Kirk Forsyth talks about what you can expect when you come into the Gardner Mattress showroom to buy a mattress.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher and we’re here today with Kirk Forsyth, general manager at Gardner Mattress. Just been making high quality custom made mattresses since 1933. Today our topic is what to expect when you buy a mattress at the Gardner Mattress showroom. Welcome Kirk.
Kirk Forsyth: Hey John.
Showroom vs Online Mattress Buying
John: Kirk, do you recommend that people come into the Gardner Mattress showroom to one of your few locations and try out a mattress and lay down on it, as opposed to just say looking online at picking out a mattress and giving you a call and saying, yeah, I want that one. Ship it to me. Do you recommend that people come into the showroom?
Kirk: Without question. Honestly, I don’t know how the success rate could be more than a half a percent by buying online, unless you just literally don’t care what it feels like and I mean that literally. We have a process. When customers come in, I know there’s some skepticism of what is this going to matter? I’m going to land on this for five minutes. We don’t expect fireworks to go off when you lay on a mattress. That this is it. This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. That doesn’t happen. We know that. What we try to do is at least expose you to segments. We have certain segments of our showroom, whether it be our traditional or signature lines, those are going to be our firmest products. Our natural sleep collection. A lot of those organic pocket coil mattresses, they’re a little bit softer. The coils are a little bit more forgiving, but still firm.
Then we get into our soft support line, which sometimes people don’t like the name of them. Maybe we should rename them, we’re thinking about that, but they are very, very supportive mattresses, but they’re a little bit more forgiving in the surface. When somebody comes in, I can’t tell you how many times this happens to me. It’s nearly a daily experience that somebody comes in, says, hey look, I need it to be firm, but I want it to be soft on top. Okay. That’s the “jumbo shrimp” oxymoron. This is what I do with all of them. I say, if you don’t mind, may I translate that for you into something that I can use? Okay, sure. What do you got?
You, not unique to just you, but everybody that comes in, we all need a supportive mattress. Everybody needs a supportive mattress and we all want it to be comfortable because it should be. That should be a need as well. What we want to do, we overbuild everything that we do here in our showrooms. Everything in here is built with the same quality, not all the same materials, because then they all feel the same, but we put the same effort, the same quality types of materials into all the products that we do. What we do when you come to us is we fit you for comfort because that’s such a big factor. In my opinion, it’s the number one reason you should choose one mattress over another, unless there’s some circumstance where you are definitely allergic to something and just can’t have that in your mattress or sensitivity, whatever it may be. That we have to factor in obviously. That usually comes up right away.
Outside of that though, say you came in and you said, I like firm. Okay, well, we hear that all the time. I also have to define what does firm mean to John Maher. Your definition and my definition aren’t going to be the same. I promise you. I’ve been doing this for 25 years. I just know that for a fact. That said, what we’ll do is we’ll try you on something I consider to be firm and then we’re going to have you try something that isn’t what you’re asking for, just to expose you to it, to make sure that you don’t maybe find something in that soft support line, comfortable because I know the support is still there, but it’s going to feel very different. Than I’m going to put you on something maybe in between, say something in our natural sleep collection, like our vegan mattress, which is a pocketed coil, just like the soft support, but the upholstery is more like the signature line. All cotton, hand tufted, flippable.
When we hit you with those three segments of product, inevitably, one of those, hopefully I should say, is going to resonate with you. You’re going to like one of those three better than others. From there once we get you into that, we are going to then fine tune and sometimes say, one of those is great, we might put you back on the opposite thing and then bring you back to that one that you liked and what it does is it really confirms your initial thought of, this is pretty comfortable. Let me make sure. What we’ll do, again, it’s not about, let’s try 10 things in the medium segment because guess what, they’re all going to start to feel the same and that can be a waste of time. If I don’t though and I start putting you on things that are very, very different, that’s when we start to scale down. I’m looking for nos more than yeses. Nos scale down the showroom very, very quickly and we’re not trying to waste your time and-
John: Right. If you don’t like this one, you’re not going to like any of these 10 over here.
Kirk: Exactly. Firm, that just felt way too firm. Well, turns out I actually put you on the softest version of all of those mattresses over there. That’s terrific. We just took 10 mattresses out of the mix just by that one sample. Now here we go. Now we’re down to two things here. Let’s get you in between those. We’ll have you go back and forth, figure out which one it is and go from there. I mean honestly, so many times when people come in to me and they ask me about other situations and other showrooms and you’ll lay on, there’s this beautiful computer thing that you lay on and it tells you what you want. Well, does it? It generally tells you that this very expensive mattress over here is the right one for you and then you look at the price tag and say, I don’t want to spend that much money. Now the showroom, now the salesperson’s there to step you down price point wise and tell you the benefits of a monthly payment and how little you will have to pay every month to get into this wonderful product. It won’t sound expensive because it’s only $35 a month. What you don’t understand is, there was going to be 60 payments of that. You know what I mean?
John: Now the selling becomes all about what can you afford and what are you willing to pay, as opposed to what’s the best mattress for you that you’re going to be comfortable on for the next five years.
Kirk: If somebody comes to me, the only thing that’s important to me is getting them on something they’re going to love to go to sleep on. Not sitting here, trying to… How much money can I pull out of this person’s pocket? That is never our goal. Now our products, for sure, are not going to be the least expensive products out there, but we’re factory direct and I guarantee you, outside of one mattress, our Ultra Lux product, the vast majority of our line is going to be less expensive than most of your big retailers. I promise. Our quality is far and a way better. That is the guarantee.
John: For the price that you pay, you’re getting so much more from this.
