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Al’s column: Creating a great brand experience

September 16/23, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 7

By Chris Wallace


If you asked most people to tell you their favorite flooring brand, they’d struggle. In fact, they probably wouldn’t have one at all—and with reason. Brand recognition is incredibly low in the flooring industry, research shows.

It isn’t easy to be a brand in the flooring sector. The product goes from the manufacturer that makes it to the retailers that sell it, and somewhere along the way the brand story sometimes gets lost. Need proof? Just think about the last brand that made an impression on you. Chances are it offered more than just a good logo and a clever ad campaign. You probably had a stand-out experience with it.

The customer experience can be difficult to master, especially when you don’t control it. Because flooring purchases generally take place in the retail space, the store selling the product is in control of how customers perceive the brand. Essentially, once the product leaves the warehouse manufacturers have little say in the experience consumers have with the brand.

Salespeople often immediately tell customers about whatever special they’re running without having any real discussion about those customers’ needs or preferences. They’re selling the stock product at stock price to make the best mark-up.

Even though this secures some sales for the brand in the stocking slot, it doesn’t build awareness. As a result, the interaction between sales and the customer ends up being almost entirely about price and not about quality, value or how certain brands can best meet customer needs.

More than that, if the experience leaves customers knowing nothing about the brand they purchased, their impressions are primarily shaped by the rep who made the sale.

All this begs the question: In this complicated multi-player industry, how do flooring brands and retailers work together to make a name for themselves and create a solid customer experience? Following are three steps to make this happen:

1. Shift from product to brand conversations. Instead of talking with your suppliers about whether their products are better than they were last year, come to the table ready to press them for a distinct, clear message that will help you best meet your customers’ needs. Don’t settle for the answer that a product is more durable or more stain resistant, etc. Ask for differentiated brand stories and experiences that go beyond features and benefits.

2. Change the focus of the sale. You aren’t just a customer to your supplier—that line of thinking is limiting. Supplier support shouldn’t end as soon as the customer interaction begins. Ask suppliers to provide the necessary tools for you to drive a great branded in-store experience for the end customer. They can give you customized sales conversation guides, tips on how to make the brand promise part of the product installation promise and peer-to-peer best practice sessions. Telling great brand stories enhances interactions and creates a connection between the customer and the brand. Don’t go it alone—make sure you work with your supplier to set the experience apart.

3. Set expectations for the experience. When manufacturers help you sell to consumers in a way that builds their brand and stays aligned with their messaging, you can together set standards for how to execute the experience. Start with a dialogue by sharing with your suppliers what’s working and what isn’t. The more you can marry your daily reality with manufacturers’ brand visions, the better the customer experience will be.



Chris Wallace is the president and co-founder of InnerView, a marketing consulting firm that helps companies transfer their brand messages to their customer- facing employees and partners.

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Al’s column: Make sure your vendors are true partners

September 2/9, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 6

By Lou Morano


(Editor’s note: This is the fourth installment in a multi-part series.)

For many years most flooring retailers shopped vendors according to the best value—just like many of our customers—and we often purchased from those vendors. Over time, however, we noticed that some of those vendors were not up to our standards as it pertained to the level of customer service they provided. We also experienced a much higher rate of claims from some of those vendors.

It is of the utmost importance that we set proper standards for the vendors we deal with. Some of our standards include quality with minimal claims, even on commodity items. The vendor must have competitive pricing, and their claims department must deal with any issues in a reasonable and timely manner. In addition, the culture of the vendor and their representatives, from the top down, must match ours. We chose to eliminate vendors that were good partners, but unfortunately their quality control was terrible and caused too many problems. We also severed ties with vendors that made quality products and were priced competitively, but their culture was all about them and not about us nor the consumer.

