Floors & More gives members competitive advantage

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floors & more 2023Las Vegas—New supplier partners, enhanced digital marketing tools and innovative lead-generation initiatives to help drive more business for retail members. These were just some of the highlights of the 2023 Floors & More winter convention held here recently.

New to the Floors & More vendor lineup—which runs the gamut from producers of flooring, countertops and fixtures to window treatments and hardware—is Mannington Mills, winner of the Floors & More Vendor of the Year Award and a leading provider of laminate, wood, LVP/ LVT and sheet vinyl products. For Floors & More, the timing couldn’t be better given Mannington’s recent updating of its own website and corporate logo, as well as the expansion of its entire hard and soft surface product portfolio.

“We’re proud to be partnering with Mannington,” said Vinnie Virga, Floors & More CEO, in his opening remarks to convention attendees. “Mannington has launched its own rebranding campaign—‘Everyday Beauty, Naturally In- spired, Design to Last’—and launched a new website to simplify the shopping process for the consumer.”

Other new vendors of note include: Timberline, specializing in cabinetry; Centricity, a provider of extended warranties; and Florida Tile. These firms join the ranks of Floors & More flooring suppliers such as: Bella Flooring Group; Engineered Floors (winner of the Development Award); Mohawk’s Daltile, American Olean and Marazzi brands; Phenix; Wausau Tile; Nourison; Dixie Home; Versatrim; Peerless; Leggett & Platt; and Happy Feet (winner of a New Vendor Award).

“One of our main objectives for 2023 is to expand our vendor base meaningfully, including both national brands and private-label offerings,” Virga stated. “We have great, strategic partnerships, but we had holes in our lineup. We’re always looking at where we can add new vendors to the program. For us, it’s not about finding com- petition for them, but it’s about finding things that supplement our offerings so it’s a more synergistic relationship.

“For example, we might have a vendor that’s really good in one category, but another vendor in that same category that’s really good at another level. And so they can work together to flush out the program. The beautiful thing about our membership and what we do is we have members all the way from outlets with Big Bob’s, who are looking for that value play, that close out, that stock buy, all the way up to some of our members who are very high end and run design showrooms that cater to a much more affluent client. That’s why it’s important to make sure we have vendors that cater to both of those in a given category.”

Digitally speaking

Floors & More is also looking to support members’ efforts on the digital front. This includes developing tools and programs to better optimize dealer members’ websites while enhancing their ability to measure, track and, ultimately, convert more leads to sales. To that end, Carole Cross, CEO of Mobile Marketing—which handles many of the digital aspects for Floors & More members—outlined the steps her company is taking to meet their needs. This includes new features such as call tracking, chat interactions and enhanced reporting.

“We have not only enhanced the visuals on a lot of your sites,” she told attendees during a presentation on opening day, “but we have also taken steps to improve lead generation on those websites. Specifically, we have added features that encourage visitors to identify themselves when they come to your sites. Also, members that do business in categories other than flooring—kitchen and bath, for example—have asked for more content. Many are also seeking opportunities to market window treatments. We have delivered on those requests.”

For Floors & More dealers like Blair Schmoekel, owner of Ogden Flooring Designs, a five- store chain based in Utah, the digital enhancements are a god- send. “I’m not really proficient on anything technical,” he told FCNews. “But Floors & More runs different digital campaigns and promotions that certainly have helped bring people in the store.”

Steady as she grows

Billed as a “member-centric” buying group, Floors & More—which encompasses Floor to Ceiling specialty dealers and Big Bob’s Flooring discount outlets—has continued to grow since its inception just seven years ago. Starting with 58 U.S.- based retailers (44 unique members) in 2017, Floors & More expanded to 85 retail locations (64 unique members in two countries) last year.

“2022 was surprisingly good for our members—better than we thought it was going to be,” Virga stated. “More importantly, our members were profitable and our vendors were up, too.”

However, Floors & More is not resting on its laurels. Despite what many predict will be a soft first half with further uncertainty on the horizon, the group is still looking to expand its presence in the market. “Our goal for 2023 is to have 110 retail locations comprising 80- plus unique members,” said Vinnie Virga, Jr., vice president.

While Floors & More is forecasting growth in terms of both member numbers and revenues, it knows it won’t come easy. During his keynote presentation, Virga shared forecasts predicting weaker economic growth overall, especially in the face of rising operating costs for many businesses. Meanwhile, consumer spending is only projected to increase by less than 2%. On the upside, however, he said the average flooring ticket will outstrip inflation.

All in all, though, conditions are returning to normal (if not improving) compared to the early days of the pandemic. Back in early 2020 and in the ensuing months, Floors & More management was holding weekly meetings with its members, providing guidance and advice to get them over the pandemic hump. While that’s no longer necessary, newer challenges have emerged.

“I think the opportunity today is maybe even better than it was before,” Virga Sr. said. “Now that we’re heading into uncertain times again with the economy  and  people  seeing some drop off in sales, I think they’re very open to looking at opportunities to increase traffic as well as sales and profitability, and that’s something that’s very consistent with us. No matter where the environment is, we’re always preaching those things, and that’s the focus of our member-centric organization.”

Scott Newman, principal of Burlington, Ontario-based Suburban Carpet, Inc. (dba Carpet- Deals), joined Floors & More after leaving a competitive buying group. Although he has only been a member for about a year (he earned the “Rookie of the Year” Award for 2022), he said he has come to realize the benefits and privileges of an affiliation with Floors & More in a relatively short time frame.

“I really like the networking opportunities you get at convention,” he told FCNews. “The Virgas work hard to get everybody working together to share best practices and open up about their businesses while having fun. The other group I belonged to was a little stiff.”

Like Newman, Ogden Flooring Design’s Schmoekel was a member of a competitive buying group prior to that group’s acquisition by Floors & More. The key draw and differentiating factor for Schmoekel—who earned the Floors & More Advocate Award at this year’s convention—is the consultative approach taken by the group’s management team. “When they say they’re member-centric, they mean it,” he said. “They’re willing to make the extra effort to make sure their members are successful. If a dealer gets in trouble, Vinnie Jr. or Vinnie Sr. will fly out and consult with them about how to get their business back in a profitable position, or they will correct some things. I think the biggest thing Floors & More has to offer is that. It’s that strategic consulting that they do.”

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Feb. 6/13, 2023

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