On August 16, Houston-based Mattress Firm launched Happiness Guarantee, an initiative to ensure that every customer who walks into one of more than 580 locations will be happy with the mattress they purchase. If, within 100 days of purchasing the mattress, they aren’t happy, Mattress Firm will exchange or refund the customer’s money with no hidden fees.
Happiness Guarantee is just one of many promises Mattress Firm makes to its customers to give them peace of mind. The company also offers a 100-day low price guarantee, meaning it will beat any competitor’s price by 10% up to 100 days after the bed is purchased, or the bed is free. In addition, customers are guaranteed on-time local delivery within a three-hour delivery window, or the delivery is free.
It’s easy to wonder with so many giveaways how this mattress company has stayed in business for 24 years, especially considering the industry is in the midst of recovering from one of the worst sales dips in mattress history. But the answer is as simple as its guarantees: the main thing employees need to focus on is serving the customer. Karrie Forbes, vice president of marketing for Mattress Firm, said it starts with educating consumers.
“Only about 1% to 2% of the population is out there shopping for a mattress right now,” Forbes said. “Unfortunately, it’s typically a grudge purchase because they don’t know what a difference a mattress can make in their lives. Our vision is to improve their lives one night at a time.”
With $1,500 to their names, three gentlemen from South Dakota founded Mattress Firm in 1986. What started as a single location has now grown to the more than 580 that exist today. But whether one store or 500, the main corporate philosophy has always been to focus on people.
Internally, that means giving employees an opportunity to shine and advance. Employees go through more than 200 hours of training, and some of these employees have taken their learning to the next level by opening new franchises.
Although franchising and M&A have helped the company grow, most of the growth across the 27 markets and 22 states in which Mattress Firm has planted roots has been organic.
“The benefits of franchising, especially in smaller markets, comes from having a local owner there on the ground and capitalizing on that specific market,” she said. “For our corporate structure, we target slightly larger markets where a broader market focus makes more sense. The combination is important, but with franchising, we grow into more areas faster.”
Franchising also helps Mattress Firm achieve its goal of being a coast-to-coast national player in the mattress category, and Forbes is optimistic about the growth of the company now and for years to come.
In addition to franchising, a core company strategy is growth by design—a focus on sustainable and profitable growth that positions Mattress Firm to be the first national bedding specialty retailer. “We are always searching for opportunities through existing markets, acquisitions, or franchising opportunities,” she said.
In October 2009, Mattress Firm launched its e-commerce website to reach the ever-growing consumer population that finds it inconvenient to shop at brick-and-mortar locations.
Forbes said about 80% of the people who buy online do not go into a store, and Mattress Firm didn’t want to miss that marketshare opportunity. But first and foremost, the company wanted to make the shopping experience easier for all of its customers.
“We did a lot of analysis on our website, the pages clicked and time spent on each one, listening to what our customers were looking for,” she said. “We added the e-commerce piece so they have the ability to not only compare products, pricing, and brands, but also to have the option of buying the mattress online or in one of our locations. We target both populations.”
Since launching the site, the company has seen double the amount of traffic and an increase in the amount of time spent on the site and the actual pages viewed. More people click on the maps to get to a Mattress Firm location, which means traffic to stores is moving in the right direction.
“Making the connection with the 70% to 80% of people who shop for a mattress online before going into one of our stores was the first critical line,” said Forbes. Mattress Firm then researched whether customers found what they needed once they got to the website. It also looked into whether customers were able to find the store was closest to them or buy the mattress they wanted online.
Providing answers to those questions led to an increase in store traffic and customer satisfaction. Rather than starting from scratch, many now come into the store informed with what they want and able to make a purchase decision faster than customers had in the past. “To us, e-commerce is primarily incremental sales,” said Forbes, “because we can now take care of that customer in a way that translates into an improved experience, whether inside the retail store or online.”