When we deal with vendors that are aligned with our values, not only is it a pleasure to do business with them but it is also a mutually beneficial relationship. When you must jump through hoops or have to constantly contest and argue about scenarios that are obvious or are “just the right thing to do” to properly service the end user, then that vendor needs to be eliminated. On the flip side, the vendors sometimes have to contend with unscrupulous retailers who try to take advantage of them in claims situations and make it difficult for the vendor to determine the real truth. Therefore, it is paramount to create long-standing relationship with your vendors, building trust along the way so on those occasions when you are in a “gray area” the vendor can make the right decision based on the trust in your relationship.

We carry this thought process vertically with the vendors we choose to deal with, the people we hire all the way to the installers we employ. We strive to only work with people who have a similar value system, ethics and standards as our own. What that looks like after many years of weeding out the “undesirables,” for lack of a better word, are mutually beneficial relationships with our vendors, installers and employees—something our customers notice through our high service levels. Before we hire anyone or deal with any new vendor, we ask ourselves: “Do they hold up to these standards?” If not, we move on. If they do, we move forward. If they prove to not live up to those standards, then they will be replaced.

We also hold ourselves to those same standards. In many instances we make decisions that cost our company money because we defer to our customer in all gray areas. This means that unless we can know with absolute certainty that a situation is not our fault or the manufacturer’s fault, we usually defer to our customer. There have been many times where we have replaced floors we believed were the consumer’s responsibility. But we replaced it anyway, because when we are not 100% sure—and when we do not have irrefutable evidence—then we do the right thing and take care of the customer.


Lou Morano started selling carpet for a major retailer at the age of 19 in 1981. In 1985 he and his father incorporated Capitol Carpet and opened their first full-service retail store in 1986. Today Morano operates five retail stores, including a commercial division, under the name Capitol Carpet & Tile and Window Fashions.

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Al’s column: How to keep your debt in check

February 4/11, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 18

By Scott Perron


During my 20s in the early 1990s I went through a very sobering financial experience along with my family that permanently etched a painful scar in my brain. Since that time, I have probably taken a more cautious than normal approach to increasing debt for fear of ever repeating that scenario.

I am fortunate, however, to have learned many valuable best practices from other owners (Russell, Mitch, Doug and Brad) along the way, which has helped get us to where we are today. Our commercial property purchased in 2013 has a mortgage after renovation equaling 25% of the property value, and we have a small loan with a financier that we will pay off in the next 24 months or sooner. Outside of that, all of our equipment, inventory, samples, vehicles and hard assets are paid in full. Although it could be even better, our overhead is vastly less on average than that of our competitors, which allows our new company to be aggressive against the most seasoned dealer or big box.

Over the last 10 years, business has been steadily recovering and, for the most part, we all are benefitting. Without trying to sound alarmist in any way, this was exactly what occurred prior to the recession of 2007-2009—a time most of us would like to forget. The objective of this column is simply to advise you to take a long, hard look at your to debt-to-asset and debt-to-income ratios and prepare for the future.

In the event you have not purchased the property you work from, it would make good sense to lock in the best lease renewal options and make sure to leave yourself a reasonable escape clause during that period should you need to upsize, downsize or perhaps buy your next location. My advice is always to purchase rather than lease, as it is usually the first or only saleable asset of a flooring company. Due to the current acceleration in pricing, it is becoming a challenge to find commercial real estate at a value. Typically, even in good times like these, the hard assets such as FF&E, inventory and vehicles sell for a fraction of their true value during liquidation.

In addition, take a long look at any inventory you have that is over 180 days or a year old and decide why it’s still there. I know many of you hate to sell bad choices at a lower price or even a loss, but unless you are extremely wealthy or only desire a savings account filled with antique inventory for your older years, I can promise you the best move is to turn it into cash. Most who hang on to these assets never count the cost of carrying it along with the rest of your overhead, so in reality it becomes less valuable to you on a daily basis. Take the proceeds from the selling of bad decisions and use it to purchase items that turn quickly or help promote your business.

Next, get your best performance numbers in front of your banker and negotiate any debt reduction, credit line increases, merchant services and refinancing of long-term debt to a fixed rate where possible. Get prepared to have the proper capitalization even if you don’t need it now; you might need it eventually.

