In 2019 when Michelle Winters, Lisbeth Calandrino and Rachel Berlin founded the Women of the Flooring Business (WOFB) group, the idea was to create a platform for women in flooring to share best practices. Several years into the initiative, the group has achieved that primary objective and so much more.
Most recently, the group has expanded its membership and course offerings. The Weekly Executive Program, for example, now provides a forum to discuss relevant issues with its executives, Winters, Berlin and Calandrino. Topics range from how to hire to sales and more. In addition, the group has Workshop Wednesday, where it brings in various speakers from within and outside the industry to discuss important topics.
“Our members are excited and committed to our mission—helping women succeed and grow through education,” Calandrino said. “The idea is to keep people up to date with short and interesting topics. Our programs are usually 30 to 45 minutes, and then they are archived.”
Winters, education director of WOFB, added, “Our members tell us training is extremely important, so we make the trainings meaningful and short. In addition, we provide video recordings of all the interviews for our members, put them on our YouTube channel and distribute them throughout our social media platforms and in other flooring groups.”
New topics recently added to the educational roster are installation, inspections and product knowledge. “The importance of installation can’t be overlooked,” Calandrino noted. “And flooring inspections and product knowledge go hand and hand with installation.”
Calandrino recently held a forum with IICRC approved instructor and flooring inspector, Mark Violand, to discuss the field of inspection. “Members don’t usually have an opportunity to speak with flooring inspectors unless they have a claim, and then they may only see a written report,” Violand said. “These classes will help you avoid costly claims and improve customer satisfaction.”
In terms of product knowledge, Calandrino hosted a forum with Mark Farnsworth, author of flooring product knowledge book, “Your Complete Flooring Guide.” “As an industry, we rely heavily on manufacturer’s reps to provide product knowledge, but we can’t expect them to know everything,” Farnsworth said. “On the other hand, the floor covering professional must know everything if they’re going to answer consumer questions.”
As part of its evolution, the group has also begun to focus on training topics outside typical flooring-related issues that are of great importance to its female membership. “We experiment with different topics,” Calandrino explained. “We’re dealing with bigger issues such as sexual harassment and childcare. We’ve learned from COVID-19 that the childcare business model doesn’t work and that 1.2 million women were out of work because of childcare issues.”
Currently, the group is offering two one-hour classes through the Women of the Flooring Business platform. First is a $99.00 three-hour Zoom class regarding flooring products, understanding moisture levels, floor prep and maintenance. The second class is a 13-hour Zoom class for installers on installation issues and how to avoid claims.
Lisbeth Calandrino is one of the founders of WOFB, an FCNews columnist and the author of “Red Hot Customer Experience—Challenges Your Business will Face in the Next Normal.” She has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years.