Flooring America puts the sizzle back into summer

Home Editorials Flooring America puts the sizzle back into summer

by Steven Feldman

So I just got back from a week in Orlando, Fla., where Flooring America and Carpet One were hosting their summer conventions. I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting much. Summer conventions are traditionally quieter than their winter counterparts, which is when the biggest splashes are made.

Well, this time around, I was wrong. There, I said it. I was wrong. For the first time in a long while, the CCA Global conventions gave us a lot to chat about.

In the spirit of space limitations, we’ll focus on Flooring America here. You have to give credit where credit is due, and Keith Spano, president, and Frank Chiera, vice president of marketing, deserve a whole lot of it. In less than a year, they have reinvigorated the group and are actively separating it from its sister organization. Different look, different feel, different flavor.

Change was apparent from the outset. Rather than host a general session in the traditionally impersonal ballroom, these guys chose the most unorthodox of settings: The two-story sports bar at the Gaylord Hotel. People were sitting at tables and on bar stools. Instead of sports scores running across the ticker high above the make-shift stage, key statistics about the group’s American and Canadian divisions reinforced Spano and Chiera’s presentations.

They were making good on a promise from the winter convention: Members could expect a different experience—more relaxed, more casual. The idea was to put the fun back into flooring.

Spano and Chiera themselves embodied that promise. Most people define casual by removing their ties; these guys ripped a page out of GQ and took casual to the jeans-and-jacket level, replacing them with T-shirts on the show floor.

But the style was accompanied by a great deal of substance. Flooring America unveiled a convention app, and the traditional summer Gold Rush was replaced by a full show floor.

And then came the new brand repositioning. I’ve heard it all through the years. “We are going to focus on lifestyle.” “We are going to group products this way.” “We are the experts.” “We do this and they do not.” But no one has ever claimed the position that Flooring America has committed to for the next few years: to make it the most recommended flooring retailers in America. Or, as the new tagline suggests, “Where friends send friends.” Genius.

As Spano and Chiera noted, the emotional appeal that connects a consumer with a brand is not going to be a font or a color. It’s going to be a recommendation or positive review. It breeds confidence. Think about these consumer statistics that were shared with members:

• 92% trust “earned media” over all forms of advertising.

• 75% believe manufacturers don’t always tell the truth in their advertising.

• 70% consult reviews and share with other people.

What’s more, Flooring America is giving its members the tools they need to make this happen. Aside from social media exposure like Facebook, programs that encourage consumers to give positive reviews were introduced, both in-store and in the home immediately after the installation is completed. The group is also taking the wraps off an app in September that will facilitate the process for consumers days, weeks or months after their floor has been installed.

Of course, members still have to block and tackle and do all the things that make a great retailer. But, by making it easy for your customers to be your best advocates, building a brand around it is special. Especially in the summer.

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