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Technology: 10 questions to ask potential software providers

Dec. 9/16, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 12

By Lindsay Gonzalez

 

Flooring software should ultimately support the growth of a dealer’s business, according to RFMS.

Choosing the right software for your business is often a significant investment. Whether it’s ERP, CRM, measuring, inventory, etc., installing new flooring software requires time, money and patience. Before a dealer wastes all three, he or she should have a list of questions ready for potential software providers.

FCNews spoke with several top flooring software companies to compile a list of questions dealers should ask before investing in software.

How long have you been working in the flooring space?

“There are lots of great software options out there for businesses, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are great for flooring dealers,” noted James Wisdom, vice president business development, Measure Square. “In our space, there are many specifics that generic systems just aren’t equipped to handle. Updating or switching systems is never an easy process; it’s even worse if you go through all the trouble just to find out that at the deepest level of need a generic product falls short. There are plenty of great flooring specific software solutions out there.”

What will it cost me exactly?

“It is important to be very specific when asking for prices,” said Chad Ogden, CEO and president, QFloors. “You may need to nail down a sales rep who is giving you a general range. You should ask, ‘What is the cost for X number of users, including all of the training, support, maintenance as well as every feature you have demoed to me? Are there optional add-on costs? What if I don’t purchase that particular add-on?’”

Will your business software support my company’s growth?

“The software you use to manage your business should always have the goals of increasing productivity, accuracy and profit,” explained Maria Cauchon, media services director, sales and marketing, RFMS. “These analytics should be measurable. Many times, store owners will just accept the ‘data in,’ but don’t know how to use the system to get the ‘data out’ to perform important data analysis.” 

Does your software show profitability for each job?

“If the software has the ability to show profitability per job, then the end user can adjust pricing, scheduling, etc., based on the information provided by the software,” said Cindy Trocciola, CEO, CZNTech Pricing. “For instance, if your margins with one client are consistently less than all of your other clients, then you may want to adjust how you’re working with this particular client.”

Do you host and manage the server yourself?

“The majority of our RollMaster Software customers are hosted on our cloud-based network,” said Kelly Oechslin, product marketing manager, RollMaster. “From the beginning, we have owned and managed our secure data network. Our customers will always own their data, but we manage and protect the servers, freeing them from the time and expense of hardware management and giving them access to their data anytime with an Internet-connected device.”

Does your software estimate for all types of flooring?

“Can it estimate using the keyboard and also estimate PDF drawings and blueprints drawing?” Dennis Benton, president, NivBen Software, asked in regard to estimating software. “If you’re in the flooring business, you will do all of those at some time in your career.”

Can we do demos with my entire team?

“It is vital to schedule in-depth demos with each of your software finalists,” said Bob Noe Jr., president, Pacific Solutions. “Your demos should include members from every department in your company. Since each department will have needs that are specific to their area of the business, it might be best to set up a series of shorter demos with each department. If you have buy in from the majority of your staff, the adoption of the software will be a smoother process.”

Can your software integrate with other business software?

“The right software solutions will solve problems and help smooth out the operational workflow within your company by sharing their data with other software in use,” Measure Square’s Wisdom said. “Some providers may offer closed ecosystems that seem great at first glance, but what happens if one piece of their solution falls short? You want to look to providers that are eager to share their data with others through APIs but be wary of simple one-click integration pitches. The reality is that great partnerships and integrations are out there, but even the best partnerships require a bit of configuration.”

May I speak to a few of your current customers?

QFloors’ Ogden suggested dealers ask the following questions to referrals: “What software did you use previously? How long did it take you to get your staff up and going on the system? What has been your experience with the software’s training? How much did it cost? What happens when you get new employees? How are they trained?”

What services and support do you offer after the software is installed?

Joseph Flannick, president, American Business Software, posed this question: “When you have a problem, how long does it take to get the problem solved and how difficult is it to talk with people beyond their first level of technical support?”

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QFloors: All about service and simplicity

Nov. 25/Dec. 2, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 11

By Steven Feldman

 

From left: Trent, Chad and Chris Ogden with Ron Cluff.

Springdale, Utah—Twenty years after its launch, QFloors has become the second-largest flooring-specific business management software provider in the industry. With a customer list that now numbers around 1,100, QFloors has more than doubled its base in the last seven years because it helps the flooring retailer become more profitable every single day.

