Floor Covering News’ 35th anniversary issue, which was published earlier this year (July 26/August 2, 2021), is a must read. For me, it brought back many memories and made me reflect on my career and what has made the greatest impact on my business success the past 50 years.
There is no doubt that the foremost ingredient for success is having good people. I learned that from my dad, who started his business in 1952. He was blessed with having two employees who grew with him for more than 35 years. When dad retired in 1976, I took over as president and have been similarly blessed with very special people—some of whom are still with me 45 years later.
The second-most important reason for my success has been the “price list.” It is a simple “good, better, best” (or in this case thrifty, bronze, silver and gold) concept that has worked for decades. Our price list, which differs from how other stores operate, dates back to when my dad was running the business.
Known then as Crest Carpet Distributors, my dad’s idea was to function as a carpet distributor, work 8 a.m.–5 p.m, Monday to Friday and only feature products in which we invested. As such, our first price list featured the 15 different styles we stocked; we offered cut-order pricing and “quantity” pricing. Business was good, the hours were comfortable and selling only carpet eliminated a lot of moving parts.
In 1978, I opted to “open to the public” and began running ads in the newspaper. By 1980, we had grown 30% and our product lineup was still short and sweet. There were only two choices on price—cut order or a reduced quantity price for orders over 100 square yards.
What was interesting was that we were growing at an amazing rate and yet we did it with only the carpet we stocked. By 1992, we had more than quadrupled the volume we did in 1976. The common denominator in our growth—besides great employees—was displaying just the products we stocked in 27 x 48-sized sled samples and featuring them in our ever-evolving price list, which now featured more than two dozen styles of carpet.
What we displayed was what we sold. It was a simple concept that had worked now for decades.
Now, well into our 69th year in business, the flooring industry operates vastly different than when I started. While we still sell carpet, we now sell luxury vinyl, hardwood and laminate. We still continue to use a price list that has expanded for hard surface as well as carpeting, all of which feature thrifty, bronze, silver and gold categories.
Today we offer a modest number of manufacturers’ displays; however, 75% of our sales come directly from the products found on our printed price list. The majority of our products are private label. What makes the price list concept work so well is it allows us to select the products we feel are the best we can offer in our four distinct categories. Rather than showing an assemblage of displays, as most stores do, we focus on Crest Select products that make it easier for our customers to choose the right product that falls within their budget. It also makes things simpler for our RSAs and installers because with a streamlined product offering it’s easy to become intimate with each product offered.
Steve Weisberg is president and owner of Crest Flooring in Allentown, Pa. Crest Flooring has won the prestigious “Who’s Who in Lehigh Valley Business” award the past 36 consecutive years.