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How to use a Casual Living Furniture Planner

Every month in this column, a Casual Furniture Retailers' board member writes about some benefit they have gotten by being a CFR member. This month, I would like to debut a project that CFR has been working on for almost a year. If you have ever had a customer who can't visualize how to place furniture in their patio, you are going to love this product.

Because my store is relatively small, we don't go to customers' homes to take measurements for a furniture layout. Instead, we offer to work, in store, from plans or measurements a customer provides. We used to draw the patio on graph paper, then draw the furniture on a separate sheet of graph paper. We would cut out the furniture and arrange it in the space. It was a lot of work but customers appreciated it and our close rate was always high when we did this.

Now, let me tell you about the new product developed by Masterplan Magnetics in conjunction with CFR. The product is called The Casual Living Furniture Planner. It is a layout kit, which includes an 11¡å¡Á 17¡å board with a quarter inch grid preprinted on it. The board is magnetized. Also included are magnets shaped like chairs, tables, umbrellas, spas, hammocks, barbecues and more, all drawn to the same quarter-inch scale.

If the client provides a plan in quarter-inch scale you can lay it on the magnetic board and work on it directly. Otherwise, you use a dry marker to draw the client's area on the board. Once the outline is in place, you can arrange furniture until your heart's content. This kit makes the job of planning a patio easy and makes you look like a professional while you are doing it.

Masterplan Magnetics is well known in the interior furniture business for its detailed magnetized kits used by interior designers and furniture stores that sell interior furniture. When they first came to the attention of CFR, they did not have a specific product for our industry. However, they had developed a kit for Lloyd/Flanders to give to their dealers, but that kit only represented items in Lloyd/Flanders' catalog. CFR worked with Masterplan Magnetics for several months to design a kit to meet the broader needs of the outdoor furnishings industry. Need an 8-foot umbrella? It's in the kit along with several other sizes. Need a 20-inch round table? It's in the kit along with 23 other sizes. How about a chaise or maybe a double chaise? Sofas, settees, Adirondack chairs, cushioned and sling chairs, bars, teacarts, hammocks, benches, planters, outdoor firepits and more are all in the kit. Plus, if they forgot anything, the kit has extra magnetized material in it, which you can use to create your own items.

Masterplan Magnetics is selling the kit for $169. However, here's the benefit of being a CFR member ¡ª members can buy the kit for $135, a 20% discount. In the interest of full disclosure, I need to let you know the company provided me with a complimentary kit to test. But my enthusiasm comes from the fact that since we got the sample kit, my sales force has used it at least once a day with an 80% close ratio. In fact, I am so convinced of the importance of this sales aid to my staff that I ordered one for each sales consultant.

Masterplan Magnetics will be showing at the September International Casual Furniture Market in Chicago. Until then, you can go to its Web site at www.spaceplanning.com or contact Donna Barlett at donna@spaceplanning.com or 800-449-9984. Happy planning!

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