Finally, be careful not to put yourself in the position of being personally liable for some or all of your liabilities tied to the business as you may be setting yourself up for disaster in the event of another correction. Do your best to separate business and personal assets or liabilities by consulting your CPA or tax attorney.


Scott Perron is the president of 24-7 Floors and Floor4Pros based in Sarasota, Fla. He is also an industry trainer and motivational speaker. He can be reached at or 860.250.1733.

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Al’s column: Are you due for a brand makeover?

October 15/22, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 9

By Lisbeth Calandrino


Remember when it was good enough to call yourself a carpet store?

Over the past 10 years, the smart “carpet stores” finally changed their names to include other flooring types. Many went kicking and screaming, afraid they would lose their old customers only to find out their “loyal customers” were cheating on them. At no time did they consider how much business they were losing because their customers were looking elsewhere for hard surface flooring.

The real conundrum is how do you know when it’s time for a brand update or refresh? All businesses face the same issue—can I thrive forever on what I’ve built? The answer, unfortunately, is not anymore. Technology has forever changed how we do business and how everyone gets information. As a case in point, consider how Amazon has changed the way many consumers shop. This may have been unthinkable 15 or 20 years ago.

For many retailers, brand evolution is more than just a name or logo change. For instance, recently Weight Watchers rebranded to WW. It’s likely they are developing a new concept that eliminates the concept of dieting and replaces it with “healthy eating and living a healthy lifestyle.”

Along the same lines, Dunkin’ Donuts has decided to simply become “Dunkin”—dropping the “Donuts” from the name but not from the menu. There seems to be a general uproar on the consumer’s part about how awful it is to drop “Donuts.” With more than 10,000 Dunkin’ Donuts in the U.S., a name change is a big deal, but it has been long in the making. Dunkin’ Donuts has already been experimenting in some locations with new signage.

In another instance, Coca-Cola—a household name for decades—recently acquired Costa, Britain’s biggest coffee company. The retailer comprises 2,400 coffee shops in the U.K. and another 1,400 in more than 30 international markets. My hunch is they’re after the Starbucks brand.

So when is the best time to consider a brand refresh? Here are five signs:

Is your business what you want it to be?Has the culture changed in your area? Are you seeing less and less of your old customers? Furthermore, do you need to change but maybe you’re not sure if you want to? Are you not sure how to change?

Are you embarrassed to give out your business card?Is your card out of date, do the graphics look old? What do you want your card to say about your business?

Have you noticed your competitors are getting bigger and everyone looks alike?Have you forgotten who your core customer is and how to reach them? The wider you cast your net, the more confusion you may create. Your business needs to be unique. When you lose your uniqueness, you lose your competitive edge and profit margin.

Are you looking to compete on a higher level?The media continues to report the middle class (the “bread and butter” customers for some retailers) has all but vanished. The only way to make real money is to trade up to the higher end. Trading up may mean a change in how your store and employees look, how you market your services and what products you offer.

Are you struggling to raise prices and connect with new customers?When you are selling at a certain price point, it’s difficult to raise your price. Is it possible your salespeople are also stuck in the low sales mode and have the same struggle?

Remember: Your salespeople take their cues from you. If you believe in selling lower-priced merchandise, they will follow your lead.


Lisbeth Calandrino will deliver a presentation titled “Seven techniques to talk crazy customers (or anyone else) off the ledge” at TISE 2019, which kicks off Jan. 22 in Las Vegas.

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Al’s column: There’s no substitute for face to face

July 9/16, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 2

By Scott Perron


As I thought about the content of this article, a vivid memory from 1989 flashed into my brain. I was 24 years old and our family had just opened a new store in Connecticut. I was determined to talk my father into purchasing a thermal fax machine for use in our business so we could stay on the “cutting edge.” My dad was a couple of years older than I am now, and he could not wrap his brain around the need for sending electronic documents through this silly, $789 contraption. Nonetheless, he caved and we purchased the fax machine.

