Tucson, Ariz.—Achieving success in retail today is not about maintaining the status quo or accepting mediocrity—it’s really about disrupting the consumer experience. That was the main thrust of FloorCon 2022, a retailer-focused, paradigm-changing industry conference organized by Broadlume, a powerhouse technology company focused on the flooring industry.
The theme of the FloorCon 2022 event, “Welcome to the Retail Revolution,” emphasized the importance of helping retailers control their own destiny, find the partners who are committed to their success and build a community unlike anything the flooring industry has ever seen.
Many consider it mission accomplished. The three-day FloorCon 2022 event featured high-caliber presentations and informative, relevant and valuable panel discussions that included high-profile individuals from both within and outside the flooring industry. These included talks from Michel Vermette, who shared lessons learned from his tenure as CEO of Armstrong; a retail roundtable discussion featuring prominent dealers like Jason Goldberg (America’s Floor Source), Brian Elias (Refloor) and Buddy Mitchell (Simply Floors); and a manufacturer/ distributor/association panel that included Ray Mancini, T.M. Nuckols, Chad Stark, Matt Saltzman and Scott Humphrey. Featured speakers from outside the industry included Andrew Yang, a 2020 presidential candidate, and Caleb Campbell, former NFL pro and U.S. Army Lieutenant (ret.).
Virtually all the sessions were designed with one common goal in mind: adding true value to your business. “This is not a retail selling event,” Todd Saunders, CEO, Broadlume, told attendees during his opening remarks. “Have you ever been to an event where five major manufacturers, the president and CEOs are willing to do open Q&As? No way. We just want to add value [for our attendees.]”
Many of the roughly 400 dealers in attendance at FloorCon 2022 said the event delivered as advertised. For retailers like Carlton Hodges, owner of Lakeway Floors in Spicewood, Texas, the key draw was the networking component. “The best thing is being able to talk to people [not from your area] and be like ‘Hey, this is what I’m struggling with’ and ‘Oh, I got the same problem’ instead of sitting over in the back corner because you can’t call your competition down the road,” Hodges said. “[FloorCon] is a completely different game. This is about helping to support us. This is something I haven’t witnessed in years.”
Connecting with other dealers to solve common problems was also one of the main objectives for Buddy and Karyn Mitchell, owner and CEO, respectively, of Simply Floors in Denver, Colo. “I have felt that, even though we’re not a super small dealer, we have appreciated Todd and Broadlume caring about the small dealer,” Buddy said. “I don’t think a lot of big flooring companies care about the small dealer.”
Todd Oser, owner of Oser Paint & Flooring in Georgetown, Ky., took full advantage of FloorCon’s robust educational lineup, which was focused on giving industry professionals the tools to improve their business. Oser was also able to learn from other business owners directly through shared best practices. “I think the best part for me was the networking part of it,” Oser told FCNews. “It’s a chance to talk to other stores my size. We do roughly $3 million, so I’ll talk to those people or I’ll talk to someone who does $5 million and ask ‘How you go from three to five?’ You sit down and talk to one another and find out the best practices that work.”
Another benefit of having the retailers convene in one setting is it gave them the opportunity to network with dealers who are not current Broadlume customers. Saunders estimated around 60% of the retailers in attendance currently utilize Broadlume’s services—though he was hoping for a ratio closer to a 50/50 split. “This is not a Broadlume customer event by any stretch of the imagination; we want this to be an industry event,” Saunders said. “I want everyone to shake hands with someone they never shook hands with before, and I want that to build lifelong friendships and relationships.”
Over the past three years, Broadlume has acquired Floor Force, Creating Your Space, RollMaster, Retail Lead Management, Banaboom and others—giving it the ability to offer an all-in-one software stack from website to CRM to ERP. With Broadlume’s full tech stack, retailers are able to operate more efficiently and run a better business.
“That is not talk,” Saunders said. “If you attended the first FloorCon in 2020, we said we were going to build an all-in-one platform. I think we’ve backed up a lot of what we’re doing with actual value and doing what we said we’re going to do.”
One of the most significant developments to emerge out of Broadlume’s cross-platform partnerships is its all-in-one selling system, which made its debut at FloorCon 2021. The innovative retail selling system combines both the retailer’s website and physical showroom to create one seamless experience for the retailer and customer alike. It was once again a highlight of this year’s event and featured prominently during the event’s outdoor trade show.
Broadlume customers who have implemented the selling system attested to its benefits. Case in point is Oser Paint & Flooring. After taking on the selling system in January of last year, Oser said the business has experienced an increase in closing rates. Moreover, the showroom presentation is much more uniform now. “We completely redid our entire showroom at the time,” Oser recalled. “It’s much more curated and consistent. There’s not a display that’s 7 feet tall and a display that’s 8 feet tall.”
Newer users of the selling system, like the Mitchells of Simply Floors, are already seeing improvements. Simply Floors received their displays just four weeks before FloorCon and already they’re performing even better than the owners expected. “You’re either an innovator or you get lost,” Buddy Mitchell said. “[Broadlume] set my expectation and they’ve performed on that expectation. They are putting customers in my showrooms.”
Even participating suppliers are seeing a difference. “Broadlume has chosen some very good vendors that put quality and service first rather than just price points,” said Paul Dominie, president of Bella Flooring Group, which has supplied product for the merchandising side of the retail selling system for almost two years. The merchandising system, he added, gives stores a competitive edge as everything is private labeled. “It’s about telling the story and executing that story with great products.”
Broadlume said its end goal is to push the industry forward by continuing to work together with industry members across the supply chain. Saunders and the Broadlume team plan to focus on integrating the all-in-one platform to ensure each system works perfectly with one another. “At the end of the day, if we do something and it doesn’t help the local flooring retailer, then it wasn’t the right thing to do.”