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Marketing mastery: Customer appreciation goes a long way

December 10/17, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 14

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

To understand the importance of customer recognition, let’s take a minute and put ourselves in our customer’s shoes. Cathy Consumer is a 35-year-old mother of three, all under the age of 10. She and her husband work full time. Cathy loves her kids and is a devoted mother, but they’re a little weak in the recognition and appreciation department. Maybe they show some appreciation on Mother’s Day and her birthday but the rest of the time her kids rarely appreciate her efforts on their behalf.

Cathy works as an insurance adjuster. Other than her bi-weekly paycheck, her boss doesn’t give her any recognition. The public, whom she deals with during insurance claims, doesn’t give her recognition. Neither do her co-workers.

Her husband, while devoted, is overworked and stressed out. He’s tired all the time and mostly just watches TV in the evenings, so he doesn’t give her as much validation for her efforts as she would like.

Cathy is craving recognition and appreciation, but she’s not getting much of it in her day-to-day life. It’s the same story with many of your customers. Even those who receive sufficient recognition on a day-to-day basis wouldn’t turn down a little more.

If you were the one to give Cathy Consumer and all of your other customers the recognition and appreciation they crave, it would give them great, positive feelings about you and your business. More importantly, it would strengthen their loyalty, so next time they might not be so quick to be seduced by a “free installation” offer by some box store. It would make them more likely to refer you. It would help you create deep connections with your list of past customers.

Let’s look at some customer recognition and appreciation strategies you can put in place immediately.

Beverage menu. After welcoming a walk-in and thanking her for visiting, hand her a beverage menu and ask her what she would like to drink. This will make her feel instantly appreciated, not to mention create total differentiation from competitors.

Handwritten thank-you cards. Send personalized cards to customers after every completed installation. This is something you virtually never see from any business in today’s retail environment.

Customer of the month. In your newsletter and e-newsletters, feature a customer of the month and honor her by sending her out to dinner. People love to see their names in print. Also, people will open your mail to see your next customer of the month.

Acknowledge customers publicly. Thank customers for their business in your newsletter, email and social media. Post photos of their installed floors, along with their comments. Make them into mini celebrities just by buying from you.

Acknowledge referrals. Have a section in your newsletter thanking the people who sent you referrals. Remind everyone of your referral incentive program.

Welcome whiteboard. Put a whiteboard on an easel near your front door. When you know a customer is coming in for an appointment write, “Jimbo’s Floors Welcomes Cathy Consumer” on the board so she sees it when she walks in.

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Al’s column: Do you know the basics of ‘basis?’

December 10/17, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 14

By Roman Basi

 

When buying or selling a business, it’s vital to understand the role “basis” plays—whether it’s asset basis or stock basis—in the purchase price allocation and overall structure. Following are a few pointers on the interplay between an asset basis purchase and stock basis purchase.

Buyers generally favor an asset sale for the stepped-up asset basis, an upward readjustment of value in a fixed asset for tax purposes upon inheritance of such asset. This upward readjustment in basis allows the buyer larger asset depreciation and amortization, which, in turn, lowers the business’s taxable income. However, a seller will seek to allocate a lower value to its assets in an attempt to allocate the rest to company or personal goodwill. Under the seller’s preferred allocation, the buyer loses some of its stepped-up basis, thereby lowering his amount of depreciation and amortization.

Asset basis. Adjusted asset basis plays a vital role in the taxation aspect of a merger/acquisition. An asset’s adjusted basis is calculated using the asset’s original cost, then making adjustments upward based on investment into improving the asset or, more commonly, downward through depreciation, amortization and Section 179 deductions.

For example, let’s you purchase a machine for $50,000 and under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, you use bonus depreciation on the asset to reduce your business’s taxable income. An interested buyer approaches seeking to buy all the assets of your business; in purchasing the assets, the price will be allocated to your assets and likely some goodwill. If the asset price allocation exceeds the adjusted basis of your assets, you’ll be subject to a seller’s worst nightmare in the form of depreciation recapture—the gain received from the sale of depreciable property that must be reported as income. The gain reported as income is then subject to a higher income tax.

Stock basis. It’s important for a seller to be aware of the different stock basis calculations regarding an S-corporation and C-corporation. S-Corp basis calculations are more complex than those for C-Corps. The latter’s stock basis stays the same year to year, while an S-Corp’s basis is an annual moving target based on annual income, distributions and loans. It’s important to calculate and understand an

S-Corp’s stock basis as it is the cash shareholders can pull from the company without penalty.

