Posted on

Retailer2retailer: Values-based leadership

January 5/12, 2015; Volume 28/Number 14

By Scott Perron

(First of two parts)

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 12.29.50 PMLike many of you, I am a fierce competitor who hates to lose, a person who is internally driven to accomplish whatever I take on. However, the results do not always match the desire. I’ve looked back on all that has happened over my business career, many times throughout I had to gauge if the work being done was having the most positive impact on employees, customers and vendors.

As I scan my most vivid memories, it’s very apparent which challenges, solutions, defeats and successes rose to the top of my internal hard drive. Some of these days are filled with regret, I’ll admit, while others bring smiles with moments I would love to relive.

Maybe you have heard me speak live on subjects surrounding business performance, such as training personnel, building systems, marketing, merchandising and advertising. Many of you have also invited me into your businesses to work directly with your staff or help build a strategy and bring it to execution. For over a dozen years now I have contributed articles for print both in and out of the industry, documenting the details of the aforementioned subjects. In the 21 years since taking over the family business, my efforts and travels have put me in the position to forge valuable relationships with those who would mentor me. It has been a great quest of mine to determine why some businesses do well and others fail miserably. What truly defines the ability of a business to achieve something great instead of just satisfactory, fair or poor in result?

Recently, I made the decision to leave my employer of six years and move on to a new business venture that will become the next generation in my career of family businesses. My wife and I founded a company called 24-7 Floors in Florida and set out to take all we had learned and execute a new program by our design that was in line with our business values. Summoning thousands of memories stored in the data bank between our ears, we made a list of what we had done very well, patting ourselves on the back, and another documenting what went wrong due to circumstances outside of our control. We realized there were three times as many negative forces listed that explained why we may have fell short of where we thought we could or should be.

In early October we attended Surfaces East in Miami, signing up for multiple classes to help hone our skills and give some new perspective in the initial hours of our new undertaking. While scanning the list of available classes, we came upon the “Values Based Leadership: Life on Purpose” session, presented by Mark Fernandes, chief leadership officer at Luck Companies. I I had never heard of this man or this workshop, and when we arrived we asked the course attendant what the presentation was about. He pointed to a well-dressed man coming down the hall and, without knowing it at the time, he would change our perspective at that time and into the future.

Fernandes began his seminar by asking the attendees to write down the top reasons their businesses were struggling or not performing to expectations. I wrote down my top five: installers, customers price shopping, can’t find good help, big box competition and installers (again). After we finished, he said he was not going to pick on anyone directly, but often tells his audience that everyone readily has the solution, though he warned that some may not agree. He held up a mirror: “There is your only problem—and also the solution.”

You can learn more about Fernandes and Values-Based Leadership at valuesbasedleader.com.

Posted on

retailer2retailer: Time to get in the game

Volume 28/Number 3; July 21/28, 2014

(First of two parts)

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 9.41.20 AMBy Scott Perron

Remember, my friends, that spectators don’t have a win-loss record, and Lumber Liquidators, Empire Carpet, Floor & Décor and other formidable competitors have entered the game while we all work to compete with each of these companies on a daily basis. Some are privately held, some have public money, and each is focused on expanding their niches in markets across the nation, adding to the list of big box players we have come to reckon with such as Home Depot, Lowes and Menards.

Now one would think that flooring has become the most profitable business in over the last decade, or that these relatively new arrivals to the scene were all selling the cure for a catastrophic disease with the way they are taking over the industry. Well, guess what? They have, and that disease is indifference. Indifference in providing to the customer what is required to win and retain business.

For every new store the aforementioned players erect in your market, a sizable portion of business is taken away from you, the independent retailer, which begs the question: why are they able to accomplish this in such a fast and furious manner? The answers, in my opinion, are many, so let’s examine what gives these players the edge and what we can do to learn and adjust our ways.

You will notice that brick and mortar retailers have stepped up their game tremendously in the quality, functionality and appeal of their showrooms. Lumber Liquidators had some of the worst looking displays until a few short years ago, and every other large-format competitor has answered the call by designing a well laid out, super clean, clearly marked showroom with attractive displays that educate, inspire and demonstrate to the consumer what is possible in their homes with the use of vignettes, photographs, video and lifestyle scenes. Sales associates sport uniformed garb and in most cases have only the most basic of training to know a fraction more than the customer knows about their product.

