Retailer success strategies

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Modern and traditional methods prove to be effective

by Jenna Lippin

With an ever-evolving economic climate, flooring retailers must consistently stay motivated and innovative when it comes to marketing and advertising. Thanks to social media and various technological advances, many successful companies, large and small, are taking advantage of new marketing methods that are right at their fingertips. Most successful retailers continue to rely on repeat customers and focus on future sales with consistent, reliable buyers.

Justin Atcheson, president of Builders Floor Covering and Tile with four locations throughout Georgia, supports the idea of maintaining relationships with his existing customers. Builders keeps a customer database which the company reviews and updates regularly. “We went back over the last seven years to determine key customers who we recognized and knew would come back,” he explained.

Consistent communication with past buyers will help generate future sales. One on One Floor Covering in Hazel Green, Ala., keeps in touch with those who have already purchased product from the store and relies on them to refer new customers. “Our best advertisement by far is simply word of mouth,” said Kelly Cantrell Sisk, store manager. “We have great success with repeat customers and referrals based on our No. 1 priority, which is customer service.”

Atcheson also focuses on customer service. Builders sends a follow up survey to customers after every job completion. Thanks to the questionnaires, he noted, “We have been able to determine some issues, such as which installation crew or salesperson weren’t performing.”

As a result, he added, “We let the bad people go and kept those with great reviews. We’ve grown from utilizing those who work well.”

FCA Network-aligned dealer, Dan Standeven, co-owner of Carpets Direct in Lincoln, Neb., believes in a practice similar to Atcheson’s. Standeven explained that one of the best things a retailer can do is to follow up immediately after a sale and installation.

“Nine times out of 10, if a customer has one problem that isn’t addressed immediately she will probably find another one,” he said. “We follow up after every single job so if a customer has any questions or concerns, they are taken care of right away.”

What follows is superior customer service. Standeven said he works diligently to find and hire professional and knowledgeable installers because the right staff helps generate sales, provides quality work and allows a store to stand up to competitors.

While sending out postcards and making phone calls is always an old standby for contacting existing customers and possible prospects, there is now a plethora of ways for retailers to market their stores and services. Utilizing social media is one of the top methods of advertising for companies of all sizes. Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and YouTube viewers are all prospects.

Many retailers have started to work independently when it comes to advertising, and for good reason. The United States has endured some horrific storms in recent years on top of the crippled economy. For example, Sisk explained that after being hit hard with tornados in the spring of 2011, One on One had to remodel the store. Due to natural disasters and the dismal economic conditions, the shop had no choice but to keep marketing to a minimum. “We have had to be pretty self-sufficient doing things such as our website, YouTube commercials, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google Plus, and LinkedIn. We are a mom and pop store so we really try to advertise within the local communities.”

Modern methods

The Internet and social media are not only effective, they are means of marketing that are both easy to learn and maintain. And, at the same time, you can create either a select audience, such as locals in your community who are guaranteed customers, or a larger range, reaching out to virtually anyone who has an interest in flooring.

Keeping up with the evolving world of retail is an integral part to staying in business, which means modern marketing. “You must have a web presence because people shop online now and then they come to you to see [products] in person,” said Suzanne Bartlatt of Spectrum Floors in Easton, Pa.

A solid web presence means not only a fun Facebook page and witty tweets; you must also maintain a professional website and try to engage customers in other ways through the Internet, such as regularly updating a blog, she added.

Joe Dollak, owner of The Carpet Shop in Philadelphia, also utilizes the web and social media despite the store being in business for 40 years, starting out long before the days of “likes” and hashtags. “For us, it is a real mix of old school marketing and new,” he explained. “For instance, we mail out postcards to past, current and potential customers. That would, of course, be an old school way of promoting. We also utilize all aspects of social media—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more. We have a website with our own blog. I also have a public relations consultant who occasionally sends our press releases to the media. Some of them include tips that we provide on such varied topics as food clean up, decorating and so on.”

The perfect recipe for marketing and advertising includes a mix of traditional techniques and modern innovations. Like One on One, which advertises in town newspapers and on billboards on local roads while participating in Mohawk commercials on HGTV and filming YouTube clips, a successful retailer will stick to what works, whether from the old school or new.

“Business owners should be willing to try new things without abandoning marketing tactics that have worked for prior generations,” Sisk advised. Send out postcards to your best customers, but don’t forget to update your Facebook status first.

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