This is my last blog post for Room & Board. When I leave the Skokie store tonight, I’ll be walking into the next phase of my life as a full-time writer. I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve been afforded here, the people I’ve met, the friends I’ve made, and homes I’ve had a part in filling. This has been a great job — the best to tell you the truth. Everyday brought something wonderful and unexpected. It’s difficult to leave so much behind, but I have to follow my heart. I’m leaving with a deeper love of design, a stronger sense of myself, and a cherished collection of meaningful friendships. Thank you so much for reading.
At Room & Board, our Leadership Associates aren’t just managers. Their role is about so much more: providing guidance and support, and giving constructive feedback and recognition. There’s no micro-managing here — instead we work alongside leadership as partners. We’re all working toward the same objective, after all.
When a tricky situation arises, a Design Associate might bring to the table an established rapport with her client — she can assess a customer’s posturing, and get a deeper sense of the problem they might be experiencing. Meanwhile, leadership often has a broader vantage point from which to consider the issue, and years of meaningful experience from which to draw. When we combine forces, we can tackle the toughest challenges with grace and efficiency.
Design Associates are empowered to make decisions about how to solve a problem — we don’t have to consult with a manager to make a call. But when I’m unsure about the best route to take, leadership never lets me down. They’re always available to help guide me toward a solution that is in line with Room & Board principles and fair to the customer. It’s great to know they’ve got my back!.
A lot of what we do here at Room & Board comes down to problem-solving. Clients old and new call every day with a range of questions, and our job is to figure out what we can do to help. Sometimes the answer is clear, but there are plenty of occasions when some cooperative detective work is in order. This was the case with a recent client of mine. He called needing to replace a switch on his 12-year-old Tolomeo lamp. He didn’t have a recent order to refer to, and the piece he needed wasn’t on the Parts list we use at the store level to order replacement parts.
So I brought in reinforcements.
I contacted our Service Department to find out if the part was something we could order from the vendor. The service department reached out to the vendor, verified that we could definitely order the necessary part, procured pricing and lead time information and then contacted me to make sure my client understood that the part would need to be installed by a certified technician. I reached out to the client twice to keep him posted (and let him know I didn’t forget about him! — some things take time). Then, once all the details were sorted out, my colleague in the Service Department contacted the client directly to finalize the order.
This turned out to be a pretty easy case to crack, but it wouldn’t have been possible were it not for the strong circuitry of communication that runs through Room & Board. It’s comforting to know that even when I don’t have the answer, I can always find someone who does.
One of the great pleasures of my job is the autonomy I’m afforded to use my judgment when solving problems, managing orders and working with clients. I love that I actually get to use my brain! But truthfully this kind of independence wouldn’t be nearly as gratifying if it didn’t function within a robust constellation of support. Each successful customer experience is composed of countless conversations along multiple channels. From design associates to leadership, inventory associates to visual associates to service technicians — many different people have a hand in every single order. The trick is making all that cooperation feel seamless to the customer.
In my next few posts, I’m going to draw the curtain on these interactions to reveal the myriad ways Room & Board-ers from a variety of roles and locations come together behind the scenes to make things happen!
Everyday is different in retail. Sometimes I end the day utterly exhausted — or utterless I should say. Unable to speak another word, I stumble into my apartment and fall into the sofa – or husband, whichever’s closest – muttering softly to myself. But there are days, too, with a fair amount of down-time. This can be a drag if you’re inclined to a fast-paced environment, but it can also yield some creative riches.
I like the teeter-tottering myself. A slow day (like today) gives me the time to walk the showroom and really take in the setting. I notice small details – a frame story tucked in a corner, an interesting accent chair pairing. Wandering like this opens you up to the possibilities in design. When you live in a space, day in and day out, you stop seeing it — it becomes background. White noise. It’s really necessary to get out of your element — in my case, running back and forth through the showroom — so you can see your environment. This obviously translates to your home as well.
If you feel like you’re in a rut — slow down and actively notice your surroundings. What colors have you chosen to pair? What kind of furniture is in your space? Which of these elements make you smile and which do you pass over without notice? It might help to move stuff around — shake things up a bit!
The other night, a client needed help choosing fabric for a bedroom chair. She laid out all of the other materials in the room — bed upholstery, drapery etc.– and I quickly went to work pulling fabrics with colors that would coordinate, patterns that wouldn’t compete, textures that would add depth without noise. Then I edited my selection and explained my choices. She was in and out in under 10 min, and thanking me for my efficiency.
It occurred to me then: I kinda know what I’m doing.
Honestly, there were many points in my career with Room & Board, where I wasn’t sure I’d ever get here. Somehow, without fanfare or my even realizing it, I became a competent design consultant. Funny, how it creeps up on you.
Room & Board has made Minnesota Business Magazine’s compilation of the 100 Best Companies to Work for – twice now. We’ve got the t-shirts to prove it! Even though it’s an honor to be included on that list, I’ve been thinking about the BIG list. You know the one I’m referring to — starts with an “F” ends with an “ortune.” I’ve been around the block and I can tell you, Room & Board is a special place and it deserves the recognition.
Room & Board lives its Guiding Principles and strives to ensure that all employees have both the infrastructure and the opportunity they need to thrive in their career. This is, by far, one of the most respectful and supportive companies I’ve ever worked for. Room & Board’s commitment to cultivating a healthy work-life balance for its employees has allowed me to shape a life that is engaging and truly fulfilling (not to mention busy!) — both in and outside of the showroom. I feel so fortunate to have a spot on the team!
Well, others must feel the same way, because I was recently invited to participate in a survey to determine our eligibility for Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For!
Cross your fingers — but I think it’s in the bag.