Is implementing change in your business optional? Sure it is. As long as you understand that ensuring your business survives isn’t mandatory.
This week we chatted with Mike Whitaker of Nationwide on the rapid changes occurring within the furniture and mattress industry. As we referenced on an earlier episode, e-commerce has time traveled 10 years into the future in a matter of months and some businesses don’t want to keep up. Check out this audio story on fam.news as we discuss these changes.
In this episode, we feature the musical stylings of Charlie DeCarlo. Be sure to check out his music on Spotify. Charlie’s a super talented singer, songwriter, and musician who happens to be one of us! He’s in the bedding business. Thanks to Charlie for sending us his tunes and letting us share his amazing work with the Dos Marcos galaxy.
[Mark Kinsley] We have Porter Wagoner on the show today. Okay, he’s not actually Porter Wagoner but it’s a wannabe Porter Wagoner; Mike Whitaker in his rhinestone cowboy shirt. Yes, this is the one he wore on stage at the Grand Ole Opry. We’re going to tell you that story in a full recap. A full recap of Nationwide primetime that is today on the Dos Marcos show.
[Mark Kinsley] We need to start off by confronting a dirty rumor that I’ve heard. Whenever I go on my fifteen year anniversary trip coming up in late May, I am going to be replaced effectively now. Temporarily is what they say.
[Mark Quinn] Well, that’s open.
[Mark Kinsley] But I’m wondering if it’s going to be ‘Mark and Mike’ and it’s going to be a permanent thing and I’m going to be ousted. I just want to get that out in the air right now.
[Mark Quinn] Well Mister Michael Whalen Whitaker has already told me he would legally change his name in case of an emergency. Go ahead Mikey.
[Michael Whitaker] And we’ve got the paperwork on that started but here’s the worst thing that happens, I’m going to go ahead and just put this out there. So Kinsley was not terribly worried about that because he said the worst thing that happens if that comes true; is that he’s relegated back to the C-suite.
[Mark Quinn] Just being a CEO?
[Michael Whitaker] Well, it’s hashtag CEO life. It’s hard but one of the three of us has to do it and when you can rock a sweet ‘Dream Team’ hat and an orange tracksuit as well as he does. How can it be anybody but him?
[Mark Quinn] No, he pulls it off there’s no doubt.
[Mark Kinsley] From the head up I look like a member of [02:31]Greg and Katie’s team, really from the forehead up, and from the neck down it’s more eighties mobster.
[Michael Whitaker] That’s more beastie boy.
[Mike Quinn] It’s a generational thing. Mikey, you’ve had a big week my man. You’ve got primetime going on, you’ve got all kinds of guests, you’ve got members everywhere. Lots of stuff going on in your education platform; Mattress University was a huge success. Give us a little bit of the breakdown. Can you share some highlights and I know Dana Carvey is in there somewhere, am I right?
[Michael Whitaker] Yes, it has been an amazing three days. We are on that third and final day of primetime as we record this. Now I don’t want to take anything away from virtual primetime, it’s been amazing but there’s a reason I have this shirt on. We’ll get to that but for the virtual show it has been a very content rich event as you guys know, content kings, that’s why the FAM exists and we took some inspiration from the FAM and said we have to bring great content for three days of virtual primetime.
So some amazing educational sessions, over a hundred hours of education available live and then available on demand. Numbers are still coming in but thousands and thousands of session attendees. We had over 16,000 in October and we’re going to beat that by a wide margin here in March. In addition to that, In the expo we’ve had phenomenal interactions with over a hundred exhibitors on the virtual expo. We had our primetime palooza event that was an amazing frenzy event to get things underway. Lots of member engagement, they had lots of great deals there.
It’s been a wonderful moment to come back together with our membership even though it’s virtual. The biggest thing that we all miss from being able to come together live is obviously that face to face interaction. The magic of these shows, half of it happens in the hallway and this show has been a great platform to get there. We did a lot of enhancements to the platform since the October show based on member feedback and this show they’ve been able to not only chat with each other but to initiate video calls, video chats, hangouts, open conversations, and then we added a lot of social functions to this event.
So, you’ve brought it up Mark, I’m going to say we had the one and only comedy legend Dana Carvey hanging out at our post palooza party night before last. He was hilarious and a lot of fun to just sit down and relax, take that forty five minutes even though we’re stressed all across the country, thousands of folks coming together to share laughter. There’s something to be said about that. That shared experience even though we’re not together still matters.
Last night we somehow scheduled primetime to happen on St. Patrick’s day so our own Patrick Maloney, we haven’t told him yet that that day is actually not named after him. He thinks it is.
[Mark Quinn] Hey, who won the pot of gold?
[Michael Whitaker] We’ll find out today that’s coming up in just a few hours.
[Mark Quinn] Oh.
[Michael Whitaker] And it’s not just one pot of gold, so there’s a pot of gold for the St. Patrick’s day party; five thousand dollars pot of gold going to one of the lucky folks that came there. I know this goes outside the appliance space but I’ve got to say that the folks at GE appliances last night at the St. Patrick’s party stepped up and said how about another pot of gold so they threw another pot of gold together. So two folks who came to that party are going to get a five thousand dollar cash pot of gold, that’s a pretty fun thing to take home and it’s all part of a 100,000 dollars grand prize set of drawings.
So twenty drawings are happening live today, each one for five thousand dollars. Twenty members are going to take five thousand dollars cold heart cash from the show, another thirty thousand dollars in exhibitor giveaways. Lots of great things; we’ve got grills, we’ve got beds, we’ve got a pass into the Serta Simmons virtual mall, and TSI gave away every apple product that’s ever existed. So a lot of fun happening, a lot of great interaction and since we had to shoot this right now, you caught me with this shirt on.
So we’ve got to talk about this shirt right Kinsley? Do you want to talk about the shirt or do you want to talk about that amazing outfit that you wore today?
[Mark Kinsley] First, I want to remind people who you are. We’re talking with Mike Whitaker, Nationwide marketing group. He doesn’t have an official title but among us three his official title is ‘Saves the Day’.
