Resilient: LVT offerings, exclusivity lift Karndean Elite dealers

February 20, 2017

February 13/20, 2017: Volume 31, Number 18

By K.J. Quinn

 

Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 9.24.19 AMA major part of any flooring maker’s success is its aligned dealer network, and Karndean is no exception. The specialty LVT supplier is investing in new product development, merchandising and business support services to help boost awareness of elite members’ stores while growing their sales of Designflooring products.

“We have been with Karndean for three years,” noted Steve Delamore, president of San Jose, Calif.-based Abbey Carpet & Floor, Blossom Valley Interiors, which dedicates 2,000 square feet inside its showroom to displaying Karndean products. “After looking at all the LVT lines out there, Karndean was by far the best and offered product design options no one else had.”

Platinum is the top level among the five aligned programs offered by Karndean. Dealers receive the red carpet treatment in the form of point-of-sale services, special pricing, lead-generation vehicles, merchandising exclusivity, multi-media marketing support, new product sampling priority and co-op advertising. “Platinum dealers represent all our Designflooring products and have our full range of displays,” said Tim Hanno, Karndean’s vice president of retail sales. “Platinum dealers receive our most competitive pricing and geographic exclusivity.”

Since its inception in 1973, Karndean established a brand synonymous with style and innovation within the flooring industry. The company’s flagship Designflooring line touts luxury vinyl flooring inspired by nature and designed for living. “We have always created and owned each of our product designs,” Hanno stated.

“Our sales proposition is Designflooring, which keeps us out of commodity LVT.”

Designflooring is displayed prominently inside Platinum members’ showrooms. A comprehensive display floor system helps create a store-within-a-store environment, and a design table enables salespeople to demonstrate borders, design strips and lay patterns, plus full-size samples. “It has had a very positive impact for us,” noted Travis Marsteller, owner, Meadville Floors, Meadville, Pa. “For one, it’s an easy sell and there is an opportunity to increase margins. I also like the fact our callback rate is less than 1%.”

Designflooring is the star attraction of Meadville Floors’ hard surface offerings, with display flooring encompassing approximately 25% of its space. “The customer walks in and the Karndean display floor leads them right to the Platinum display and the table you can use to show samples and lay out designs,” Marsteller said.

Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 9.23.58 AMThe Karndean flooring portfolio includes 150 products available in glue-down, loose lay and rigid core formats, all replicating a variety of natural materials from wood and stone to iconic visuals such as metal, mosaic and pebble. Rather than looking uniform and one dimensional, each Karndean plank or tile has its own individual grain and appearance. “The design components allow homeowners to select their own floor and tailor it to suit their space,” Hanno explained. “Designflooring opens the door of imaginative possibilities, giving our retailers the opportunity to be creative and unique, and therefore profitable.”

Dealers say Karndean LVT is not only fashionable but also built to withstand the daily rigors of family life. Stain resistant and easy to clean, Designflooring can handle water spillages without warping and does not harbor dirt, dust mites or bacteria, the company stated. The format of the product also lends itself to ease of repair; as Designflooring comprises individual wood planks and tiles, damaged pieces can be easily replaced by an installer using spares from the original installation.

“We decided to take the next step with Karndean for many reasons,” said Meadville Floors’ Marsteller, a Platinum dealer for about 12 years. “But the main ones are I really liked the durability and look of the products.” In addition to the home, Designflooring is applicable for several commercial end uses such as hospitality and leisure, retail, healthcare, education and offices.

Marketing support
The Karndean lines are supported by an aggressive digital marketing program aimed at driving traffic to aligned retailer stores. For instance, the company’s website, karndean.com, provides specification tools, blogs, case studies, product guides and digital downloads. A monthly newsletter allows visitors to search for local Karndean retailers, with Platinum and Gold members given preference.

“Karndean directs prospective customers to our Platinum retail partners,” Hanno said. “FAR (Find a Retailer) displays Platinum and Gold dealers are highest on the page of search results; it shows results within 30 miles of the ZIP code.” FAR is supported by PPC (pay per click) and brand recognition campaigns which drive traffic to the Karndean site and, subsequently, to member stores.

Online tools such as Floorstyle Floor Designer enables viewers to compare floors in 34 room settings. An augmented reality app provides a virtual view of how a floor would appear inside customers’ spaces, while a product selector app serves as the digital version of the Karndean hard cover catalog. “Karndean supports us very well if they get a customer on their website that is in our area,” Marsteller stated. “They let us know.”

Karndean is known for providing fast and convenient service to Platinum dealers to fulfill their orders quickly and efficiently. For example, participating retailers receive free new product updates and fast sample service, complete with large swatches, which give a real feel to the product. A dedicated Platinum customer service line provides access to a team with extensive knowledge of Karndean products and systems, including representatives who specialize in projects for commercial and residential spaces.

“They are good about getting out samples to us when we run out, and the pricing is good,” Marsteller said. “I’m happy with the speed of orders received. There are hardly any back orders.”

Another plus: Karndean technical staff will train retailers’ staff on proper installation techniques while product knowledge sessions keep the sales team updated on the latest and greatest. “Our installers are certified from Karndean,” Abbey Carpet’s Delamore noted. “Our LVT sales have shot through the roof as a result of our commitment to the program.”

Platinum dealers also benefit from working with a company that doubles as manufacturer and distributor. Last October, Karndean opened its expanded headquarters and warehouse space in Export, Pa. The new showroom and expanded warehouse facilities are central to Karndean’s strategy to support the needs of its growing U.S. customer base, according to the company.

“Karndean continues to support us with the latest updates and displays as their product line evolves,” Delamore said. “Their customer service is second to none.”

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