Sleeping Safe + Sound: Inside The B Corp Bed Company Built on Purpose
By Alison Klein | August 11, 2016
“No Julianne Moore’s housekeeper! Don’t do it!”
That’s what ran through my head as the housekeeper in the movie [SAFE] sprayed an unidentified chemical cleaner on the serving plates.
Fulvia (the housekeeper) was oblivious to the multiple chemical sensitivity Julianne Moore’s character, Carol, was developing. By the end of the movie, Carol had sequestered herself in a New-Age-y retreat in the desert far from chemical cleaners, exhaust fumes and all of the other nasty stuff we put in the world.
While the film leaves viewers unsure of whether Carol’s sensitivities are a physical reality or a psychosomatic phenomenon, it’s undeniably true that there are nasty chemicals all around us. Until I started looking into B Corp Savvy Rest, however, I was a metaphorical Fulvia in regard to mattresses.
To be effective, Purpose has to be integrated throughout the customer experience like it is at Savvy Rest. Click below to get tips for creating a more Purposeful customer experience.
Waking Up to the Truth
Savvy Rest’s founder Michael Penny was, himself, a metaphorical Fulvia until he started working for a futon company. During his time there, he learned about the materials and practices that dominate the mattress industry.
Here’s the gist: most mattresses (and really all foam furniture for that matter) use chemical flame retardants. These chemicals don’t stay sewn up inside the furniture though – they migrate into dust and are absorbed by the body where their presence has been linked to a variety adverse health effects, from cancer to obesity.
Desperate to cure his own insomnia (possibly linked to anxiety about his toxin-ridden bed?) and provide an alternative for others with chemical sensitivities, Michael started his own mattress company in Charlottesville, VA with the Purpose of creating “exceptional products, with consciously-sourced materials, that contribute to comfort, rest, and relief from pain.”
That Purpose didn’t only motivate Michael to start Savvy Rest – it’s driven business decisions from day one and continues to shape this remarkable company. Here’s how it’s guided operations, created staunch customer advocates and allowed Michael and his people to do a whole lot of good.
A Dreamy Customer Experience
One salesman I know describes his selling style like this:
“I pretend I’m a Viking. I have to conquer them and take what I can.”
Have you ever done business with a salesperson like that? They’ll try to sell you on something that you don’t really need, urge you to buy before you’re ready and spend more time extolling the benefits of their products than listening to understand your needs.
Michael didn’t really like the idea of “closing sales” – he preferred to focus on “opening” relationships. As Michael describes in this blog post, when you push to “close” a sale:
- You miss the opportunity to have an authentic relationship with another human being.
- Your customer misses the opportunity to have an authentic relationship with you.
- There is nothing in the experience that a customer might “pay forward” to another human being.
- You make no difference in someone’s life other than to sell them an object.
- You make no difference in changing the dominant values in our culture or our world.
Instead, Savvy Rest’s salespeople focus on being present and helping people, adopting a sales style Michael dubbed “Selfless Selling.” They don’t work on commission so they’re able to focus on their real Purpose – helping people find the products that will contribute to comfort and rest. And they don’t have to make people uncomfortable in the store to make that happen.
The Certitude of Certification
Another way Savvy Rest works to make people comfortable is by helping them rest assured (pun totally intended) that they’re purchasing a product that meets their personal standards. That’s why Savvy Rest has achieved so many certifications for its products and business. If you check out their website you’ll see that their cotton and wool are Global Organic Textile Standard certified and that their wool is also certified by Oregon Tilth. There’s also the USDA Organic seal for the latex and for their processing facility.
As if all of those external certifications weren’t enough, Savvy Rest conducts independent lab tests to ensure that the materials they’re working with are really free of all the chemicals they’re purported to be. It comforts customers and helps them rest peacefully to know they’ve purchased the toxin-free product they paid for.
Word of Mouth Marketing
Working so hard to provide ideal customer experiences has paid off. Washington, DC area District Manager Lay Lwin Htun told me that while their initial customer base was made up mostly of die-hard green and clean-living advocates, those people loved the products and the brand so much that they successfully convinced some of their friends to buy, who in turn spread the word about positive experiences of their own.
While it plays a big part, “Selfless Selling” isn’t the only thing that’s helped Savvy Rest provide such fantastic customer experience. In 2012, the company became employee-owned. All employees – from the manufacturing facility to the main office – become owners after one year of working full-time for Savvy Rest.
Savvy Rest’s blog describes how pride in ownership pays off for customers big time:
“When you buy from a natural mattress manufacturer that is employee owned, every employee feels invested in providing you the best experience possible. When you call, you’ll be speaking to an owner. The response to your email will come from an owner. Your mattress or bedding will be handled, packed, and shipped by an owner. Every step of the process is an opportunity for us to offer you outstanding service—and there’s no one more motivated to please than an owner-employee.”
Empowering employees and making sure they benefit personally from their hard work seems to be working well for the company. Savvy Rest was named to the Inc. 5000 in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 – not bad for a company that doesn’t prioritize “closing the sale.”
Furthering Positive Impact
Savvy Rest engages in several other activities that further their Purpose. They
- Allow customers to exchange any of their latex layers (each mattress contains three) within 90 days of purchase to ensure that each customer really is getting comfortable, restful and pain-free sleep. Rather than letting them go to waste, Savvy Rest uses the returned layers as showroom pieces or turns them into organic pet beds!
- The latex scraps involved in manufacturing mattresses go into making Safe Sleep pillows – pillows gifted to women and children arriving at domestic violence shelters. The pillows are “theirs to use while at the shelter and to take with them when they move on. We can’t make everything right, but we can share our heartfelt wish that they’ll find peaceful, healing sleep. For their first night of safety and every night to come.”
- Participate in several initiatives to minimize their carbon footprint including offsetting 100% of their emissions with renewable energy credits and partnering with the Carbon Fund, American Forest’s Global ReLeaf program and Windstreet to further renewable energy initiatives and support reforestation.
- Will collect and recycle your old mattress when they deliver your new one.
It’s wonderful to see a B Corp so nearby successfully letting Purpose guide decisions across its supply chain, operations and sales. Judging by their remarkable growth and success, it’s clear that Savvy Rest’s people and planet focus is also savvy business.
Do you know of another company that’s letting Purpose be its guide? Tell us about them in the comments below.
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The Company Crush series spotlights companies using inventive business models to create positive change in the world. By sharing their stories, we hope to inspire more people to use business as a force for good.