October 29/November 5, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 10
By Lisbeth Calandrino
Everyone says they need new customers. The question is, where do you find them? Looking for individual customers is really the hard way. Instead of looking for one or two new customer, it’s easier and more efficient if you look for “industry partners” who use your products. After attending the Remodeling and Deck Expo in Baltimore (FCNews, Oct 15/22), I’m thoroughly convinced flooring owners should be networking with people in the building industry and attending this conference. Why just connect with one or two builders or remodelers in your area? Why not look for ways to connect on a larger scale?
Let’s talk about the real estate industry. Realtors are always interested in new customers. Who do you know that has more connections with consumers than those in the real estate business? I think this is a winning group for you, but you’ve got to “work it,” as they say.
Through the years, I have spoken at real estate offices about flooring products and trends. Usually these meetings are small (about 10-15 agents). Regardless, they are always excited to learn about new products.
This past year I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Greater Capital Association of Realtors (GCAR). As one of the largest realtor associations in the U.S., the group represents more than 10,000 members from Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County, Md., as well as industry-related professionals who follow the real estate business. Frankly, I never thought this would be anything more than a one-time speaking opportunity. After the event, Debbie Isom, director of professional development, spoke with me about becoming certified to teach. I started thinking, would this industry be interested in flooring on a larger scale?
The certification was quite a process. You are required to have a certain number of points that support your expertise and ability to teach. You get additional points for being in the real estate business. Our first class was filled. In fact, we had to turn people away at the door. Who would have thought so many people would be interested in flooring? They actually thought it was fascinating. Attendees received continuing education credits.
We are about to offer our second class— Nov. 7–9, in Malta, N.Y., and Mohawk Industries has agreed to sponsor our event. Why am I telling you this? This is a huge opportunity for you to build some great connections. I’m not suggesting you get certified to teach an event, although this is an option. The requirements for certification are different for each state. You can probably connect with instructors in your state and talk with them about a flooring class and all you have to do is help them write a course in flooring.
Furthermore, you can host this event in your business, invite builders, interior designers, kitchen designers, home inspectors or anyone in the real estate industry and consumers. Imagine the event you can hold; you will be able to fill your showroom with lots of new faces and potential customers. FYI, several of our participants in my last class were consumers who were considering purchasing new flooring.
Why not use this as an opportunity to start your own networking group? It’s a great chance for a flooring dealer to get connected in the building industry. Furthermore, why not include your local flooring association and the World Floor Covering Association? Think big!