The goal is to simplify the buying process while allowing the consumer to participate in some of the work. Their systems allow for the consumer to self-shop in-store or online while being asked periodically if they have any further needs or questions. Is this the way our customers want to buy? Is this how you like to buy? I would submit that Gen X, Gen Y and the Millennials have a different way, and we need to learn it pronto.

Online image matching in-store presence is a crucial part of marketing and branding. It provides consumers the tools necessary to design their projects and create a workbook for future reference. When satisfied, they are given the option to request more information, request samples or receive a quote or design assistance on their terms. Women spend more and more time researching their purchases online with the youngest ladies now lurking right around the home-spending corner.

Each of these large companies promotes their niche or perception of value relentlessly. The home centers drive the consumer to in-store credit and one-stop shopping for the home. Lumber Liquidators promotes large selection, price perception and is aggressively selling accessories. Floor & Décor demonstrates a large-format hard surfaces warehouse selling primarily decorative and standard flooring options with all accessories and sundries as well. Empire Carpet focuses on fast sale and installation through the use of subcontract lead chasers that promote immediate gratification with next-day installation possibilities.

Now that we have established a baseline for what your competitors are doing, in part 2 we will examine what you can do to compete and impress the customer that walks into your door.

Posted on

Retailer2Retailer: Find another gear

Nov. 18/25 2013; Volume 27/number 15

By Scott Perron

Perron,-Scott
Scott Perron

When it’s all said and done, 2013 will be known as the year that the flooring industry officially left the recession of 2009 and beyond. Although there have been slight signs of recovery since late 2012, most dealers in almost every market are reporting a favorable increase in business while others are strategically planning for real-time growth. I have talked with and worked to help dozens of teams all over the country in concert with researching my own markets in southwest Florida. Make no mistake: There is action and reaction to the current market trends. Continue reading Retailer2Retailer: Find another gear

Posted on

Retailer2Retailer: Opportunity looks a lot like hard work

Oct. 7/14, 2013; Volume 27/number 12

By Scott Perron

Perron,-Scott
Scott Perron

As I travel around the country developing stores and consulting for many others, I’ve noticed a true separation between the stores that prosper versus the ones that struggle. More often than not, business failure is from a breakdown of sound business practices that lead to disappointment. Continue reading Retailer2Retailer: Opportunity looks a lot like hard work

Posted on

retailer2retailer: Thank you mom and dad

by Scott Perron

Volume 26/Number 21; March 4/11, 2013

It was just two decades ago when I entered the business of business for real. That was the month I took over the family operation originally known as The Shag Barn in Plainville, Conn., which became Perron’s Flooring Center.

I had all kinds of bright ideas as a 27-year-old aspiring to make something of himself. My parents, Don and Gladys, had built a business with no formal training, experience or rich uncle to back them—just guts and determination. They did not inherit a thing, attend a formal college or business school, or even work in a flooring store up to that point. Continue reading retailer2retailer: Thank you mom and dad

Posted on

Retailer2Retailer: The Seven Ps

by Scott Perron

Over the last three-and-a- half years since relocating to the Midwest and changing my job description from retail entrepreneur to corporate franchising, I have been asked on countless occasions to develop a shortlist of key ingredients to operating a successful business. In response, it occurred to me that although there are thousands of required steps, my mentors have helped identify seven characteristics crucial to being victorious. Continue reading Retailer2Retailer: The Seven Ps

Posted on

Retailer2retailer: Change your people

By Scott Perron

We all know the industry has been experiencing an unprecedented recession stretching from late 2007 to the writing of this article. For those with the wherewithal to sustain during this economic black hole, huge opportunity lies just on the other side of would-be disaster. And, if you have the capital, infrastructure and guts to expand, you may reap an incredible increase in market share.

Why? From my view it exists for several reasons but here are the top two. First the commercial market has joined the recession and many landlords will renegotiate their leases just to keep a paying tenant from leaving. This line item on your P&L generally represents your second largest operational cost. Continue reading Retailer2retailer: Change your people