TAMARAC, Fla. — City Furniture retail sales associate Samir Alkishawi brings the perspective of a business owner to the sales floor every day.
For 17 years, Alkishawi owned a baby furniture and gift store prior to joining the Top 100, Florida-based retailer, and that point of view has paid off for both parties. In 2021, Alkishawi reached $3.24 million in sales from City’s Boca Raton store, leading a strong group of RSAs, many of whom are above $2 million in annual sales.
The one takeaway from years in retail? Treat every customer as if they’re the most important customer you’ll deal with that day.
“I try to help every customer. It doesn’t matter the amount or quality. I try to treat every customer the same,” Alkishawi told Furniture Today. “A lot of times, people believe a customer coming for $10 gets treated differently, but I treat them the same. When you do that, you get a lot of clients. I have a lot of repeat customers.”
Alkishawi, who’s been with City for nearly five years, said another piece of that mindset is that when he’s at work, he’s there to work. That’s been noticed by leadership, specifically CEO Andrew Koenig.
“I think a unique thing about him is he is always working. When I come through the store, he doesn’t really care that I’m here. Those are my favorites, those who are focused on maximizing every minute of their day,” Koenig said. “It’s probably something Samir doesn’t realize he’s doing, but he’s always working. He maximizes it with his relationships, his follow-ups, communication, problem solving, prospecting for future events; he’s maximizing every minute of his day. I’ve seen it because he doesn’t want to talk to me much.”
Alkishawi said that’s just part of his singularly driven mindset when he’s on.
“I come to work to work. I’m not there to make friends. I’m there for business. If I make friends, that’s OK, but I’m there to work and help customers until I leave,” he said. “I don’t sit around or go to the breakroom all the time. If I go, it’s for a second or two because my focus is taking care of the customer 100%. I don’t stop for chatting or whatever. I feel it’s important if I’m at work to give it 110%.”
He’s also just as driven when he’s not on the job. “I always talk about work when I’m outside. I always tell everybody where I’m working so if they need anything — friends, other people who know my friends — they know I’m working at City Furniture, and if they need furniture, they know I’m here,” he said .
“I always have my business cards with me. I always introduce myself. It’s almost like it’s 24/7. This is your business. You have to get 110% out of it everywhere, inside and outside the business.”
Koenig said earlier this year, he hosted City Furniture’s top 20 salespeople for a celebration, and one common theme was their willingness to listen to customers. He said that’s what makes folks like Alkishawi stand out.
“A common theme in what makes them successful is they’re great listeners and empathetics. They do a great job of putting themselves in their customers’ shoes,” he said. “They reap the rewards of those referrals if they do the job really well.
“Listen, really connect and create a fantastic relationship. Then cater that relationship and serve that relationship all the way through from the first interaction to the last piece being delivered.”
And that would be Alkishawi’s No. 1 piece of advice for anybody in sales. “I tell everybody be yourself. The more you talk, the less you sell,” he said. “A lot of salespeople, the minute they see a customer, they want to explain everything for them. Let the customer explain to you what they need. Then, you can talk. If you talk, the customer will forget what you’re saying. Let them explain their needs.
“You have to break the wall between you and the customer and build trust. The minute the wall is broken, you’re closing the sale. Talk less; trust more. Just be yourself. If you are, I guarantee you’ll get all you want and more.”
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