The difference is attitude. For over 26 years, Michael Alan Furnishings and Interior Design in Lake Havasu City, AZ, has been showing their customers the Michael Alan Difference, and it’s this difference that has led to their success. The difference can be seen in their styles, service, quality and attitude. With the attitude of satisfying every customer’s needs being their No. 1 priority, every employee is dedicated to ensuring that customers have a positive experience whenever they visit the store.
The idea for Michael Alan Furnishings originated in 1981, when Ab and Shirley Schultz took a land sale promotional flight from their hometown in Ontario, Canada to warm Lake Havasu City, AZ. Falling in love with Lake Havasu City, Ab and Shirley decided to move their family to Arizona. Both Ab and Shirley owned their own businesses in Canada, and Shirley had a background in interior design, so they decided to venture into the home furnishings market and opened Michael Alan Furnishings.
Eleven years later, Ab and Shirley’s daughters, Chris Ehgoetz and Carrie Hemme, purchased the business from them and continued the family legacy. “We didn’t plan on ever working in this business. We both started helping out with the little things — I was helping with the books and Carrie was helping with sales,” Chris said. “This industry just gets into your blood, so we decided to purchase the store.”
After purchasing the store from their parents, Chris and Carrie continued to present remarkable customer service and quality furniture and accessories at the best possible prices. Today customers walk under an awning that states, “Through these doors walk the greatest people… our customers!” and into a 20,000 square foot showroom that is catered to them and their needs.
The 30 Michael Alan employees are a close knit family and are there to create a positive experience for the customer. “Customer service is our No. 1 priority,” Chris said. “Without our customers, none of us have a job. We also work really hard before, during and after the sale for our customer.”
One important part of Michael Alan’s after the sale process is sending out a thank-you card to every customer, even to past customers who have needed a repair. “We write thank-you letters to our customers if they have had a repair problem. We will go out and take care of it, and then send them a letter thanking them for letting us know there was a problem,” said Chris. Along with the thank-you letters, Michael Alan attaches a survey card for the customers to fill out.
Because repeat customers are their best customers, Chris and Carrie believe that it is important to target this group with three direct mailings a year that offer store discounts and a special event just for existing customers, the Anniversary Sale. “We do our Anniversary Sale once a year, and it is truly for preferred and existing customers,” said Chris. “We close the store all day to re-price every item and open the doors at 5 p.m. Before we open the doors, we have a tailgate party with a live jazz band in our parking lot, and we have the event fully catered. There is usually about 100 to 150 people waiting outside for us to open, and we probably write about 16 percent of our business during that month.”
Another part of the Michael Alan Difference is their complementary design services. A qualified interior designer will go to a customer’s home and assist in creating a unique look tailored to the needs of the individual customer. In addition to furnishing their customer’s homes, Michael Alan furnishes many area businesses including banks, physicians’ offices and hotels. The Michael Alan design staff also works with local builders and contractors to furnish model homes with the special Michael Alan touch. Chris and Carrie encourage their customers to visit the local model homes by providing maps showing each location that they have furnished. “It’s a great way to enjoy a weekend drive and get some terrific decorating ideas too,” Carrie said.
With the success of their first location in Lake Havasu City, Chris and Carrie opened their second location in May 2007 in Mojave Valley. The new location is 10,000 square feet dedicated to providing the Mojave Valley community with the Michael Alan Difference.
Since the Lake Havasu City and Mojave Valley communities are vital to the success of Michael Alan Furnishings, Chris and Carrie are dedicated to giving back to the communities they serve. “We are very involved with the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Soroptimist, Humane Society, Hospice and Kiwanis,” Chris said.
Because of this dedication to the community, the home furnishings industry and their outstanding customer service, Michael Alan Furnishings was awarded the Arizona Retailer of the Year award in 2005 by the Arizona Home Furnishings Representatives Association.
In the future, Chris and Carrie would like to continue to see their business thrive. “Our goals for the next few years are to build a new warehouse, continue to grow and be successful in our two locations and help our staff prosper,” Chris said.
“My sister and I have fun in this business because we enjoy design and love this industry,” said Chris. With the industry in their blood and their passion for design and attentive customer service, the future is sure to be prosperous.
By Melissa Dressler, Managing Editor, Western Retailer