How? First, it’s the B2B management component, which saves retailers time and effort in maintaining their product catalogs. Then, there are the job-costing modules. “People tell us all the time, ‘I never knew whether I was making money or losing money on a job,’” said Chad Ogden, president and CEO. “With QFloors, retailers can see the job costs before they quote the customer. Then there’s the use tax calculation, which the off-the-shelf systems do not offer. Usually retailers are paying more sales tax than they should be, or paying their taxes too soon, or charging their customer too much.”

Benchmarking is another key component of the QFloors proposition. In fact, Trent Ogden, CFO, noted how he brought industry averages to one users conference and compared them with each attendee’s financials. “We found the attendees’ net profit, or their EBITDA, was 2.6% higher than the industry average. So, our average dealer makes more money by implementing our system.”

There are a bunch of flooring-specific software companies out there, but QFloors said it sets itself apart in two areas: customer service and ease of use. “I have had multiple people who have come from other industries using all kinds of software say, ‘This is the best customer support department we’ve ever dealt with,’” Ogden said. “It’s the way we answer the phone, the responsiveness. We’ve heard that over and over again.”

Ease of use is also a competitive advantage since a retailer’s fear of technology is the biggest obstacle to automation. QFloors said it conquers that barrier. “We basically have done in five screens what most people are doing in 50 or 60 screens,” Ogden said. “If you can do the same thing with the same features—but with fewer mouse clicks, fewer windows and less typing, you can do your job more efficiently, and it’s easier to train people. That’s why we can convert somebody in one week.”

He added that QFloors can also help a retailer easily produce a financial statement. “That’s not true with any other software.”

The field is ripe for growth, Ogden said, because in his estimation only 33% of flooring retailers—about 4,000—are using industry-specific software. About 6,000 are using generic programs like QuickBooks, and many are still using nothing at all.

What are some of the advantages of using flooring-specific software? The aforementioned B2B, for one. Then, there are the inventory modules. “Floor covering-specific software features square feet, square yards, cartons,” he said. “You’re not going to get that in QuickBooks. Also, job costing is more efficient. We can track labor rates and salespeople commissions.”

Ogden said the proof is in the pudding. “We’ve shown that people who are using QFloors are more profitable because everybody’s job is streamlined to make fewer mistakes, to do things faster, knowing the cost of the job before you sell it, not losing your inventory, plus the time savings with B2B. You put all that together and it equals about 2% to 3% net profit. A dealer doing $1 million a year can realize between $20,000 and $30,000 a year in greater profitability.”

Barb Clements, owner of Al’s Carpets in Rockford, Ill., is one retailer who attests to the benefits. “I wouldn’t be in business today if I didn’t have QFloors,” she said. “You don’t know if you’re winning or losing, and when you’re losing you can fix things. I know people who thought they were winning and went out of business because they were broke. It is OK to be in the negative, but you have to fix it. When QFloors did that [benchmarking]—what we should be paying for rent, etc.—my daughter said, ‘Mom, this is too much health insurance and too much rent.’ My kids got their own health insurance and we got our rent lowered. I should have done this years ago.”

We’ll Floor U, Hampton Bays, N.Y., was an early adopter of the QFloors software, coming on board nearly from day one. Diane Cullen, sales professional, said, “This integrates the whole business from the ordering to the warehouse receiving to the accounting. It streamlines the business and saves tons of time. It even organizes your inventory. It’s just a full package.”

QFloors also takes the fear out of technology for retailers by virtue of an extensive training program that begins with its new customer care department. “When we make a sale, this department will call that person and get them going,” Ogden said. “We walk them through every procedure. That’s the sole goal of this department. We also have free training videos they can watch online along with unlimited phone support. We don’t charge them for that, unlike our competitors.”

That phone support can be just as effective as an on-site visit, Ogden said. “We connect with them on our computer, so we can see their monitor and talk them through any issues. Most of our small dealers do it that way.”

JB Woodward Floors in Riverside, Calif., has been in business for 58 years, the last seven as QFloors users. Kim Wollman, co-owner, cited the simplicity of the software as well as the customer service as two hallmarks. “QFloors is so user friendly,” she said. “The whole process from an invoice to your purchase order is so simple. It makes my job easy to the point where I can move on to other things.”

Wollman also said the accounting aspect of the software has made a huge difference in the business. “Before we were doing all our own accounting and had to wait for our accountant at the end of the year to see those numbers. Now, we can see them whenever we want.”

