By Tess Donnelly I have been in the flooring industry for 25 years, both in retail and wholesale. When I first came to be in this industry there were very few women in the business—even though the customers I saw were 95% female.
I took my direction and training from men, and I found that they often take a slightly different approach to selling and speak a different language than I do. It took me quite a while to find my bearings and, only occasionally, I’d bump into a successful female role models who provided (mostly) encouragement.
All these years later, along came Women in the Flooring Business. How refreshing it is to have an easy way to interact with other female professionals—not to mention get clear practices, learn about clever operational tools and relax in the knowledge that our voices are not only heard but also respected.
For example, one of the women in the group said she was using an app called Vidyard—an online video platform built for businesses. During the pandemic, it has been very hard to get in front of your clients. So, I quickly researched the app and immediately started using it. It is not only fun but also absolutely effective. Business has forever changed due to the pandemic, and we must adapt accordingly.
Others in the group continually share useful articles, practices they have found to work well for them, and they discuss everything from scheduled out-of-the-store time to software they find helps streamline their businesses. It’s amazing to share success instead of hoarding it. The year 2020 was quite a year, and for someone to bring this group to fruition was a blessing for me.
I use the newfound practices, app support and knowledge I’ve learned from these women and share them with the sales associates I visit during my daily travels in and out of the dealers I call on. I share everything I’ve learned with the women (and men) I serve as a rep. I have also created my own private Facebook group to educate and support the dealers I serve in Oregon. We lead, and follow, by example.
The female-to-male ratio in the flooring business is shrinking. I am truly glad to have found this group, and I hope that I have contributed to it as well. I hope to be able to contribute more and more as I continue to grow.
I’ve also learned, from their extreme generosity, that we are all in this together, and sharing our successes keeps us all motivated and moving in the direction of growth. Not to mention the daily reminder that someone is out there to help you solve your problems. We’ve got each others’ backs and I am greatful for the Women in the Flooring Business group.
Tess Donnelly is currently territory manager with Stanton Carpet. Her responsibilities include training and educating sales associates on new products and sales tips. Her résumé includes previous stints with Mohawk Industries, Floors USA and Jim Boyd’s Flooring America.