Mike ‘Saves the Day’ Whitaker, because every time I talk to Mike he seems to be saving the day in some capacity or fashion. So Mike Whitaker, obviously a dear friend of ours, when we kicked off episode number 100 he came on the show and for some reason Quinn didn’t invite him back for episode 200. So we’re doing a make good and he’s making good on his
promise to look better than all of us because number one he’s either been to the tanning bed or he’s got makeup on. And he has this amazing rhinestone cowboy guitar laced laden shirt with black fabric and red piping. He’s even got a back tat on it.
[Michael Whitaker] Yeah.
[Mike Kinsley] So I wanted to remind people who you are and yes we do want to talk about the shirt but let’s pump the brakes here for a second because I want you to describe to people that weren’t a part of primetime or weren’t on the inside of these conversations. Give us the tone and the climate because I feel like we’re moving away from the end of the pandemic and we’re getting into a place where we’re going to start talking about getting back together in person. Market is coming up, we’re talking about Nationwide primetime coming back, later on which we’ll get to, but tell us about some of the themes and the topics and the conversations that happened at this primetime and kind of the state where people are at?
[Michael Whitaker] Okay, So I’m going to do that based on having heard every third word. So if I veer off track you’ve got to steer me back okay? So primetime, obviously we live in a pandemic so we went virtual again. Now it was a very different feel here in March than it was at the last virtual event back in October, still a lot of uncertainty back in October. The entire buzz here at the show, the feeling in the air here at the show, has been all about opportunity. There’s so much opportunity that’s unfolding right now.
I will tell you one of our major bedding manufacturers surpassed their sales totals for the live show a year ago with three hours to go in the first day of the show here at virtual primetime which says something about what’s going on in the market right now, which says something about the opportunity that’s available right now, it also says something about availability coming back to normal right now which is huge for independent dealers having that dependable supply chain, knowing they can fill those consumers orders.
So the biggest thing that’s come out of this, it’s all about opportunity but the conversation that started with Tom Hickman’s state of Nationwide. For those who may not know Tom, I don’t know if it’s possible to be in the business and not know Tom. He’s our chief member, advocate, and fearless leader of our little Nationwide army and he kicked off the show by having a conversation about the dangers of going dark because we are in a spot right now where, for many of our dealers, they’re seeing great traffic coming into their stores, they’re seeing great demand.
There’s still some uncertainty on, you know, how much do I want to push sales because how many orders can I fill and as a result we had dealers that said ‘this is a great time to save a buck and stop my marketing activities’. We’ll just stop and we’ll depend on this traffic coming in the door and what we can sell today and then we’ll go back to marketing when traffic slows down, by the time traffic slows down it’s simply too late.
When it comes to marketing, your brand is either appearing or it’s disappearing. So in many of these conversations over the past few days, we’ve heard a lot from our most successful
dealers, from those organizations that are truly transformational in their communities. They’ve said ‘hey, this is the time when we’ve doubled down, when we’ve increased the number of events that we do, we just have to do them differently. We’ve increased the way we engage with our consumers, the way we get messaging out into the market because we know that this home improvement boom that’s going on’.
A lot of data around that, you know Harvard put their study out. They expect another 3.1 percent growth in home improvement spending in 2021. Consumers are still focused on their home and they’re still buying new beds, new furniture, new mattresses, and new appliances. That’s great but you’ve got to be creative to get their attention now.
The shopper’s journey has changed and another great theme that’s come out of the past couple of days is the evolution of the consumer. That journey that they take is always evolving and all the data, everything that you can rely on as fact says that we live in a world now where if you’re not digitally engaged you’re invisible and you don’t exist. So a lot of growth in that space in the past six months, a lot of new and exciting things are happening in the digital front, and you know a lot of conversations that we’ve had.
The days of being a mattress store where you simply have a nice square box and you fill it with fluffy white boxes and somebody comes in and you say we’ve got innerspring we’ve got memory foam pick your bed and have a nice day, it doesn’t work anymore. That’s not the experience consumers are looking for so we have to lean into resources right? Because we have consumers walking in the door and they’re more educated than ever. Consumers are coming in the door with a lot of information that they already have, they don’t want to spend three hours in the store they want to be in and out in 30 minutes. They want to come in, they want to meet with a knowledgeable sleep professional and they need the full solution.
So all those conversations that you’ve been having in, how many episodes is this now Mark? We’re on two hundred and…
[Mark Kisley] 202.
[Michael Whitaker] 202. I just want to point out that I missed the…
[Mark Quinn] Which by the way, 200. I tried to get you on the show and Kinsley was like ‘No No No, we need Matthew Mcconaughey and Al Pacino and Gandalf’ and I’m like ‘Who are they compared to Mike Whitaker, number one. And number two, they can’t talk about mattresses and the furniture business like you can they can’t even hold a candle to you’
[Michael Whitaker] But here’s the fun thing. So I think it’s really more special to be on episode 202 because I am exactly episode Dos O Dos and I’m going to take that as a high compliment.
[Mark Quinn] I think it’s [12:28] Doscientos Dos.
[Michael Whitaker] I’m not going to argue with you because I have absolutely no idea but the things that you’ve been talking about here for 202 episodes. All the things that make up the true ecosystem of sleep and educating our consumers, our shoppers, on why sleep is so important. Educating them on why that investment is the best investment that they’re going to make, it’s not one where you want to go cheap, and it’s not just about the bed. You’re going to need the right pillow, you’re going to need the right sheets, you’re going to need the right sleepwear, you’re going to need the right lighting in the room, you’re going to need the right sound in the room, and you’re going to need the right temperature in the room. All of that together.
If we can’t become that truly immersive space where we solve the problem, and Kinsley was being too kind earlier, I’m not usually saving the day at all. I’m just trying to sell a mattress somewhere or a refrigerator or anything like that but the trick to it all is; consumers don’t come in anymore because they think they need a mattress. They come in because they have a problem and they’re looking to us to solve that problem.
So to see dealers over the past few days having these conversations around becoming that comprehensive solution from the moment that the consumer says ‘I’m not sleeping well we need to go shopping’. How can you be found, how can you engage at the right level, how can you provide content that engages consumers, educates consumers, makes you different from everybody else in the market, and how do you stay involved in the community?
