/ What a new approach to data did for La-Z-Boy’s retail unit

While La-Z-Boy has long been one of North America’s largest home furniture makers and retailers, its retail division—which consists of 160 company-owned and -operated furniture gallery stores from California to Quebec—only recently developed two traits many of today’s leading organizations possess: the ability to answer lots of questions, and the ability to answer them fast.

When did the shift begin to happen? And how did La-Z-Boy’s retail department leaders ensure that it did happen?

Those were among the questions Domo’s Collin Mechler asked La-Z-Boy’s TJ Linz during a January 2022 webinar that shined yet another light on the power of modern business intelligence (BI).

According to Linz, who is the president of La-Z-Boy’s retail division, the aha moment occurred in 2018, when he and some of his colleagues realized they had “tons of data but were actionable-analysis poor,” he said.

So, they spearheaded the construction and implementation of a new operational framework—one that allowed them to leverage data better—that ultimately improved team performance and ignited sales.

At the heart of that framework is Domo’s modern BI platform, which is designed to help organizations discover what’s possible when data agility, data literacy, and intelligent action are prioritized.

Data agility is about unlocking all your data and getting it to work together. Data literacy comes from unleashing people’s curiosity and giving them the knowledge, tools, and confidence to follow wherever it leads. And intelligent action is what can be taken when apps, machine learning, and data science are used to drive decision-making.

Linz said that baking those three elements into the retail division’s newfound ethos required patience. But he also said the data agility component began to take shape almost immediately.

“Our starting point was, ‘What is the first big fundamental piece that will let us see a metric we care most about?’” Linz said. “From there, it was easy to get leadership to buy in and to set up the cards, tables, and filters that would allow us to pivot on that information from different angles.”

Having such a structure in place paved the way for installation of the next pillar: data literacy.

“Once we had this ubiquitous tool, everyone wanted access to it,” Linz said. “They could see the value, and that made adoption really easy. We now have the kind of skills that allow us to do things that were really hard four years ago.”

Among those skills is the ability to spend less time in Domo and more time solving problems, answering customers’ questions, and becoming greater organizational assets.

“That intelligent action component has really helped from coaching and development perspective,” Linz said. “It used to be you’d get a report from a week ago, or a month ago, and you’d try to have coaching conversations. But it’s like the game had already been played.

“Now, a store manager can go in every day and see how each of their team members did the day before, or over a particular period, and provide tailored coaching. That shortening of the feedback loop, that removing of the ambiguity, has dramatically improved the way we’re able to develop our teams.”

So, what advice does Linz have for other organizations that are thinking about incorporating a better form of BI?

“There’s a mantra out there that goes, ‘Think big, start small, learn fast,’” Linz said. “That really applies in this case. Have patience, like I said. But also ask yourself, ‘Where can we make headway and go after the things that are a combination of biggest value, easy implementation, and people that are hungry to work on it?’”

Watch the webinar to hear what else Linz had to say about modern BI, to learn how La-Z-Boy’s retail division used Domo to set better goals and strategies, and to see Domo in action. 

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