Kimbrell’s Grows by Keeping its Customers Happy
The company’s “we’re easy to do business with” mantra helps it expand into new markets.
Kimbrell’s Furniture started in 1915 in a small town in Columbia, S.C. Over the past 105 years, it has grown to 53 store locations in North and South Carolina, as well as one store in Georgia. Kimbrell’s still holds onto the values set by its founder W.E. Kimbrell: Exceptional service and quality, while also caring for its local communities and customers. With a dedication to creating long-lasting customer relationships, Kimbrell’s strives to be customers’ one-stop shop for all their furniture needs.
“Our mantra is ‘We’re easy to do business with,’” says Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer Jerry Peters. “We do our own in-house financing and work with our customers to make sure they are comfortable with their payments. We want to ‘Make Quality Furniture Affordable to everyone … One Customer at a Time.’”
Kimbrell’s dedication to service and value has made it the largest independent dealer in North and South Carolina. The company’s wide range of goods are available in the latest colorful fashions and styles, and it carries merchandise to fit any budget. Kimbrell’s carries brands such as Ashley, Corinthian, Liberty, Klaussner, Kingsdown, Sierra Sleep, Riverside and Home Insights, just to name a few.
Additionally, as it grows, Kimbrell’s continues to improve its dedication to service. The company recently launched an in-house service center, Peters notes, so customers can call and get a fast, consistent response if they have any issues. Issues are not common, he says, but if a customer needs anything, Kimbrell’s wants them to get a helpful answer fast.
“Our goal is to have a consistent message across all of the stores, and this service center will help with that,” Peters says. “We are only as good as the person who answers the phone, and the service center staff are focused on giving a consistent message.”
Red Carpet Treatment
Peters notes he works closely with the other two vice presidents — COO Mike O’Loughlin and CIT Ron Caines — and Chairman Gray Kimbrell to lead the company and set the example for service. Kimbrell’s stresses that its best assets are its employees, and the staff’s level of service is helping the company to continue on its path of growth.
The design of its new locations puts the store manager in the middle of the space so they can see the entire store, and then runways branch out into the store from this “hub.” It was important to Kimbrell’s that the new design was a well-lit and easy-to-navigate space. Peters explains the company wanted this to be a state-of-the-art store that customers enjoyed being in. The new stores are about 45,000 square feet in size. The first one of these opened on Aug. 30, 2019, in Jacksonville, N.C. Peters notes that he has been told from various furniture reps that it is the nicest-looking furniture store in all of North Carolina.
“The design of the new stores is really great, and one of the best things is that we are in growth mode,” Peters says. “At the grand opening of our Jacksonville, N.C., store, Gray Kimbrell [grandson of W.E. Kimbrell] said if his grandfather were still alive today, he would be extremely proud of the direction the company is going in. When customers come into the store in Jacksonville, there is a history wall with pictures of our original stores. “It’s very nostalgic. We really do roll out the red carpet for our customers.”
Kimbrell’s opened more of these new stores in Goose Creek, S.C., which is a suburb of Charleston, and it has been quite successful, Peters adds. “We recently relocated our Lenoir store and implemented the new floor plan. It has been very well received by the community,” he says. Kimbrell’s will open the next location in Greenville, N.C. in January, and then another in Wilmington, N.C., in mid-March to early April.
“We are proud of the fact that we are 105-year-old furniture store and we like to promote this in our new markets,” Peters says. “We want customers to know that we are an established company, and not a fly-by-night operation. We want people to know we have been around since 1915 serving our customers with great customer service and value-priced home furnishings. We love gaining new customers, but we also love our old customers who have been loyal to us through the years.”
Kimbrell’s growth involves launching e-commerce functions on its website. The company has started promoting its online offerings in its advertising and via social media, and Peters says soon customers will be able to buy anything that Kimbrell’s offers via the website. He adds that the level of customer service will be the same as if someone purchased goods in one of the stores.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Peters says. “I meet with our sales associates at least once a week to talk about consistency and any customer service issues they may be experiencing, and how to solve these issues. The dichotomy of selling furniture is changing but we don’t want our level of service to change.
“We are just beginning to sell online,” he continues. “In order to maintain our high level of customer service, we feel like our target customer lives within 30 miles of one of our stores. We feel like if we went nationwide our service would suffer. We always want to do right by our customers.”
In the long term, Peters believes e-commerce will be big for Kimbrell’s. The company continues to work with all of the major vendors to get the best value for its customers, while maintaining a fair margin. Additionally, Kimbrell’s owns most of its buildings and the company manages its own accounts receivable. The business also has no debt, and Peters says this puts it in a good position to continuing growing. Kimbrell’s plans to keep developing its strengths and adding new stores as opportunities come along.
“It’s great to see the company in growth mode again,” Peters says. “We are changing to accommodate the next generation of consumers. We are modernizing with our web pages and e-commerce efforts.
“I am so proud when I am in a store and hear customers raving about how good the store looks and how friendly our staff is, and how great our customer experience is,” he continues. “We have an amazing team of supervisors who work well together, and our chairman, Gray Kimbrell. is very involved in the company.
“Gray feels like his grandfather’s legacy is important and he is interested in growing the company. That is what we are doing and it’s wonderful to see.”