Fast forward almost 30 years and look at how we operate today. Can anyone imagine a day where you do not deal with dozens or even hundreds of emails, texts, Google searches, Facebook or other social media platforms? All this while continuing to use the scarce, antiquated art of live telephone or face-to-face conversations. We now have mobile devices for estimating and invoicing jobs on site with electronic signatures, credit card swipers utilizing e-documents that allow us to be more efficient, more organized and, with any luck, more profitable.

While all of these new tools and methods of doing business have become essential in our everyday lives, I am concerned about the lack of personal interaction, not just in business but also as a society. This movement toward impersonality favors automation and reduces the need for human contact. It’s so easy to hide behind text, email and social conversation when discussing business and human interaction. Think about it: We find (and break up with) our mates, friends and even business associates via text, IM and email rather than in person.

When training our people, however, we still insist on telephone as well as electronic follow up on all quotations, sales, etc. It has become increasingly evident, however, that the new consumers—especially those of a younger age—lack the desire to be “live” in their communications. I often observe my own teenage children texting in a room full of kids, stopping only to snicker, share a video or make a quick comment and then it’s right back to the tech-talk.

I have long believed that if everyone is running in one direction, an opportunity often lies in going the opposite way. This got me to thinking about how valuable the art of cold calling, belly-to-belly interaction and in-person solicitation will become for those who can master it as we sink deeper into a device-driven world. Over the past few weeks, my team has been calling, visiting and playfully challenging prospects and customers to speak with us live and in person. It’s still early, but I’m finding that people are refreshed and encouraged to speak rather than tap their thumbs—provided, of course, there is a benefit for them to do so.

In our interactions with customers, we routinely explain how personal the purchase of new flooring really is to their home. It’s about functionality, aesthetics and it’s also an expression of their personality. We have posted a series of videos on our products and services designed to educate and inform clients. In the near future, we plan to create new videos that encourage consumers, especially millennials, to take a calculated look and personal stake in the purchase of flooring while highlighting the added value they will experience.

I am convinced we will someday return to personal interaction with each other. What I am not sure of is how, when and what the result will be.

Only time will tell.


Scott Perron is the president of 24-7 Floors and Floor4Pros based in Sarasota, Fla. He is also an industry trainer and motivational speaker. He can be reached at or 860.250.1733.

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Al’s column: The art of closing the books

June 26-July 2, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 1

By Roman Basi


The majority of my clients in the floor covering industry are classified as S corporations. The S corporation is an entity typically used by small businesses for its pass-through form of taxation, which is different from C corporations
 (i.e., Walmart, Apple, Microsoft, etc.) However, S and C corporations do share some similarities, primarily in the form of ownership and stock control that dictate the company model.

If you own stock in a corporation, you are an owner—and at some point owners may want to sell their stock in the company to “cash out.” In other situations, owners may be approached by another company looking to acquire it. When one company seeks to acquire another, or the
company’s stock is
being sold, it can
create several questions concerning S
corporations: (1)
What happens if the shares are sold mid-tax year?; (2) What happens if the company holds an election to close the books?; or (3) How do you break up the income on taxes if a shareholder is bought out? Let’s take a closer look at each of these individually.

With 365 days in the calendar year, the likelihood of a shareholder being bought out or the company being sold mid-tax year as opposed to the end of year is high. One might ask how you allocate funds in a mid-year buyout or acquisition? Well, the general rule requires the funds to be split among shareholders pro rata on a per-share, per-day basis. For instance, a 50% owner of an S corporation bought out March 31 (end of first quarter) would be entitled to 12.5% of the yearly funds. The funds always follow whether a profit or a loss exists. This method is standard when the company chooses to forego change in its corporate structure at the time it’s acquired. Instead, the company chooses to close the books and make changes at the end of the tax year.

