Boston, Mass.—Still riding the wave of its successful winter convention earlier this year, the Floors & More Group is looking to build on that momentum with its annual summer convention. The highly anticipated conference and product showcase is set to take place Aug. 8–10 at the Hyatt Regency Boston.
“We’ve seen a surge in pre-registration for this year’s summer convention,” said Vinnie Virga Jr., vice president of Floors & More. “In fact, we have 20% more people registered this year than our best convention that we’ve ever had for a summer event.”
More importantly, according to Virga, many of the pre-registrants are new members of Floors & More—a group comprising both Floor to Ceiling retailers and Big Bob’s flooring outlets. “It’s only June and it is already our biggest growth year of new member locations,” he noted. “We’ve added 11 independent retailer locations so far this year, which puts us at 96. We are knocking on the door of 100 members, which we think we’ll be at by the time we get to our show in Boston.”
While the Northeast represents Floors & More’s largest market—particularly among the new members—the group also boasts a strong Midwest contingent. It only makes sense, according to Virga, given Floor to Ceiling stores originated in the Midwest. “We expect to have a nice mix of ‘silver and gold,’ as they say—old friends and new friends coming together, so we’re really excited about that.”
Virga attributes the continued growth in membership to not only the popularity of its seasonal conventions, but also to the approach management takes when interacting with members. Both Virga and his father, Vinnie Virga Sr., president and CEO, visit members on their own turf each month to see how they’re coming along and to find out how management can help on any number of initiatives. It’s this consultative approach that makes all the difference.
“In visiting the showrooms and speaking with independent retailers independently, we’re finding there’s a great need for the benefits and services we provide,” Virga Jr. stated. “First and foremost is our expertise; having worked with so many independent retailers and having been retailers ourselves, we provide an outside perspective that’s very helpful in extending a steady hand in times that are a little uncertain. Second, through our network, members can learn what’s working for their businesses—and that’s invaluable. Third, we have proven digital marketing tools and strategies that help them to drive traffic and be more profitable alongside the traditional benefits of a model like ours, i.e., the buying group model. Collectively, that has had a lot of appeal, especially this year.”
In terms of conference programming, Virga said members won’t see the typical talking-head PowerPoint presentations. Instead, the sessions will be structured in such a fashion that attendees will be more involved in discussions. “One of the things that we’re excited about for this event is it’s going to be our most interactive show that we’ve had,” he told FCNews. “We are intending to have a record number of breakouts and roundtable conversations focused on dealers, because right now we feel like the best advice they can get is from talking to one another about the problems that they’re all facing. We will be putting a heavy emphasis on that.”
Of course, attendees will learn about new digital initiatives, new private-label brands coming online as well as several new vendors to the Floors & More fold, according to Virga.
“Our members are outperforming the industry trends when it comes to their sales this year, and we attribute much of that to the programs with our vendor partners and also the digital programs that we provide,” he said. “We are healthy, we are growing.”
Fun and games (literally)
Floors & More members work hard to not only survive but thrive in these challenging times; they also play hard, too. Anyone who has attended convention can attest to that firsthand via the fun-filled group activities and exercises to build team skills. This year’s summer convention is no different as management has planned a variety of networking activities that include a baseball game at historic Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox.
“At the ballgame we will have a private area on the first-base line with an open bar and an all-you-can-eat BBQ,” Virga noted. “They’re also going to put us up on the jumbotron, so we’re really excited about that.”
Also on tap for attendees is a tour of Boston Harbor on amphibious “duck” vehicles from the World War II era. “These are land and water vehicles, so we’ll be taking them on water for the harbor tour and by land when we do the Paul Revere trail. It would be a shame if we didn’t do that while we had all our guests come to Boston.”
Come one, come all
In years past, Floors & More management has made it a point to encourage participation by aligned dealers and non-aligned dealers alike. This year will be no different, according to Virga. “One of the things we pride ourselves on is that we are an open door. We would encourage anyone who’s having difficulty driving leads today—anyone who is having difficulty with the economic downturn that we all have been facing—to join us and our members. It’s a great opportunity to brainstorm and talk best practices.”
There is no fee to attend for first-time Floors & More attendees. All attendees—members or otherwise—are responsible for their own airfare and hotel accommodations. Most activities (with the exception of the ballgame and Harbor tours) will be held onsite. Transportation to and from the leisure activities are covered by Floors & More.