Let your fingers find a mattress – via telephone
Traditional retailers doubt marketing
When Dial-A-Mattress U.S.A. ventured into the South Florida market last year, little did it realize that the move would leave its principals counting more dollars than sheep, and so soon.
In the year since the New York-based direct retailer of bedding opened its first Florida distribution center in Deerfield Beach, it has done about $1.5 million in sales here. The company is expecting to double that over the next 12 months.
The Deerfield operation, which also operates as Sunshine Bedding Inc., currently averages 15 deliveries a day in the tri-county area, in part due to its aggressive radio and television ad campaign. Delivery is usually within four hours. Dial-A-Mattress is rousing lazy bed buyers
"South Florida is a great place to do business," said Ron Tionson, advertising manager. "A lot of people in this region are from New York, and they help spread the word around."
Dial-A-Mattress plans to launch a satellite distribution operation in Orlando within the next six months to keep pace with anticipated growth.
Once its Florida bases are on a firm footing, the company will spread its wings toward Latin America, says Juan Luis Vergez, general manager of the Deerfield operation.
Other distribution bases are in New York, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles. Together, they sell more than 400 mattresses a day.
The company got its start 16 years ago, when Napoleon Barragan was thumbing through a newspaper. He noticed an ad for a company called Dial-A-Meat... which for some reason got him thinking along the lines of bedding. "If you can dial-a-meat, why not dial a mattress?" he thought.
Barragan, a native of Ecuador, founded Dial-A-Mattress.
People could now throw away their lumpy old mattresses without having to shop for new ones. A better night's sleep was a phone call away, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
The toll-free phone number incorporates the company name, except mattress is spelled without the last "s" to bring to mind savings, he says.
"People thought he was nuts, but he was very strong on the idea," said Tionson.
And why not? Mattresses are a $4 billion industry in the U.S. Last year alone, 29 million mattressesand foundations in all sizes were sold in the country, according to the International Sleep Products Association based in Virginia. And only 55 percent of these were sold at department and specialty stores.
According to The Better Sleep Council, an organization affiliated with the ISPA, most mattresses are ready for the dumpster after eight to 10 years of continuous use. But people retire their mattressesfor other reasons, too.
"New comfort options are constantly being developed," says Andrea Herman, an ISPA spokesperson.
Factor in age, weight gain and health concerns, and the old mattresses don't stack up too well against the new ones on the market, Herman said.
Today, Dial-A-Mattress has ventured into adjustable beds, which bedding gurus say once represented a product for sick people, but now is perceived as a comfort decision. Florida is among the top five adjustable bed markets in the United States.
Last month, Dial-A-Mattress signed a sweet-dreams deal with Bedtime Mattress, a Boynton Beach manufacturer, which specializes in adjustable beds and making odd-sized mattresses to accommodate antique frames and other custom sizes.
"Odd-sized mattresses represent roughly 5 percent share of the market," said Norman Strell, president of Bedtime Mattress. "Florida is very involved in adjustable bed market."
Bedtime, a 74-year-old family-run factory direct mattress manufacturer, operates two Palm Beach County outlets. Strell would not disclose the financial details of the deal. Spring cleaning; Group's mattress
Most of Dial-A-Mattress' growth took place in the past five years, when sales jumped from $400,000 to nearly $40 million, says Tionson. And it is expecting to expand into furniture and jewelry sometime soon.
Tionson says that Dial-A-Mattress capitalizes on the same idea that made the Home ShoppingNetwork such a hit: Some people just don't want to leave home to shop.
"Shopping for bedding is tough," he said. "It's like going to an auto dealership, with people breathing down your neck wanting to know what they'd have to do to sell you the mattress today."
Recently, Dial-A-Mattress took convenience two steps further.
Not only is the company on Compuserve, but you can have your mattress Fed Ex-ed to you.
Each day, between seven and 10 people ask to have their mattresses rushed to them, Tionson said.
What's more, convenience comes relatively cheap: Up to 60 percent less than retail prices. For instance, a Sealy queen-sized mattress with box spring could run anywhere from $399 to $999, depending on the style. At local retail stores, price differences on that particular model range between $500 and $1,100.
"A lot of our customers call us after they have shopped around at the retail outlets," Tionson said. http://futonszone.com/king-koil-scores-retail-replaces-rival-35-mattress-giant/
However, all this convenience isn't getting retailers riled. They don't seem concerned that direct retailers such as Dial-A-Mattress are dipping into their customer pool.
"It's hard to think that people would buy without being able to lie on the mattress," said Cinde Pollock, manager at Mattress Mart Inc. in Pompano Beach. "That's how it is traditionally done."