How you can join and benefit from HFC programs.
The theme and name that NHFA has appropriately chosen for the 1997 all-industry convention, "together we're better" makes sense. There is strength in numbers. This is why I, along with many other retailers, manufacturers and suppliers, support the Home Furnishings Council (HFC) and urge you to do the same.
As past president of the Retail Furniture Association of California, past president of the Western Home Furnishing Association and as a director on the board of National Home Furnishings Association, I believe that I speak from experience. There are many groups and/or associations out there, but the Home Furnishings Council makes the greatest difference in competing for our fair share of the customer's disposable income. You benefit from its marketing and communications programs designed to increase sales in home furnishings.
The Home Furnishings Council (HFC) was created in 1989. It has about 2,200 members representing some 3,800 storefronts and 200 manufacturers and industry suppliers, with independent dealers carrying the bulk of the load. The challenge is to enlist the large department stores, chains and major manufacturers for their support. The sole purpose of the HFC is to reach the public and create an awareness for our industry. Under the direction of president Bob Nightengale and many, many volunteer leaders, HFC has done an outstanding job with limited funds. With the sale of the Haven magazine and the Haven TV show, HFC is now at a crossroads and ready to take the next step. You need the HFC's support.
Let's not reinvent the wheel with another panel or committee to solve our industry's problems, when we have a great program in place already. We all know what the problem is. It's all about our sales and profits. What the Home Furnishings Council needs is our support to build a war chest to fight in a nationwide public relations campaign to promote home furnishings. We all have the same goal: to maximize growth opportunities, to better market the home furnishings industry to the consuming public and the main objective which is to increase our share of the public's disposable income.
Where has this income gone? Not into our industry! The percentage of consumers' disposable income spent on furniture has dropped from 1.2 percent to .7 percent, a 40 percent decline in the past 20 years. The furniture retailer down the street from me is not my biggest competitor. My biggest competition is from auto row, technology and electronics retailers, travel agents etc.
There is a lot of evaluating going on about what other industries have done to promote themselves to the consumer. Integrated organization is the crucial element for prosperity in today's business. Become proactive not reactive. We are in this together and unless we start pulling together, it will affect the way every retailer will do business in the future. So why not band together to achieve our common goals.
How do you make a difference? How do you make the home furnishings industry better?
- Contribute .50 cents per $1,000 on each invoice from a Home Furnishings Council manufacturer member (that's just 1 /20th of 1 percent and the member manufacturers match our contributions;
- Maintain and display an inventory of HAVEN decorating guides which will be given to your customers free of charge. You will also be listed in the HFC 800# referral system and consumers will be referred to your store for their copies of HAVEN magazine or because of interest in HFC manufacturer member products.
Here are some of the many benefits of belonging:
- National TV exposure
- Targeted consumer messages
- Consumer referrals
- Consumer publications
- National publicity
- Consumer database
- Trade & consumer newsletters
- Market research
The integrated marketing program reaches your prospects, and directs customers to your store each week.
I challenge you to step up to the plate and get involved. Find out what HFC is all about and what it can do for you and your company.
Larry Wolfe is President of Silverado Furniture Company, a full service home furnishings retailer serving Napa and northern California. He serves on the Retail Advisory Committee of the HFC. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.