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Training, How do most furniture stores train their employees?

Posted By jnewman, 8/16/2012

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I work for a growing furniture retail company.  I am trying to research how most furniture retail companies train their new employees and what kind of success vs drawbacks they have found using those methods.  In particular are the stores using a dedicated training department or are they training their new employees at the store during business (on the fly).   We have what I believe to be a high employee turnover and I am looking at revamping our training methods as a way to lower turnover and thus our employee cost.   I appreciate and thank anyone that can assist myself with information or leads.


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From clarisrousey, 1/30/2013  10:11 PM

They should give them the best training for the new employees so that they could be an asset in the future.

Stickley Winter Sale

From fatlilbeagle, 9/18/2012  12:07 PM

I'd like to respond from a back-end point of view.

My name is Peter Schlosser, and I teach warehouse operations with twenty years experience in furniture repair, refinishing and restoration.  Most consulting teams, with the exception of Profitability Consulting Group (of which I too am a member), focus on the front end--what drives sales, how to close, how to merchandise.  Once all of these aspects are covered, it is still pretty startling to me how little companies invest in properly training the people who will execute all the promises that are made at the point of sale, both by the salespeople as well as the manufacturers, through advertising and POS materials.  If it isn't received, handled, opened, inspected, repaired, loaded and delivered correctly, all the sales in the world won't correct a tarnished image.  The folks in the warehouse (in particular, drivers and service techs) need to have a clear idea of how to operate, otherwise deliveries will not go as planned.  Too many companies pay little attention to these important positions, relying on others in the warehouse to do the training. 

My number is 828.408.3162, I live in the heart of the furniture-making world in North Carolina, and I'm available to help.

Thanks for your time.

From jnewman, 8/27/2012  2:29 PM

I thank everyone for the information and leads.  I got put on another project for the immediate time but will be looking at this information as time permits in next few weeks until I can rededicate myself to this project.

Thank you.

From Russell, 8/27/2012  2:25 PM

Hello. JNewman, are you still looking for more information on training new employees? Did the responses  help? -Russell

From Steve smith, 8/22/2012  4:45 PM

Hello Jnewman,

Like MarkL below my disclaimer is that I am with the Profitability Consulting Group.  We work exclusively with home furnishing dealers directly, through on-site training, helping them to dramatically improve sales and profitability.

From my perspective, the unvarnished truth is that there is no perfect training solution that consistently works, on-line, or through utilizing off-site trainers such as myself, without consistent, accountable, daily on-the-sales-floor coaching from a fully dedicated sales manager/coach.

That is the "x" factor that makes all the difference.  I would be happy to discuss that difference with you and more importantly how to make it happen.  Please feel free to call me at 801.763.7663 or visit our website at www.profitabilityconsulting.com

From MarkL, 8/22/2012  12:27 PM

Hi Jnewman,

DISCLAIMER: I am with the Furniture Training Company, we are the largest provider of furniture sales training in the home furnishings industry. We deliver all our training over the Internet in an organized, consistent fashion were 94% of those trained increase their sales by 10 to 25 percent. Since 2001, FTC has provided selling skills, product knowledge, room design basics, and motivational coaching for over 600 retailers with 11,000 salespeople worldwide, from small single-store independents to large retail furniture chains and department stores.  

Now that my biases are public, let me share what I know about training in the industry. 

I talk to furniture retailers every day about training and I can tell you that without a doubt, most retailers train their salespeople on-the-fly. They have no organized plan, little follow-up, and no accountability. Consequently, like your company, they end up dealing with high turnover and salespeople struggling to make their way in the business. Or, even worse, they struggle along year-to-year with under-performing salespeople propped up by your stores advertising budget.

Alternatively, for decades retailers relied on Manufacturer Reps who did a great job of serving to train salespeople. However, with manufacturers making deep cut-backs it has reduced the time reps have for training. Furthermore, most of the old veterans are retiring, and the new reps only have a fraction of their knowledge. So, reps with time to help and real product knowledge are almost non-existent.

Some company's have consultants come in and do some classes and these folks are very good. Unfortunately, the effect of their visits tends to wear off quickly. And with high turnover its hard to keep on top of the need at the very high cost they charge for their expertise.

Finally,  only a few very large companies have an on staff trainer, and even fewer a training department, for the obvious reasons of the overhead costs and the challenge of being able to reach every employee often enough to have an impact.

The reason that our company exists is because of all of the drawbacks of the more traditional ways of training. Using the new technology of the Internet we can train every employee consistently in the best practices and skills, 24/7 year-round, and take only few hours a week, with minimal management time needed. Online training is the future of training in all industries and we are proud to have brought it to the home furnishings industry. 

We would welcome you to contact us at (866) 755-5996 or visit our website at www.furrnituretrainingcompany.com if you want to know more about our training.

Mark Lacy
The Furniture Training Company

From Russell, 8/22/2012  11:33 AM

Hello jnewman. From my perspective retailers are all over the place with regard to training retail sales associates. Many retailers tend to leave it up to reps to come in and train periodically on product knowledge. They don't have a management person who is responsible for training and mentoring. They may have Saturday morning sales meetings that don't have too much formal content.

There are hundreds of articles on the furninfo.com website in the sales education and sales management article archives that you will find useful in setting up a program. Certainly you need to have a plan, assign responsibility, get your sales manager or trainer out of the office and on to the sales floor a coach. Fix any problems with your UP System, focus on product knowledge, attitudes and sales skills, put in a formal and ongoing training program, possibly bring in a consultant and or use an online training program, engage reps, keep good metrics, manage, coach, mentor, review performance.... there are just too many things that need to be done to name here.

Here are just a few to get you started...

Russell Bienenstock
Furniture World Magazine

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