It was a lot easier, I remember somewhere before episode 100, it was somewhere in those double digit episodes of the Dos Marcos podcast when you had a whole special where you talked about things you can do to drive traffic into your store. A lot of them involved things that were event-centric and then all of a sudden we live in a six feet apart world and those weren’t quite as easy. So a lot of people gave up, they went ‘Oh we can’t do events right now, we can’t be creative right now’ but those progressive retailers that get us so energized when we get to talk to them. We’ve talked to so many in the past couple of days, they innovated so there’s new ways to do this, there’s different ways to do this.
There are folks doing events virtually, we’re in the middle of one right now, and there’s folks finding ways to do live events with smaller groups socially distanced. All of that is just making us better as retailers, making us better as a channel, and ultimately getting us even further entrenched in our communities as that reliable trusted source for sleep.
How do we get all the way to a reliable trusted source for sleep from a trade ship? I have no idea.
[Mike Kinsley] Michael, when you look at the landscape of change and potentially the coastline of furniture and mattress and retail being forever altered by this storm, what are some of the things that will stick? You know early on for example, you know I called up the dream team and I’m like ‘what’s working for you’ and I talked to [15:13]Matt man himself and he’s like Podium is
working for us because we’re able to take payments, we’re able to communicate with our customers, nobody wants to walk out with a handout and I’m able to send them a pdf.
It was just like the beginning of that communication and the final piece of that communication was happening digitally, It’s happening virtually. Payments were happening virtually. If they went in and they did have a private shopping appointment and then left, nobody wanted to come back to complete the purchase, they wanted to make the purchase from their phone.
So that was one aspect of it that I think will stick. What else are you seeing your dealers talk about within the Nationwide network that you think will stick or how things might permanently change?
[Michael Whitaker] So I’m going to say something kind of risky right now okay? Please don’t start throwing things yet.
[Mark Kinsley & Mark Quinn] Riskier than that shirt?
[Michael Whitaker] The shirt is the safest thing I’m doing today.
[Mark Quinn] Give me some nuts Kinsley, right there.
[Michael Whitaker] So here’s the simple truth guys. We have the privilege at Nationwide of getting to work with not only bedding retailers and furniture retailers, we work with appliance retailers, we work with outdoor guys, connected service folks, we work with the folks in CE who are crazy progressive always on the cutting edge, and I will say this with all due respect but the furniture and bedding industry has been very traditional for a very long time.
If you don’t believe me, show up at Market okay? Show up at Market and show up at CES. When you show up at Market you still see those strange things called neckties. People still wear those and like three-piece suits and it’s a very traditional space. What this storm has done to the coastline is it has forced us to allow a lot of old school thinking to erode away. It’s washed out to sea and it can’t ever come back and when you say things like Podium.
In the furniture and bedding space technology has lagged behind where it has been in other categories because we’ve stayed with our traditional methods. They work, they’re not broken, let’s keep doing that. This has forced that innovation into this space at a very very rapid pace. We’ve had evolution in the furniture and bedding space that’s moved us years ahead and it has done it in a matter of weeks because we had no choice.
Sometimes great evolution comes from literally being back in the corner and one of the things that Robb White, new member of our team here at Nationwide and marketing mind that I absolutely adore, he led his presentation on the shopper journey by saying ‘Change and evolution are optional because survival is not mandatory’ and that’s the decision that so
many of our furniture and bedding dealers have faced through a pandemic. It’s that if you don’t change and evolve to today’s consumer you might not survive.
So we’ve seen the real heavyweight intellect of the furniture and bedding space at full display as they’ve moved into this evolutionary journey. They’ve begun to adopt technologies like Podium, they’ve begun to communicate in new ways, they’ve gotten away from needing to give you a piece of paper (now we can send you a pdf), from needing to pick up the phone and talk to you.
I don’t know about you guys but I don’t know anybody under the age of 40 that’ll actually answer the phone, they’ll text with you all day but they won’t answer the phone. So getting into those spaces, adopting those new technologies, providing a more efficient experience, and pain sometimes happens. We’ve seen in the furniture space a lot of the progressive manufacturers as we saw supply chain challenges, they cut their lines down and they said we’re going to focus on the product that we know you need the most and we’re not going to focus as much on having the biggest selection but we’re going to try to be dependable on the skews that you really need.
And I think what we’ve learned there is; you may not actually have to have an assortment of seventy five recliners on your showroom floor. There’s a chance that you can be just as successful assorting twenty five.
[Mark Quinn] Hey Mike, I want to ask you a question on that just because I don’t want you to get too far away with it as you talk about that stuff. But change… I love that quote. So when you first said change is optional, I’m thinking to myself ‘it’s really not though’ but it is if you’re okay with failure because if you’re not changing along with the times.
So have you found, because we all know that one of the big problems in change is fear. Right, it’s the fear of the unknown, the cost of change is sometimes high monetarily, it’s sometimes high intellectually so have you heard from some of your members that ‘Man if I had only known how easy the whole web thing was or how easy it was with Podium’ or you know ‘I feel like I was holding myself back and I wish I hadn’t’
There’s not a lot of good that probably comes out of something like covid but you know it kind of pushed them to make that change out of absolute necessity. Are you hearing a little bit of that ‘Man, If I had only done it sooner’ kind of conversation?
[Michael Whitaker] So we have, actually I love that question Mark and it was a great conversation to have with one of our furniture and bedding power retailers, a very successful retailer on the west coast. I was talking to him on the first day of the show and he’d made a ton of changes. Now with our digital platform [20:22] ‘retailer web services’ site on time, we saw a 300 percent increase in dealer engagement since the beginning of 2020.
Dealers that are now actively working on their digital presence, building their digital footprint, maintaining their reputations, doing all those things you have to do and a lot of that growth has been in the furniture and bedding space. So I asked him how’s it going and how do you
feel now that you’re nine months into your process of really engaging online? And he said listen, my only regret is I didn’t do it sooner. I said well, what held you back? He said exactly where you went right there, he said nothing was broken. We’re successful, we’re doing fine, we’re a very profitable company, and we didn’t want to take the risk of making that change because we were afraid that if it didn’t go right it could cost us the success we had.
So the only reason we made the decision is because I felt like I was standing on a ledge caught between the devil and the deep blue sea and the deep blue sea seemed like a more attractive option. And once I jumped in I realized the water is pretty nice in here and we’ve been swimming with the current ever since. And they’ve seen a thirty percent sales increase, their ability to follow up with those folks who came into the store and may not have made the purchase on that first trip, their ability to stay in communication has been phenomenal and their ability to bring in a new and younger demographic has been great.