Kirk: So much more. So much more. Again, the process that we use is about you. Sometimes people come in and say, oh my neighbor, they got this mattress. They love it. Can you look it up? I, at times, won’t even look it up because I don’t want you to be influenced by that person’s decision because what’s right for them, has no correlation to what’s right for you. That’s great. We’ll take a look at that product. I’m sure we will, but let’s concentrate on what your opinion of these products are because that’s more important to you and especially to me as well.
What Questions Do We Ask?
John: What types of questions do you ask to people to try to get out of them what they might be looking for? I imagine that some people come in probably thinking, oh, I really need a firm mattress, but really they end up in a softer one or vice versa. They say, oh, I have to be in a softer one and then they try a firm mattress and end up really liking that. Do you ask questions about what type of sleeper they are? Do they sleep on their back or their side or their stomach? What are the types of questions do you ask to people to try to draw out and try to figure out what type of mattress would be the best one for them?
Kirk: This is a very technical way of doing this. You ready?
Kirk: Do you have any firmness preference? That’s it. That’s where we start. Now again, will I ask more questions after that? Absolutely. My opinion on things is this. What I’ve learned over the years, it’s so much better to be a great listener than a great talker. Sometimes people will tell me 10 things in two sentences just because I’m listening. If I’m more interested in about, I need to be talking, then I’m not paying attention to what matters most in this setting. You’re telling me, even sometimes without knowing it, what’s you’re looking for and that’s all I want to know because I’m here to fit you. I don’t want to put you into a product. That’s ineffective and that’s not good for you. It’s not good for me. It’s not good for anything. That means you’re going to return it. You’re going to exchange it. All those things are very, very costly, especially for a guy like me.
Our margins aren’t as high. The labor, the materials that go into these things. We don’t take those and then sell them to somebody else. Once they come back, they’re gone. They don’t come back into the building. That’s that. I want to do my best to make sure I’m fitting you as well as I can so that we avoid all those things, but again, yes. We will talk about side, back, stomach because everybody comes into a mattress showroom. What do they initially do? They try them on their back. Do you sleep on your back? No, I sleep on my side. Okay. Well, let’s try it on your side because firmness wise that that can change drastically. Your reaction to a firm mattress will change drastically when you’re on your back, on your side, on your stomach, whatever.
Yes, most people come in and say, I like a firm mattress. Okay, great. Well, let’s go try some firm mattresses, but then I’m going to ask you, as I say, try you on some things that are more cushy. If you get on them and say, look, I have no interest at all. Terrific. Great. Again, that whole segment of the showroom’s gone in seconds. Gone. Then we’re into something else. Best sales people in the world listen more than they talk. They just want to know what you want because as soon as you’ve told me, the sales done. It’s over. It’s not done, but I mean… I’m going to show you what it is I think that I’ve interpreted you’re asking me for now. It’s up to you.
John: You can very easily narrow it down to one or two products and then it’s just a choice at that point.
Kirk: It’s a matter of, do you think that’s a good value? Is it in your price point? Do you want it? Do you feel like we are a reputable enough firm that you put some trust and some faith in us to give you that product and stand behind? That’s the other side of it.
John: Do you have some customizations that are available to people too? If they say, well, I really liked this mattress, but again, maybe there’s a certain material in it that is not good for me or I would like the top of this to just be a little bit thicker and softer. Can we have this mattress, but change it just a little bit? What types of customization options are available?
Kirk: We can do anything. Every mattress we sell, we build to order. We build for each customer. When you come in and you order something, it’s not like, oh, Charlie pull one of those out. Throw in the car. We don’t do that. We build them to order. There’s a little lead time here. We’re generally somewhere between… We can be one week, we could be three weeks. It just depends on how busy we are, but what I mainly customize is heights. For instance, depending on say you have a very high bed frame and somebody isn’t as tall and we want to make sure this is still easy for you to get in and out of. A lot of times it’s like box spring heights or mattress heights, depths. We obviously do custom builds, for antique beds, which aren’t standard sizes. We do all those things. We do oversize products too. Somebody wants something that’s huge. Fine. We can do that. Different shapes. All this types of stuff. We’ve done a lot around mattresses. It’s a lot less sleeping area in a round mattress than people think, but we still sell them every once in a while.
I don’t like to tweak a mattress too much say in the top because now there’s nothing for you to try, so you’re going to guess. Well, it’s going to be 10% softer. What does that mean? You know what I mean? How do we do that? I try not to, though I have in the past. If somebody says, hey, look, is there any way we can add an inch in this or that or in here or what? Sure. We can do it. I would rather, if somebody said, I’d really need this to be a little bit softer, I’d rather put something on top of the mattress because if it doesn’t work, you can take it off. You know what I mean? A topper. A one inch topper, two inch topper, three inch, four inch, whatever it is, that’s the way I’d rather see something done.
Sometimes we have people come in and they’re so jazzed about an organic mattress, but I don’t think they realize that when you’re filling a mattress with cotton and it’s all compressed that it really has a firm surface to it. I still really need it to be organic. Okay. Well, here’s what we’ll do. We have a two inch latex topper right over here. We can put it on top, gives you that sort of pillow toppy feel, but there’s two benefits. You still get the mattress that you want and the mattress is still flippable, which is terrific and actually a third benefit is that when you use a topper, the mattress generally is going to last longer because you’re not putting as much pressure on the mattress. You will go through toppers over time, but the mattress in general is probably going to last a lot longer.
John: All right. That’s great advice, Kirk. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Kirk: Of course. Thank you.
John: For more information, you can visit the Gardener Mattress website at gardnermattress.com or call 800-564-2736.