Q's Views - Mark Quinn's Blog on the Mattress Industry
Mark Quinn 20 year mattress industry guy that has a passion for presenting this business in the best possible light. Q\'s Views is Mark Quinn\'s quest to make an impact on the mattress industry, bringing it into the 21st Century through innovative marketing.
This poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson is a great reminder that it is our people that make this nation great. It’s the blood they poured out in battles to protect our freedom, and the grit, will and resolve from those men and women that keep us free today.
Enjoy your friends and families this weekend, and pause on the fact that you are blessed to live in the greatest country on the planet, then give thanks to those that make it possible.
A Nation’s Strength
By Ralph Waldo Emerson
What makes a nation’s pillars high
And its foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?
It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.
Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.
And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.
Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor’s sake
Stand fast and suffer long.
Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly…
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.
Mark Kinsley and I had an in-depth conversation about the Tempur-Pedic and Mattress Firm reconciliation so if you have not given that a listen, check it out here.
After giving it some more thought, there are a few things I thought I would go a little deeper on. If you really think about it, there are a lot of positives that will come out of this renewed partnership.
Jobs. Tempur-Sealy is saying that they are about to hire an additional 700 people which we know can’t be completely tied back to this announcement but I’m guessing the majority of these jobs can be. Giving people an opportunity for a career is always a good thing so this is a huge win for them.
This union could make the Mattress Firm a more successful company possibly creating more jobs, giving them access to one of the strongest brands in the category, ultimately driving top and bottom line results.
Even though retailers out there will have to compete with Mattress Firm for Tempurpedic, Sealy, and Stearns and Foster sales, the additional advertising in the market will definitely serve everyone well, bringing more attention to the category. Most of the retailers I talk to are confident that their sales force and store services can compete well with Mattress Firm so if that’s true, then the additional advertising should be a win for everyone.
In a weird way, it’s a good thing for Serta/Simmons Bedding as well. This will force SSB to get more aggressive with their product offerings adding more value to what they are doing for the retailer. Get ready guys because your phone is about to start ringing if it hasn’t already. From what I’m being told by SSB insiders, their CEO Dave Swift is hard at work on a strategy that is going to drive them forward.
I guess the downside could be that when two big companies make massive changes like this there is a serious ripple effect for the rest of the industry. Suppliers will have to reconcile inventories, some job titles will be changing, and there is some uncertainty around the supply chain given the new demand Tempur/Sealy will be facing. The bottom line here is that if you continue adding value in what you offer and how you do your job, there will be opportunities. At least that’s what the free market tells us right? What’s the impact going to be on your business if any? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
As I travel the country and talk to retail sales associates selling Spink and Co beds I get a lot of great feedback. Most of it is very positive but every now and then I hear something that sounds my alarm. The natural reaction to this for me and I’m sure for many of you, is to jump into action and address the issue. But is it really an issue?
I have seen HUGE mistakes made by business leaders (including myself) because they don’t thoroughly vet the feedback they are getting. Is it anecdotal or is there something to it? How often is it coming up? What is the proof that what is being suggested as a problem or opportunity really is something that needs to be addressed?
My friendly reminder to you today is that when you get feedback from people you should obviously listen to it, evaluate it, test the idea as much as you can, look for other consistent threads from different sources to see if it’s real or contrived, and only then should you act.
A few examples:
A buyer walks the floor and hears from his top salesperson that they really need a plush bed at a certain price point when the data says that only firm beds work up there.
An operations guy says that doing it “this way” is too difficult and takes too long until you do a time study and see for yourself that it actually helps you in multiple ways.
Your wife gives you directions on how to get places because it is a “better way to go” but Google maps says she is FULL OF IT. Not sure this one really applies. You are probably better off not listening to a computer over your spouse…the ultimate price is much greater than the cost of a few extra minutes.
Bottom line…don’t jump in, wade in, and make sure what you are hearing is more than one guy’s opinion. Not that you shouldn’t act on those every now and then, but for the big stuff you are better off proving it out in multiple ways.
Can you think of a time when you leaped before you looked? Share it with me in the comments section.
On behalf of the Lollipop Guild I would like to welcome John Eck into the industry. As you probably know John is the new CEO of Mattress Firm and is already hard at work learning his way into the category. In the past, I have been pretty tough on industry outsiders but allow me to put forward a positive opinion on the hiring of Mr. Eck.
As soon as the announcement about John was made, I started getting phone calls from people pointing out that it does not appear that John has any retail experience, which given the job he is taking over, could come in handy. This is true, but is it absolutely necessary? Consider his background:
He has worked with Univision for the past three years as their Chief Local Media Officer. Univision has over 126 television and radio stations across the country so this is no small job, and if you’re going to do that successfully, you have to have some very strong leadership skills which will be critically important in his new role.
