As a follow up to its winter convention that took place ahead of Surfaces 2022 in Las Vegas, Floors & More is planning to kick off its summer meeting in Austin, Texas, from July 31 through Aug. 2. According to Vinnie Virga Jr., vice president of Floors & More, this is shaping up to be the company’s most heavily attended summer convention.
“For our summer shows, since they’re not tied to a venue—like Las Vegas for our winter shows—we try to move it around the country and explore different cities that we think would be great vacation destinations for those looking to come in early or stay later and extend their time,” Virga said. “Austin checks all those boxes.”
The buying group’s three-day event kicks off with a cocktail reception/meet and greet event to allow members to mingle. However, this year the company is encouraging its members to bring their sales staff members along for the ride. According to Virga, the convention will be split into two different tracks—one for owners and one for salespeople. While each track will feature a lot of the same breakouts and exhibitors, they will be networking with peers in their specific field from all over the U.S. and Canada.
“The version [of the content] that they get will be slightly tailored to the audience and then that creates conversation points for them to come back and discuss together—salespeople with their owners and vice versa,” Virga noted.
Among the nine different breakout sessions, Floors & More has chosen various speakers to offer their expertise. These include Will Young, director of national accounts for Engineered Floors; Scott Humphrey, CEO of the WFCA; Angela Rath from the National Kitchen and Bath Association; and Sam Mudrick, assistant VP of sales, Synchrony Financial.
According to Virga, the sales training sessions are specifically designed to help the group’s retail members build business. “We will be doing training sessions on how to increase your margins and close more deals,” he explained. “There are going to be a few new programs to talk about. We will have our three universal private brand displays for our three private brands there for our members to see, and in addition to that we’re also going to be announcing some new marketing initiatives as well.”
Slow and steady
Since the group’s last event back in Las Vegas, it has added nine new locations. It anticipates bringing another four or five locations into the fold before the summer convention, according to Virga. “For us, it’s about adding new members and talking about how that will be beneficial to all involved as we grow,” he explained. “I think our big focus isn’t going to be so much on change for us. It’s going to be about making sure our members are prepared for change in the industry because we’re reaching the peak on the wonderful high that we’ve been riding.”
But what goes up must eventually come back down, according to Virga. To that end, Floors & More is looking to prepare its members for times when growth rates begin to normalize. In order to prepare members for any potential falloff in business, Virga stressed the importance of having salespeople who are prepared for whatever challenges are thrown at them when the market shifts.
“We want them to learn best practices from one another,” Virga told FCNews. “What we’re really putting an emphasis on is, ‘How do I compare to my contemporaries and what are they doing that I’m not doing that could help me be more profitable and successful?’ And so that’s certainly going to be another emphasis of the show that I think is going to yield big takeaways for those in attendance.”
The ultimate goal of Floors & More, according to Virga, is to help independent retailers, regardless if they are a member or not. “Even if they’re not in our program, we would love to share this great insight, networking and we would love to share the educational content that we think is really going to help them as we shift into the next phase of our industry,” he said. “So, if there is any retailer in the United States or Canada who feels like they would benefit from participating in the show, whether they’re a member today or not, we invite them to join us. We’re friendly. Our members would love to network with them, and we just think a lot of people could get so much out of this for their business.”
Of course, the summer Floors & More convention is not about all work and no play. The group said it encourages attendees to explore the well-known sights and sounds of Austin during its peak summer months and all that the active, up-and-coming city has to offer.
“This time around, we’re partnering with Treaty Oak—the only gin and whiskey distillery in all of Texas,” Virga said. “They’re giving us a private tour of the distillery, a tasting and they are notorious for having extremely good barbecue, so we’re going to do a cookout there.”
Also on the list is a planned visit to Cidercade, an arcade bar with 150-plus arcade games, a scenic lakeside patio and 48 taps of various hard ciders (all brewed in-house), hard kombuchas and hard seltzers. “We’re always trying to do something really memorable and fun that sets our events apart,” Virga said. “Because, at the end of the day, it’s very hard to travel and get out of the business [when you’re a retail owner]. Beyond providing education and networking, we really want attendees to have a good time. That’s important to us.”