Dial-A-Mattress is rousing lazy bed buyers
Who shops for bedding at 2 a.m.?
Robert Klein, president and co-owner of Dial-A-Mattress, thinks the question instead should be: Where can you get a brand-name mattress for bargain prices delivered to your door in two hours?
He and Geoffrey Chasin this month opened the Norwood franchise that offers an "800" number to purchase bedding at any time, 365 days a year.
The company sells Sealy and Serta mattresses at 60 percent off department store prices and delivers them in four New England states within any two-hour time period--except between midnight and 6 a.m.--requested by the customer. The door-to-door service also removes old bedding. Ohio Mattress wins Sealy suit; $122M damages awarded to 2 franchise holders
"I think that it's not so much the need for a 24-hour phone service for ordering mattresses as it is the fact that shopping from home is becoming increasingly desirable and efficacious," Klein said.
Another question: How does a customer order a mattress over the phone and know that it will be comfortable?
The embarrassing bounce
"When you go and try a mattress," Klein explained, "it really doesn't give you an accurate feel for what it is."
Ordinarily, buyers embarrassingly bounce on the bed in front of a salesperson, lie stiffly for a moment and then decide whether they like it.
Instead, Klein said, Dial-A-Mattress puts the customer in touch with a bedding expert who can quickly choose a product that would be suitable to the caller's preferences.
Then the consumer can try out the new bedding at home, and even sleep on it; if it's not right, it can be returned at no cost.
Dial-A-Mattress has made about 100 deliveries in two weeks and expects the rate to increase as customers start talking about the new service.
"People are amazed," Chasin said. "It's not some sort of strange or bogus deal."
The bedding is delivered from the warehouse in Norwood. Dial-A-Mattress is supplied directly from manufacturers.
Costs can remain lower than at department stores because overhead is cheaper. There is no showroom.
Chasin and Klein admitted that they check the prices at retailers offering Sealy and Serta bedding so they can sell theirs at a 60 percent discount.
However, they said their unique service should be compelling for many reasons other than price.
The two have about 35 years of experience between them in the delivery business as contractors for department stores.
"We were ideally suited to do this because we already had the distribution end of the business set up," Chasin added. New Hillside name reflects
The franchise agreement would have allowed the two to sell any mattresses they wanted, but they chose to sell only Serta and Sealy products because they were quality brands with guarantees, which would be important to customers.
"Every time you buy one you know what you're getting. So that gives people the comfort in that they're getting a top-quality product," Chasin said.
One mattress industry insider, who did not want to be identified but is familiar with the company, said most people never understand the quality of the bedding they buy from a retailer anyway.
"It's a blind product," the person said. "The |Dial-A-Mattress~ salespeople have been trained, . . . and they're able to express and explain to the consumer what they're going to get."
Dial-A-Mattress was founded in New York 12 years ago and does about $30 million in sales a year delivering to the New York City area, according to Klein.
Chasin said the Norwood franchise--which also sells frames, futons, box springs and foundations--would be targeting not only city dwellers who don't have cars, but those who are generally pressed for time. In other words, nearly everyone.
Too busy to shop
The service is responding to the needs of consumers, who, as a group, have less time and money. Marketers are increasingly vying for both.
Several mattress retailers in the area agreed. But Marc Wayne, vice president of Sleeparama in Boston, knocked Dial-A-Mattress' prices and said only an "ignorant" consumer would order a mattress over the phone.
Neil H. Offen, president of the Direct Selling Association, said he did not think too many customers would try out the products in a store and then order them over the phone just to get a discount.
"Time is too precious to the consumer," he said.
But another call-in company realized such demands on shoppers four years ago.
By dialing (800) 782-WINE, a connoisseur can get Geerlings & Wade, a wine importer and direct mail marketer in Canton, to deliver a fine bottle to his or her door at 30 percent off regular retail prices.
Despite stagnant growth in the wine industry, the company has seen a 40 percent increase in its statewide business and has expanded its distribution to Connecticut, Illinois and New York.
Principals Huib Geerlings and Phil Wade are expecting sales to exceed $7 million in 1992.
Wade said they created their service to provide consumers with an easy way to learn about and purchase fine wines. But, he added, people thought the two were crazy to leave their jobs to try to sell wine over the phone. http://futonszone.com/cpsc-reviews-mattress-safety/
Customers receive their orders within two weeks. Wine must be purchased by the case, but the buyer may split a case with the another customer to diversify the order. Wines are as inexpensive as $6.50 a bottle for a 1989 pinot blanc.
If the buyer does not like the wine, Geerlings and Wade will pick up the remainder of the case and return the full price.
Like Dial-A-Mattress, Geerlings & Wade concentrates on selling a few brands in large quantities to keep the price low.