This marks Week 2 of training for our latest crop of new hires. Alison and Michael are catching on quickly and with what appears extraordinary ease. Training at Room & Board is thorough and intense, four weeks packed with information, role-playing, computer education, company philosophy, not to mention getting to know all the rest of us. It’s a tall order, and these quick-studies are making it look easy. Lucky us!
My own specialty here is upholstery and fabric, and so I was asked to provide that training. In four hours over two days, we looked at how sofas are constructed; we discussed the fiber content of fabrics and how that speaks to “durability.” We walked the showroom “trying on” sofas to get a feel for the different cushioning, and touched on leather production and care. And a whole lot more, besides. It’s true that if you want to know a subject thoroughly, teach it to someone: These guys had lots of great questions that had me digging deep into my product knowledge for answers!
I like having new folks come aboard–it’s invigorating! Memories return of my own training (almost four years ago) in our Soho store, and I re-experience the awe and gratitude I felt for how much care and thought those design associates gave to the process. The Washington, DC team feels beholden to provide the same top-notch experience for our new hires. At Room & Board, it’s called “setting them up for success.” Yesterday, Alison and Michael shadowed some of us on the sales floor. It was a busy Saturday, and it was impressive to watch them take to their new roles like pros. Congratulations to them both on an auspicious beginning!
During my last round of vacation, my husband and I stopped into Room & Board to check out some sofas (I just can’t stay away!). Our pairing poses a common problem of both scale (he’s twice my size) and taste (mine’s better), so I knew landing on sofa we could both love would be challenging. I came to the table ready to extol the virtues of clean lines and leggy frames, hoping that if he just spent some quality time with my favorites, he would come to see their superiority. He was a sport, awkwardly perched on my tiny sofas, and I tried my best not to make gagging sounds at his suggestions. Suffice to say, we just couldn’t agree.
Finally I had to relinquish my desire for trim lady-like seating and consider a more substantial option. In the end, we both fell in love with the Hayes — which he finds comfortable and I find beautiful (see, there’s a Room & Board sofa for everyone!).
Shopping for furniture is such a personal endeavor. There are so many considerations and, if you’re sharing a home, so many compromises to make. But taking the time results in a beautiful, comfortable home that works with how you live and represents who you are. I’m a Hayes!
Twice in the past month, I have helped customers who had never been in our showroom previously, but were here to see something they had found with the help of google. Our Brand team at Central has done a great job to ensure that Room & Board products come up high in search results on google and other search engines. Both customers had googled “swivel chairs” and found our website, looked at our options, and decided to take a trip in to check Room & Board out. I really enjoy working with new customers. Our showroom is so vast and filled with beautiful room settings filled with American made furniture. It’s fun to see people be so impressed with what we offer and the level of customization and service. Both customers bought swivel chairs here on their first visit!
I am writing today from our Customer Support office, which is in Elkridge, MD, about 45 minutes north of the Washington, DC, showroom. As part of my Priorities and Measures (the goals we create for ourselves for the year), I asked for this opportunity to shadow with this team. I wanted to better understand the role of Customer Support and to get a closer look at how we Design Associates can best partner with them. Here at Room & Board, its pretty much “ask and you shall receive,”–express a particular interest or desire to learn, and it’s pretty assured you will be given the opportunity.
Customer Support takes over where the Design Associate’s role leaves off: scheduling deliveries; routing the delivery trucks; arranging exchanges and returns, and following up with any issues that arise in transit or in the customer’s home at or after delivery. Today, from Jamelle, I learned how we route our trucks (a very cool and somewhat intimidating task–with colorful computerized maps, dots, and lines, requiring a strategist’s mind). Kara gave me the behind-the-scenes look at what happens when a customer reschedules a delivery and helped me understand the ins and outs of a variety of customer issues. And with Angelique, I got to sit in on a conference call about how we handle repairs for our customers. From everyone, I have learned some best practices that I can take back to the team in the store that will make life easier and increase efficiency for the folks in Customer Support, which, in turn will lead to better experiences for our customers.
Cross-training not only gives us deeper insight into the company’s practices, it’s also fun. It helps us get to know on another as people, strengthening our relationships, putting faces and personalities to the voice on the phone, which creates better relationships, morale, and a really nice working environment.
When you work with the public, your days are endlessly surprising. At every turn, you’re introduced to new people, new stories unfold and you become entangled in the web of someone’s life. Our homes tell the story of our lives, and I love knowing our beautiful furniture gets to play a part in that narrative.
We don’t have caller ID — so when I answer the phone, I have no idea what kind of situation I will be plunged into. Sometimes, it’s a challenge that awaits me, and other times — like today — it’s a love story. The man on the other end of the line just needed some routine information. After I located it, we chatted briefly about how he was liking his furniture and he told me the following: A little over a year ago, he fell in love with our Bennett pieces and bought a whole bedroom suite from the collection. Shortly thereafter, he met a girl. They fell in love and he soon discovered that she, too, had the Bennett bedroom collection. Now they are engaged and will soon unite their little Bennett family in matrimony.
How cute is that?
We recently welcomed some new talent to the Skokie team! For a few action-packed weeks each of us has had the opportunity to participate in the training process – a month-long intensive acclimation period of one-on-one sessions, supplemented by shadowing and self-directed study.
Working with our newbie is taking me back to my own beginnings at Room & Board. When I was just a fledgling Design Associate, I ended each new day exhilarated and exhausted. At night, my mind would be abuzz with the surplus of specifics I was trying to absorb; Anders, Andre, Addison – the names of our pieces orbiting my head like little cartoon canaries. Truthfully, I was scared out of my wits! But here I am, a year and a half later, confidently navigating the finer points of SAP and rattling off the names of our furniture like they were the names of my children.
It’s unusual for a company to enlist every employee in new-hire training. So often this sort of thing is relegated to higher-up management types. But at Room & Board, every one of us is empowered to teach what we know and to learn from one another. There’s always so much more to learn, but I’m certain I can attribute much of the expertise I’m gaining to the collabortive environment at Room & Board. To my mind there is no better way to assimilate information than to teach it to someone else!
Last evening we celebrated the launch of our new and beautiful accessory area in the Edina store. We had over 200 guests who came to see what we have put together. We offered a local BrewMaster who brought 4 different selections to share with our guests. It was the Rush River Brewery now settled in River Falls, Wisconsin. Cameron Hughes was represented with a variety of wine and we had our regular caterer contribute to a delicious spread. We were able to get an excellent local D.J. who mixed just the right music for the crowd.
I had worked during the day and decided to stay for a little while to enjoy the ambience. I ran in to co-workers who came to say hello, co-workers from Shop From Home and a variety of employees from our Corporate Offices. It was wonderfully festive and I finally pulled myself away after visiting with customers.
We are also in the middle of training 3 new employees, one for Shop From Home and two for our Edina store. I always enjoy meeting and working with our new co-workers. I feel it is important to be involved in training so that I have a chance to get to know our new people as well as being a part of introducing them to Room and Board.