Riley’s Excellent Adventure

The day he closed his store in Ohio, chartered a jet, and took all his employees to Market

“Some of the best marketing ideas I’ve heard over the past 48 years came from employees. Whatever their position, the more they understand about our industry and our products, the better our customers’ experiences. I flew them all to High Point Market as an investment in their education. I know the return will far outweigh the cost,” said Riley Griffiths, owner of Riley’s Furniture and Mattress in Monroe, Ohio.

It might seem like a radical plan to charter a private jet to fly 30 employees to Market for a day, but progressive business strategies are Riley’s specialty. “We aren’t open on Sundays. While it did represent 40% of our weekly sales, I want my employees to have time with their families. I want to create a collaborative culture instead of a competitive environment, so my sales team isn’t paid on commission. Our referral rate is exceptional because we offer matching store credit. We just introduced a concierge service after delivery that pays for itself many times over in goodwill, additional purchases, and sales of our protection plan,” he said.

Riley’s method for announcing the Market trip was characteristically creative. “He called in the management team to gauge our reaction, and we were speechless. It was a surreal moment,” said Kyle Baker, Marketing Director. “We told the full team during a special meeting. As we played the song, ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane,’ we pulled open the curtains to reveal a poster of a plane that I had photoshopped our logo onto. Some folks thought Riley was announcing his retirement, but once they found out they were all going to High Point, it felt like Christmas morning! Four had never flown before or been outside of Ohio.”

Riley contacted his vendors to develop an agenda for the day and made it a fundraising event for two nonprofits, Innkeeper Ministries, which provides support to Christian leaders, and the local Salvation Army. The vendors contributed $15,000 and were enthusiastic about hosting the team in their showrooms. “We had three groups; veterans, rookies, and pioneers,” said Riley. “The Market Authority was a tremendous help with logistics. They sent a bus out to the airport to pick up and drop us off.” The team left Cincinnati at 7:30am, started with breakfast at Palliser and met at the end of the day for a Champagne toast and party at Furniture 1st, leaving Greensboro at 7pm.

“Everyone has a much better understanding of how hard we work at Market,” said Lead Buyer, Eric Abrams. “They used to think it was like a vacation where we were wined and dined by the vendors, now they see how difficult it is to narrow down our choices to six or seven vendors when we have so many showrooms to visit all over High Point. They also have an appreciation of how much we walk!”

Jettie Bailey, a member of the Warehouse/Delivery Support Team, said, “I was looking at furniture to see how hard it would be to move. I’m glad our customers don’t buy those huge cabinets!”

“The most valuable takeaway was the opportunity to see and experience the products in a way that allows our folks to tell meaningful stories to our customers. By sharing these stories they create trust and build relationships,” said Riley. “Our team was wide-eyed all day long at the depth and breadth of the resources in our industry. Their souls were energized, and their soles were worn out by the end of our one-day blitz! After seeing all of the possibilities, one of our team changed her plans to stop her college classes in design and embraced this as her future. All of us will be riding the energy from this awesome experience for many years to come!”

A deeper understanding of the industry. Greater appreciation for the buying process. Improved product knowledge. The ability to tell your customers the story behind the product, and a great team building opportunity for your staff – and your suppliers. These are the benefits the Riley’s Furniture team enjoyed from their Market adventure. If you’d like to put together a program for your staff, Travel Quest, Inc. – the official High Point Market concierge – can help with all of your travel planning, from commercial airline tickets to accommodations and airport shuttle reservations – even rental cars. Just give them a call at 336.434.3867 or send an email to hpmarket@travelquestinc.com.