IMPACT PLUS IS NEW MULTI-FACET RUG PROGRAM FOR FURNITURE STORES
By Lissa Wyman
SEATTLE -- Cyrus Mafi, president of Medallion Imports (now MI Corp.), has a new game plan for furniture store rug departments.
Instead of being relegated to a lonely rack at the back of the store, Mafi has developed a way to make the rug department an important profit center for the store.
It is called Impact Plus, a multi-tiered program that gives furniture stores a full service rug department, sales training, advertising and sales promotion materials, warranties, market analysis and even a social conscience.
The Impact Plus concept has been in the development stages for approximately one year. Since its "soft" debut last July, approximately 15 furniture stores have become Impact Plus partners, according to Mafi.
His wife, Maria Mafi, is the owner of The Vine Home Accent stores, which is a member of the Impact Plus program and serves as a laboratory for new ideas.
Impact Plus will have a major introduction in September 2009 at the Las Vegas World Market, he said.
Mafi came to the US 15 years ago and gained experience in the US rug industry as a concession wholesaler. In 2005, he and his partner went their separate ways and Mafi struck out on his own.
He said the Medallion Impact Plus program is different from rug concessions because it offers many sophisticated marketing and merchandising services that help increase sales.
"Many traditional concessions provide a selection of rugs, but they do not offer sales training and support services," he explained.
Mafi developed the idea for Impact Plus because he saw an untapped potential for better rugs in furniture stores.
Rug vendors have been wooing the furniture store channel of distribution for many years, with varying degrees of success.
The Impact rug assortment includes hand tufted and knotted products in the medium to high price points. The rugs are sourced through direct imports.
Price is not the object for Impact program, Mafi stressed. "We are not believers in big discounts, and we refuse to participate in price wars. We believe in value. We do business in the traditional way - one rug at a time," he said. "We are customer-driven, not price driven."
Levels of Partnership
Retailers can choose from three partnership levels - Medallion (85 rugs), Premium (120 rugs) or Elite (210 rugs). Stores can select their assortment from 15,000 different rug samples.
"We have partnered with a major bank to finance the program," said Mafi. "With monthly payments as low as $336 per month the financing plan helps to keep startup capital expenses to a minimum."
Using the Impact merchandising units, a complete rug department uses approximately 54 sq. ft. of floor space."This can translate into over $400 of sales per sq. ft.," said Mafi.
Services for all partnership levels include a 13-week designer training course, custom design rug program, a five-year protection care plan, networked shipping and tracking, sales and market analysis and an internet and merchandising package the includes a customized website, private label catalog and in-store hang tags.
At the Elite partnership level, stores can also take advantage of pin-point demographic analysis and customized on-demand advertising, Mafi added.
A quarterly rebate program begins from the first dollar sold at retail and ranges from 1.5% to 4.5% of total sales, depending on total dollars sold. The rebates may be used to pay the membership fee, designer incentive plans or co-op advertising, Mafi pointed out.
Aid to Weaver Families
Mafi and his wife Maria also have a strong social conscience, and the company's Impact A Life Campaign is an important part of the program, they told Rugnews.com.
"We are strong supporters of the world-wide movement to end child labor. A percentage of the profit from the Impact Plus program is donated to rug weavers and their families all over the world through such agencies as the Red Cross and UNICEF," said Mafi.
"All of the proceed go toward improving the weavers' living standards by providing education, hygiene classes and better living conditions in rug producing areas," said Mafi.