John was also Univision’s EVP of Technology, Operations, and Engineering. Give thought to how important operations are to a company like Mattress Firm with 2,500 locations. I understand that running a media company is nothing like running a national chain of sleep shops but his experience will serve him well. He should be able to look at the operational opportunities facing Mattress Firm, diagnose the problems, discover ways to cut cost, engineer new ways to improve the process, and hopefully, make them more efficient. Two totally different industries but many of the principals remain the same no matter what business you’re running. How about the importance of technology these days? Given where things are going in our business and the integration of technology into just about everything that we do, I like the fact that Mr. Eck will be able to apply that knowledge to make Mattress Firm better on multiple levels. Any chance John knows a few things that mattress executives don’t when it comes to technology?
Mr. Eck was in the media business for the past several years, but he was with General Electric for a stretch before all of that. He has worked with GE Capital, GE Power Systems, GE Aircraft Engines, and GE Lighting. I wonder if the people at NBC complained about the fact that he was not a “MEDIA GUY” prior to him taking a top spot at NBC?
John graduated from Indiana University, (how wholesome is that?), and is a recipient of the very distinguished Boy Scouts of America 2001 Communications Art Industries “Good Scout” Award. Any of you out there have one of those?
John Eck, President and CEO Mattress Firm
This guy has worked in multiple industries and has been very successful. Remember that some of the top companies in our category right now are being run by people that didn’t know a thing about mattresses, they were just tech-savvy and understood how to market products on the internet. Fresh thinking is a good thing and can be a great thing if the strategy supporting that new opinion is solid and ultimately puts the consumer in the middle of everything they do.
For me this all comes down to good leadership skills. If John does a great job of listening, surrounds himself with a good mix of insiders and outsiders, convinces his own team that his plan and purpose are worth fighting for, and helps Mattress Firm realize their potential as a massive omnichannel business, then good things will happen for the company.
My son Nick just finished up his track season and was running a very strong 400M race, finishing in 1st place by a comfortable margin at most of his meets. At the end of their season, he went up against this kid that had some serious wheels on him. At the start, Nick got the jump and was out in front as usual but after turn two, this other boy started to pass him by. Nick can’t stand to lose so he turned it up a notch, but in the end, it wasn’t enough and Nick took second in that meet. The bad news is that Nick lost. The good news is that he got his personal record that day turning in his fastest time of the year.
Competition is good. If Mattress Firm does what it’s capable of then you are going to see even more advertising from them which brings more awareness to the category. (I’m guessing John knows a few things about buying media efficiently). When Mattress Firm steps it up, it will push everyone supplying them and the competitors going up against them to bring their best game and in the end, that can bring great results for everyone. Maybe even a personal record.
Well John, once again welcome to the industry. You are now a part of something very special and are going to meet some of the best people you will ever know! Best of luck on this new journey.
Before I get started I wanted to give you a heads up on the Dos Marcos Podcast this week on mattress tariffs. What impact will this have on your business? Listen is as we talk through the good and bad.
What is the single largest obstacle for most people when buying a bed online? Not being able to actually try it out don’t you think? So said differently, the biggest advantage for the brick and mortar guys is their ability to let the consumer get a feel for the products they are about to buy. So why are people not making this a bigger deal?
I am not a retailer, nor am I tapped into everything being done out there but from what I see and hear, there isn’t much of a direct attack on the idea of buying a bed online. According to Mike Magnuson of Goodbed.com the D2C channel is growing at a rate of 20-30% a year, now has over 150 online brands, and accounted for 18-20% of retail sales in 2018. Is this a threat that should be ignored? If you are a brick and mortar retailer reading this right now I want you to visualize the map of where you have your stores. Now I want you to add another layer where your competitors have their stores in relationship to your stores. Finally, I want you to add in one last layer of stores. You just found out that a new company called E-COMMERCE just announced store openings in YOUR markets and they are going to drop 150 locations all around you. How would you react to that because this is the reality you are facing today, the difference being you just don’t see them as you drive around town.
Back to my original point. Being able to try a bed in your store is a big advantage but are you leveraging it? Some retailers are and make it a HUGE part of who they are and for good reason. Think about other consumer products that you are fitted for prior to buying them. Guys have you ever had a nice suit tailor made for you? Ladies, how about a dress? Have you ever been fitted for a pair of shoes? Golf clubs? When someone is selling you something and takes the time to customize a product experience for you don’t you feel like you are getting something better than if you were simply buying a product “off the rack”?
