April 27/May 4, 2015; Volume 29/Number 2
By Nadia Ramlakhan
Aside from creating unique promotional offers and sales, dealers are always on the lookout for new ways to drive traffic into their stores. Some take advantage of the areas in which they live while others put social media to the test. FCNews asked retailers which methods work best to bring more consumers onto their showroom floors.
Independent Carpet One Floor & Home, Westland, Mich.
In Michigan, the “roar” of the Detroit Tigers is always heard throughout the state on game day. So when CCA Global Partners introduced Tigressá to Carpet One members at its winter convention about five years ago, it was only natural that Cathy Buchanan, owner and avid baseball fan, would find a way to incorporate it into her showroom. “We live in Detroit and our team is the Tigers,” she said. “It just seemed to go hand in hand.”
Buchanan hosts all kinds of events in her store, but the most popular one to date was a meet and greet with two Tigers alumni, Dan Petry and Dave Rozema, who helped the team become 1984 World Series champions. “They came in and signed their autographs for the kids,” she continued. “And of course when you have kids you also have moms. Whether they shopped or not, they were in the store and getting to know us.”
In addition to hosting events in-store, Buchanan gives away 28 pairs of baseball tickets throughout the season (season tickets are included in her advertising budget). Now in its fourth year, the tradition has become expected by local shoppers and compels them to visit the store to fill out the qualifying form. According to Buchanan, the trick is to have people fill out the form on-site as opposed to via email or phone—that way they get a chance to look around the store.
Although no purchase is necessary to enter, “about 80% of winners usually end up buying something,” she said.
Flack’s Flooring, Cumming, Ga.
Flack’s Flooring is known for Flacktober Fest, a huge outdoor party held on a Saturday in October marking the end of a one-week sale. What started out as a grand opening has turned into an annual event, complete with pony rides, face painting, bouncy houses, games and free food.
“This past year we advertised it heavily with direct mail, newspaper and local magazine ads, as well as TV,” said Brad Flack, owner. “We replaced our normal commercials with a special Flacktober Fest commercial and we had an incredible turnout.”
After the first year, rather than just throwing a party, Flack’s goal was to build a bigger, longer-lasting event that would attract more customers. Holding a sale the week before the party resulted in more exposure for the store. “Instead of just one day, we wanted to stretch it out and make it several days long.”
Since the party has grown over the years, Flack has had to allocate more of his budget toward the gathering, a move he said is “well worth it.” Helping out is a group of young college kids who have worked part-time at Flack’s Flooring through the years.
“It’s important to increase the staff for crowd control and make sure everyone is having a good time,” Flack said. “One of the main things to look out for is making sure you have enough people to meet customers when they stop by. The last thing you want is frustration on their part.”
CarpetsPlus ColorTile, Thayne, Wyo.
Although there are still quite a few flooring retailers who haven’t made social media part of their daily routines, others have had great success driving traffic with more popular platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
One unique Facebook feature allows users all over the world to buy and sell items in their local areas. Eric Beuhler, owner of CarpetsPlus ColorTile, took advantage of this opportunity and created a Halloween contest for people in his area—a “spooktacular” ugly carpet contest to be exact.
Thayne, Wyo., has a local Facebook buy-and-sell page called Misty’s List, which services the surrounding areas with a membership of more than 6,000 people. As people in his community scroll through the page every day, Buehler invited Facebook users to simply submit photos of their ugliest carpets and post them on the feed. Because each post automatically goes to the top of the page, Buehler’s store was often prominent on Misty’s List and consequently top of mind for potential customers.
“The more people that commented and the more people who posted photos, the more my business was at the top of the list,” he said. “That was the ultimate goal; figuring out a way to constantly put it at the top of the page.”
The contest was open for two weeks, during which Buehler and his staff reviewed entries and ultimately chose two participants who won one free room of carpet (up to 200 feet or $500 toward a larger purchase).
Buehler explained that social media comes with unique perks such as the ability to “tag” friends in comments, which provides them with an instant notification and more exposure for the business. “It’s free advertising. All those people saw my logo, so when they need carpet they’ll know my name.”
Classique Floors, Portland, Ore.
Because women are typically the decision makers when it comes to purchasing flooring, Judith Huck, owner of Classique Floors, invites local female vendors and businesswomen to participate in Ladies’ Night twice a year. At the gathering, fellow small business owners get together for a night of fun, food and wine. Tables are placed throughout the Classique showroom where each business can showcase its best products and attendees can learn about the company. Vendors provide a basket with goods worth at least $25 and raffle prizes are given away all night. “People are coming in the store, seeing what we’re all about and it doesn’t cost much. Besides, we make it interesting—who wants to do business with a boring company?”
What makes this night especially successful is each attendee’s card with a vendor listing; this card must be used to get a signature from each vendor in order to be considered for the biggest raffle of the night, a free area rug giveaway.
“It gives attendees a reason to talk to each vendor,” Huck said. “Plus they’re spending a couple of hours in the showroom. We’ve gotten a few leads from the people who come in and sometimes they send their friends. It helps us become more well-known in our community and builds name recognition.”
Al’s Carpet Flooring & Design Service, Machesney Park, Ill.
Barb Clements, vice president of Al’s Carpet, also appeals to female buyers by hosting free wine tasting events in the store. As part of a customer appreciation night, invitations are mailed out to past customers at the beginning of the year in an effort to maintain clients and garner referrals. In some instances the event helps her connect with local realtors.
For Clements it’s simple: Connect with someone local who offers wine tastings. She prefers an intimate setting of 15-20 attendees, which helps when getting to know each other. “It doesn’t have to be huge,” she said. “It’s about making relationships. Customers usually end up buying wine, too, so it benefits [the wine vendor] and it benefits us.”
Another perk to having a small audience is being able to set up demonstrations of some of the products Al’s Carpet carries.