Join ICFA For the Benefits
Last week I attended the ICFA Board of Directors meeting, which was held in New Orleans. Approximately 28 board members were in attendance over the two-day meeting. This is a very interactive group consisting of Manufacturers, Retail Dealers, Reps and Designers. Representatives from MMPI were in attendance to share the 2010 Casual Market recap. According to MMPI's statistics, attendance was up approximately 21% from 2009.
In addition to the market update, various committee reports were presented. The ICFA Awards Committee recommended some new changes to the awards nominations and committee involvement and procedures. The Membership committee announced and highlighted the new Membership Campaign, which will run from November 15th thru February 15th. The Retail Council and Strategic Partnership committee also presented reports. We also discussed market research, and branding.
One of the most exiting aspects of this board meeting was the preview of the new ICFA Sales Training Certification Program. This program is one of the main new benefits of being an ICFA member. Look for this program to be rolled out beginning December 1st, so stay tuned.
Being active in this organization has a tremendous amount of benefits. Networking with other retailers and manufacturers and being able to share best practices is certainly a positive benefit for both dealers and manufacturers. Sales reps have the opportunity to network with prospective and current dealers, as well as, meet manufacturers that they would not have the opportunity to meet otherwise. Participation in the organization helps to build an organization that has lots of innovative benefits for all involved.
The first evening of the ICFA Board of Directors meeting we all boarded mini coaches from the hotel to a local retail store in Metairie. Bruce Aronson hosted a reception for the board members at his store, The Pool and Patio Center. If you have not had the opportunity to tour other casual furniture stores this is a must do! Retailers glean ideas on how to create new merchandise displays, new product offerings for cross merchandising, display design and possibly even new programs that increase sales and revenue.
Bruce's store, The Pool and Patio Center is a 15,000 square foot showroom with two levels. As soon as you enter the store they capture your attention with a beautiful vignette set up right in front of your eyes. The vignette consists of a lovely draped Tuuci pavilion, which immediately defines the space creating an outdoor room. A chandelier hangs from the center illuminating the pavilion. An Ebel uniquely modular sectional sofa fills up the pavilion creating a lush seating space with decorative designer pillows. An outdoor rug and outdoor accessories such as lanterns complete the vignette.
As you move through out the store, The Pool and Patio Center has added splashes of color with the use of accessories, and multiple seating and dining groups produce additional vignettes scattered around the store. You can sit around a dining table while you contemplate which collection will look and fit your personal style, or relax in comfort in the many deep seated arrangements as you determine which frame and fabric finish best suits your needs. Bruce's store is set up to promote the sale of casual furniture and accessories for all of the customers who enter.
Viewing and touring another casual furniture store is a worthwhile adventure. Most likely you will not feel that comfortable going to your direct competition, but my guess is that if you drive a bit farther and visit a store or two outside your territory you will be received graciously and will have an opportunity to see, as well as, share ideas of merchandising display and merchandising categories with your new found friends in the ICFA.
A great big warm Thank You goes out to Bruce Aronson and his staff at The Pool and Patio Center in Metairie, Louisiana for your gracious hospitality!
Here is to a great season in 2012....
If you have any questions or want further information about joining or the benefits of the ICFA visit www.icfanet.org or leave a comment or question below and I will be happy to contact you with an answer.
It was my first visit to New Orleans since Katrina or the BP oil spill, I am happy to report that the seafood in town was delicious and plentiful and the town looked wonderful. If you have not had an opportunity to visit, you should add it to your To Do list.
These are my outside views...Marcia Blake