Daltile makes a bold ‘Statement’

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Statements 2.0
Paij Thorn-Brooks walks dealers through the various facets of the Statements 2.0 merchandising concept.

By Steven Feldman Riviera Maya, Mexico—Daltile Statements Elite dealers were introduced to what is arguably the most advanced selling system for ceramic tile when this select group of retailers convened here earlier this month for its 10th anniversary summit. Dubbed Statements 2.0, the showroom-within-a-showroom concept serves as a destination within a store and is designed to increase profitability for dealers and simplify the shopping experience for consumers.

Statements Elite dealers enjoy a host of benefits—merchandising and leads being two of the most significant pieces, giving them a tremendous advantage in the marketplace. Another plus: the merchandising for the store-within-a-store program just got a facelift. “Statements 2.0 is our way to connect the customer’s online experience to in-store to make selecting tile easy,” said Paij Thorn-Brooks, vice president of marketing. “The new selling system provides consumers, RSAs and contractors an integrated online and in-store experience with the right tools to create their dream space. Everything must work in unison to help the customer design her dream space. At Daltile, our primary goal is to continue investing in an inspirational/informative website, provide our dealer with highly qualified leads and create a robust in-store experience, making our dealers more profitable.

Patrick Warren, vice president of residential sales, put it in perspective: “When you’re shopping within the 2.0 structure, you feel like you’re within our website,” he explained. “Think about it from a consumer’s point of view: You’re shopping today at Nordstrom, Best Buy, Dick’s. With all three of those, when you’re online shopping and then go into the store, it feels like you’re still part of that environment. We need to keep that shopping experience continuous from online. How do we get that experience within your showrooms? We don’t want consumers to come in the store and look at anything else. We want them to keep that consistency, stay with Daltile and make that purchase.”

The whole idea behind Statements 2.0 is simplification. While most ceramic tile is merchandised via display racks where consumers are left to flip through boards with no starting point, Statements 2.0 allows consumers to easily navigate the design process in a 600-square-foot environment. “It gives the customer curated assortments within the product look and style they desire, making it easier for the RSA and consumer to quickly narrow down their choices, thereby eliminating frustration,” Thorn-Brooks said.

Given how customers are living on Pinterest and seeing different types of styles brought together, the showroom-within-a-showroom welcomes customers with a kiosk of large, beautiful Pinterest-style boards. In addition, the customer is given specific information on how to shop the showroom. More importantly, the kiosk helps consumers determine their style, product look and/or color preference. “The guided selling information emulates what they see online for Daltile, helping them feel more comfortable in the space,” Thorn-Brooks said. “Everything is also color coded to simplifying the process further.”

The simplicity isn’t just a benefit for the customer; this also helps the RSA. “They can easily walk through the experience and help guide the decision process, even if they are not an expert on every product,” Thorn-Brooks said. “The information in the kiosk—and throughout the showroom—creates an informative and simple guided selling format.”

Warren concurred, adding: “We talked about the consumer experience from online to the showroom, but it’s the RSA conversion of that digital shopper that we’re trying to get. We have to talk to the RSA more than we’re talking today, and this environment does that.”

Future enhancements include QR codes on all samples as well as a new room visualizer tool within the showroom. “We want to put QR codes on each of the products because the easiest way to simplify the selection is to show her what goes together,” Thorn-Brooks explained. “The QR codes will enable us to take the look, color palette and/or style she desires and show multiple curated assortments that fit her preferred criteria. Enabling this technology will further simplify the selection process.”

Tools for success

In a nutshell, Statements 2.0 is all about curation. It’s about providing ideas, whether it’s a backsplash or a certain look like stone, marble or wood. “We want to make sure we’re focusing on those key areas to enable the RSAs to talk through them,” Thorn-Brooks said.

In an effort to help Statements retailers upsell, Daltile has included two fixtures with wall and mosaic products. “These hold 88 of our most beautiful mosaics and higher-end wall tile,” Thorn-Brooks noted. “These fixtures alone are going to drive business. We want to sell the add-ons and get the margins we want, and when dealers show it this way it really helps.”

Having these sales tools are essential in a complicated product category such as tile. That’s why RSA training is going to be key to success. “So many times, your RSAs are pushing three or four products they love to sell,” Warren stated. “We want to make sure they’re walking through the process to ensure consumers get exactly what they want. When they get to the end zone, they know what they’re going to purchase. Statements 2.0 helps that RSA close that deal.”

