HFA Reports: What’s Stopping Retailers From Sleeping At Night?


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WWhat keeps HFA members from sleeping at night? Hint: It’s not the supply chain.

I recently hosted a roundtable with several CEOs from our industry. Everyone was asked what is the main business problem that keeps them awake at night? After the past 19 months, we might suspect that supply chain worries are making these CEOs restless, or perhaps the lingering threat of inflation.

Instead, they collectively and independently identified one word as their sleep sapper: “work”. Perhaps the biggest problem ahead of 2021 and, therefore, the biggest challenge of 2022 is how to manage the needs of retailers when hiring their sales staff, warehouse workers and of their delivery teams. There are ongoing issues in each of these areas.

Let me clarify one thing. Yes, the stimulus funds from 2020 and through early 2021 have kept a lot of potential employees at home and out of work. However, let’s be honest with ourselves. Our industry has struggled to present itself as a career rather than a job for years. Home furnishings entered this pandemic by combating this perception.

The sales area

When it comes to sales area, many retailers have a harder time getting people to take commission-based jobs. Many job seekers worry about how quickly they can become proficient at building a pipeline. Others fear adapting to the vagaries of commission selling and its hunter-gatherer approach. The CEO panel discussed the strategies they adopted to help respondents feel more comfortable with the idea. Some have moved to a model where they provide an initial commission levy to move new team members into commission sales. Others start salespeople with a salary and then move on to commissions. Some traders have even switched to hourly wages. It’s hard to say which of these options works the best. The point is, creativity is everything right now when it comes to attracting and retaining retail salespeople. As we all know, replacing people is much more expensive than keeping them. One of the Top 100 Retailers told me that he assesses whether new salespeople are gatekeepers in the first 90 days of employment. He said: “We realize you can’t put a square peg in a round hole, so if someone is just not comfortable and not suitable for commission sales, we have to make the switch. as soon as possible. ”


On the warehouse side, it has become an hourly wage battle. Many HFA members have significantly increased their base rates of pay over the past 12 months. It was to follow Amazon or other big distributors in the street which will raise wages by fifty cents an hour to have an advantage. How Can Home Furnishings Retailers Compete? Many do their best to make work environments more user-friendly and engaging. Salaries are a major consideration for job seekers, but when similar salaries are offered by competing companies, work environments and company culture can tip the scales. One CEO told me he focuses on open communications to help warehouse and delivery workers feel like part of the overall team.

What are you doing to find, hire and keep great people in 2022? Answering this question and finding an effective answer for your organization will have a positive impact on your business and may well improve your nighttime sleep.

For more information on what HFA is doing to enable furniture retailers to continue to be successful, join the community at


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