Last month, the flooring industry lost a key member of its retail community. While her name might not be commonly known among the thousands of flooring dealers across the country, she nonetheless played a valuable role for one of those dealers and the countless customers she touched.
Loretta Giannazzo joined Capitol Carpet & Tile, with multiple locations in Florida, more than 20 years ago, and served as goodwill ambassador. Before joining the business, Giannazzo was a certified alcohol recovery counselor and social worker for years. A very perceptive woman, she had a gift for helping people overcome addiction and turn their lives around. Those who knew her said she had an incredible ability to relate to people of all walks of life in a very personal way and often helped them with their personal problems.
It was these qualities that she brought to Capitol Carpet & Tile—traits that had a profound impact on its success. Giannazzo’s main role at the company was to call each of the business’ customers once their projects were complete to discuss their experience. “Since we’ve been open—1986—we’ve been calling every customer after every sale, and the salespeople would do it themselves,” recalled Lou Morano, president/owner of Capitol Carpet and Giannazzo’s son. “But then we realized that we should have someone doing it who had not had any contact with the customer at all, so that customer would feel free to speak to them transparently. I thought my mother would be the perfect person, not only because she’s the owner’s mother—which I think means a lot to a consumer—but because she was very empathetic. She was a counselor for many, many years, and she helped people through their problems.”
Giannazzo would bring that part of herself to her job every day. “Sometimes there would be people she’d call who were going through their own personal problems,” Morano said. “The customer would say, ‘Oh, it’s been so tough.’ And my mother would delve into that. She would actually mentor them and counsel them over the phone. That happened quite often. It was a very personal touch, not just a phone call.”
According to Morano, once the store brought on Giannazzo and her unique customer service approach, its referral business grew exponentially. “After we started doing that for a period of time, it really struck a chord with our customers,” he explained. “They were very happily surprised that we were so intimately involved, which was a great value to them. And then we had customers coming into the store because they were referred by someone who had received one of those calls. Even when it came to an unhappy customer—they would come in and say, ‘I would have never come back to your store had the owner’s mother not called. It really meant a lot, so we’re going to give you another chance.’”
After that, the company decided it was time to boost Giannazzo’s presence within the company. So the decision was made to feature her in the company’s TV commercials. “She would point right to the camera and say, ‘We care about you. I will call you to make sure you’re happy.’ And when we started doing that, she became a local celebrity.”
For Capitol Carpet & Tile, Giannazzo’s presence not only added a touch of customer service that’s so rare in retail today, but it also helped grow the business. “When she started making the phone calls, we had exponentially more referrals,” he explained. “Then when she did the commercials, advertising what we were doing, we had exponentially more referrals again. She was a light in office.”
Giannazzo passed away Aug. 31. However, she left behind a lasting impression on the business and a strong legacy in her community that won’t soon be forgotten.