But there might be a better way. Another method to handle an S corporation shareholder buyout is to hold a special election deemed a “closing of the through form of taxation, which books.” This method allows a company to halt the profits or losses on a specific date to provide the subsequent income tonew shareholders in accordance with their ownership. Take the previous example where the owner of 50% of an S corporation is bought out March 31 and the company holds an election to close the books. All new owners vote a unanimous “yes” to close the books wherein the company’s accounting method ends the first quarter, then continues the second-through-fourth quarters separately for the new owners. The 50% previous owner would take his share of profit or loss for Jan. 1 through March 31, then take nothing during the following three quarters. The departed partner would not retain any subsequent taxation after the closing date. However, depending on the company’s margins at the time of the vote, the closing of the books method could create a benefit or detriment to the previous owner and new owners as far as personal income taxes are concerned. Thus, it’s wise to speak to a tax or accounting specialist to determine which method is better for your particular situation.

Another alternative is the “reasonable method.” Here, federal tax regulations will allow a partnership to allocate the taxes pro rata for departing partners, while also allowing the partnership to collect some profit for the rest of the year on income they may have contributed to. For instance, if a partner departs from its law firm but contributed to a case that will be settled six months later, the firm can opt to pay him or her from that profit and still have the new partnership structure remain the same.


Roman Basi, an attorney and CPA, is president of The Center for Financial, Legal & Tax Planning. An expert on closely held enterprises, he writes frequently on financial and legal matters impacting small businesses.

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Al's column: Overcoming objections to new software

June 11/18, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 26

By Jason Goldberg


One of the most challenging parts of investing in new lead management software is getting your sales team to adopt it. It is never easy to convince people who are set in their ways to completely change the way they operate on a daily basis. To most salespeople, integrating new software into their sales process is only going to slow them down and give them less time to sell, which could eventually lead to less money in their pockets.

However, I believe this assumption is incorrect. In fact, the right lead management system can put more money in your salespeople’s pockets. Following are some ways you can handle your sales team’s objections to your new lead management software investment.

It will save you time. Most sales teams waste hours each day managing their leads on paper or in an Excel spreadsheet. A good lead management system enables them to store all of the information related to a lead (contact details, tasks, appointments, products of interest, samples, diagrams, quotes, notes, etc.) in one organized place that can be accessed by other salespeople and managers. Sales managers do not have to interrupt their salespeople to ask them what they are working on. Rather, they can log into the system and check their salespeople’s workloads themselves. And while it might take a few days to master new software in the beginning, the time saved in the long run far outweighs the time required to invest up front. In addition, that time saved can be spent talking to customers and closing more sales.

It will improve the level of service you offer your customers. How many times does a salesperson answer a call from a customer and spend minutes digging through papers on his/her desk to find the details of that customer’s project? Those minutes are valuable to both the customer and the salesperson. The sooner an RSA can answer a customer’s questions, the higher level of service he/she can provide, resulting in a happier and more satisfied customer. The less time the salesperson is spending searching for answers, the more time he/she has to invest in nurturing other leads and closing sales. With a lead management system, it only takes a matter of seconds to find the specifics of a customer’s flooring job, so both the salesperson and customer will appreciate the increased speed and efficiency.

It will increase the effectiveness of your marketing. Most lead management software can capture data about the marketing sources that are driving leads to your business. This data is very valuable to the marketing team and can help marketers determine which advertising mediums are the most impactful. For instance, if a lot of leads are coming to your business from Facebook, your marketing team might decide to allocate more funds to Facebook, which should result in more leads for your sales team to pursue. More leads represent more opportunities for your salespeople to—you guessed it—make more money.

In summary, if you are planning to invest in a new lead management system, it is important to demonstrate to your sales team how, if used properly, it can dramatically increase their efficiency, improve the level of customer service they provide and convert more leads into sales. These three things combined will increase your salespeople’s close rates and eventually lead to bigger paychecks. No salesperson would object to a bigger paycheck, right?

Jason Goldberg is CEO of Retail Lead Management, a CRM software system designed specifically for the flooring industry. The company has sold more than 1,000 user licenses to flooring retailers in North America.

