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From Home Furnishing Business

Furniture First Launches 3rd Members Only Performance Group

Furniture First, a national buying group for independent retailers, has announced last month’s launch of its third members only Performance 1st group, which will be called Gamma.

The group was hosted by Turner Furniture and included 17 retailers visiting their store. Half of the retailers (including Turner) are part of performance group Performance 1st Beta. The others were observing the process in order to decide if they would like to join; all enthusiastically agreed to form Gamma.

This is the second performance group to form in 2018, following the success of the Performance 1st Beta, which first met in February last year.

Furniture First members have participated in members-only performance groups for a number of years; the group that is now called Performance 1st Alpha formed initially in 2006 and was facilitated by two different management companies prior to Furniture First assuming the responsibility in 2017.

Each Performance 1st meeting follows a standard process, starting with a tour of the host store, followed by feedback from attendees on everything from merchandising and employee interactions to warehouse setup and office processes. An ad exchange and a best idea competition between the members of the group takes place in a roundtable session on day two. The program is rounded out by a session in which attendees compare their numbers to the group’s benchmarks.

“We worked on our business this week with friends,” said Erica Frizzell of Frizzell Furniture Gallery in Walker, Minn., and member of Performance 1st Beta. “In addition to the store tour, daylong meeting and shared best ideas, we talked about some of our struggles as family run furniture stores. So much insight and support from a great group of people!”

“It was a great experience,” said Bob Fiore, from Fiore furniture in Altoona, Penn. “So many of the attendees had a different point of view and a different generational perspective. I feel really invigorated by their enthusiasm. We’re all from different parts of the country, but we all deal with the same things. The meeting opened my eyes to many things and has helped me set some goals for my business.” Fiore Furniture is joining the Performance 1st Gamma group.

“We invited members who were curious about performance groups to attend the Beta group meeting,” said Amanda Daubert, director of services at Furniture First. “They were able to see first-hand the value it can add to their businesses. Being in a performance group is like having your own board of directors.”

Each of Furniture First’s performance groups holds three meetings a year, each hosted by a different store. The participants receive a composite report at each meeting, which allows them to see how they compare to the group as a whole. Participants also have access to a password-protected website where they can access minutes from past meetings review photos and post messages on a private group bulletin board.

“It’s great to see so many of our members embrace this service,” said Andrew Kauffman, CEO of Furniture First. “Our data shows that retailers who belong to performance groups are more profitable. When they invest the time and participate, it pays dividends. We are here solely to help our members succeed, not to generate income for Furniture First. Facilitating performance groups help insure that our members - who are in fact our stockholders - perform at peak profitability.”  

Furniture First will move to a new showroom at the upcoming Las Vegas market. The ribbon cutting for their space in building B, B-530, will take place at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26. The showroom will feature the group’s new lineup of their private label mattress line, Mattress 1st, as well as select merchandise form several supplier partners.  

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