This pandemic has made us appreciate many folks that are often ignored in normal days. Of course, there are the healthcare workers who are exposed to the pandemic dangers, the emergency workers, the volunteers and then there are the people stocking the shelves at necessary retailers, the folks making deliveries to our homes and, of course, the people who stock liquor stores.
In the furniture and mattress industries, we are thankful for those many workers who have returned to work and are helping us get our merchandise so needed by our customers.
Where did so many go that have not returned? It is a difficult issue, with many blaming the government unemployment supplements for the failure to return. But those supplements have not been renewed, and there is still a worker shortage at so many levels.
In my opinion, one group of hard workers that have been ignored in our industry is the sales reps for the vendors. They didn’t cause the pandemic, the consumers to stay home, the factories to close, nor did they cause the consumers to thankfully renew their interest in home furnishings. Yet, they are such an important factor today in communicating what is going on, what options are available to retailers and in giving their employers input into what is really happening at retail.
Good reps are on the phones staying in touch and sharing ideas that work. Others are carefully and safely in stores helping and looking for opportunities to improve and help the customer experience.
We encourage you to spend time with your reps and learn what they know that might really help you get through the challenges you face. Learn which ones know their stuff and which are just good for the latest rumor.
Good reps are a secret behind some retailers’ success stories. And I learned a long time ago that a great rep team can make a medium company succeed and a poor rep group can kill the best company.
Find time to visit a rep today. Give them a candy bar from me.
W.W. “Jerry” Epperson, Jr. is a founder and managing director of Mann, Armistead & Epperson, Ltd., an investment banking and research firm. Jerry is the head of their research efforts and has in excess of thirty years of experience in the publication of hard/soft dollar research which focuses on demographics, consumer products, furnishings (residential and contract) and related issues. More specifically, Jerry’s research in the furnishings industry is recognized on a world-wide basis for its in-depth coverage of suppliers, manufacturers and retailers.