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Carpet One: How membership helps stores exceed expectations

Aug. 3/10; Volume 30/Number 4

Proprietary brands, selling systems, online presence ingredients in recipe for success 

By Jenna Lippin

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 3.43.01 PMDallas—Carpet One Floor & Home continues to offer members a multitude of opportunities to grow their businesses and increase sales. The theme of the group’s 2015 summer convention, held here July 15-16, was “Impact Performance,” with much discussion on how each Carpet One member can stand out from other stores.

“Carpet One will be the most trusted store for flooring,” said Janice Jacobs, vice president of marketing, “doing so by delivering a differentiated customer experience that empowers customers in the process of choosing, buying and installing flooring and beyond.”

Members cited a multitude of benefits derived from Carpet One membership, from digital programs to exclusive, proprietary brands and products, cutting edge display systems and more.

“Without Carpet One I firmly believe we wouldn’t have stayed in business through the downturn,” said John Toliver, president and manager of Toliver’s Carpet One, with five Arizona locations. “They developed go-to items in their Extreme Value packages that gave us more items to become more competitive with big boxes yet still be able to make a very reasonable margin, along with marketing tools to help bring consumers through the front door. [Carpet One has also] helped us develop a strong Internet presence; the website development is absolutely outstanding for driving traffic.”

Toliver also cited Carpet One’s help with his store’s social media initiatives, particularly those introduced at this convention. “Partnering with Houzz is huge. We’re going to make sure we are on that site. What they’re doing for the membership with Houzz shows it doesn’t work for just one person but for everybody. The group has absolutely helped with social media.”

Trey McGree, owner of Henson Carpet One in Bossier City, La., is also enthusiastic about the Houzz partnership, seeing potential in a reinforced social media presence. “My wife mentioned getting involved with Houzz about a year ago. I’m a little behind the times, so I’m looking forward to learning more about it. Carpet One is doing better with some of its social media, which I either don’t have time for or am not good at—they do it for me.”

The latest resilient composite products launched under the H20 brand were also a big hit with members. “It’s hard for something to come along that’s not only exciting for us but also helps the consumer,” McGee noted. “As [H20] is deemed waterproof and kidproof, and Carpet One stands behind that, it has been pretty easy to sell to customers. We took it on as soon as it launched in the winter.”

Craig Dunn, owner of Miller’s Carpet One in Seaside, Calif., said LVT in particular has been selling “like hotcakes” in his area over the last five years, and these resilient composites have just kicked things up a notch for the revamped vinyl category. “They can’t get it to us fast enough. The [manufacturers of these H20 products] are coming on strong.”

Another important exclusive brand from Carpet One is Lees, which was recently relaunched by the group. Joel Schreier, president of Home Carpet One in Chicago, cited the refresh of the proprietary brand as the most significant development for his 45-year-old business. “Not only the relaunch of Lees, but expanding the category to include the Lees Studio, which includes higher-end products backed by the Lees performance guarantee—25-year stain warranty, 120-day Beautiful guarantee. So it combines the best styling in the industry with the best warranty in the industry.”

Schreier noted how the Lees relaunch also included a fiber switch from triexta to nylon in addition to updated styling and colors. “I think Carpet One members have a bias toward nylon.”

With the brand refresh Lees business has doubled year over year. “This gives us the opportunity to sell relatively highly recognizable goods at a good margin because of the exclusive branding and the added value the products offer because of the warranties,” Schreider said. “Even if the same styles are available from Fabrica or Karastan, the comparison on the warranty side is non-existent. And, I have an IDG store 60 yards from me and an Abbey store a half mile from me, so to have exclusive products is super important. It gives the salesperson confidence to take the consumer to nyloScreen Shot 2015-08-12 at 3.43.16 PMn products at $9 to $12 a foot without the fear of being embarrassed.”

Phil Meyer, owner of Carpet One Floor & Home in Concord, Calif., told FCNews that the HealthinEX and Healthier Living System has been the one initiative that has elevated his business. “It’s a differentiator; it gives me a value-added selling proposition my competitors don’t have. It allows me to go into a home and explain to our customer that we are not just going to install carpet and flooring. We are going to make it a healthier home.”

How it works: After the carpet and pad are removed, the installer vacuums the floor with a HEPA vacuum, then the HealthinEx formulation, which kills bacteria, is applied. “This has been used in hospitals for over 25 years,” Meyer said. “It is completely safe and after HealthinEx is applied, we can put down the pad and carpet and leave the home cleaner and healthier than it’s ever been.”

The result, according to Meyer, is closing more sales. “The big boxes can’t do it, and we have a complete system that I offer to the customer at no additional cost. It also requires us to take up the old pad, so it guarantees a new pad sale.”

For Ray Lucero Jr., owner of Ray’s Carpet One in Albuquerque, N.M., Carpet One’s relationship with MasterBrands Cabinets has possibly been the biggest game changer in his 42-year-old business. And it was not even Lucero’s first experience with diversification.

“We had been doing countertops for about 15 years,” he said. “So it only made sense to get into the cabinets. We had tried developing a relationship with a local dealer in the past, but CCA brought to the table a national agreement with MasterBrand.”

Lucero noted how Albuquerque is experiencing significant population growth, which is making a difference in his diversified business. “When they move in they want to change their houses. Many customers are looking to redo their kitchens and baths. And the customer who comes in to buy flooring will also purchase cabinets. “

Ray’s Carpet One has experienced unexpected growth to the point where the company outgrew its credit line. “We have outgrown the manufacturer’s expectations fivefold,” he said. “Because we were new to the cabinet business, no one thought it would be as successful as it has been. We hired a cabinet professional from the start. That by far is what has made the difference.” This year Ray’s will do about $1 million in cabinets with a margin around 35%.

Dave Wonka, owner of Creative Floors Carpet One in Vero Beach, Fla., cited the integration of marketing platforms—digital, circulars, etc.—as having the biggest impact on his business over the last year. “There is a consistency across all the platforms. Not only can you promote sales in an online circular, in store and on TV and radio, but the messaging is the same across all media types. There is less confusion for the customer. It also creates an element of trust because she is seeing the message on all media fronts.”

Creative Carpet One takes advantage of just about every digital marketing platform, which includes professional websites and social networking platforms like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. “It raises awareness, not only on a national level for Carpet One but also on a local level for our store,” Wonka said. “The reality is most people do their research online anyway, so if you don’t have a presence online you are losing out. The Carpet One microsite we have set up has really started to pay off with the leads it has generated.”