Part of the trick to earning that sort of loyalty is not always being bottom-line focused. In November, for instance, Gallery Furniture made a bet with customers: Buy a mattress for $2,000 or more and guess the winning political party in the presidential election. If you guess right, you get your money back.
He ended up refunding $10 million (though he says he would have had to refund more if Clinton had won). Two years prior, he paid off $7 million to customers when the Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl.
“My customers are my life,” he says. “I spend 12 hours a day talking to customers so they energize me. I try to be real, authentic and genuine. When we make a mistake, we own it.”
The company has also made a point to plan ahead. When Harvey was barreling down on the Texas coast, McIngvale and his team planned ahead to act as a possible shelter, though he admits they weren’t expecting as many people as they got. The in-store restaurants were stocked, and as the hurricane hit town, 15 company-owned trucks hit the roads to pick up people in need.
Now as the city starts to rebuild, the planning returns to business as usual — selling furniture to customers on moderate, mid-level and high-end budgets. And McIngvale says he’s confident about the future.
“We were kind of prepared for the storm, as far as the shelter thing goes,” he says. “Now the question is: How do we move the business forward and take advantage of the fact that we’re trying to lead the industry? A lot of people appreciate the fact that we’re involved in the community. Now we’ve got to get the message out that we’re still open and selling furniture.”