From a selling standpoint, basis is the cash shareholders can obtain “without realizing income or gain,” which equates to the tax-free amount when the company is sold. An S-Corp’s stock basis will decrease when distributions are made to shareholders, or when deductions or losses take place. The stock basis will increase when capital contributions, ordinary income increases or investment income and gains are made. The value in having high basis when selling your business is paramount to minimizing tax liabilities.

There are times when sellers find themselves with a buyer who wants to purchase the selling company’s stock, but it would be more advantageous, tax-wise, for the seller to sell its assets. In certain situations, a Section 338(h)(10) election may be the answer. This allows the purchaser of the stock of an

S-Corp, or a corporation within a consolidated group, to treat the transaction as an acquisition of the assets for tax purposes.

Contact me for more personalized guidance on this issue.

 

Roman Basi is an attorney and CPA with the firm Basi, Basi & Associates at the Center for Financial, Legal & Tax Planning. He writes frequently on issues facing business owners. For more information, please visit taxplanning.com.

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Lisbiz strategies: Fighting fiery situations with cool temperament

November 26/December 3, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 12

By Lisbeth Calandrino

The other night a friend and I were having dinner at a local restaurant. All of a sudden, I hear a male customer yelling at the top of his lungs: “I’ve been insulted by the waitress; I don‘t have to take this!” He kept at it as the waitress tried to calm him down, but nothing seemed to help. Then the owner came out and the argument continued. The customer’s wife began crying, and the man huffed off to his car. His crying wife got her meal to go.

Apparently, the customer was cleaning his teeth with dental floss right at the table, and the people at a nearby table complained. It seemed everyone was upset, including two waitresses and the owner. The more they tried to calm the customer, the more he yelled. Nothing was working.

I talked with the waitress. She said she told the customer he was upsetting the other people, and he needed to stop cleaning his teeth. This set him into a rage. Maybe he felt wronged and humiliated. Who knows? But wouldn’t it have been easier to move the complaining couple to a different part of the dining room?

Many people feel anger is dangerous, and if they confront it they will also be out of control. One of the conditioned responses is a feeling of fear, which often stems from having been around angry parents or other adults when we were children. This makes us believe confrontation is dangerous. The thinking goes: If I’m angry, I’ll lose control, just like my father and mother. Being exposed to this as a young child produces a conditioned response and feelings of fear when we’re around anger or confrontation.

Anger is tricky. How you feel about it has a lot to do with how you handle it. Do you want to go and hide? Do you start to sweat, get furious or ignore it?

When it comes to conflict resolution, sometimes the best solution is finding a way to de-escalate the problem by letting the aggrieved person have their say and empathize with them. The theory is people just want to be heard and acknowledged.

Situations such as these can be unpredictable, and you never know what will happen once you open your mouth. We live in a society where situations can quickly turn violent. Here’s my advice: Whenever possible, look for differences in opinions rather than who’s wrong and who’s right. If I had been sitting next to Mr. Floss, I think I would have just said I would like to move. My feeling is there was no reason to confront him or take sides. No matter how wrong the person is, taking sides only heats up the argument. The real problem started when the waitress told the man he was upsetting the other patrons. Other than bad manners, what was the man guilty of?

The moral of the story is, whatever happens, don’t take it personally. When you are trying to litigate a situation, taking sides will only exacerbate things. Show empathy to the injured party. This means understanding their feelings, although you might not agree with them. The waitress could have told the annoyed party that she understood this might be upsetting, and she would be happy to move them. Instead, the waitress summoned both the boss and the owner and confronted Mr. Floss.

When dealing with angry customers in your business—and hopefully that’s the exception rather than the rule—it’s best to focus less energy on who’s right and wrong and more attention on putting out the fire to begin with. Remember—there’s always another way.

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Marketing mastery: Proceed with caution when purchasing leads

November 26/December 3, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 12

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

The importance of lead generation can’t be overstated in today’s age of online marketing. But beware—not all lead-generation systems are created equal.

