By Ken Ryan
In a market where carpet sales have steadily declined, flooring dealers are finding their Stainmaster business is a notable exception. With Stainmaster-branded products, dealers are not only enjoying robust sales but higher profits as consumers gravitate toward these better-end goods.
“In an industry where very few opportunities exist to set our business apart with regards to product, Stainmaster offers their SFC [Stainmaster Flooring Center] partners the tools to do so,” said Scott Browne, president, Macco’s Floor Covering and Hadinger Flooring, Fort Myers, Fla. “Invista has been a tremendous partner in bringing the best fiber system to the market.”
Other dealers, including Nebraska Furniture Mart (NFM), with three locations, attested to the advantages of aligning with Stainmaster. At NFM, retail sales associates are trained to welcome customers and offer their assistance to guide them through the carpet selection process. Which makes sense given most consumers start their journey in the Stainmaster area.
“This makes for an easy transition, informing the consumer about the benefits of Stainmaster products as well as the Platinum Promise offered only by Stainmaster Flooring Centers,” said David Chambers, director of flooring. “We have found this approach with consumers really helps remove hesitation, puts them at ease and gives them confidence about their decision to shop at NFM.”
Stainmaster’s reputation makes the selling job much easier, SFC dealers say. Most find consumers are familiar with the Stainmaster brand and trust their quality and performance. “Some consumers have had personal experience with owning a Stainmaster product in the past and are looking to buy Stainmaster again,” Chambers explained. “The brand is recognized as one of the most durable, stain-resistant carpets in the industry, and buying from a Stainmaster Flooring Center allows the consumers to be protected by the Platinum Promise Warranty. All of the benefits Stainmaster products offer definitely makes it easier to sell and helps create a more confident shopping experience for the consumer.”
At Wichita, Kan.-based Star Lumber, Stainmaster is where the sales team starts during the selection process with its customers. “With the high reputation that Stainmaster has—and with our team of professionals that all love the product—it’s hard for a customer to want anything else,” said Paul Molina, retail store manager. “We have customers who come in frequently and only want Stainmaster products because they have had their current carpet in their homes for 20-plus years, and it still looks good to this day.”
Jason McSwain, owner of McSwain Carpets & Floors, Cincinnati, added that the store’s sales associates know Stainmaster is the consumer-identified brand that all other fiber producers and carpet manufacturers aim to replicate. “Most other manufacturers focus on price, which does not help a retailer’s gross profit dollar opportunity,” he said. “Stainmaster helps our RSA focus on function, performance, lifestyle and peace of mind. When we create a better solution for our consumer, trust is generated and reinforced, which, in turn, reinforces brand loyalty.”
Flooring dealers FCNews spoke with agree Stainmaster provides ample opportunities to trade up a customer to higher-margin products. Case in point is Flooring 101 in Oxnard, Calif., which has SFC showrooms in six of its seven locations. Ian Newton, general manager, said he finds most consumers are willing to spend more on a brand they recognize. “This instills a huge confidence boost for our sales team and gives our customers a great value proposition option.”
Star Lumber’s Molina concurred, adding, “We proudly promote the Platinum Promise lifetime warranty, which none of our competitors can do. This actually lends to making it hard to trade consumers to anything else.”
In that same vein, Macco’s Browne credits the Stainmaster selling system with helping to demystify the buying process for customers and allowing them to trade themselves up. “When the selling system is simplified our customer tends to let her guard down and enjoy the process. The transaction becomes more about style and function and less about price. Most clients will upgrade to a heavier weight product on their own simply because of how that decision makes them feel.”
NFM’s Chambers noted that the ability to trade consumers to Stainmaster has a lot to do with how the RSA qualifies the consumer’s needs. “When the consumer is interested in buying a nylon-based carpet, our RSAs find that it is easier to sell a Stainmaster product vs. other nylon products. When it comes to price, other factors definitely play into the recommendation given, which is why it’s important to qualify the customers. It is much easier to start the consumer journey in the Stainmaster area, qualify their needs and then show them the best product options that will fit their needs.”
McSwain’s has conducted a statistical analysis that shows Stainmaster offers higher profit potential than other brands. In fact, he recently performed a financial audit within its soft surface segment for 2019 and found that a proprietary Stainmaster line of products yielded 6.5% more gross profit points. “The RSA is 16% more efficient selling Stainmaster to generate the equivalent amount of gross profit dollars,” McSwain explained.
Further, McSwain’s continues to grow its business with Stainmaster by intentionally identifying segments within the retail market that are not fully tapped and then partnering with Stainmaster products to step into that market space and own it. “Claim it for Stainmaster and claim it for McSwain’s,” the owner said. “That win-win partnership has produced the results expected for ’19 and building a solid foundation for 2020.”
Making the most of merchandising
McSwain said the store’s customers are greeted by the SFC display system featuring selection tools including cushion station, light station and uniformed displays representing the full Stainmaster offering across all vendors.
At Macco’s, Stainmaster is featured prominently in all locations, with the selection kiosk located within steps of the main entrance. “During the greeting process, when it’s determined that our customer is looking for carpet, we immediately bring her to the Stainmaster Flooring Center and the added value they receive for visiting an SFC,” Browne explained.
Flooring 101’s Newton added, “Stainmaster carpets are our go-to items for retail customers. The sample presentation and selling system make it a very comfortable shopping experience for our customers and sales associates.”