We’ve always said we’re going to have to market to millennials like Mr Kinsley, we never really wanted to because they’re a different generation. They engage in brand messaging in very different channels but we’ve seen a lot more millennials coming into the space because of that increased digital engagement. Now it’s like ‘hey light bulb, we need to do business with these folks, we should have been trying to attract them years ago’. Why didn’t we? We didn’t want to change.
So this really was a fight or flight moment for so many dealers where there was no more decision to be made. You didn’t get to sit there and go ‘well, we’ll let everybody else try out this digital thing and then see how it works for them and maybe we’ll make a decision’. You were faced with ‘You will change or you will die’. Your business can’t survive in a pre-digital world in 2021. It’s not possible anymore.
[Mark Kinsley] I don’t want to go too sad but you’re seeing some people die, not physically, like retail businesses expire?
[Michael Whitaker] We did and I’ll tell you this. This was very encouraging, so all the experts have always made their predictions around independent retail and as the lockdowns took hold last year there were predictions from folks who were considered credible experts that said in our space, in independent retail, that we would lose up to fifty percent of those businesses. That they would not survive the pandemic.
Now, what did we actually lose? Did fifty percent of the Nationwide membership go away? No it did not, not at all. It was maybe two percent and I’m not sure that a lot of that two percent wasn’t already on the way out because in that number of folks that went away there’s folks that retire, businesses that are sold, but there were certainly a few businesses that simply didn’t make it and they all had something in common. They clung to the way it used to be and they didn’t want to change and they were able to maintain the way they’d always done it until the day that they put the key in the lock for the last time and closed the doors.
It breaks my heart every time it happens but every independent retail, that’s the beauty of independence, you are independent and you get to make those decisions on your own. You have groups like Nationwide, you have resources like the FAM and Dos Marcos to keep you ahead of the curve. You don’t have to listen.
The one thing I would say is let’s look at the historical precedent, those who don’t evolve die. So to every dealer, I would strongly encourage you if you’re not in a group, give us a call. We’d love to talk to you about it because there’s something that matters here, if you’re not engaging in things like the FAM and if you don’t know what the FAM is, how did you end up on this podcast? I don’t know but thank god that you’re here. Now go find the FAM, you’re going to be okay but it really is about not trying to do this alone because that’s the hardest thing for an independent retailer.
At the end of the day you are independent so you can be standing there by yourself trying to have this fight and it’s very very hard in anything that we go solo on but when you lean into a network of folks that are like you, folks that are like-minded, that are in the same business, that have the same goals, that share that desire to succeed it, gets a whole lot easier.
Because it’s not… When we talk about Nationwide, I think of what you guys are doing with the FAM in much the same way. At Nationwide there’s a lot of great advantages of scale when it comes to purchasing and programs and digital tools and services and marketing tools and resources but one of the most powerful resources is finding a family. Finding a tribe where you belong, finding folks that you get to know when you’re faced with a challenge you haven’t seen before and you’re not sure what to do, you have a phone full of folks you can call and say ‘Hey I need some help facing this’ and you’re going to find folks fairly quickly to face the same thing and they’ll share their experiences.
So that part really matters, get involved and build that network around you because the further we go into this digitally connected world the more important that’s going to be. I’m not saying go get yourself some Facebook friends or go get some likes on Instagram. If you haven’t seen Mark Kinsley’s Instagram page I suggest you follow it very quickly, he needs some likes, but it’s about real world relationships where you have those people on your side that truly care about you, that truly will invest with you in that thought process. That emotional process of finding a way to succeed.
[Mark Kinsley] You know one thing that stands out to me about what you said, about the sense of community, about Nationwide it’s really critical. I remember when I first started with Englander and a friend of mine a couple months down the road said ‘What’s the biggest change for you?’ And I didn’t give the best answer but if you were behind the scenes it’s very illustrative of how things change when there’s mountains of nuance.
I’m like ‘the amount of time I spend on the phone has tripled’ and that’s because when you’re trying to figure things out and there’s detail and nuance and there’s communication that can get lost and when you’re you’re mining your friendships and your knowledgeable network of people for information that can help you navigate this rat’s nest. You really do need to stop searching online for answers, Google god is not going to tell you what to do.
Your friends in the industry who have seen these challenges, who have experienced growth, or the accordion retraction at times before they got back to a foundation where they could push forward have experienced these things, and when you’re navigating nuance there’s no better tool kit than people.
[Mark Quinn] You know I want to add something to that, Mike and then I’ll toss it to you for a response but Kinsley as you’re sitting there talking about that, I thought about… You know, we’re all working from home and I think we crave interaction. We just had a business meeting with Sherwood and we got together in Orlando and just the fact that we were all together in a room there was this moment of like, you know, ‘I’m so glad to be here’ right?
Kinsley when you were talking, I thought about yeah it’s good to have a group but the more important part of that is, and I know this is what you were also alluding to, that it’s people not just people but it’s people at Nationwide that actually care, genuinely, authentically care about your success or failure.
So it’s not just the Nationwide people but it’s also other retailers and other markets that want to see you succeed and they want to give something to you and they want to help you and that sense of family, like what we’re trying to do at FAM, it’s kind of the same thing. So it’s about people that really care, authentically care about who you are.
[Michael Whitaker] That’s so true Morgan, I’m going to give a shameless plug since it’s hanging out over your shoulder. You talk about that sense of community and that sharing of ideas, you wrote a book about it.
[Mark Quinn] And you wrote the foreword for it and did a brilliant job, we thank you for that again.
[Michael Whitaker] So I had to put a couple hours work into doing the foreword, you guys put months and months of work into writing the book, and somehow I felt like I got to take a little tiny piece of credit for the book being a number one bestseller on Amazon because I have added that to my resume now. I wrote the foreword for a number one best-selling book on Amazon which is great but-
[Mark Kinsley] That’s a great idea.
