January 7/14, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 16
By Lindsay Baillie
In a sea of big boxes and online merchants, aligned partnerships are crucial for independent flooring retailers. The Shaw Flooring Network (SFN) provides its aligned dealers with new products, merchandising systems, sales tools, lead-generation programs and, most importantly, relationships to help keep their businesses growing from one generation to the next.
“We want to be the best possible, trusted partner,” said Danny Crutchfield, vice president, SFN. “We share our insights, and the solutions we build from them, in order to give confidence to the second, third and future generations of flooring retailers.”
Along with helping dealers network, Shaw Industries works hard to develop its own relationships with flooring retailers. “The stability, consistency and excellent level of service we provide in the field helps us form trusting relationships with our retailers,” Crutchfield added. “We are respectful and responsive. We’re proud that, in many cases, the future business owner already has an established relationship with their Shaw territory manager well before they formally take the reins of their company.”
When SFN dealer council member Mark Carr, president, Color Interiors, with three locations in Texas, acquired the business from his father, pre-established relationships proved to be crucial to the retailer’s continued success. “My father established some awesome relationships with Shaw Industries at the local level as well as the different people back in Dalton and in different areas of Shaw,” he explained. “Because he had those relationships, when I became a part of the company I was able to meet those same people. In our area Shaw has done a fantastic job of hiring and maintaining the best, and those people have become lifelong friends.”
From these relationships develops trust. “It makes me want to continue to do business with Shaw Industries,” Carr stated. “They care about me and they care about my business—I trust them. By having those friendships, I’m able to trust their opinions and know they want the best for me.”
Like Carr, John Staff, SFN dealer council member and president of Staff Carpet, Springfield, Ill., acquired his business from his father. And in keeping with family tradition, Staff is in the process of transitioning the business to his daughter. “The relationship we have with Shaw is deep,” he told FCNews. “I’m a second-generation dealer, and my daughter will be the third. I've always believed that if you’re going to be aligned with someone you might as well be aligned with the biggest and the best. Shaw has shown me over the 30 years I’ve been doing this how important it is to be partnered with someone who looks at it as a partnership and not as a one-way relationship.”
The right stuff
A key piece to the SFN, dealer partners say, is it provides them with the tools they need to drive a successful business while still promising complete independence. In addition to freedom within the partnership, the SFN is able to support members with important research on products and trends. “They’re able to do so much more than what I can even afford to do or have the knowledge to do,” Carr explained. “I’m able to use their information and the research they do to help me make decisions, whether it’s advertising or product purchase decisions, etc. It’s a trusted source for the consumer.”
Leveraging Shaw Industries’ assets is key for Staff Carpet as well. “You have the ability to go to Shaw and say, ‘This is what I'm trying to accomplish, can you help me?’” Staff said. “The resources are there to do that.”
As a network of Shaw- aligned dealers, the SFN also allows members to support each other by sharing challenges, success stories and best practices. According to Carr, the ability to talk with dealers from other states has dramatically changed his business. The best practices Staff has learned have also translated well in his business. “We’ve had a couple of experiences where things became very successful because of things we've learned from another dealer,” he told FCNews.
For many aligned members, the true value of the SFN is the ability to communicate with people in similar businesses who face similar obstacles. “It doesn’t matter if I’m in Springfield, Ill., or California or Florida—we all have the same challenges,” Staff explained. “The true value of the network is you’re not in this alone. Not only do you have a group of peers, but the largest carpet manufacturer in the industry has your back. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked [Shaw] a question and was told ‘I don’t know.’ But a week later I got an email with [a potential solution to] what I was looking for—and I find that to be extremely beneficial.”