September 2/9 2013; Volume 27/number 10
By Ken Ryan
Never before has carpet retailing been so much fun—and rewarding—for dealers like Sandi Molski, Todd Brown, Alison Quick and others who held local License to Spill (LTS) events. Customers of all ages were given the opportunity to squirt and squeeze all kinds of messy substances, from ketchup to chocolate sauce, in hopes of staining the SmartStrand carpet. The customers weren’t successful but the Mohawk Floorscapes and ColorCenter dealers were, bringing in new business and creating a fun environment.
Here is what some of the participating retailers had to say about their License to Spill experiences:
A food fight is usually never a good thing, especially in the middle of a retail showroom. But for Todd Brown, owner of Brown’s Furniture, an organized food fight was held on a room-sized piece of SmartStrand carpet as part of Mohawk’s License to Spill campaign.
“We invited kids from around the area to come down and help us make a mess of the carpet, and each other, and see how tough SmartStrand really is,” he said. “After the food fight, we allowed people to stop by our booth and make more mess on the carpet as well as view live cleaning demos on smaller samples.
“At the end of the day we cleaned up the huge mess using nothing more than some water and a regular vacuum. No professional cleaning or cleaning supplies were needed. We had a great consumer response to this, both in person and on our Facebook page where we documented the entire event.”
Brown’s Furniture coordinated the License to Spill event with the town’s popular “Bazaar Days,” a city-wide sidewalk sale in Liberal, Kan. “This event generated some jobs right away, but more importantly it spread awareness of what SmartStrand has to offer customers,” he said. “Not everyone who stopped by was in the market for carpet right now, but with the impression we made, most will be asking for SmartStrand by name when they do look.”
While most professionals in the flooring industry know about the great benefits of SmartStrand, many consumers do not, Brown explained. For Brown’s Furniture, License to Spill was an educational event. “It allowed us to spread the word in a fun and creative way that really hit home.”
Flooring & More
Flooring & More had such success with its first License to Spill campaign that owner and retail sales manager Sandi Molski said she couldn’t wait to schedule a second one. And so she did.
“First we sponsored a ‘Business After 5’ License To Spill event May 23.
“We had approximately 75 people come for that event where we roped off a large piece of SmartStrand Sorona carpet, and people were given a choice of stain weapon—chocolate sauce, BBQ sauce, ketchup or mustard,” she said. “It was a live spill event with food and drinks. The customers had a great time staining the carpet.”
Molski said her customers were amazed at the results. “We only cleaned half the carpet. We have both the before and after pieces displayed in our showroom with signage.”
Molski said her store generated about $53,000 in sales as a result of the first event.
“The next event was a live radio remote broadcast Aug. 1,” she said. “We invited people to come in and get their own ‘Licenses to Spill.’ When they came in, they got their photos taken in front of a banner and SmartStrand Sorona display with a bottle of chocolate sauce. We then printed the photo and put it on the back of a business card, giving them an actual License to Spill to use toward a $39 carpet install campaign.
“We did a lot of advance publicity for the events—email, Facebook and radio. We used banners in the store; the staff dressed up in bandanas, hats and boots.”
According to Molski, the campaign helped boost foot traffic and closed sales. “I had a client come in to remodel the lower level of her home; she was hooked on the SmartStrand DuPont story of stain and soil resistance. She decided to install it in her entire home. That one sale alone was more than $24,000.”
Baystate Rug & Flooring
Baystate Rugs used the LTS kit for demonstration at a home show event where a table was set up with a bowl of water along with ketchup, mustard and other sauces—all intended to stain the SmartStrand carpet. “The demonstration area drew a crowd from people who were passing by,” said store designer Katie LaFlamme.
“We let kids and parents dirty the samples and then they watched as we poured just water over the carpet and the stain disappeared. We got a lot of ‘wows’ and a great, surprised reaction from most. We let people take small carpet samples home to try to stain them; people found that fun. It definitely brought us customers.”
Although LaFlamme said she cannot quantify the increased sales from the LTS campaign, “at least 10-plus customers came in after seeing us at the home show, and that’s significant.”
Watkins Floor Covering
Were it not for the convincing nature of the License to Spill (LTS) campaign, store manager Alison Quick said Watkins Floor Covering would have lost six large jobs to another local retailer or one of the big box stores.
Because the campaign was well publicized, eye-catching and palpable, Watkins Floor Covering secured the business. “When we demonstrated LTS at a business expo we had large crowds during the demonstrations and they asked a lot of questions,” Quick said. “The samples in which
we put our business cards were a
Watkins Floor Covering used ketchup and Worcestershire sauce on the SmartStrand carpet. “People were wowed by actually watching the stains disappear,” Quick said. “I still have people who see me in town and remember [the store] from the show. They say as soon as they are ready [to make a purchase] they are coming to see us.”
Quick said she would recommend a License to Spill event to any dealer looking to increase SmartStrand business, as long as they are far away from Jacksonville, N.C. “I want to keep all of the business.”
Carpet Showcase Flooring Center
Wheeling, W. Va.
Carpet Showcase Flooring Center’s License to Spill event took place June 1 as part of the “Wheeling Feeling Chili Cook-Off,” an annual event in which chili cooks compete to qualify for the International Chili Society Cook-Off in Palm Springs.
It turns out LTS was a bigger hit than the chili, according to Christie Con-traguerro, vice president of sales and marketing.
“Our LTS event challenged Chili Cook-Off attendees to spill soy sauce, Kool-Aid, Tidy
Bowl cleaner, ketchup
and bleach on the SmartStrand carpet,” she said.
Per Contraguerro, a steady flow of young and old people turned up at the demonstration to watch all types of material splattered on the carpet, which was rinsed clean with only water. “Every person was astonished when the carpet cleaned so easily,” she said. “One potential customer even commented that she ‘got chills’ watching as bleach was poured on SmartStrand carpet with no effect. We even had people tell us they came to the Chili Cook-Off just to see our demonstration.”
The adults had just as much fun making a mess as the kids, she added. “It was like we gave attendees an excuse to do something they are never allowed to do—try and stain their carpet. Then we watched the amazement in their faces when water rinsed the carpet clean or when Tidy Bowl cleaner stained our hands but not the carpet.”
She said her store scheduled 10 measurements in a three-hour period during the event. “We had countless consumers tell us they were sold and would be contacting us when it was time to replace their carpet. One customer in particular has a handicapped child who is involved in home therapy. They have been looking to replace their carpet but couldn’t find a fit for their needs. After seeing our License to Spill demonstration on the news, they purchased SmartStrand for the entire house.”