Quick-start guide to furniture selling

By NAMAN GUPTA

As the furniture industry tends to become more organised, with more entrepreneurs setting up mechanised furniture and door manufacturing units, we are also seeing a lot of hardware and plywood dealers morphing into interior contractors to sell kitchens and wardrobes.

However, when we delve deep into the market, we realise that even after having the right setup many of these factories or contractors still do not have the right knowhow.

Coming from a background of distribution and wholesale of hardware and furniture components, we barely realise the importance of manufacturer’s drawings, installation templates and the most basic fundamentals of furniture manufacturing.

However, after a journey of 5 years and accumulating experience (after making a lot of mistakes!) here is a quick start guide on how to start selling modular furniture.

Planning & design

When one begins to retail kitchens and wardrobes, especially in the premium end of the market, the approach of the business needs to be that of a service provider rather than transactional – think of a fine dine restaurant, saloon or a luxury car dealership.

The customer isn’t just buying the furniture, s/he expects you to give him a tailor-made design using the materials s/he wants. Further, s/he wants the installation to be top notch, without any service or warrantee issues.

For companies which have traditionally been engaged in transactional businesses, this is the most difficult part.

The designer is the most important cog in the modular furniture business. The business does not allow him even a minimal margin of error. If s/he makes a mistake, the factory processes panels accordingly and the technicians at the site are left stranded.

Thus, it is important to give a thorough training to your entire team about the most basic fundamentals of modular furniture, including cabinet structure, System 32, understanding and interpreting drawings.

Institutes such as the HPWWI (Hettich Poddar Wood Working Institute, in Faridabad) are a magnificent place to start your learning journey.

Team-process mix

Based on your target market choose the vendors who can supply you the components efficiently, consistently, safely and timely. Ask your vendors to provide you free training for the products – and most will be very happy to do so!

These components include the hardware, wood material, shutters, countertops and appliances.

To start off, one would need a smart designer who is ready to multi-task, along with a carpenter who values perfection. These two are the most important pillars in your new journey of modular furniture selling.

We cannot over-emphasise the importance of training your team members.  The process will differ as per each business.

Do not try to re-invent the wheel. Talk to your vendors and partners as to how a particular problem can be addressed. Use templates and tools to get work done efficiently and accurately.

Never hesitate to buy good tools, templates or software for your team members. Templates like this are used to install kitchen hardware and can reduce installation times by up to 50%.

– The writer is Director of Etna Hardware, which has two showrooms in Hyderabad. His company distributes hardware under the brand name Nimmi.

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