We Found Canada’s Best Retail Furniture Sales People

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© Windsor Bay Communications Inc. 2017

EARLIER THIS YEAR AND IN COLLABORATION with Zucora Inc., Home Goods Online launched a new awards program whose goal was to seek out this country’s best retail sales people and sales managers working in Canadian furniture, mattress and major appliance stores. The quality of the response we received from retailers across the country was staggering and truly encouraging. The amount of raw talent at work on retail floors from Victoria and to St. John’s has to be seen to be believed.

When we published our invitation for retailers to nominate the best members of their team for this award, Brad Geddes, president and chief executive officer of Zucora, the London-based added value resource and Presenting Sponsor of the Retail Sales Professional Awards (RSPA), pointed out they really do control the industry’s fate.

The quality of the response we received from retailers across the country was staggering and truly encouraging.

“These men and women are our industry’s first point of contact with the customer. They literally control what the customer buys and why – yet we don’t, as an industry, recognise and celebrate their contributions,” he said, adding, “The RSPA will celebrate the outstanding achievement of sales professionals throughout Canada’s home furnishings industry. In addition to sales success, the RSPAs are driven by peer-recognised achievement for delivering customer excellence by going ‘above and beyond’.” Nominees had to meet the following requirements, at minimum:

  • He or she must be actively employed as a sales associate or manager in the retail of home furnishing products (furniture; appliances; electronics; bedding and related products) in Canada;
  • He or she must have a minimum of three years of direct sales experience with consumers;
  • He or she must consistently meet or exceed performance goals as confirmed by the candidate’s employer;
  • He or she must demonstrate a customer-focused approach with supported documentation;
  • He or she must have a record of mentoring and assisting other sales professionals as recognised by their peers; and,
  • He or she must be aware of the nomination and be willing to be considered for nomination, and if selected, be available to attend the Canadian Home Furnishings Awards gala event to be held in Toronto just prior to the Canadian Furniture Show (transportation and accommodation to be provided).

In all, the judging panel selected one winner from five regions across the country: British Columbia; Western Canada (including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, The Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut); Ontario; Quebec and Atlantic Canada (including Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland & Labrador).

From these, one national award recipient was chosen. The 2017 RSPA winners will be introduced more fully in their individual profiles that follow, but congratulations are warranted once again to: Sylvie Viel of Ameublement BrandSource Rice in Edmonton, New Brunswick – Atlantic Canada; Ruth Parkinson of Executive Furniture Rentals in North York – Ontario; Amanda Bell of Marshall’s Home Living in Kelowna – British Columbia; and, Matthew Fecho of Mattress Mattress in Airdrie, Alberta – Western Canada.

Matthew Fecho was also named Canada’s Retail Sales Professional of the Year for 2017.

Unfortunately, there was no winner found to represent furniture, mattress and major appliance retailers in Quebec.

This year’s judging panel included: Mark Geddes, Zucora’s director of corporate sales training; Corrie-Ann Knell, HGO’s director of sales and marketing; and, Pat Kelly, assistant vice president of home furnishings for Cantrex Nationwide.

The recipients of the first RSPAs received an all-expense paid trip (including airfare, accommodation and meals) to Toronto where they were presented to the industry during this year’s Canadian Home Furnishings Awards gala. They were also invited to attend the Canadian Furniture Show.

Pat Kelly was unequivocal in his praise for this year’s RSPA recipients.

“When reviewing the candidates for these great awards one common thread ran through each – a passion for their work. Each contributed on many levels including the success of the business; the right products, excellence in service but most of all a passion and care for their customer; to ensure that each customer had the best experience and a result that exceeded their customer’s expectations,” he observed.

“You have to admire that and recognise the importance of the influence their behaviour has on others and the business. Recognition of their excellence is so important and not just as examples of the changing environment and competitive pressures; but proof it is still the human factor that makes all the difference,” he added.

The RSPA program was also supported by the Canadian Home Furnishings Alliance (CHFA) and the Canadian Furniture Show (CFS).

The call for entries for the 2018 Retail Sales Professional Awards will be made next January.

Home Goods Online extends its congratulations to the winning class of 2017. Our industry’s future is indeed safe in their hands.

A Letter from the Presenting Sponsor Saluting our Bridge to the Customer

“She doesn’t care how much you know; until she knows how much you care …” This is an old but familiar sales refrain. It seems that sales professionals who truly understand the importance of guiding and assisting customers recall this phrase automatically.

Professional sales associates are the real heroes of the home furnishings retail industry.

What we sometimes forget is that nothing happens until somebody sells something! Professional sales associates are the real heroes of the home furnishings retail industry. Without them, nothing happens Every day, we are fortunate to be able to interact with sales professionals and sales managers throughout Canada who are driven to succeed. Their success (and personal income) is largely dependent on their ability to listen, understand and assist their customers in helping to make the right purchase decision.

Sales associates serve as the bridge between a customer and the product or service offered for sale.

Sales associates determine a retailer’s financial success.

Sales associates are both the first and last impression made with customers.

The Retail Sales Professional Awards is an industry-wide opportunity to recognise the significant value that these key individuals provide for all of us in the home furnishings industry. Together with the support of two leading industry organisations – the Canadian Home Furnishings Association and the Canadian Furniture Show – as well as Home Goods Online, the RSPAs provide the occasion to highlight and celebrate those people that make it happen.

As the program’s Presenting Sponsor, Zucora is proud to have played a small role in recognising these industry professionals who inspire us. Their ability to serve, satisfy and care for customers on a daily basis provides us all with the business success that we’re able to enjoy.

Bradford ‘Brad’ Geddes

President and Chief Executive Office, Zucora Inc.

Ashley Newport is Contributing Editor to Home Goods Online. This article first appears in the Fall 2017 edition of the HGO Merchandiser and is reproduced here with permission.

Michael Knell

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