Workin’ the Market
Let’s talk about furniture market. Las Vegas Market is coming up next week, and I’m reminded of when I first started going to markets and figuring out how to utilize them.
Markets are excellent opportunities to see what’s new, be inspired, and hang out with designer friends. They are so much fun.
But, they are also a considerable investment of time and money, and there are specific things you need to get from the experience for your business. Markets are a huge opportunity to take a step up in the backend of your business regarding how you buy the furniture you’ll sell to your clients for years to come.
This has a significant impact on your profitability.
However, it’s easy to get distracted at markets because of all the eye candy! In fact, during the first three markets I attended, I spent most of my time running from window to window oohing and aahing, then came home with an odd collection of things I’d never really use.
I don’t recommend that method since it wasn’t exactly worth the time or money I spent.
Instead, I suggest you take half an hour to think about what you need to accomplish at this market. The purpose is to find good vendors, so you need to look at your business and determine where you are with your vendor list.
Selling furniture can be where much of your profit comes from. So, if you haven’t developed your vendor list yet, you’ll want to start with the basics. Nail down an upholstery line or case goods line with a variety of things you can use, and that offers you at least a 50% discount.
Markets are where you develop the connections and relationships that will allow you to make some serious money on furniture. Your job at market is to cultivate those vendor and outside sales rep. relationships.
Once you’ve established a list of vendors that allow you to make large profits off big pieces of furniture, you can look for the accent pieces elsewhere and create a great design while still holding onto your profit.
If you already have your major vendors in place, you’ll want to look at what you need to fill in for your business. Are you in need of kids’ bedrooms, contemporary lighting, or patio furniture? You’ll want to look for those more niche vendors to establish relationships, buy-ins, and discounts while at market.
My point is that once you know your business needs, you can set intentions about what you plan to find while at market.
You’ll have a rich and valuable market experience when you do that.
Keep in mind that sometimes what you’re looking for is a stocking dealer pricing relationship. Stocking dealer pricing is far better than designer discount prices.
You can’t run a successful business on a 20% margin. You’ve got to find more significant discounts. Stocking dealer relationships often require a buy-in. Let’s say $10,000. Don’t let that scare you off. There are ways to make this work.
I approached this by combining jobs. Imagine you have three jobs together which need upholstery that adds up to two sofas, a sectional, and four chairs. That could easily total $10,000.
For this to work, you’ll need to find the vendor you want to use, establish a relationship with the outside sales representative, and explain what you want to do. They will help you build the order.
Alternatively, if you don’t have enough jobs to pull this together, you can team up with a designer friend and combine product that way.
Don’t get discouraged by vendors telling you they don’t sell to designers. At market, they are looking for furniture stores willing to buy large quantities, so we aren’t the most appealing buyer, but do find ways around their minimums and don’t give up.
Approach markets with a strategy and make an effort to develop relationships while you’re there. It will pay off in the long run.
But also, allow yourself one afternoon to browse all the eye candy and be inspired. There is nothing wrong with that. Just don’t let it distract you from your goal, which is ultimately to run a profitable design business.
Watch the video above and if you are interested in learning more about strategies for your business, book a clarity call with one of our coaches.
Until next time, design something beautiful and get paid what you’re worth.