May 25/June 1, 2015; Volume 29/Number 4
By Ken Ryan
Whereas most residential flooring dealers typically wait for customers to come into their showrooms, Main Street is about prospecting for new business.
This proactive approach requires a new way of retailing, executives say, which is where the major manufacturers come into play. From training classes to in-store display systems, suppliers have stepped up to help their retail partners’ Main Street business.
For example, at the Shaw Learning Academy retailers can attend mini and multi-day sessions to learn the fundamentals of Main Street, including strategies on how to go after the business. The curriculum advises dealers to always be in the prospecting mode—to think of every business and every person as a potential new customer and contact. It also encourages relying on satisfied current customers to act as referrals.
“Selling Main Street commercial products requires a retailer to have the necessary technical product knowledge to respond to customers’ performance expectations and needs with the correct specifications,” said Quentin Quathamer, commercial brand and marketing manager, Philadelphia Commercial, a division of Shaw Industries. “We provide retailers with education and training, easy-to-use displays and other support materials to ensure they understand the technical aspects and product details required to meet the needs of the Main Street commercial customer.”
In 2014 Mannington created a separate Main Street commercial business, headed by Keith Wiethe, Main Street channel manager. Mannington offers its retailers what Wiethe calls “best in class” merchandising that is designed specifically for the Main Street channel. “First and foremost is our display vehicle. It acts as a silent salesperson for us as well as a tremendous resource for our Main Street retailers. We have larger and transportable samples that enable the RSA to capture the sale. We support the display with literature, sample boards and an amazing website.”
He added much of the credit goes to Mannington’s dedicated Main Street marketing team which personally works with retailers with the sole purpose of driving sales for Main Street dealers. “One of the ways we do that is with training. Our team—along with our distribution network—is constantly training at the retail level. We feel that we need to best equip our Main Street retailers with the ability to sell product, and that is done with training.”
Aladdin Commercial from Mohawk has two distinct merchandising systems for its Main Street customers—one for modular carpet and one for broadloom. Both come in a “storybook” format that allows retailers to turn the pages of the display book, which shows a progression of products from low end (olefin) to high end (cut pile nylon with a performance backing system). The objective is to make it easier for dealers to walk the end user through the various fibers and yarn systems to link project requirements with products. “It allows the dealer to open up a conversation that ultimately will match the end user’s needs and wants,” said Chris Post, director of sales operations for Aladdin.