Who buys these products? Not who you might think! Jeff Frank, owner of Simplicity Sofas, says that most people assume that self-assembly furniture is bought primarily by students and younger adults. "That is not our typical customer," Mr. Frank states. "Although we sell to people in all age groups, our largest concentration of customers is in their 40s through 60s. We also have a significant number of customers in their 70s and 80s. The reason is that we are not selling cheap IKEA or Walmart furniture. For customers who want better quality upholstered furniture but need something that can fit through narrow spaces, we are really the only option."
Manufacturing unique furniture is only one part of Simplicity Sofas' success. The company refuses to follow the traditional path of selling to retailers, who then resell to the public. "We have had dozens of retailers ask to buy our furniture," Mr. Frank said. "We won't do it." Although the company has a Showroom 1/2 mile from its High Point, NC factory, 95% of sales are direct to the public through the company's website. Mr. Frank says that by dealing directly with their customers, "We are able to offer our customers better pricing, we are able to make better profits for ourselves, and we are able to supply the best customer service in the industry."
What does he mean by "the best customer service in the industry?" Mr. Frank says that the company's customer service begins with its return policy. "Our return policy is very simple," Mr. Frank explained, "If a customer is not happy with our furniture for any reason, they can return it for a full refund including shipping charges."
Are there many customers who return their furniture? "We average one every six months or so," Mr. Frank said. "We had a case where a customer bought a full-size sofa and then discovered it didn't fit in the space it needed to go in. We shipped them a mid-size sofa instead and took back the full-size. Another customer received a custom made sofa in a fabric that they had selected and then decided they didn't like the fabric once they saw the sofa made up in their home. The worst case we had was the couple who had a sofa in their home for 5 months and then decided it wasn't comfortable enough and refused to let us send them alternate cushions. In all of these cases, we took the furniture back and gave the customers a full refund."
Are there any other examples of "unusual" customer service? Our typical customer," said Mr. Frank, "receives at least 5 emails from us during the course of a sale and delivery. The last email is sent after the customer has received their furniture. It asks whether everything has arrived in good condition and whether there are any problems that need to be addressed. It also asks the customer to evaluate the quality of the furniture and of the customer service they received. In a typical furniture retail store, you will always hear from the unhappy customers, but almost never from the happy ones. At Simplicity Sofas nearly half of our customers let us know how much they actually enjoyed doing business with us"
Do the company's customers ever have problems or complaints. "Of course," said Mr. Frank. "Some of our biggest fans started out as customers with problems. When there is a problem, we respond to it immediately. Often our customers are shocked by what we are willing to do to fix a problem. Just one small example, when there is a botched delivery that inconveniences a customer, we refund that delivery charge to the customer. Why? Because it is worth $100 to us to have a customer who is completely happy with her furniture and will brag about our incredible customer service, than to have a customer who feels that she did not get the service she deserved."
Why does the company care so much about customer service? Mr. Frank says that it is because "we are asking prospective customers to pay $1000 or more for a sofa they have never seen or sat on. That is a tremendous leap of faith. We need our previous customers to spread the word about us. And it isn't sufficient for them to report that our quality or customer service was "good." It has to greatly exceed their expectations before they will pass our name on to others."
"The bottom line," Mr. Frank said, "is that the Chinese cannot compete with our factory because we can do so many things they can't. Even if they copied our patent and came out with a cheaper version, they still wouldn't be able to offer a hundred fabrics on dozens of different pieces. Or do custom options. Or sell directly to the consumer. Or offer prompt and efficient customer service. It seems to me as though all the advantage is with us."
To see the Fox News story on Simplicity Sofas go to http://www.myfox8.com/
The Simplicity Sofas website is http://www.simplicitysofas.com
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North Carolina manufacturer of custom-built Easy Assembly sofas, sleepers & chairs. 100% solid oak frames & a choice of 100 fabrics. 15 min. assembly with no tools. Guaranteed to fit through the narrowest doors & stairways. Ships nationwide. 4 wk delivery.
The company website is www.simplicitysofas.com