Statements Elite dealers said they liked what they saw. Take Alan Braunstein, president of Worldwide Wholesale in Edison, N.J., and the original Statements dealer, for example. He said he truly embraces the store-within-a-store concept. “That’s been the go-to for us,” he said. “It’s a smooth transition to buy through that merchandising concept. The other plus with Daltile is the number of referrals we get. They develop a lot of leads and we are the recipient—as a Statements dealer—of those leads.”

Penny Carnino, operations manager for Grigsby’s Carpet & Tile in Tulsa, Okla., said she was excited about the color change from dark to white in 2.0 and also touted the curated boards. “This will make it easy for the consumer and should lead to increased profit opportunities,” she said. Then there’s Zac Akin, co-owner of Akin Brothers Flooring in Oklahoma City, who liked the new financing options that allow longer terms up to 60 months.

The Statements story

Tying in the consumer’s online experience with her in-store visit is critical, said Patrick Warren, VP of residential sales, Dal-Tile.

The Statements program started more than 10 years ago with one idea: “How do we make a statement with Daltile?” noted Matt Kahny, president. Today, the Statements program encompasses 112 dealers and 260 of “some of the finest retail ceramic tile showrooms in the country.”

All this didn’t happen by accident. As Thorn-Brooks explained: “We went out and looked for the best customers out there in the retail environment who wanted to commit to a program as well as space in their showroom to put in the merchandising, or the store-within-a store-concept, and their primary manufacturer was Daltile. They invested and we invested in generating leads to them and co-op advertising into the program. Also, they’re the first to get the new products we put out there. It is a true partnership with Daltile.”

The ultimate goal with the Statements program is to bring retailers the tools to make their businesses better, Warren said. With that, Daltile built the foundation of Statements on five core pillars:

  1. Leads: digital, phone and showroom leads
  2. Consumer financing
  3. Co-op advertising
  4. Promotional campaigns
  5. Merchandising

“There was a robust reception to our new five-pillar strategy and merchandising platform,” Warren said.

Given all these tools, a Statements Elite dealer stands to do more business with Daltile than your average floor covering dealer. “They’re a partner, they’re dedicated, they’re invested and we’re invested,” Thorn-Brooks said.

Of course, it all comes with a significant commitment in terms of both floor space and dollars. In return, Daltile works on the dealers’ behalf to run the digital promotions and campaigns year-round to ensure they’re getting the most qualified leads. “We manage that for them and drive leads into their locations,” Thorn-Brooks said. “All promotions we do are targeted at driving customers to a Statements Elite dealer.”

It doesn’t end there. Driving customers to Statements Elite dealers is just the beginning. It’s the aforementioned exclusive merchandising platform that is designed to seal the deal. “We want to make sure the experience they’re having on a digital shopping or selection process reflects our brand image and mirrors that website,” Thorn-Brooks said. “It’s continuity throughout, and we really don’t have that in our industry right now. This 2.0 gets you there—a department within a department where you go for all things Daltile. That’s exteriors, that’s our solutions with our StepWise, that’s all of our wall tile and all of our mosaics—and our floor tile packages. Everything is one stop within that showroom.”

While Statements dealers have seen their business grow between 20% and 30% over the past few quarters, Kahny said Daltile must look to the future. “We have to make sure we’re making the changes, making the investments that will have this program be strong for another 10 years and beyond. Moving forward, all of us have to think about how we do business differently. Those include investments in new merchandising concepts and e-commerce tools. Our customers have changed in how they want to do business as things progressed with COVID-19. We have to change to address that.”

Steve Chesin, owner of Carpets ’N More in Las Vegas, has been a Statements Elite dealer for more than five years and sits on the advisory board. He attested to the benefits of being a Statements Elite dealer. “Daltile is one of the leaders in driving lead generation to your stores. The quality of their leads through their website and showrooms are outstanding. We’re actually opening a Statements showroom right next to a Daltile location.”

Aside from the merchandising, co-op and finance programs, Chesin said another benefit is sharing best practices with other Elite members. “Just talking about what works vs. what doesn’t. It’s a very well-rounded program.”

Phil Koufidakis, president of Baker Bros with seven locations in the Phoenix area, has been a Statements dealer for about seven years and, like Chesin, sits on the advisory board. He applauded Daltile’s efforts on the Statements program. “They are light years ahead of the industry in marketing, digital marketing, lead generation and tying all that together with showroom experience,” he said. “They have a lot of product; it’s hard if you don’t have it set up properly to take that customer through that journey. They’ve done a really good job of cultivating that and curating that, and it looks amazing through and through.”

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June 21/28, 2021

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