This FCNews Retailer Education series, sponsored by 3M, is designed to help retailers develop ways to improve their business.
April 10/17, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 22
By Lindsay Baillie
Whether you are a veteran in the retail flooring industry or just starting out, there is always room for improvement. As consumer confidence continues to increase, now is the time to implement change, drive more traffic to your store and improve your business.
Following are 10 proven strategies for success.
Don’t be afraid to change. For many industry veterans it can be easy to simply carry on business as usual. But Nick Freadreacea, president of The Flooring Gallery, Louisville, Ky., and newly reinstated WFCA chairman, encourages retailers to break out of their comfort zones. “The key to being successful in business today is to be willing to constantly change and evolve with the customer and how they want to do business.”
Focus on the fundamentals. Before you implement a major change, make sure you and your RSAs master the basics. For dealers like Mike Toste, president and CEO of Tri County Flooring America, Atwater, Calif., the key is buying and displaying the right products at the right prices while reducing delivered costs on commodity items. It’s also critical to implement and manage a good digital marketing campaign. “This will allow you to deliver a product and service and provide a consistent result. Happy customers equal more customers which equal more sales—which should equal more profit.”
Invest in your people. Training salespeople to ensure they’re equipped to service customers is key. So says Tim Mann, consultant for Brian’s Flooring & Design, Birmingham, Ala., “We have [product knowledge sessions] scheduled once a month. It helps us become better experts.”
Mann also suggests doing different things to show RSAs they are appreciated. At Brain’s Flooring & Design, this is achieved by treating employees to lunch. “Maybe once every three to six months buy lunch for your store and sit with them. It shows you care.”
Reach out to past customers. Growing the business often entails generating repeat business, experts say. Chris Kemp, owner, Kemp’s Dalton West Flooring, with three locations in Georgia, suggests calling previous customers to see how they are enjoying their purchase or if they require additional measurements for other rooms in the home. “We have in the past few years started making a push trying to advertise to our existing customer base more than the general public.” Kemp estimates a lot of his business is generated by third- and fourth-generation customers, which stems from developing consumer trust.
Get smart with your marketing. Utilizing creative ways to engage the customer can go a long way in generating business. That means interfacing with consumers where they often begin their research—on the web. “How we advertise and reach [the customer] has dramatically changed and most traditional advertising is simply ineffective,” Freadreacea said. “Having a strong web presence is very important and you need the website to drive the customer to your store or contact you.”
Get organized. Running a seamless operation raises a retailer’s level of professionalism—which translates into confidence on behalf of the consumer. For example, Tri County Flooring America now utilizes Google Calendar to schedule and track its project managers’ appointments. “With all the information that can be entered into Google Calendar we can see what type of jobs are being estimated, the work load of every employee and we can ensure we have proper coverage at both our retail locations,” Toste explained.
That same principle applies to product presentation. As Freadreacea explains: “We measure our stores for each product category to maximize return per square foot and that has driven us to change the product mix and greatly increase the WPC/LVP presence.”
Keep an open mind. “Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are,” said George McMurtry, owner, America’s Carpet Outlet, State College, Pa. “Listen to what they’re saying. If you see someone doing something that will work for you don’t be afraid to do it.”
Host special events. Brian’s Flooring & Design hosts “Come and Go Lunches” where local business are invited to network and, hopefully, shop. Attendees can stay for as little or as long as they’d like—between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.—and have the opportunity to speak with the store’s owners and employees, as well as view product.
“What has made our newest store’s lunches especially successful is that we targeted designers, decorators, architects, builders, etc., which have produced many jobs for our store,” Mann said.
Avoid deep discounting. On the contrary, Flooring America/ Flooring Canada encourages its members to raise prices with the understanding that, “Money is made on the sell more than the buy,” Keith Spano, president, said. “A mere 1% increase on your retail pricing will improve your pretax profit by 15% on a $2 million store. You’re not going to lose a sale because you’re $10 high on a $1,000 job. Discounting actually has the reverse effect and is highly detrimental to your bottom line over the course of a year. Change the product, not the price.”
Focus on the things that work. “Find out what you do really well and make sure you are capitalizing on it,” McMurtry said. “Find out what you don’t do really well and either get rid of it or try to get better at it.”
For some retailers, that means continually improving customer service “We have expanded our staff to allow us to spend more time with each consumer,” Freadreacea explained. “It seems that today’s consumer has a lot more information to decipher, and it takes more time and attention to guide [her] to a buying decision.”