[Michael Whitaker] That’s what happens when you get community, because all you did. You guys were in Houston Texas dressed in all white,[28:40] hotel white rappers outfits, standing on stage and you just ask folks in that room. In that safe shared space of friendship to share their ideas, to put their best ideas on a postcard and share it and not a single person in the room said ‘Oh no no, this is my super secret sauce, I’ll never tell anybody what makes me successful’. You looked in the room and there were hundreds of people with a pen and a postcard all at once just bam ‘Yes I want to share that idea’.
They shared so many ideas that it was the inspiration of a book. That sense of community and that sense of ‘We win together’ that you can’t do when you stand on an island by yourself and lean so hard into your independence that you feel like you shouldn’t rely on others. You’re not giving yourself the true chance to succeed that you deserve.
You need to align yourself with other folks who are like you and you need to buy the book and you need to read the book because if what we’re saying doesn’t make sense, the book will tie that all together for you because, how many different folks had ideas shared in that book?
[Mark Kinsley] We had Seventy Nationwide members alone.
[Michael Whittsker] Yeah.
[Mark Kinsley] And that doesn’t include people like Jeff Shire in Shelby township Michigan up at ‘Mattress to go’ or James Perez down in South Texas and it just goes on and on. Trent Ramberger. I mean, there’s probably a hundred different people that contributed just out of the goodness of them wanting to give and their creativity in the world. And so we packed them all in there and-
[Michael Whitaker] As requested.
[Mark Kinsley] You know, themed them up and did all the things that you’re… We tried to put it into a framework that does what you’re talking about regardless of the conditions in the marketplace. Because you can engage with your community, you can form meaningful connections with people, even if you can’t get together in person. We figured out how to, you know, roll with those punches and just keep on going and going.
And you know, one of the things I think I’m interested to know about, from a Nationwide perspective is; we talked about this book that I’ve been reading by Scott Galloway called ‘Post Corona from Crisis to Opportunity’ and in it he talks about ‘nothing can happen for years and then everything happens in months’ and that’s what we experienced. One of the things he points out is, at retail the growth rate for e-commerce was about one percent per year for a decade. That’s pretty slow. It was just hen pecking away at traditional retail then in a two-month time span eleven percent growth.
So what that did is, it caused us to… We got into a time machine. It’s the phone booth that Bill and Ted were in. So Bill and Ted got into the time machine and they went to the year 2030. So we woke up in the year 2030 in terms of where we should have been for e-commerce retail transactions.
And so I look at that, and I’m like ‘nothing happens for years and then everything happens in months’. How do your dealers think about that e-commerce shift at retail? Because for a long
time, we were saying to them ‘You need to have your website prepared to do certain jobs but No, you probably shouldn’t be hopping into a game where the waters are chummed and the sharks are there’. So how are the dealers thinking about that dynamic?
[Michael Whitaker] Differentiate, It’s a great question. Now I have to get out a really quick one Kinsley because you brought Trent up. I have to know when Trent shared his best ideas, did it say on a postcard ‘Make the world’s most charming little puppet, miniature version of yourself, and make him famous’?
[Mark Kinsley] I think that was the summary version.
[Michael Whitaker] Yes, okay.
[Mark Kinsley] That was the cliff notes.
[Michael Whitaker] Just had to check. So to that question, I think that the truth here really lies in differentiation. It lies in creating experiences and relationships. So when we say e-commerce, in our industry for a long time, you say that word and you see that dirty look. People go ‘Oh e-commerce’ because they think that it’s transactional retail, It’s a price point, it’s a mattress, and we’re done.
And we all know that when consumers go online and they get misled. They go to these review sites that are not reputable or credible and they end up landing on this couple hundred dollar solution that comes in a little box, about that big, and they put it on their bed. We’ve taken them out of the mattress market for a while but we’ve also done them a grave disservice. We have ruined their chance of good sleep.
So it’s not about going out there and trying to compete with these national e-commerce giants. That’s not what an independent retailer ever needs to focus on doing because every dealer knows their market. You know your community, and the market around your stores or around your store however many you happen to have, you know that area where those consumers are that you serve.
This is not about saying ‘I have a mattress store in Rogers Arkansas and I want to sell beds to California and New York and Florida’. It’s not that. It’s saying ‘I have this bedding store here in Rogers Arkansas and I want to make sure that the consumers in my market, that I’m constantly building relationships with, can buy from me; when, where, and how they want’. If they want to buy from our store at 2am in their pajamas from home and have it delivered, and never set foot in the showroom. Great, we’re going to be equipped to handle that. We’re going to be equipped to do that.
If they come to us and say ‘Hey, I’d like to have a sleep consultation, I don’t have the time or the desire to come to the store’. We’re going to be able to have that consultation through a
video call or through chat or through text. We’re going to be able to help them where they want to be helped on their terms, because that’s retail in 2021. You have to be where the consumer is and you have to serve them on their terms.
So this isn’t about anything scary. You’re not trying to go become the next amazon, that’s what our dealers understand. You are simply expanding your reach inside your own market. You’re simply taking those folks in your community that are your customers. And I say that to the point of, the folks who live in my community they are mine, and if some online giant or some big box chain wants my customers. You will have to come and pry them out of my cold dead hands because my relationship with those customers is going to be so deep, so emotional, and so real that they don’t want to do business with you.
All they’re looking for me to do, is to give them the options of how they want to do business with me and you will never penetrate my market. That’s what it’s all about. You’ve got to be able to be found in your community, they’ve got to be able to see a great reputation when they get online, and then they want the option.
How do I want to buy from you? Maybe I want to buy it online, have it delivered to the house. Maybe I want to come into the store, look at a few beds, go home, talk to my spouse, and send you a text to complete the purchase. However they want to buy; that’s what the impetus is for a dealer. You’ve got to be available the way the people in your community want to shop.
[Mark Kinsley] Jen Danko did a great job on our show previously, of talking people through those jobs the website needs to do to facilitate just what you described. So if you go to FAM.news, you can search there for Jennifer Danko. D-A-N-K-O. I highly recommend people that want to dive deeper go back and listen to that episode, because we did this I think earlier in 2020, but it’s still pretty timeless. Like, she had principles and fundamentals that definitely still apply today.
Quinn I didn’t mean to step on you there.
[Mark Quinn] Oh no, you’re good. That’s a great point and Jen, I missed her, I missed her episode or her session on Nationwide. And Mike, how long can people go back and how long would those videos archive for people that want to go back and check those out?
