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Monthly Issue

From Home Furnishing Business

Innovation: A Pathway to Profitability


By Bob George

This issue’s focus is on innovation, a focus that we plan to repeat each year.  We believe that it is important to recognize the impact of game-changing developments that contribute to the future success of furniture retailing.

I have been fortunate to be involved with Impact Consulting’s performance groups over the past decade.  A cornerstone of the process is to share “Best Ideas.”  Each member prepares a written presentation that describes a best idea expanding upon why this best idea was developed, what was the approach to implementation, and finally the success of the best idea.  The members take the process seriously contributing dollars to a winner pool.  This pool is won by the idea voted the best by the group.  The ideas are often simple and receive comments from the group such as “Why didn’t I think of that?”  But more importantly, these ideas are shared with others in the group to be not only implemented, but also improved upon. 


As a management consultant attending these meetings with the confidentiality agreement firmly in place causes my mouth to water at the possibilities of sharing with others these unique ideas.  However, I resist the temptation and wait for the idea to emerge in the industry and it will because good ideas cannot be suppressed. Fortunately, some retailers give permission to distribute because they know that an idea is worth nothing until it is implemented.  Implementation is what differentiates great retailers from good retailers.   If the traditional retailer is to survive the onslaught of new distribution models, then innovation or more simply put best ideas, must become part of the ongoing process.  Our performance group members are consistently in the top quartile of financial performances.  The best ideas that they generate focus on specific financial elements and the results reflect that execution.

We are considering creating an industry-wide “Best Idea” contest.  There will be an entrance fee, a panel of seasoned retailers who will judge the entrants, and finally a winner to share the pot.  What do you think?  This is how innovation occurs – a single idea that evolves to a positive outcome.  Why should we leave out the manufacturers?  They need to innovate as well. 

An Update

As we communicated in the May issue we have changed the structure of our editorial staff to have editors with specific expertise in each area.  In that effort we are pleased to announce the following.

Veteran journalist, Larry Thomas, who has covered the home furnishings industry for more than twenty-five years, has joined Home Furnishings Business as business and financial editor.  In his new position he will focus on business and financial news and will write feature articles for the monthly magazine.  He will also oversee the daily newsletter, Home Furnishings Business Now, and will write additional content for the HFB website, Larry’s expertise will add a depth of understanding of the business and finance implications of the issues facing the industry.  Please send any information to

Home Furnishings Business is pleased to have Trisha McBride Ferguson on our staff as our Product & Style editor.  She brings over twenty years of industry experience as a writer and designer.  She has worked closely with many leading home furnishings manufacturers.  She is also Editor in Chief of our customized retailer magalogs which blend consumer home decorating content with furniture product information to drive retail traffic.  Please send information about your product-related news and events to

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