Case in point is HomeAdvisor, which is being sued by a group of eight home-improvement companies. The city of San Francisco is also taking HomeAdvisor to court for making false or misleading claims regarding background checks on contractors. Here are just two of the several allegations:

  • The leads sold to the companies are “overwhelmingly bogus” and “illusory” because they are often “over-distributed” or contain, among other things, disconnected phone numbers, people who are not homeowners or contacts for nonexistent residences.
  • When companies cancel their HomeAdvisor membership, HomeAdvisor leaves their company profile page on its website and then sells the information entered by individuals who attempt to contact the company to other HomeAdvisor members.

You might be thinking Angie’s List is a safer bet—think again. Angie’s List, which was acquired by HomeAdvisor in October 2017, faces its own legal challenges. In fact, Angie’s List recently settled a class-action lawsuit for $1.4 million for manipulating search results and reviews.

Over the last 10 years, I’ve spoken with flooring dealers who have bought leads from various “lead-generation” companies and the results are rarely good. For example, one dealer I spoke with was spending $6,000 per month buying leads; 12 months and $72,000 later he wound up with mostly price shoppers. He didn’t even break even.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard many versions of his story from different dealers. I’ve said for years that instead of buying leads from HomeAdvisor and other lead-gen companies, you’d be better off heaping your money into a pile, setting it on fire and roasting marshmallows over it. That way, you’d at least get some use out of your hard-earned dollars.

The conduct of HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List angers me. Retailers are working hard, trying to build their businesses and compete against billion-dollar, multinational corporations who want to put them out of business. Then these lead-gen sales vampires come along and promise dealers lots of leads, then suck them dry with their monthly fees with zero accountability while delivering nothing in return.

When it comes to purchasing leads, let the buyer beware. Here are some points to keep in mind when contemplating purchasing lead-generation services:

  1. You have no control over the quality of leads or “how” they are generated.
  2. Buying leads does not foster long-term relationships with prospects.
  3. Leads sold to you are also sold to your competitors. You will have to call the leads back quickly or you’ll lose them. However, you pay for them regardless.

Another problem is some marketing companies will generate leads using cheap-price come-ons. Any leads generated by this method are predisposed to shop for the cheapest price. So, even if you make a mad-dash to call every lead immediately, many of them will wait to get prices from your competitors.

We all need solid leads to grow. Just be smart about it and remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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Lessons learned: Monitor performance, generate better results

November 26/December 3, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 12

By Tom Jennings

 

Store owners and managers, this one’s for you.

In my experience in consulting retailers on a national basis, I get the opportunity to observe a large and varied amount of sales personnel in action. One glaring observation I have noticed is most of these salespeople need one thing that appears to be sadly lacking in most operations: some constructive and active management.

I am not talking about someone who makes out the schedule and has the ability to approve offers. (Every store has someone who fits this description; their primary job seems to be to manage people.) I am referring to someone who is routinely analyzing and adjusting sales performance. This is a task that extends far beyond just reviewing sales totals.

I often ask myself why this critical task seems to be minimized, if not completely ignored, when the tools with which to do so are easily accessed. To me, this seems to occur for a number of reasons.

Decision makers in many retail businesses appear to not highly prioritize managing the performance of their people. They seem to spend the bulk of their time and energy on everything from store location, relations with current vendors, seeking new vendors, advertising expenditures or other big picture issues. Often it appears to be an issue of spending so much time and energy on the “urgent” things that they forget to do the “important” things.

What is gained by trying to always buy a dime cheaper or to invent the next great promotion if your staff is routinely letting sales and profit opportunities walk out the front door?

As a manager, ask yourself: Do I know the actual close rate of each salesperson? What about average ticket of each salesperson? What percentage of each salesperson’s sales are good, quality items as opposed to promotional products? Do I know the mix of goods being sold? What percent of their sales contain an upgraded or add-on purchase? You get the picture.

My guess is you keep score when you play cards, go golfing or go bowling. It is the only way that we can measure our performance on a given day. Why is it, then, do so many owners and managers not keep score at work?

Managing performance has always been important, but it is even more so in today’s retail climate where we experience decreased customer traffic and increasing big box and online competition. Imagine how beneficial it would be if we could raise the close rates and average ticket of each customer that we sell by even a percentage point or two. Since the overhead does not change, a great percentage of this increase will go straight to the bottom line generating more profit dollars.

The opportunity to boost your margins is great. However, you must first take a deeper look into your sales team’s current performance, then set individual goals and offer coaching as to how these improvements can be accomplished.