[Michael Whitaker] So Quinn I was [36:25] *Unclear Audio* on that one because I forgot to say it, you brought it up so I’ll pay up on that when we go to Vegas Market very soon. That’s one of the great things about a virtual show. If you miss it in person at a regular traditional show, then you just missed out. With a virtual show not only can you, right now during this show while it’s live, go back and watch anything you missed on demand. We’re going to extend that to our membership for thirty full days.
So we’re going to keep every single piece of content, all the education, all the main stage presentations. Jennifer did some amazing stuff at primetime. Jennifer was actually a
featured speaker in what we call the ‘Dos Marcos Honorary Mattress University’. You guys have headlined it so many times now, we’re going to name it after you.
Would you like to sponsor Mattress University?
[Mark Kinsley] I’m in.
[Mark Quinn] We weren’t even there and Bob Muenkel was kind enough to give Dos Marcos a shout out and you guys edited in some video of us in there. So I kind of felt like we were there even though we weren’t there.
[Michael Whitaker] I was hoping you wouldn’t catch that because I was afraid you might want royalties. And that’s a great one you brought up there, Bob Muenkel did a really good, really really good, job this time.
If you don’t know Uncle Muenkel, he’s been around the industry for many years, respected voice of training and he did a session called ‘Doofus and Darling’. Really fun session and that’s one of those sessions that’s available on demand and I will say this for listeners to the Dos Marcos podcast; so Nationwide primetime is exclusively available to Nationwide members.
It is available at no charge to Nationwide members. It’s a benefit of your membership but for listeners of the Dos Marcos podcast, members of the FAM. If you would like to go in and check out everything Nationwide primetime has to offer, I’m going to give you an email address. Teamup T-E-A-M-U-P, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Send us a note that just says ‘Hey, I’d like to go see what this primetime thing is all about’. We will send you a login, we’ll send you a username. We’re not going to spam your inbox, don’t worry about that, we’re just going to give you a VIP invitation to come in and check everything out on demand. Play around, go look at what’s available, learn more. The worst thing that happens to you is; you get exposed to a hundred hours of education from trusted experts and it doesn’t cost you a dime.
So that’s something we would love for folks to take us up on.
[Mark Quinn] Mike tell us quick because there’s other buying groups out there and for people listening who aren’t part of a buying group.
[Michael Whitaker] There are?
[Mark Quinn] Well not really, I mean compared to what you guys do. They call themselves but… I mean honestly, If people are part of a buying group or if they’re part of another one, can you just
give everyone listening to this a little quick kind of explanation of what makes Nationwide so different?
[Michael Whitaker] So at the end of the day, we don’t look at ourselves as just a buying group. We are a fully connected, tech enabled, business services and marketing platform. So the cost of entry and being in this space is that you bring together large groups of dealers. You’re able to then go to the manufacturing community as a collective group with scale and negotiate pricing that’s very favorable to the dealer.
That is the cost of entry to say ‘We are a buying group’. And we certainly do that, we have a wonderful team of merchants. Mike Darrow leads our furniture and bedding team. Three wonderful professionals working with him in Jeff Rose, Johnny Lamp, and Chad Fisher. They do a phenomenal job of delivering on that promise of helping you buy better but buying better is only one third of the solution.
If you go buy everything in the world at a phenomenally low cost of acquisition but you can’t sell any of it, it’s still not a good deal. So we actually look at it as three parts. We want to help our members buy better; which starts with those great programs and all the support you get there. Then we want to help them sell smarter; so we have an entire arsenal of digital marketing tools, the industry’s leading digital marketing platform, the [40:16] leadings industry website providing platform. Those are part of that solution.
It’s also backed by tons of education for your frontline sales team, and their skills, and their product knowledge. All the things they need to know to connect with today’s consumers. We go as far as training your delivery team with assets that are targeted for them. It’s all about creating a space where consumers want to shop, to help you sell smarter and then the third part is my favorite.
That’s ‘compete tougher’; that’s giving you everything you need to go into your market and absolutely never be intimidated by any national chain, by any firm of mattresses, or anything like that. You don’t have to worry about those guys because we’ll give you all the tools to compete at the absolute highest level and it’s a full solution.
So it’s not just about buying, it’s about the entire process. We’re not going to just help you fill the barn up; we’re going to help you empty it out. And that’s what makes Nationwide so different.
We’re also a group that believes very highly in transparency. With digital becoming an ever increasing part of our world, transparency really matters. So we give you full transparency and analytics into all things digital and my challenge here. I would throw it out right here publicly on the Dos Marcos podcast, the Galaxy’s greatest mattress industry podcast, in front of every player in the bedding industry.
What I would say is; look at what Nationwide can offer you from a transparency reporting aspect in digital and if you’re a member of another group we’ll show you what ours looks like. I would encourage you to take it back to the group you’re in and say show me yours.
Because there’s nobody out there that has made those investments, the way that Nationwide’s made those, to truly equip you to succeed the way we have and we’re willing to prove it to you.
That’s the real difference; it’s we’re not going to tell you, we’re going to show you.
[Mark Kinsley] Buy better, sell smarter, compete tougher and if you want a little taste the email address is again email@example.com. And I have a final question, I really need to figure out.
[Michael Whitaker] Okay.
[Mark Kinsley] Tell us about that shirt, tell us what it means, and if you’re listening on the podcast I’ll redescribe it. It’s a black shirt with doilies and guitars and red piping. He looks like Porter Wagoner in a way and you said, before we hopped on the podcast today, ‘I have to go put this pearl snap shirt on for a special reason’ and I think it actually relates in some way to my blaze orange jacket.
[Michael Whitaker] It is, so for those who know me you know that I’m a [42:38] UT guy. I am a Tennessee volunteer through and through. So Kinsley, I like to think that you might have worn that just for me but I think it might be more about the fact that you’re thinking about August. Any chance that’s true?
[Mark Kinsley] Nailed it.
[Michael Whitaker] Kind of figured. So August and I have the dates; August 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th. Write that down Quinn because you’re going to need it. Because here’s the most exciting thing I’ve gotten to say in a year. It’s been a long year.
As of that date, as of August 15th; it will be eighteen months since the Nationwide network has been able to come together live and in person. But starting August the 15th, we will be live and in person at Nationwide primetime in music city USA, Nashville Tennessee.
