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Latest WFCA initiatives aim to support independent retail members

December 19/26, 2016: Volume 31, Number 14
By Ken Ryan

wfca-logo-2016Dalton—The World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) has announced a series of initiatives designed to benefit independent dealers. Chief among them is a three-tiered membership structure tailored to meet their specific business needs.

Since its founding in 1959, the WFCA had offered members a one-tier approach. But as Tom Jennings, vice president of professional development, said, “It was a one-size-fits-all approach, and you know the saying—‘one size fits all fits nobody.’ We have some smaller dealers and some individuals who don’t have the demand and need for some of the services we offer.”

Conversely, the WFCA has large dealer members who require the full menu of services the association offers. The three levels, created under a good/better/best model, are called Sustaining ($295 per year), Leader ($495) and Advocate ($795).

Sustaining members have access to all entry-level options, including signage on WFCA dealer locator, WFCA trade scholarship reimbursement, the association’s Financial Benchmarking Report, WFCA University, Public Affairs, Savings4Members business services, complimentary access to legal and business primers, a 20% discount on fcB2B programs and additional scholarship reimbursements.

Leader level members get all the Sustaining level benefits, as well as unrestricted trade scholarship reimbursements up to $500 and a 25% discount on fcB2B services.

Retailers at the Advocate level receive all the preceding benefits as well as a 30% fcB2B discount, CFI associate membership, a 20% discount on all WFCA/CFI training programs, CFI technical services support, access to the CFI installer database and a company listing on cfiinstallers.org. The scope and benefits of the WFCA Associate Membership program will not change under the new membership initiative.

“If somebody is serious about their business and intends to use the services, then the [Advocate] is the best one and works out to be the cheapest,” Jennings explained. Perhaps the best service in the Advocate program, he noted, is access to CFI technical services, which is a hotline to CFI installers. “If [a dealer’s] installers run into something they are not comfortable with they can call an 800 number and talk to a CFI master installer who most likely will be able to walk them through the necessary steps. It can save a claim, so it is well worth it.”

WFCA also announced new innovations to its booth at The International Surfaces Event [TISE] in Las Vegas in January, a streamlined, easy-to-navigate member website and WFCA University, an educational program designed to keep retailers at the top of their game.

WFCA’s online university is different than many flooring-related curriculums, according to the organization, in that its version is more business focused rather than product related. Modules include managing inventory levels, store expansion (where it might make sense) and creating a budget. There are 40 modules in all. Jennings and Dave Romano, founder of Romano Consulting Group and Benchmarkinc and an FCNews columnist, worked on the online university syllabus, which is geared to the decision makers of the business.

Jennings said dealers would make their annual fee back in rebates and discounts if they take advantage of all the services offered. “Just because we are a not-for-profit doesn’t mean we can’t make money,” he explained. “We can make money, we just have to give it back.”

The new layout of the Surfaces space will showcase all that WFCA has to offer its members using the organization’s Six Pillars of Relevance and Success. The segmented areas, which are color-coded, include: research, education, member benefits, philanthropy, advocacy and technology. As visitors move through the booth they will acquire a complete overview on all of the ways that WFCA enhances the businesses and the lives of its constituents, their employees and their customers through targeted projects and programs.

The WFCA is also renovating its website. In an effort to simplify and streamline communications, the association has transformed WFCA.org into a site geared toward both the industry and consumers. Key components of the consumer site have been folded into the new site, which is intended to draw members in with new design and fresh content. WFCA.org will debut at Surfaces.

The organization also has commissioned a redesign of Premier Flooring Retailer, its quarterly magazine.

Scott Humphrey, CEO, said the WFCA has made many changes over the past few years to better suit the needs of independent flooring dealers who make up the bulk of membership. “Some might say that we have reinvented ourselves,” he explained. “We see ourselves as the voice of the independent flooring dealer. It is our goal to continually ensure the profitability of our members by evolving with the market and creating the change our members say they need.”