February 18/25, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 19
By Reginald Tucker
Orlando—Shaw Flooring Network dealers have been clamoring for an easier, more manageable way to track rebates on qualifying purchases of merchandising systems and samples. Shaw Floors believes it has answered that call via a new, streamlined invoicing program called SFN 365, which officially made its debut to dealers earlier this year at the group’s biennial conference here.
In the past, Shaw Floors typically sent retailers multiple invoices for new displays and new merchandising systems, assigning multiple types of rebates with different percentages based on those invoices. But the problem, according to Danny Crutchfield, vice president, SFN, was many dealers found it to be very cumbersome and confusing. “The dealers received all these invoices on different types of rebate programs, which made it hard to match credits with remaining payments,” he explained. “So we’ve come up with a way to make it easier for our customers to do more business with us by offering a fairly simple solution to an ongoing issue. At the same time, SFN 365 makes it easier for retailers to bring in new, deluxe merchandising options and promote products across all the different categories we offer.”
How SFN 365 works: When a dealer orders a display system and samples, there is no longer an upfront payment. Instead, SFN retailers are given the opportunity to spread the cost of the display over the period of one year while earning a standard 5% rebate on purchases in the process. To help retailers keep track, Shaw will send out an official quarterly statement that shows retailers what their initial invoice was and what their remaining balance is after the company applies the 5% rebate credit.
“SFN 365 represents an investment we’re making in the retailer who, in turn, makes a commitment to us while earning rebates,” Crutchfield explained. “So, if a dealer purchased a display in January this year, they'll earn rebates all the way through the end of March of next year. We take their balance, subtract the rebate credit that’s issued against it and whatever is left, if anything, is what they owe. But our hope is they all sell enough over time to earn it all back.”
Brent Ziegler, owner of H&R Carpets, Waunakee, Wis., and an 11-year SFN dealer embraced the concept. “This program was truly designed to help the dealers,” he told FCNews. “Instead of requiring a payment at the beginning of the year, it sets up the dealer better for the long term instead of having an invoice sitting over the top of your head.”
News of the program’s rollout made such an impact that it helped some retailers overcome initial reservations about overextending themselves so early in the year, according to Ziegler, who also sits on the SFN advisory council along with more than a dozen members. “Some dealers who may not have planned on buying any samples or displays at convention because they felt they were a little tight starting out the year actually ended up placing their sample orders knowing they would be able to take care of it by the end of the year. Many of the other SFN dealers I spoke to during the convention were extremely excited about this opportunity.”
One of those dealers was John Staff, owner of Staff Carpet, Springfield, Ill. “I like the fact that as a dealer you’re not paying for it up front and you are still rebated later,” he explained. “Also, having one invoice makes it very convenient to have a point of reference and go back and see what payments/credits are issued to a particular invoice throughout the year based on those purchases. It’s not like you’re buying [a display] and paying for it over the course of the next six months, and then—at the end of the year—trying to find out how many credits you have toward those invoices.”
More importantly, SFN dealers believe the new program is a testament to the fact that Shaw is truly listening to dealers and responding accordingly. “Shaw has shown a desire to listen to what dealers need to run their stores,” Staff stated. “They showed dealers they were willing to act on recommendations about ways to help us go about the course of doing business on a day-to-day basis.”