By Ken Ryan
While it may never replace the real thing—face-to-face meetings and in-person networking—CCA Global’s integrated virtual summer convention drew positive comments from retail members, many of whom were able to conduct business while also benefitting from convention content.
LIFT2020, originally scheduled for August, was moved to late June so co-op members could leverage some of the new tools and programs that were unveiled. The meeting combined Flooring America/Flooring Canada, The Floor Trader, International Design Guild and Carpet One Floor & Home members, including sales associates and managers.
“I loved it,” said Kevin Frazier, president of Frazier’s Carpet One Floor & Home, Knoxville, Tenn., echoing a sentiment shared by other Carpet One and Flooring America dealers who spoke with FCNews. “The convention created a significant amount of energy, offered way better than average convention specials (on both roll and palletized goods), brought us together with suppliers in a fresh, dynamic manner and we saw the launch of some significant initiatives—all at a very important juncture in the life for both our co-op and our industry.”
In addition to the two-day live event, LIFT2020 closed with four days of live and on-demand education sessions. The on-demand element allowed retailers to tend to business during normal hours and catch up with convention classes later on. At the end of each day’s session, members also had the opportunity for virtual networking through Webex meeting rooms.
“The team has done a spectacular job to reach the members with very important tools and information,” said Cathy Buchanan, owner of Independent Carpet One Floor & Home, Westland, Mich. “The blessing of this conference has been the opportunity to watch the sessions that were possibly missed due to our work schedule and showroom traffic. Each session from the product runways to guest speakers to education days have all been recorded. And I won’t lie—I am still catching up on many of the sessions because we were extremely busy last week. I was actually on the showroom floor with customers, so I missed the live sessions.”
Indeed, that ability to stay on top of business while not missing out on important convention material resonated with members. “It is a bit difficult to do these types of events while in the stores due to interruptions, so we elected to go off site to be able to concentrate on the event,” said John Taylor, president of Taylor Carpet One Floor & Home, Fort Myers, Fla. “My opinion is this was well done and very well received.”
The global pandemic has reinforced the importance of cleanliness and hygiene in homes and showrooms alike. To that end, CCA announced during convention the enhancement and expansion of its Healthier Living Installation System, with a new program called Neutralize. The installation process is said to destroy viruses and other contaminants before, during and after a flooring installation.
Updating and expanding this program was already in the works prior to COVID-19; however, due to increasing health concerns, the CCA team felt that making the new program available for all CCA flooring groups was increasingly urgent. Buchanan, an early adopter of the Healthier Living Installation System, predicted Neutralize would be a “game changer.”
Drive, a marketing automation platform first introduced to Flooring America/Canada members, is now rolling out to Carpet One retailers. Drive allows dealers to communicate with online leads and keep in contact throughout the purchasing process. “The beauty of Drive is it works even when our salespeople aren’t, which give our members a leg up,” Keith Spano, president of Flooring America/Flooring Canada, told FCNews.
When the coronavirus was just emerging in March, John Gilbert, president of Carpet One Floor & Home, and Spano convened a meeting to rethink marketing plans and initiatives, like touchless transactions and DocuSign. “Ironic that the [March 10] meeting was not designed to deal with what eventually happened, but as it turned out we were so well positioned conceptually and strategically that we were ahead of this thing,” Gilbert told FCNews. “They say luck is the residue of design. In this case, we got ahead of the curve.”
During the early days of the pandemic, CCA was proactive in recommending that its dealers apply for PPP loans. Spano said 83% of members received funding, “which is tremendous; members were appreciative of the guidance.”
While some CCA retailers endured weeks of shutdowns and others never closed their showrooms, the overall consensus is that CCA members have fared well during the pandemic. After a down April and May relative to the year-ago period, business has surged in June. “Consumers have a large amount of open-to-buy resources available to them,” Gilbert said. “Members are in a real good spot right now.”
Spano said he was expecting a much slower sales ramp up than what has occurred. “It’s not everyone, but I will tell you that with the vast majority of our members, the stores are busy; they are utilizing consumer financing and seem to be buying better products, which is good. And we are also watching our web traffic. As we continue to monitor, we are watching the sales grow.”
Mike Foulk, owner of Foulk’s Flooring America, Meadville, Pa., spoke for many members when he said, “We have a lot going on right now…we are riding the wave as much as possible.”