I know that for most of us we can’t customize the surface comfort of our beds but what about the sleep ecosystem? (See THIS POST for my thoughts on how I see the future of retail.) Consider all of these variables…mattress height, comfort level, price, support system, pillow comfort/size/shape, adjustable base functionality, mattress protector’s impact on allergies/temperature/stress/protection, sound in the room (sound machines), light in the room (face mask, blinds). How many people shopping for a bed do you think actually understand the impact of all of these things when it comes to getting great sleep? Remember, you’re selling a total sleep experience not just a mattress.
Some of you are reading this and screaming at me through your screen saying “BUT WE DO THAT QUINN!” Maybe you do, but do you tell anyone? How about…
Our people are trained to help you understand your sleep and find solutions that will improve your quality of sleep, therefore, your quality of life. Come and see us and let us customize your sleep experience so you wake up every day feeling INCREDIBLE!
If sleep is important to you then you have to make sure your bedroom is set up for the best sleep experience. With our process and highly trained sleep consultants, we can help you find the perfect sleep solution CUSTOMIZED JUST FOR YOU.
We understand buying your dog food online, we do it too. But why in the world would you buy something online that is critical to your health and happiness without first trying it out? Come into our store and we will CUSTOM FIT you for the best sleep experience of your life!
If you want to sleep great and live a better quality of life as a result, then you should understand everything that you need in order to get that kind of sleep. Come visit us and we will unlock the secrets of great sleep and custom fit you for the best sleep experience of your life.
And my favorite….Sleeping on a bed in a box might be a lot like drinking wine from a box. They might get the job done at first, but the next morning could be a little rough. Come and visit us and we will custom fit you for the perfect sleep experience so you wake up feeling great every day!
Some retailers are using cool technology to fit consumers for their beds. My buddy Brent Biermann works with XSENSOR and provides total systems for retailers so that they can help the consumer see how pressure points impact quality of sleep. How about the bedMATCH program from Kingsdown that takes consumers through a series of questions with a bed match suggestion at the end.
The bottom line here is that creating a great experience for your consumer is a pretty big deal. From the minute they open your front door until the time they leave they need to feel like you are there to help them solve their problem. If a consumer knows that you are NOT in the mattress business, but are there to serve them and fit them for something that can change their life, then you will have a big advantage over anyone that can’t do the same.
Kinsley came to me a few years back and suggested that we start a podcast. I really didn’t get it. What went through my mind at the time was that Kinsley was trying to recapture some of the magic from his old radio days as a talk show host and he wanted to drag me into a project that would most certainly end as an embarrassing failure! Who in the hell was going to listen to a couple of guys talking about mattresses after all? Boy was I wrong. The Dos Marcos podcast ended up as the most popular content on Sleep-Geek.com and we just recorded our 100th episode!
Since we started recording Dos Marcos, I have become a big fan of the podcast. I listen to them as I walk my dogs, when I workout, when driving, and even when tracking through airports. I listen to learn, to be entertained, for spiritual growth, and to be motivated. My guess is that this is true for most people that listen to podcasts which according to THIS article by the BBC, includes over 33% of the U.S. population. There are over 600,000 shows out there already, so why did we decide to add to the list?
Kinsley explains it best when he says “Dos Marcos is like a campfire that people gather around to take in information about an industry that they love.” I think he’s right. Our goal is to shine a light on people getting it right, point out when we think they are getting it wrong, and have some fun along the way. There are so many companies doing cool things in this business and we want to make sure that people have a place to come and hear about them, learn from them, borrow from them and grow. We are story-tellers in search of the next great story; maybe it’s yours?
Now we have a new headline sponsor in the Nationwide Marketing Group. It all started with Jerry Honea, their Senior Vice President who Kinsley and I have come to know and admire over the years for what he has done to help his retailer members grow. Then we met Mike Whitaker from Nationwide, a true rock star in the industry, that also has a burning passion to serve people and drive the retail business forward. When Jerry asked Mike to evaluate our show, Mike totally got it and blew us away with his enthusiasm for the project. I seriously cannot believe what a great collaboration this has turned out to be so far.
I just want to say thank you to Kinsley for his friendship and making this show so much fun to do. You have a great brain for this business, I learn from you all the time, and your heart for people is pretty dang awesome. But most of all a big thanks to everyone that listens to the show. We appreciate your support and feedback because it really is the fuel for this campfire.
Take a listen to this, our 100th episode, meet Mike Whitaker if you don’t know him already, and get ready for the next 100 shows. We are just getting started!