Mattress Wars - Never Pay Retail
Are you tired in the morning? The typical life of a mattress is 10 years. The mattress set you purchased 17 years ago is causing you sleepless nights as you flip flop all night and eventually wake your partner. Sound familiar? I worked for a national mattress chain recently and have heard many stories from customers. Their stories are unique, but many are common. One story is of little Johnny who woke you in the middle of the night claiming he had a nightmare, but just wants to "cuddle". The married couples story of your husband getting up to go piss in the night (for the 3rd time) leads to you being woken when he reenters the bed. The confused person story that you are experiencing back aches from your 28 year old mattress (with a 4 inch sag in the middle) and are "just looking" for a new one. Whatever the issue, the resulting solution is a new mattress purchase which will change your sleeping habits. I would like to share with you some "tricks of the trade" which I learned while being in the business. I hope you find the insights helpful and will share them with a friend. Why pay retail pricing?
The Right Mattress
Price does not provide a good nights sleep. The right mattress does. If you "got a great deal" on a poor mattress, you will have accomplished nothing but spent money purchasing a nightmare. Who goes into a store and says to the sales rep, "I'm here to buy a back ache for $300. Do you have something cheap that will guaranty this?" You might laugh, but many individuals will walk into the store and in their first breath say "I'm just looking for a cheap mattress." Bad approach! The first and most important step in the process is to find THE RIGHT mattress. You will spend $30,000 on a car you use maybe two hours a day. How many hours a day to you spend on your mattress? 1/3 of your life is spent on your mattress, yet many people spend less than 30 minutes buying one. No wonder why so many of us are tired in the morning.
Start by going to 2-3 mom & pop shops and try a variety of mattresses. Do you like the pillow top, soft top, or firm top? Do you sleep on your stomach, side, or back? Do you sleep with a partner? A person who sleeps face down on their stomach should avoid a pillow top mattress as, by morning, you will have back strain from your belly bowing into the mattress and your back muscles will strain all night longtrying to support you. When trying the mattress, lie down the same way you would sleep at night. I am constantly asked, "Which mattress do you sleep on?" We have a Simmons Beautyrest mattress set, but I also believe Temperpedic and Sealy provide good products as well. Why did we select a Simmons product? Simple reason, I weigh a bit more than my wife and would inadvertently wake her when I got out of bed during the night. The Simmons product has independent pocketed coils, which provides separate contouring for each of us and does not bounce when I get out of bed. We both sleep well through the night and I don't have my wife mentioning in the morning that I woke her during the night. Now she mentions I snore too much! I don't know what she is talking about. I never hear a thing.
By visiting several stores, you will be better prepared to make an informed decision. Additionally, while in the stores, you should gather product information and pricing as you make these visits. These product pamphlets will become a tool later to help you negotiate a better price, which I will explain shortly.
When is the best time to buy? You will receive a better price on the following weekends: Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day. The reason this is a good time to buy is national mattress chains hold sales contests for their employees on these weekends. The sales reps are motivated to discount on the last day of a contest to increase their sales volume in hopes of winning the contest. These contest normally end on a Monday on the Holiday sales events. I have observed associates selling a mattress set at $50 over cost to win a contest in the last 3 hours of a Holiday sales event which stretches from Friday through Monday evening. By doing so, the rep only made a $1 in commission on the single transaction, but won a $1,000 bonus that weekend. Additionally, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings are a great time to shop as the store has low traffic and the rep is desperate for a sale.
What is the best technique for negotiating 20%, 30%, or even 40% off the price of a mattress set at a national mattress chain? You will need to memorize the secret password of which must be spoken, no whispered while appearing to grit your teeth. The technique is as important as the password. The password is "Too Expensive". A sales rep's nightmare is a customer who comes into the store with a notebook, flyers from their competitors, and who say the words "too expensive" when the rep makes their first attempt at closing the sale. The first rule of negotiating is always â€“ he who speaks first, loses. Let the rep ask you the questions, keep them talking, for a talking rep is a poor listener. With a soft voice, all you need to respond is "too expensive" and let them babble some more. The more they talk, the less expensive that mattress set is going to be.
What is not known by you, the consumer, is the sales rep of a mattress chain is REQUIRED by their corporate policies and training to not let the customer "walk" without first offering you an incentive to buy that day. These corporations spend millions $$ on advertising to get you into the store. This is known in the industry as "driving traffic".
A sales rep is paid on commission based on margin dollars. Margin dollars is calculated as retail price minus wholesale cost. How is a rep's commission calculated? It varies per retailer, but an example from the national chain I worked will help to illustrate the point. A $1,000 mattress set will cost a retailer less than $400 as a cost of goods expense. A sales rep paid 20% on margin dollars, would make $120 commission on the sale. $120 = 20% of a $600 (price - cost). The dream sale is one which a rep sells you the product at full retail, thereby maximizing their income. Before working in the retail business, I never knew this insight.
The evil empire, corporate headquarters, does not want their advertising dollars going to waste by a greedy sales rep "holding out" for a fat paycheck. "Walking the customer" is the industry term for losing a customer by refusing to discount a product in hopes of obtaining a higher commission. How does corporate prevent this? Simple, they track all discounting and sales trends for each sales rep. If not fired for failing to follow policy, a sales rep will have a feisty district manager at their store providing "coaching". This badgering typically results in an increase in sales volume for the store, the company preventing the customer from going to a competitor, the district manager making a larger bonus for year-to-year sales improvement for the store, and the sales rep goes home with a pitiful paycheck for the week wondering why he works long hours in retail. Retail is a tough living, especially during this economy.
All you need to say is the two simple words "too expensive" when offered a price and quietly wait for their response. With competitive pricing in hand, 7 out of 10 sales reps at national mattress chains will drop their price if you stumble towards the door. A deep breath and a soft "too expensive" have saved thousands of dollars for consumers. Try it!