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Al's column: Lessons learned from baseball

May 28/June 4, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 25

By Torrey Jaeckle


I love watching baseball. Unfortunately, I rarely watch it the “right” way. What do I mean by that? Well, let me start by describing how I usually watch a game.

First, I record the game. Then I sit down, after the kids are in bed—usually around nine or 10 o’clock—and begin watching. To save time, I fast forward between pitches. Once you get the hang of it, you can do this almost flawlessly (until you come across the odd pitcher who has non-standard cadence to his timing). But in general, I do see the entire game—all three hours—in about a 50-minute span.

So if I’m seeing all the action, one might reasonably ask what I’m really missing due to my viewing habit. Nothing—and yet everything. Let me explain: The other night I faced a rare occasion in that, after a late evening trip to the grocery store, I came home to a quiet house—everyone was asleep early. As much as I love my family dearly, I cannot describe the giddiness such a situation arises inside of me. A whole night ahead of me, to do whatever I want, uninterrupted. So I chose to watch the game.

With no time constraints, I took advantage and decided to watch the ballgame in its entirety, including the announcers’ discussion and banter between pitches. It’s incredible how the fabric of the game changes when you actually sit down and pay attention. My usual viewing behavior typically gives me nothing more than a sped-up box score. You see what happens, but you don’t truly experience the game on a deeper level. You find out, for example, why your first baseman is playing third that night. You hear of the opposing pitcher’s past struggles and what your team needs to do to capitalize on it. In short, you actually see the game for what it is—an array of strategy, decisions, athleticism and execution, rather than as a series of pitches to get through. Your enjoyment comes from the experience of watching, rather than from the end result. And you learn a lot in the process.

So what does all this have to do with the flooring business? Well, the day after that game, I was thinking about the past 10 months at work. I’ve been very busy—overwhelmed, actually—due to a variety of factors. And this has caused me to effectively “fast forward” through my days. Just as the fast-view method of watching a baseball game makes you treat it like a series of pitches to get through, I’ve been viewing my work days as a series of tasks to accomplish. I don’t have much time to devote to the period between those tasks, so I effectively eliminate them.

The downside is I’ve lost that “big-picture feel” for what is going on in my business and in my industry. A strict focus on activities and tasks robs one of the critical experiences of learning and growing. Sure, tasks have to get done, but when your sole focus is on the “pitches” of your daily routine, you miss the valuable commentary. And it’s only in the commentary where you get the details that really give you the story that allows you to view your business at a higher level.

I vowed to make some changes that day, and I’m in the process of implementing them. I know I need to stop viewing my day as a checklist of things to cross off and more as an opportunity to build knowledge, develop strategy and grow relationships. And you simply can’t do that when you insist on fast forwarding between the pitches.

Torrey Jaeckle is vice president of Jaeckle Distributors, a Madison, Wis.-based wholesaler specializing in flooring and countertop surfacing products. In his current capacity, Jaeckle oversees pricing and e-commerce initiatives, and he also manages the data portions and business reporting aspects of the company’s ERP system.

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Al's column: Are you in the right class for tax purposes?

May 14/21, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 24

By Roman Basi

In one of my previous articles, I focused primarily on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s (TCJA) impact on pass-through entities: sole proprietorships, limited liability companies (LLCs) taxed as partnerships or S corporations. In this installment, I provide an analysis of the other corporate form, C corporations. 

While an S corporation election can be beneficial for many businesses, don’t discount a C corporation’s 21% flat tax rate or let the fears of double taxation haunt your entity election. With the right advice, you can reduce (if not avoid) double taxation.

For guidance, see the chart below, which provides a comparison between pass-through entities and C corporations. Notice in the “comparison” column there is a $13,650 tax savings under a pass-through entity. If the analysis stopped here, every business owner would elect a pass-through entity. However, it is important to further analyze the comparisons as the complexities extend beyond what is provided in the numbers herein.