Remember the old saying: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t grow it.”

Just telling an RSA where to go is never enough. First, you must show them the way. And this only comes from taking the time required to working closely with reps to ensure they are always improving.

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Al’s column: Push your RSAs, help them grow

November 26/December 3, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 12

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

Recently I recorded a webinar on “How to grow your business while working less.” (Disclosure: The event was sponsored by FCNews and moderated by Jim Augustus Armstrong of Flooring Success Systems and an FCNews columnist. If you missed it, I can send you the link.)

One of the interesting questions had to do with managers and what Armstrong called their “limiting” beliefs. To clarify, a limiting belief is an acceptance we have about ourselves that gets in the way of our growth. The belief is something we learned about ourselves through our family or through life experience. These beliefs come up when your opinion is challenged or a task is unfamiliar and seems difficult. Rather than attack the task, we retreat because the “I’m not smart enough” monster rears its ugly head.

The problem with a self-limiting belief is it gets in the way of decision making. We all have imposed beliefs, including the owner, but if people are to progress, these beliefs have to be challenged. Sometimes limiting beliefs aren’t that obvious; we have a way of hiding things like that from ourselves and others.

By overcoming our limiting beliefs, we put ourselves in a position to not only work smarter, but also fewer hours. Business owners need to rely on managers to help run their business. But if your managers are held hostage to these limiting beliefs, how can you depend on them? If it were my business, I would hire a coach or find courses for my managers and help them work on building confidence and overcoming some of those pre-existing notions that can hurt business. Once they deal with their own issues and get over their roadblocks, they will be more capable of managing.

Managers are like cars; we depend on them to take us everywhere, but like cars they only work if we take care of them. They need plenty of fuel and an occasional tune-up to keep them in top shape. Sure, giving those trips, extra money and time off will make them feel better, but if you want them to be more valuable you will have to improve their skills.

I have a couple of suggestions that might help. First, give them time off that is dedicated to learning. This means you plan a training program with them that will improve their abilities. You can program in an hour or so a week that is to be used for taking online courses. I would put together a learning program for them and have them sign up for courses that will help them get better at their jobs. Once they complete their courses, I would have them review what they’ve learned with the rest of the team members.

You can also send them out for training or hire a coach. Great athletes all have coaches. Why not treat your managers as if they were great athletes? The more competent your managers, the better they will be for your company. What you want are people who can keep up with you and also have good ideas for your business and the rest of the team.

The coach doesn’t have to be permanent, but a few months might help managers confront their own limited beliefs. Just having a coach ask them why they have certain limiting beliefs will give them a better perspective and improve their confidence. Owners invest thousands of dollars in racking systems that don’t always pay off. Why not invest in something you know is capable of a healthy return?

Food for thought.

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Marketing mastery: Best ways to generate unlimited, quality leads

November 12/19, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 11 

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

(Last of three parts)

In my last two columns I discussed the pitfalls of buying leads from popular online referral services. I also discussed several proven alternatives to generating high-quality leads. Today I’m going to discuss how to get other businesses to send you an ongoing stream of leads for free.

Every flooring dealer knows how easy it is to work with customers who were referred to your business by someone they trust vs. someone who walked in because they saw your sign or heard a radio ad. Referred leads come in with borrowed trust. Many times they have already made up their minds that they are going to buy from you, so there’s really not much “selling” needed. You’re simply there to guide them through the selection process. They tend to be less price-sensitive and less suspicious. And best of all, they’re free.

If you are like most dealers, you probably have several referral partners already: realtors, designers, remodeling contractors, etc. Think back to one of your superstar referral partners.  How much business do they send to you over 12 months? I know dealers who have earned more than $100,000 in one year from a single referral partner. Not all your partners will be that productive, but let’s run some very conservative numbers: If you had 25 referral partners, and they each sent you a paltry four referral leads per year who bought from you, that’s 100 additional sales. If your average ticket is $3,000, you’re looking at $300,000 in revenue with virtually no marketing costs. If you do $1 million per year in revenue, you could double the size of your business simply by acquiring referral partners.

Getting referral partners
One method I teach dealers is a three-step process that I used to develop over a dozen partnerships in 90 days.

