At your service
Preferred Brands also offers its members a litany of services. And this could be considered a recent development. According to Emil Pedick, vice president, it wasn’t too long ago that the primary benefits to Floor To Ceiling and World of Floors members were rebates and better negotiated pricing. “Today we know it takes a lot more to run a good business. So we focus on services our members could never do on their own, whether for financial reasons or because of lack of manufacturer support.”
Doug Daigle, owner of the three-location American Flooring Floor To Ceiling, Lansing, Mich., noted that the best thing about membership is “being a part of something bigger than just you. Aside from the programs, it helps with buying power, so you can be more competitive in the marketplace vs. the box stores and larger flooring retailers.”
Daigle also attests to the price stabilization afforded by membership. “The manufacturers can’t sell you product at the highest margin. Reps can price you wherever they want. With Floor To Ceiling, we are all on an even playing field.”
InFlo is Preferred Brands’ proprietary portfolio of programs services shared by Floor To Ceiling and World of Floors members. They include:
Thank you referrals: Floor To Ceiling and World of Floors members need only provide the company with a customer’s information. Corporate not only mails out professional thank you notes, it also sends out a free bottle of 3M Scotchgard Oxy cleaner. Attached to the thank you card is a seven-question survey about the consumer’s experience with that retailer, from salesperson to installer, which is then emailed back so the dealer can evaluate his store’s overall performance. In addition, three business cards bearing the salesperson’s name are attached so the satisfied consumer can give them to family and friends. “For a member to do this on his own would be over $16,” Pedick said. “Collectively it costs our members a buck. And a member could never do this pro- gram with 3M on his own.”
On line training: Preferred Brands offers a video learning series in products, sales, management, cabinets, etc., which allows the store owner to monitor the salesperson’s level of knowledge. “The series keeps up on everything new,” Pedick said. “When times are good, everyone is a good salesperson, but when times are tough, that’s when people need to utilize all the tools out there to make them the best they can be.”
InspectRite: Preferred Brands partnered with a national inspections company—recognized by all the major mills—to provide members with unbiased inspections. As an added bonus, the deal comes with a toll-free number where members can ask any question related to floor covering at no charge. “We have saved members literally tens of thousands of dollars in research on customer complaints,” Pedick said. “The company does it for them and even provides supporting documents.”
Promo planner: Preferred Brands offers its members unique promotions on a monthly basis because, Pedick said, the customer who walks in the door in January is different than the customer who comes in February. “Every consumer should feel like they walked into your store at the right time to take advantage of a promotion.” Preferred Brands offers all kinds of customizable POP materials. “This makes the customer feel like she is part of a bigger, national event, which creates urgency for better closing of a sale.” Preferred Brands negotiates with all the major manufacturers for discounted pricing for a certain period, something individual members could not do on their own, Pedick said.
Shaw’s Jackson believes InFlo is a solid offering. “If members are fully engaged with InFlo, it would suggest they can now spend more time focusing on customers. The package is comprehensive.”
One of the best parts of InFlo is that nothing is shoved down members’ throats. “It’s like a buffet,” American Flooring’s Daigle said. “You can use all or part of what they have to offer. For example, they have a marketing/advertising department, which we use for advice, but we tend to do our own marketing because we know what works in our specific market.”
Performa Plus is a new, proprietary brand, underwritten by 3M Scotchgard and warranted against every conceivable stain. The collection consists of Mohawk Sorona styles as well as Shaw Clear Touch and R2X lines offering a full mix of products and styles, from nylons to soft BCF polypropylenes at retail price points ranging from $9.99 to $24.99 a yard. The idea is to offer a brand to which a female consumer can relate and one members can get behind because it cannot be shopped.
American Flooring’s Daigle joined the group three years ago and immediately saw the benefits. “Margins increased at least 5 points since I became a Floor To Ceiling member. A lot of that has to do with its private labeling program.”