Not only was Luciano Ercolani ahead of his time over 50 years ago with regard to the quality, colour and general high standard of work he wished to present to his customers, he also seemed to be equally well versed in those little nuances in the important fields of marketing and presentation, as I was to find out.
I was based as an auctioneer for nearly 25 years in the market town of Llangefni on the island of Anglesey here in north Wales. One of the town’s well-known and very popular shops was ‘DC’s’, the highly respected house furnishing store founded in 1956 by DC Williams and which continues to be successfully run by his son Michael, his father having passed away in 2008.
DC’s very personable and ‘smooth’ way he treated his customers, not only from within Anglesey, but from further afield, ensured much repeat business which continues to this day.
One day in the early eighties I had cause to visit the shop for some relatively mundane reason. A well-dressed, beaming lady from the farming community, whom I knew, was preparing to exit the shop having agreed to the purchase of a lightwood Ercol dresser and was evidently more than happy with what DC had shown her in the catalogue. In order to ‘seal the deal’ properly, DC decided just to check when delivery would take placeand gave Ercol a ring.
Having been given a three-month delivery date, it was with a somewhat downbeat air that DC returned from his office to give the bad news, quite convinced that with such a long wait, the transaction would be aborted.
On the contrary, this was just the news she wanted to hear – she would be able to tell all her farming-based friends that her brand new Ercol dresser was going to take ‘nearly three months to arrive’, such was the quality of the piece she had ordered.
Now, coincidentally, very shortly afterwards, DC received a highly coveted invitation to an expenses-paid visit to the Ercol factory in High Wycombe, an invitation not apparently afforded to everyone so he was very proud to accept.
DC was thoroughly enjoying his tour of the factory and in particular talking to long-serving craftspeople and their sons who had served Ercol for many years. In due course, he was taken into a gigantic, hangar-style warehouse, where, to his great surprise, there were rows upon rows of lightwood dressers of the very same model and colour which he had recently ordered subject to a three-month delivery date.
DC’s natural reaction was to gently ask his guide the reason for such a long delivery date when there appeared to be such a ready availability.
With a lovely twinkle in his eye, the guide slowly revealed the simple Ercol ethos to DC: “We never give our retailers an immediate delivery date, regardless of how many examples there may happen to be in stock. By giving an extended delivery promise, we are guaranteed to be giving the customer that special feel of exclusivity which would otherwise be absent.”
Ercol… not only good furniture makers but also good business psychologists!
Colwyn Bay, Cardiff and Carmarthen