For more than a century, Lloyd Flanders has produced high-end outdoor furnishings in their Menominee, Michigan, facility. Known for their Lloyd Loom woven designs, the company offers a wide range of not only woven product, but aluminum, teak and other materials. Lloyd Flanders’ domestic manufacturing model has allowed the company to offer a level of versatility and customization that has made its products a favorite among both dealers and interior designers, particularly since the tariffs have come into effect.
We recently caught up with Lloyd Flanders’ Vice President of Sales Bryan Echols—a veteran of the outdoor industry—to talk about how the company works with its dealers, what full-line retailers should know about the casual category and which trends to keep an eye on for outdoor.
Casual Living: How does Lloyd Flanders work with full-line retailers to be successful with outdoor?
Bryan Echols: Lloyd Flanders has a long history of working with full-line retailers, and we have many successful partners in that category. When we first began working with full-line retailers, we realized that many of them had a different buying methodology than many of our patio accounts. They were more accustomed to anchoring samples to their floor and encouraging their customers to special order products. Our early success with the full-line retailers was a result of our adaptation of the original early buy programs that required larger initial buys and selling primarily from inventory. Over time, we have continued to use and morph our display programs and stock-buying programs to be more in harmony with their business philosophy. The Lloyd Flanders rep teams are also integral to our success by educating the sales force of the full-line retailers on our products, the demand of the outdoor environment, the opportunity that has been created by the maturation of the outdoor room concept and the unique materials that are used in outdoor furniture.
CL: What are some of the most important things for full-line retailers to keep in mind when adding/expanding outdoor on their sales floor?
BE: First and foremost, this is a category that has a much broader selling season that many people realize. Many people have been conditioned to believe that the selling season for outdoor furniture is over on July Fourth or Labor Day, but we continue to have orders beyond those time frames in all parts of the country. Our full-line retailers that have been the most successful are accessorizing the outdoor displays to the same level as they do their indoor displays and devoting prime spots on their retail floor.
CL: What advantages can Lloyd Flanders off er dealers because of their domestic manufacturing?
BE: Lloyd Flanders’ domestic manufacturing has been a benefit in the past, but with recent events, the advantage is even more pronounced. Domestic manufacturing provides our dealers consistent lead times to minimize their back-up inventory needs, completely tariff-free goods and the ability to provide 20 different frame finishes with over 700 fabric options.
CL: What kind of training do you have available for full-line salespeople who might not be as familiar with selling outdoor?
BE: Our training is directed by our rep teams, who work with the individual salespeople in the store. The trainings involve knowledge of Lloyd Flanders product, introductions to the sales materials and providing a knowledge of the digital assets we have available. In cases where the full-line salespeople are completely new to the outdoor business, we also spend time with frequently asked questions, key items for added attention concerning the outdoor room and help in recognizing sales opportunities.
CL: What’s one big trend in outdoor you think full-line retailers should keep an eye on?
BE: The trend to keep an eye on is uniqueness (not revolutionary, but important). Retail consumers are reporting that it is becoming harder to tell the difference in the outdoor furniture that they experience, which has led to a feeling that there is a “sea of same” out there. Full-line retailers can benefit from their expertise in display to create unique combinations of materials and especially mixing mediums within the collection. The more unique, the more it is going to stand out to the consumer and lead to success. The outdoor space is becoming more crowded by the minute with many companies focusing on the tried and true frame colors and styling. While this is understandable from the company standpoint, the consumer is hungry for those displays that stand out as unique and ones that they can see themselves enjoying in their own space.
Adelaide “Addie” Elliott is an associate editor focusing on retail coverage for Furniture Today and Casual Living. Previously, she also served as the web editor for both those brands and Designers Today. Before being promoted in May 2019 to web editor, Adelaide worked as Furniture Today’s editorial intern for a year. Get in touch with her on Twitter at @AElliott_Writes or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.