By Megan Salzano
Three years ago, Retail Lead Management (RLM) hit the market as a first-of-its-kind software system specifically designed to help flooring retailers manage their leads. Developed by America’s Floor Source CEO Jason Goldberg and an outside tech partner, Retail Lead Management has grown to become one of the most praised solutions in the industry.
“Besides the fact that I believe we write more business because of it, [RLM] is just a great tool for analyzing everything that’s going on in our stores—from lead management to sample checkout, 30-day trends,” said Steve Cosentino, vice president, Capitol Carpet & Tile with five locations in South Florida. “I have recommended it to other dealers since the day I signed up. It’s really a no brainer as far as I see it.”
For Mindy Arnette, residential sales manager, Brian’s Flooring & Design, the system has updated stagnant industry norms. “We had our own way of doing things as a company and as individual sales reps but using RLM has threaded all facets of our business into one entity,” she explained. “It simplifies everything. Simply, it has shown us where we excel within our processes as well as where we need to work on improving.”
Deby Winter, owner of Carpet & Tile Warehouse in Vero Beach, Fla., found the system to be much more valuable than its competition and knew it would become an asset to the company right off the bat. “Many years ago, we used a very inexpensive software program from one of the better-known flooring software companies and it was awful. Twenty-two years ago, we started a check-out log on a clipboard and then notebook. These handwritten logs were impossible to work with. I scheduled a demo with Jason and before the demo was completed, I knew we were going to sign up.”
A solution for one goes national
While flooring dealers have come to laud RLM, it originally began as a solution for one. “RLM didn’t start off as RLM,” Goldberg explained. “RLM started off because I needed a better way to manage my leads at America’s Floor Source. I looked at 200 different CRMs before deciding to build my own because I realized what I needed didn’t exist. So, we came up with the name Retail Lead Management, we launched it and I took the top 100 list of flooring companies and started calling every one of them. Now, we’ve just taken it to an extreme. We are so far behind the times as an industry. We’re getting better and people are starting to advance, but I think RLM has been instrumental.”
Today, the system is multi-functional and enables users to build leads and update a lead’s stage as it progresses through the sales funnel. All leads can be viewed and managed on a centralized dashboard while notes and attachments—like quotes and pictures—can be added to a lead. Appointments can be scheduled and follow up tasks can be created.
Managers also have full visibility and can assign and track leads that are being handled by their sales personnel. The data within the system can be exported and automated email notifications can be created to keep users on task.
“Our customers never fall through the cracks anymore,” said Karyn Mitchell, owner/CFO, Simply Floors, which services the Denver, Colo., area. “Lack of customer follow up is the biggest factor in lost sales. With RLM, sales managers can watch over the sales staff and make sure they are following up and coach them when they don’t. It helps all the team members know the information needed to move through the sales and operations process of a flooring sale and installation. We consider it invaluable to our system and success.”
Keith Carlson, general manager, material management director/web director, Century Tile & Carpet, Chicago, agreed, noting the importance of online leads in today’s market. “We all realize that today’s customer is shopping for flooring differently than they did in the past and navigating flooring websites and making a contact is just as important as a phone that rings or a customer that walks in the door. This tool allows us to get that information into a CSR’s hands almost the minute it happens.”
Simply Floors’ Mitchell added that the system not only helps streamline processes and hold RSAs accountable but has helped grow the business. “After fully implementing RLM, our sales increased over 35% and our close rate has improved,” she said. “Even great sales staff are more efficient with RLM.”
The system also has a simple, easy-to-use interface that offers full functionality on desktops, tablets and mobile phones. “As complex as it is, meaning all the tools it has, [RLM] is really simple,” Capitol Carpet & Tile’s Cosentino said. “RSAs are in the store with customers, the phone is ringing, they’re filling out forms—if you add something new, it has to be easy and simple. And that’s what RLM is.”
What’s more, Goldberg said revenue derived from RLM is reinvested back into the system itself. “Every dime RLM makes goes right back into programming,” he said.
Century Tile & Carpet’s Carlson noted that giving RSAs the ability to sell more is always a worthwhile investment. “There really has been nothing like this in our industry before. This is not a ‘break the bank’ kind of tool and is very reasonably priced.”
Carpet & Tile Warehouse’s Winter agreed, adding, “It’s impossible to calculate how much time and money we have saved since implementing RLM. I always felt it made us look disorganized and unprofessional in the eyes of the customer when we could not find their paperwork because it was misfiled or simply disappeared. RLM is worth every penny and more. If you are in the flooring business, you need RLM.”
While Goldberg admits on-boarding the new system is “a good 60 days of hardcore effort,” retailers agree the juice is worth the squeeze. “The beginning is somewhat painful as you have to get your entire team to adopt it, which is not easy,” said Phil Koufidakis, president of Baker Bros. with seven locations in Arizona. “But the longer it goes, the easier it is, and it’s one of those things that we look back and say, ‘How did we function before it?’ It has been a great addition to our business.”
Updates and more
Moving forward, Goldberg said two new tools will be added to the software: scheduling and field management and site assessments. “We’re building scheduling and field management directly into the platform,” he explained. “So, anyone who wants to know how I run my field, schedule and manage the installers, when I give people RLM I’m giving them the America’s Floor Source blueprint.”
When it comes to site assessment, Goldberg said it will include the most important measurements that can fall through the cracks. “Floor flatness, temperature, relative humidity, moisture content of the wood—all kinds of things that you should be looking at, analyzing and recording that almost no one does.”