Review from the Summit: S.F.I. Programs – – The Promise and the Problems

Continuing on in our review of the Home Improvement Economic Summit – our next panel discussed S.F.I. (Sell – Furnish – Install) Programs and what the primary issues are that arise when home improvement companies work with a large, nationwide retail services network like
The Home Depot or Sam’s Club.

S.F.I. Programs have a longer history within the home improvement industry than many realize, however, the negative publicity these programs have received tends to outweigh the positive results that they can sometimes achieve.

The first speaker was Murray Gross who is the Chairman and C.E.O. of US Home Systems which specializes in the sale of cabinet refacing. They operate with 42 offices in the United States, approximately 300 salespeople and have a marketing center in Boca Raton, FL. They are a public corporation with revenues of $132 million. They currently act as an SFI outlet for Home Depot in over 1,900 of their stores. Their products are manufactured in their own factory. Mr. Gross was formerly president of Facelifters, a public corporation, acting as an SFI for Sears and producing revenues in excess of $60 million prior to selling that company to another corporation in 1996.

Some of the benefits of S.F.I. programs include:

  • Exposing your business to a new section of the market
  • Building trust, loyalty and security in your brand
  • Incremental revenue and profit
  • Access to advertisement and promotions
  • Access to financing options

Potential challenges include:

  • Being a “guest in someone else’s home”
  • Protection of the brand
  • Sensitivity to marketplace pricing
  • Consumers’ heightened expectations
  • Compliance, insurance, licensing, permits
  • Cash-flow considerations

The key walk away point from his presentation is that to succeed in an S.F.I. Program you need to understand that you are working with a “800-lb gorilla”, you need to understand the financial model and most importantly you have to focus on what you as a business do well.

In the next blog posting I will continue to review the panel’s presentation on S.F.I. programs.

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