Step 1: Make a list of 25-50 potential referral partners in your area. Send each of them a letter introducing yourself and your business. In the letter tell them about your business, what sets you apart from your competition and that you have an idea that will benefit both of you (a referral relationship). Tell them you will call within one week to schedule a time to meet. I recommend getting creative and attaching a dollar bill or lotto scratcher to the top of the letter to use as an attention grabber. This will generate curiosity so that they’ll read your letter all the way through. Be sure to tie in the grabber with the message in your letter. I recommend sending out no more than 10 letters at a time.

Step 2: Make follow-up calls to all the prospects you sent letters to the previous week. These are not cold calls because you’ve broken the ice by sending them a letter with an attention-grabber, and they’ll be expecting your call. Your only goal with the call is to schedule a meeting.

Step 3: Meet with the prospects for coffee, lunch or at their place of business. Your goal is to develop a rapport with them and find out about how they do business. You also want to educate them on your business, explain why you are different from your competitors and how they will benefit by referring customers to you. Ask them if they are interested in being your referral partner. Get a solid commitment, either yes or no.

By rounding up a herd of referral partners, you can generate an ongoing stream of high-quality leads for your business.

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Guest column: Attend markets, make some ‘dough’

November 12/19, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 11 

By Lori Kisner

 

The economy is booming, new home starts are strong and consumers are investing in home renovations—all great news for the industry. Why is it, then, that retailers are still feeling the pinch? More importantly, how can they grow their businesses and bottom line?

Flooring stores aren’t impervious to the issues that occur in other specialty retail industries. Let’s face it—specialty retail is a competitive business with increased competition from big box stores, other retailers in the area and the Internet—not to mention emerging issues such as tariffs on some imports.

The business of flooring can be tricky. That said, it’s now more critical than ever for retailers to attend events to find solutions that will result in higher profits. Regional trade shows and conferences such as the Flooring Markets in Atlanta, Dallas and Biloxi, Miss., feature exhibitors that offer opportunities for retailers to increase their bottom line.

“Attending markets and other trade shows is so beneficial to our company and sales force,” said Denise Heath, partner with Heath Flooring Concepts in Dallas, Ga. “We see new products and market direction, which allows us to invest in ways that will be profitable in the short and long term. By attending, we see the design trends for our geographical region as well as on the national level, and we use that to guide our clients in making smart selections.”

For dealers like Heath, these shows also provide networking opportunities with other industry professionals. “This helps us gain further knowledge we can use to separate us from the competition,” she added. “Plus, many vendors also offer special market pricing, which provides us with substantial savings.”

Everybody wins
Exhibitors at the upcoming flooring markets in Atlanta, Dallas and Biloxi, Miss., have an arsenal of special incentives that are offered only to retailers who attend.

“We use the Southeast Flooring Market to showcase our 2019 product introductions and new merchandising programs,” said Matt Wadsworth, general manager at NGF Distributors. “We also spend time collaborating with retailers on ways to help improve business through education. Many of our vendor partners are in our booth and meet with our customers to discuss product and job-site solutions. All of this helps our customers’ bottom line by keeping up to date with what’s occurring with product development in flooring.”

Following are some of the primary reasons to attend regional markets:

  • Access to market specials and discount programs
  • Opportunities to compare and evaluate vendors
  • Birds-eye view of product design trends
  • Ability to learn the latest innovations
  • Networking opportunities with other retailers to share best practices and valuable, cost-saving strategies
  • Source closeout products and pre-tariff goods

The 2019 Market Maker events are as follows:

  • Southeast Flooring Market, Cobb Galleria Centre, Atlanta, Jan. 8-9
  • Southwest Flooring Market, Toyota Music Factory, Irving, Texas, Jan. 9-10
  • Mississippi Coast Flooring Market, MS Coast Convention Center, Biloxi, Miss., Feb. 14-15

For more information, visit, flooringmarkets.com.

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Lessons learned: Gain an advantage by putting customers first

November 12/19, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 11 

By Tom Jennings

 

It is a reality that most local, independent businesses are constantly being pressured by large mass merchants. It does not matter if you are selling toothpaste or televisions, some large firm is bound to have a bigger, faster, cheaper version that they are promoting with yet another barely believable offer. The floor covering business certainly falls into this category.

Too often it seems as if the local merchants view this form of competition with something between disdain and contempt. They want to blame the suppliers, the media and the gullible public. This is understandable; however, it is flawed logic. To compete with any opponent, you must first find out what their strengths are before you can determine where any vulnerabilities may lie.