[Mark Quinn] Well done Kinsley. Nice use of the audio effect.
[Mark Kinsley] That is good news my friends.
[Michael Whitaker] Yes, we cannot wait. I really forbid all of our team from saying words at this primetime we’re in right now; nobody was allowed to say ‘I really wish we were live and in person’. Nobody
was allowed to say ‘I know that it’s challenging to do these things virtually’. Nobody was allowed to say ‘I miss seeing you face to face’.
We know all of that’s true and I think we’re at a point where everybody’s getting tired of hearing it so we’ll say this; we do miss your faces, we do want to be face to face, let’s set a date and time and do it. Let’s say August 15th through to the 18th. Let’s go to Nashville Tennessee and let’s have the biggest primetime we’ve ever had. And are you ready for the breaking news?
[Mark Quinn] Yeah.
[Michael Whitaker] So, you know I sent a text message right before we started this recording and I got a reply back from our own Melissa Stinson, the guru of all things primetime, and I said ‘Mel, when can dealers start registering for primetime in Nashville?’ and she said ‘Today’.
[Mark Quinn] Really?
[Michael Whitaker] If you are at virtual primetime, the help desk at virtual primetime right there in the middle of the lobby. If you click on that, you will find a new icon that will let you go ahead and secure your spot at the Independent Channels premiere convention and buying show in August in Nashville Tennessee.
If you are not a member of Nationwide, you can send that email to team up at nationwidegroup.org. We’re going to give you a pass to come to virtual primetime and on virtual primetime you can click that link. I can’t stop you, it’s just there. You click that link and you say ‘I’m coming to Nashville’.
And I’ll go ahead and say it now because we haven’t officially extended this invitation but Mark and Mark, is there any chance the two of you might have some space in your calendar somewhere around August 15th of this year?
[Mark Kinsley] You know I just moved some stuff around real quick while we were on the podcast and I’ve got a window.
[Michael Whitaker] So can we say it now? Dos Marcos in Nashville?
[Mark Quinn] Yeah Dos Marcos is going to definitely be in Nashville. We wouldn’t miss it, no way we would miss that. Can’t wait and you know what Mike? We’ve got some stuff planned we’ll have to hit you up with, but we have some ideas for that show that might just create some excitement and bring people in. And so, we have some thoughts that we can share with you but we’ll talk more about that later.
[Mark Kinsley] Well, I think the last time the three of us were together in New Orleans, we all ended up in a rickshaw together. All three of us in a rickshaw together and I think, in Nashville, you have those pedal pubs that a lot of bachelorette parties go on. Or golf carts, so I’m pretty sure you’re going to have to follow us on social because, like Mike said, I need some likes on my Instagram but we will be showing off our travels from place to place, and three grown men squeezed into something that looks like a clown car.
[Michael Whitaker] And Kinsley, I’m not going to [46:21] choose my feelings too hard. Quinn noticed it, he flinched. The last time we were together was not New Orleans, my friend. The last time we were together was in February of 2020 in Houston Texas and we had a great show. The ending of the show was amazing but you wouldn’t know. You weren’t there; you left early.
[Mark Kinsley] No I said the last time we were together in a rickshaw.
[Mark Quinn] Oh, There you go.
[Michael Whitaker] So my challenge to you guys is this. I have a challenge for you. So for those who’ve been long-time primetime attendees, those who’ve been at Mattress University, you know that there’s been some adventures with Mark and Mark at Mattress University at Nationwide primetime.
Matter of fact, we’ve already talked about one. We talked about one in which you were dressed in your all-white ensemble. There was an appearance at virtual primetime from a cemetery that one was pretty amazing.
[Mark Quinn] True.
[Michael Whitaker] You’ve done some really cool stuff but the reason we did not have you come guest at this virtual primetime; I didn’t want to use any of your creative juices in 2021 until we unleash you in Nashville Tennessee.
So my challenge to you is this; when we get to Nashville it will have been one year since Dos Marcos appeared at Mattress University and I’m challenging you to come with a session, one year in the making, that will change the very face of mattress retail forever.
[Mark Quinn] Wow. Talk about a throw down challenge Kinsley. We have a lot of work to do my man, that’s a big one.
[Michael Whitaker] Okay I was hoping you were going to say ‘You know what? We’ve been working on that for six months already’.
[Mark Quinn] No but here’s what I can tell you; whatever the expectation is I feel very confident that we will not meet it, we will far exceed it just for you and for the Nationwide members. We are going to bring the thunder, right Kinsley?
[Mark Kinsley] Hey, Quinn is my inspiration with most things creative for the FAM and for Dos Marcos. And if something happens, my source of inspiration dries up, there’s only one person to blame.
[Mark Quinn] It’s me?
[Mark Kinsley] We can all decide who that is, as a group.
[Michael Whitaker] I will say since we’re all three right here. If it is, as I know it will be, absolutely amazing and a huge success. On the flip side of your coin there Kinsley, there will only be one guy that we can call the true inspiration of greatness.
[Mark Quinn] Wow.
[Mark Kinsley] Mark Quinn. Here’s the other little secret tool that we use whenever creativity is on the horizon but seems far away. We have a little life-hack that we use.
[Michael Whitaker] Tequila.
[Mark Quinn] Tequila!
So Mike Whitaker; I just want to, on behalf of Dos Marcos, say a couple things too. Number one; you’re the best hype man ever. Your ability to promote Dos Marcos, the FAM, and the book all in one session is brilliant. Thank you for that, we appreciate it.
Again thank you for writing the foreword. Your commentary and your approach to that was inspiring to us and made us feel great and we’re so grateful for that. And then I would say on, you know, behalf of your members; we talked to a lot of the Nationwide members and they’re, you know when you guys… I’ll never forget the very first part of the covid stuff and we talked to you about where Nationwide was going to be and your drive to serve people as a human.
And not just your drive but the Nationwide organization’s drive and it starts with Tom Hickman and goes down. It’s so impressive and it is definitely why Kinsley and I are so glad that we’re part of your FAM in that way because we share that. And then, I guess the last part is just to say, we look forward to the other stuff that’s coming because, you know.