There are three important aspects to consider when analyzing whether a C corporation election is best for your business. In most small business C corporations, the shareholders also act as employees. Generally, there are two methods to allocate compensation to these shareholders. First, in the form of a qualified dividend subject to a distribution tax with a maximum tax rate of 20% (23.8% if subject to the net investment income tax). Additionally, the qualified dividend is a non-deductible, after-tax profit distribution to the corporation. Thus, a qualified dividend of $100,000 will be taxed at the 21% corporate rate and 15% distribution rate resulting in the highest tax burden of $32,850.

A second method of compensation is payment for services rendered in the shareholder’s capacity as an employee. In this scenario, compensation is only taxed at the individual level to the shareholder/employee and is deductible to the corporation, thus avoiding the prospect of double taxation.

The issue here is the compensation must be reasonably related to the services rendered. The interplay between compensation and the number of employees should be a focus of your tax analysis when determining whether to elect C corporation or pass-through entity status.

Moreover, if investment or expansion are part of your business model, a C corporation can retain its earnings tax free so long as it can provide proof of expansion or investment. However, retained earnings can become subject to taxation, as the IRS promotes policies of providing compensation or issuing qualified dividends.

This article just scratches the surface in the comparison between C corporations and pass-through entities. A number of other factors must be analyzed to determine the best path for your business.

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Al's column: Urgency helps boost close rates

April 30/May 7, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 23

By Lisbeth Calandrino

The other day I was helping a friend clean out her closet. She would pull out an article of clothing and declare it was on its way to the Goodwill. A couple of times I commented on the clothing’s great quality. It seemed that when I did this, the piece went back into the closet. I noticed if I liked it before she took it out of the closet, it never made it to the Goodwill bag.

I started going through the Goodwill bag and trying things on. Immediately, she decided to keep those things. My interest in the items seemed to give them more value. She suddenly wanted the pieces when she couldn’t have them.

Retail works the same way. My friend sells expensive cars. The dealer doesn’t stock many vehicles and salespeople are always complaining. At first this bothered my friend who felt it worked against him until a customer said, “There’s probably a great demand for these cars.” Most customers believe cars fly out of the door and that if you want it, you better buy it now. This is an example of scarcity appeal, which is often used in marketing to induce purchases.

An experiment that used wristwatch ads as stimuli exposed participants to one of two product descriptions: “Exclusive limited edition, hurry, limited stock” or “New edition with many items in stock.” They then had to indicate how much they would be willing to pay for the product. The average consumer agreed to pay an additional 50% if the watch was advertised as scarce.

Recent research also proposes we are often inadequate when it comes to our ability to make good decisions when we believe we have less time. Many people say they work better under pressure. However, when we have less time than we need, we frequently make bad decisions. Consider the Tenerife air disaster of 1977, in which a veteran pilot commenced takeoff without clearance and crashed into another airplane on the runway, killing 583 people.

In reviewing the tragedy, analysts pointed to a variety of time pressures. A few months earlier, a new duty-time regulation restricted the number of hours pilots could fly each month. Anyone who logged too many hours could be subject to harsh penalties.

So what does all this mean to your business? When you help customers set deadlines for their purchases, you are actually helping them buy. Setting deadlines for your employees is also beneficial. Give them artificial deadlines before the “drop-dead ones” so their proposals can be reviewed. You will find it results in fewer mistakes.

It’s also important to set up your showroom so customers believe the store is busy and feel it’s wise to buy right away. If your salespeople tell customers the merchandise is limited, they will have to prove it. This doesn’t mean you should turn your showroom into a circus, but at one point your customer must feel some internal pressure to make a decision.

RSAs should be asking, “What’s the occasion for the new flooring?” This helps create a deadline for purchase. You could also have someone call the showroom and ask you to put some merchandise on hold or even put a sold ticket on certain items. My realtor friend says when you tell the client there are other offers coming in, the customer starts getting serious.

This is what human behavior is about. Remember, without a goal everything is just a dream. If you want to turn your customer’s dreams into reality, you will have to set a deadline.

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at