how you can actually use, um, these, these technologies and these techniques and streaming TV and beyond to supercharge your business and grow it.

So get your tickets now, go over, you know, Google sleep summit. It’s going to be the first thing that pops up and I hope that we’re going to see you there. And like I said, follow me on LinkedIn and let’s talk about getting back to the basics together. That’s it for this week. Make sure you give us a thumbs up, subscribe, head over to our, our LinkedIn page and follow the fam.

And as always, we’ll catch you next time.

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