I think when the three of us, and we are good friends. The three of us when we get together, there’s a different energy to that and there’s something we all get from it and I love it. And it’s exactly what we were talking about earlier in this show. When we get together back in Nashville; you and I Whitaker will be in Vegas tearing stuff up but when we all get together in Nashville, we’re going to see that.
And not just with the three of us but with everyone. And so guys, right now, go to nationwideprimetime.com and sign up. And if you’re not a member, Mike made a gracious extension of an offer to go in and look around and see some of the things that they’re doing. But Mike man, from Kinsley and I to you and on behalf of all your members, we thank you for who you are. For what you do and how you serve.
[Michael Whitaker] You are very kind my friend and thank you for saying those kind words. It goes right back at you guys, love you guys. This part, this right here for you, never was a business. The fact that you give of your time and talents every single week to tell the stories of this business that nobody else was telling.
Now, it does seem like there’s a little growth in the mattress podcast industry and I like to think that’s solely because you inspired it. So, what you guys are doing that is inspiring folks that are keeping us all charged up. We really appreciate you guys, we appreciate the partnership that we have with you as Dos Marcos. And personally I appreciate the friendship from both of you. I love you guys to death.
It’s all about the tribe right? We find our tribe in life and I’m very fortunate to count you guys in my tribe, and I plan to keep you there whether you like it or not forever.
[Mark Kinsley] Hey man, I’ll stay in that fold as long as you’ll have me.
[Michael Whitaker] By the way, I want to call you out and ask a question. I heard there is now active another mattress industry podcast with some very competent hosts, right? Have you guys heard about that?
[Mark Kinsley] I mean it depends on who you ask and how you define competence.
[Michael Whitaker] I understand, they said they were, and I decided to trust them on that. But here’s my question to you; would you go ahead and say right now without any doubt that the Dos Marcos podcast is still and always will be the Galaxy’s greatest mattress industry podcast?
[Mark Kinsley] I think it’s undeniable. I mean it’s undeniable because that’s our tagline number one. But also look at things like this these days Mike. If people say you’ve gone too far then you’re way ahead.
[Michael Whitaker] Hang on. I’m going to write that down.
[Mark Quinn] That’s so good. You know what?
[Mark Kinsley] This is a Van Wilder moment, right that down.
[Mark Quinn] Mike, here’s the good news man. The other podcast shows that are coming out are actually part of the FAM so we get the benefit of learning from them and having them host their stuff on our site. So everyone gets the benefit of picking it all up in one place.
And oddly enough, the reason that we know that we’re still the best mattress podcast in the galaxy; is because one of the guys that is now one of the hosts of Mic It Up, Jeff Cassidy. His older brother Chris, navy seal astronaut, was on our show. He just got back from the space station and we asked him. I said ‘Chris you’ve been up in space, you’ve been tooling around, you’ve listened to every podcast in space you can. Have you ever come across a better podcast?’ And he said ‘Hell no, I have not. This is without a doubt the best podcast in space’.
And so now that his brother is on a podcast. I don’t know, he’s going to have to maybe reassess that. I’m not sure.
[Mark Kinsley] Quinn is paraphrasing but doing a great job of it.
[Michael Whitaker] But you can go back and [54:14] *Unclear Audio* that episode right? That episode is in the archive.
[Mark Kinsley] It’s in the archive and here’s the deal. I mean we’re happy to have an astronaut as part of our tribe and we’re happy to have Porter Wagoner’s great grandson as part of our tribe. Mike ‘Saves the Day’ Whitaker.
But here’s what I want people to do, there are a lot of Dos Marcos tribe members out there floating around with one of these. And I’m holding up one of the indestructible Dos Marcos tequila shot glasses and here’s what I want you to do. Like Mike said, mark down those dates. August 15th through to the 18th because we’re going to Nashville Nationwide primetime live. We’re going to be there.
We’re going to be wearing shirts. If number one, here’s two things I want you to do. I want you to get your craziest cowboy shirts, go watch the video of this episode with Mike Whitaker and outdo him. But I also want the hundreds of people out there, maybe thousands at this point, who have these indestructible tequila shot glasses to put them in your pocket and bring them and when you encounter us special things will happen.
I have an idea. Have you ever seen a crowd, like a mob, like what do they call them? The mob?
[Michael Whitaker] A flash mob
[Mark Quinn] A flash mob? We should have a flash mob meet at a certain point at a certain time of the day and everybody who has a Dos Marcos podcast shot glass; we will bring a bottle, a great tequila, and we will just start pouring shots for everyone at that designating point in time. And we will take a tequila shot together as the FAM.
[Mark Kinsley] The world’s largest group tequila shot.
[Michael Whitaker] Yes, we might even get that in the guinness book of world records and Kinsley I will go ahead and tell you. There’s no need for you to go shopping and I will say for anybody who’s planning to bring it with their cowboy shirts, this is the tame one right? This is the very classy tame one.
I have some really special ones in store for Nashville and Quinn gets to pick out his own. Kinsley, Mark Quinn and I will be picking out your cowboy shirt and you will wear it no matter what.
[Mark Quinn] Yes.
[Mark Kinsley] I love stuff like this so you just saddle me up. Whatever you want me to wear.
[Michael Whitaker] While we were talking about this, one of the guys that’s producing, he said that Miranda Lambert has a brand new line of shirts out and they come in Kinsley’s size.
[Mark Kinsley] Well hold on. Then I get to dress you guys in your waist-down wear and just know that I’ve been known to put people in assless chaps.
[Michael Whitaker] On that note, it seems like Kinsley’s mic is breaking up again.
[Mark Quinn] I can’t hear him, can you Whitaker?
[Michael Whitaker] No I can’t at all. There’s a little buzz
[Mark Quinn] He’s breaking away.
[Mark Kinsley] Assless chaps.
[Mark Quinn] Assless chaps, we’re going to end it right there you guys. For everyone listening, again love to the FAM out there. You guys are awesome. Mike Whitaker, Mike Whalen Whitaker, you’re the best dude. We love you man. Love all the people at Nationwide and if you have not already registered, go to nationwideprimetime.com and sign up today. Or if you want to just go and see what it’s all about, go to nationwidegroup.org and check them out there too.
So Mike, love you man. Peace, thanks for spending time with us today.
[Michael Whitaker] Love you guys. Thanks so much.
Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.