Sit ’n Sleep

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Sit ’n Sleep goes above and beyond the call of duty to satisfy a customer and strives to give back to the community that brought it success.

By Stephanie Crets

After nearly four decades, Sit ’n Sleep has become one of the largest mattress retailers in the United States. With 37 locations – and counting – across southern California, the company offers the largest array of mattress product with 110 SKUs. Helping customers find the right mattress for their needs, body type, health and wallet is the driving force behind Sit ’n Sleep.

“Whether a customer wants a $200 set to a $10,000 set, we can help them through the process,” CEO Larry Miller says. He recalls a time early on in the business when he put this philosophy into practice to help a customer purchase a $199 king mattress set. Ten years later, that same customer came back to purchase a $999 set, and after another 10 years passed, the customer returned to buy two deluxe, high-end Tempur-Pedic adjustable mattresses for $3,200.

“It’s not how big the sale is initially; it’s what can we do to attract new customers, service them properly and treat them the right way,” Miller says. “You can build customers for life.”

Miller believes Sit ’n Sleep can promote happy and repeat customers because the company hires the best people. And it’s not even about people with mattress retail experience; it’s important to hire people that care about other people, Miller notes. “We can teach people what they need to learn to sell the mattress but we can’t teach people to be better human beings,” he says. “We want people that want long careers. Most people are here about 10 years and some 20 years. We treat them properly. We hire, attract and keep great people. Some companies feel their sales associates are secondary but I feel they’re critical to our success.”

It also helps that the company has a huge selection of merchandise, is open seven days a week and has innovative technology to make buying even easier and more fun for the customer, such as a system that can map the human body to find the perfect mattress. In addition, Sit ’n Sleep takes pride in taking care of other issues that arise, including warranty and delivery issues, returns and exchanges.

“Sometimes people will say, ‘My back doesn’t feel good on this mattress,’ so we have a comfort trial where we will let people exchange their mattress for another type,” Miller explains. “We also have a 240,000-square-foot state-of-the-art warehouse that is run very well by our quality control people. Mattresses are in perfect shape when they’re going out. If I was a customer, I’d be very upset if I was waiting for something for two hours and it arrived ripped. Whatever we do, we put ourselves in the skin of the consumer: What do we need to do to make it easier, quicker, better for that customer experience? We don’t deserve people’s money if we can’t make that happen.”

Topsy-Turvy Times

Although Sit ’n Sleep continues to grow, it still faces many challenges – chief among them is how to remain fresh, innovative and not to become complacent in sales. Miller doesn’t want to be irrelevant in five years by not staying ahead of the industry trends. Therefore, the company is changing the way it reaches customers from the messaging to the format.

Miller says understanding social media is both an opportunity and a challenge, but it’s the best way to be relevant to a growing demographic. In addition, he believes the company needs to be more relevant to the sizable Hispanic population in southern California. “I like nothing better than a challenge,” he says. “I like to grow and evolve. I recognize keeping it fresh and relevant is so critical.”

Sit ’n Sleep also battles the ever-changing economy. Since the election, Miller is concerned that people might be more careful with how they’re spending their money and in what they’re buying. “I hear a lot of pain in voices of people that are underemployed and are not as affluent as they should be,” Miller continues. “We try to offer goods and services that meet their needs as much as possible in topsy-turvy economic times.”

Miller understands the financial struggle first-hand after he had difficulty developing his business in the first few years. “From a guy who started with no money, I learned you can succeed in America by doing the right thing and continuing to push,” he explains. “I always reinvested in the business, even if I had a couple good weeks. I pressed the envelope to continue to grow.

“To new retailers, I would advise that you avoid the trap and keep investing in the business, which pays huge dividends later,” he adds. “Put the money in the business, especially for smaller businesses. We have problems here but there are also big opportunities. Seize it, work hard, redouble your efforts, reinvest in the business and you’ll be successful.”

Giving Back

Since Miller faced his own economic tough times but came out more successful than he ever thought possible, he now spends much of his time giving back to the community. “When I was starting the business in Culver City [Calif.], a local charity came to us and asked for a donation,” he recalls. “I couldn’t afford to give it to them, which broke my heart. I promised myself that, if we were successful, we would give back. Thankfully, we are now in a position to give back.”

Sit ’n Sleep also works with City of Hope, and with the help of its vendor and advertising partners has raised more than $1 million for cancer research and assistance to families of cancer patients. This past October, the company hosted a golf tournament and raised $100,000 for Susan G. Komen for breast cancer research. Additionally, Sit ’n Sleep supports Habitat for Humanity with charitable donations and mattresses, the Make a Wish foundation, the Jenesse Center, PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) and Padres Contra el Cancer. It also has donated hundreds of new mattresses to fire stations in Palm Springs, Orange County, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara and worked with Tempur-Pedic to donate 2,000 mattresses to housing for at-risk veterans.

“We are proud to do that and help people,” Miller says. “We’re able to do good, raise money for runs and walks and support local fundraisers.  We don’t do it for PR benefits – it’s because it’s the right thing to do.”


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