© Windsor Bay Communications Inc. 2017
IT’S HARD OUT THERE FOR A RETAIL SALESPERSON – especially for one working in the complex, challenging and ever-changing furniture and mattress industry.
For that reason, it’s exciting when a young salesperson – one who is just 28 years old, to be exact – walks away with not just a 2017 Retail Sales Professional Award (RSPA) for Western Canada, but also named as the first Canada’s National Retail Sales Professional.
Matthew Fecho, a sales manager with Forty Winks Inc. (part of the Mattress Mattress, the 22-unit mattress specialist with stores throughout Alberta and British Columbia), was one of four recipients of the first annual RSPAs, a program sponsored by Zucora, the added-value provider based in London, Ontario. The program is also supported by other industry insiders, including Home Goods Online; the Canadian Home Furnishings Alliance (CHFA), the Toronto-based industry association; and, the Canadian Furniture Show (CFS), this country’s only national trade event for furniture and furnishings.
The RSPA program was designed to recognise the outstanding achievements and accomplishments of experienced retail sales professionals working on furniture, mattress and major appliance floors across the country who also are seen as leaders by their peers and employers when it comes to delivering exceptional customer sales and service.
Since the award isn’t an easy one to win – sales people with three or more years of experience working on retail sales floor are nominated by their managers or peers – locking one down is impressive, especially when a nominee goes from being shy and somewhat introverted university student to an enthusiastic and engaging people person.
“It was humbling to know there was that chance and to be recognised by the company. It was definitely kind of exciting to know they wanted to recognise me,” Matthew Fecho, who was happily surprised by the win, said in an interview. “It was pretty exciting. Getting phone call from Zucora to let me know that I was the Western Canadian recipient was exciting to know.”
After Fecho heard the good news, he knew a few housekeeping arrangements were in order, as he had to travel out of province to accept the honour. The recipients were feted at the recent Canadian Home Furnishings Awards Gala held just prior to the opening of the 2017 edition of CFS.
“I had to change my schedule and get people in place to work for me,” he says. “I wondered ‘how am I going to get there?’ but it’s a once in a lifetime. My first phone call was to my mom and dad and my wife to let them know. They were all really excited, my wife especially.”
Like many people in the furniture industry, Fecho works with family and was actually nominated by his mother, Lori Fecho, who is also vice president of Mattress Mattress. But although he was nominated by a close family member, parental love wasn’t the driving force behind the well-deserved nod.
Fecho is an accomplished salesman, having achieved his personal sales targets for each of the past 39 consecutive months. He was also a top hourly performer for the entire group of Mattress Mattress stores in 2016.
Fecho also opened the regional chain’s location in Airdrie, Alberta three years ago and has been mentoring its four person team ever since. Now, his store has been ranked second in the chain for the past two years.
“We looked at hourly rate of sales for employees. [Matthew] was the most consistent and highest selling employee. He pulls his weight and more,” says Lori Fecho. “If anyone should win, we thought ‘he’s probably the one to do it.’ We get surveys back from customers and he’s gotten so many back where customers love him. They say that if they could have him on their team, they’d hire him in a second.”
While receiving the RSPA is an important milestone, it doesn’t just mark Fecho’s sales savvy, but also his personal journey from a quiet introvert to an outgoing company representative.
I love talking to people, and working for myself in a sense and not sitting in front of a computer screen alone in an office. I find it thrilling and exciting – and every day is different.
“The big thing for me, I never saw myself in sales, let alone selling mattresses,” he says. “I’ve been in industry since March of 2008 and about five or six of those years were part-time while I was in university.”
Fecho actually studied accounting at the University of Mount Royal in Calgary, so his transition is extra interesting, especially since he says he wasn’t particularly gregarious when he was younger. That said, working for Mattress Mattress taught him that he’s actually a great people person.
“I love talking to people, and working for myself in a sense and not sitting in front of a computer screen alone in an office. I find it thrilling and exciting – and every day is different.”
As far as working for family goes, he says it has its challenges and rewards.
“I see and talk to my mom almost every day. My uncle (Eric Buchfink, owner, founder and president of Mattress Mattress) and I are quite a bit closer now. You’re not scared to put forth ideas or say what you think is right. They won’t get mad at you or look at you differently. Sometimes arguments can get a little heated, but it opens the door to communication,” he says.
Both Lori Fecho and her brother Eric Buchfink flew to Toronto attend the RSPA presentation.
The younger Fecho’s success stems, in many ways from the passion he developed for the industry once he became more immersed in it. “That this is a health and wellness product and being healthy and active is important to me,” he says. “People run, walk and bike and walk their dogs. It’s easy to find a link between people and the mattress and see what will suit their needs best. It became a passion for me.”
Fecho sees himself a fairly active person, often playing dodgeball and ultimate Frisbee with his wife and friends. He also says he and his wife spend a great deal of time walking their dog and biking, sometimes traveling five to ten kilometres in a day.
As for what he likes best about the job, Fecho says the human interaction is most rewarding. “I was never a people person 10 years ago, and this changed me into a people person. I like talking, I know when to talk and sit back and listen and survey.”
Going forward, Fecho hopes to grow with the company. “I only have intentions of growing with the company. The goals I have are all within Mattress Mattress. I don’t intend to leave ever.”
He also wants the company that took a chance on him and helped him grow to get even bigger. “I think it needs to grow, we need more locations,” he says. “What we specialise in and do well in is mattresses, and we believe in educating customers and making sure they know what they’re buying. Growth needs to happen so people are more aware of us.” Those are definitely words that both his mother and his uncle will want to hear.
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.