Quality, Courtesy Make Sale

December 31, 2006

No closing moves, lack of high pressure helped aunt Sophie pick her own mattress.

Ron Trzcinski is the un-salesman. The 61-year old founder of the Original Mattress Factory in Cleveland does not believe in high-pressure tactics.

He claims tohave no favorite book about selling. His facorite moves are "Sound of Music," "Chariots of Fire" and "The Man from Snowy River" - none of which has anything to do with selling.

He doesn't even have a "legandary" selling story to share.

Except one.

It's about Aunt Sophie. Not his Aunt Sophie, but a particularly persistent customer dubbed Aunt Sophie , although Trzcinski belives Sophie was indeed her real name.

"She probably came in to shop us a half a dozen times," Trzcinski recalled. "It was kind of like, oh my gosh, here she comes again."

Finally she bought. And for the next couple of years, it was not uncommon to have a customer come in and say, "If you can sell my Aunt Sophie, this has to be the greatest place in the world."

True story, Trzcinski said. And it became the basis for an early radio commercial featuring Trzcinski, whose rich voice has become instantly recognizable over the airwaves.

So how did The Origianl Mattress Factory win over Aunt Sophie?

"The same way we sell everybody," Trzcinski said. "We try to do three things, and one is to be courteous, two is to be friendly and three is to be knowledgeable about our product - because we believe customers are smart enough to know what they want to buy."

In other words, Aunt Sophie sold herself.

"It seems odd, but we don't have any closing techniques," Trzcinski said. Hhis strategy is to compare the quality and price of his mattresses with those of the competition, cutaway samples of which are placed in the stores. His advantage is eliminating the middleman and selling direct to the customer. The company has 11 manufacturing plants and about 85 stores.

Trzcinski founded The Original Mattress Factory, now headquarted on State Road near Interstate 480, in 1990 after many years in the mattress business. And while he has never technically been a salesman, selling his company is what he does every day, using a mix of traditional values and straight talk to project an honest, low-pressure image to the consuming public.

Shortly after starting his company, an advertising agency suggest that Trzcinski become his firm's spokesman.

"They said, 'Ron, you should to the commercials because you have a passion for this business. You understand this business. Nobody will be able to tell people about this business like you can,'" Trzcinski recalled, "'and you also have a good voice.'"

Reluctant at first, Trzcinski eventually saw the light.

By Peter Krouse
The Plain Dealer
December 31, 2006