Remember that large businesses did not begin big. They were born small and grew only because in the public’s eye they did a lot of things right. One of the key common aspects of these successful businesses is they all developed strategic operating systems. They have learned the most effective methods to bring their goods and services to market at the lowest possible costs. That is one of their strengths.

Think of these systems as the “rules of the game.” As customers, we are asked to play by the vendor’s rules. That is not a problem—until it becomes a problem. This is where, in many operations, a weakness exists on which you can ultimately capitalize.

Always remember that at the core, the customer only cares about her own situation—not yours. We have all been told something to the effect of “the computer will not let me do that,” “no substitutions allowed,” “deliveries to your area are made on Tuesdays only,” or the classic “you do not qualify for this offer.” It certainly seems that the bigger the company, the more bound they are to doing things their way.

As the customer, how do you feel upon hearing these types of comments? My guess is, these remarks do not exactly warm your thoughts. What we need to learn from this is that the core problem usually does not lie with the message, but rather the messenger.

Rather than projecting an attitude that says, “I will do everything within my power to see that your wishes are honored,” you are more likely to hear, “That is not our policy.” These untrained sales representatives just do not understand that it is the customer’s total purchasing experience, not just the product alone, which is most important.

All businesses must have clear policies that are fairly administered. Without them there is chaos. Just remember that when we explain these policies to the customer, it must always be with her point of view in mind. She should always sense an attitude of, “I am working for you.”

Big stores with big offers will initially attract customers, but without the right messengers they will always struggle to keep them. Use this weakness to your advantage. Make a customer-first approach one of your greatest strengths. You and your customer will both be happier for your having done so.

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Al’s column: Success waits for those who seek change

November 12/19, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 11 

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

Talking with a progressive retailer in the flooring business is a breath of fresh air. Not long ago, I spoke with Ted Gregerson, owner of Abbey Carpet, Anniston, Ala. I’d heard Gregerson runs a successful shop, and I wanted to learn more.

What impressed me most was his attitude: forward thinking and always looking for new ways to improve this business and his staff. It’s obvious that everyone is important to his business. According to Gregerson, it’s not just one thing that makes him successful; it takes a dedicated team. In his case it’s being with his executive team, which includes Ron Hurley, vice president, and Gracie Jancsek, director of marketing.

Gregerson believes his willingness to embrace technology has been his model for success. Over the next 10 years, he predicts there will be a culling of flooring stores unless they are willing to keep up with technology. This means spending money on websites and other tools.

The fall of the economy in 2007 had a profound effect on Gregerson. Many stores went out of business, yet some grew stronger. Gregerson realized the difference was a store’s willingness to change. Social media was just starting, so even the strong flooring stores had a huge learning curve. Survival meant doing very different things that had no precedence.

Like many others, he had to learn the hard way, for example, by running his own social media. Eventually, he realized his operation would have to create its own social media model, so he hired an outside firm.

Gregerson recalls the learning curve being a steep one. “I started with a tape measure and paper and pen and now we’re using RFMS and Measure Mobile software,” he told me recently. “There was a point where I went out and bought iPad Pros for everyone in our company. This level of sophistication builds confidence with our customers, and we rarely get requests for lower prices. You can tell that it makes a huge impression on the customer.”

Gregerson’s employees use their iPads for more than just basic measuring. “We have hundreds of job pictures on them for salespeople to be able to show potential customers what a product looks like installed. We have price books on them, along with warranty information, cleaning care guides, copies of business licenses and other forms they may need from time to time. We want everything to be at their fingertips to where they always have it with them. We also use them as a way to get picking tickets to our warehouse guys.”

I am always interested in what stores are doing to train their employees. Hurley, a critical player on Gregerson’s team, believes ongoing training is one of the keys. “Good training motivates people to learn new skills and encourages them to want to get better,” he told me. “We all have to change, and training is one way to point people in the right direction.”

Twice a year Gregerson shuts all three stores, rents a hotel and conducts all-day training sessions with catered breakfast and lunch. He invites suppliers to conduct product training combined with his own in-house training. Jancsek does her part by teaching the salespeople how to get photos off the website, tag customers and share their posts. This is the first time I’ve heard of anyone using their marketing department to educate their team on social media.

It’s not only a great idea, it’s a smart thing to do.