She also said the pricing is more than fair for all QFloors offers, citing the customer support and training. “Also, it’s so easy to teach; there is not a steep learning curve.”

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Marketing online: Proven ways to generate more leads

Nov. 25/Dec. 2, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 11

By Lindsay Gonzalez

 

Positive reviews can help dealers improve their search engine placement.

As the world’s digital landscape continues to expand, many flooring consumers are starting their journey to purchase online. It is crucial now more than ever that flooring dealers are actively working to generate as well as convert leads online.

FCNews asked several industry experts for their top tips on generating leads.

Focus on existing customers. One of the most inexpensive ways to generate leads is by keeping in touch with your past customers. That’s according to Jim Armstrong, FCNews columnist and president/founder of Flooring Success Systems. “Your past customers are the only people on the planet who have proven they’ll give you money in exchange for flooring,” he explained. “Don’t invest thousands of dollars chasing cold leads online if you haven’t implemented a system to communicate regularly with the people who have already bought from you.”

Communication with previous customers open two channels for leads—repeat business and referrals. John Weller, co-founder and chief innovative officer of FloorForce, suggested flooring dealers contact their customers a few days after a project has been completed to get feedback.

“See if they have any friends or family who may need help with their floors,” Weller explained. “If they say yes, you’ll have a much easier sale on your hands than a typical lead. After all, referrals account for more than 60% of flooring sales. Even if the client does not have an immediate referral, your phone call will leave a positive impression and keep your company at the top of their mind.”

Master your website. A flooring dealer’s website is crucial to generating online leads. However, in order to collect those leads, a website must have the right forms and tools to reel in the consumer. “If a customer comes into your store and your salesperson doesn’t ask for the order prior to her leaving, your business is in trouble,” Jay Flynn, vice president of Creating Your Space (CYS), explained. “The same holds true for your website, but the ‘order’ is the request from the consumer to engage with your business.”

This, Flynn continued, can be in the form of product information, booking an appointment, requesting samples or pricing, an easy “click-to-call” button, etc. In terms of product information, dealers should show product they actually carry in the store. “They also want to see what that product will look like on the floor—even better, on their floor,” Flynn added. “They get this from car dealers, furniture dealers and other big-ticket items. You need to provide the experience they expect.”

In addition to product catalogs, FloorForce’s Weller suggested dealer websites have useful video content as well as augmented reality and live chat options. “Augmented reality visualization is becoming a key feature on flooring websites and has proven to keep consumers on a website longer,” he explained. “Also, more consumers are opting for live chat and texting over phone calls and email. The more communication channels you offer your customers, the more likely they are to connect with you.”

Create brand recognition. Lead generation can be influenced by brand recognition, according to Jason Goldberg, CEO of Retail Lead Management (RLM) and owner and CEO of America’s Floor Source. To increase this recognition among consumers, Goldberg suggested dealers look into both traditional and digital forms of advertising.

“For example, I recognize your brand because I’ve seen your wrapped trucks in my neighborhood,” Goldberg noted. “I’ve seen your yard signs; I’ve heard your radio commercials and seen your TV commercials; I’ve seen your Facebook and Instagram social posts, etc. When I do a [Google] search and you show up in the results, the brand recognition is based on everything you are doing, not just digitally.”

Regardless of the type of advertising, experts stress the messaging needs to align with the dealer’s business. “Your digital marketing—whether it is display ads on Facebook, your Google My Business listing, directory ads or Google Search Ads—needs to be specific and custom to your business,” CYS’s Flynn said. “Your brand, your products, your target markets and custom landing pages must be aligned with your offers and ads. Using and paying for generic offers not specific to your business are not going to optimize your results and build your brand, which is the key to long- term success.”

Be where your customers are. With the plethora of digital platforms available today, it is important for flooring dealers to have a presence where their customers usually interact. According to Doug Regner, vice president of sales – home service industry, Podium, local businesses have an upper hand when it comes to SEO. This can help get their businesses in front of consumers.

“Simply managing your presence and reputation on a few sites will allow you to show up at the top of search results,” Regner said. “These days, that starts with optimizing your presence on Google and Facebook. Then do the same on relevant, industry-specific channels and implement a few website best practices to ensure your online presence is just as significant and impactful as it is in person and offline.”

Be consistent. While it might be tempting to change offers and messages for every “Hallmark” holiday, Flynn warned against it. “Consistency of message and a focus on driving what your business value is—this could be low price, great inventory, range of products and services, proven value in the market or one of multiple others—will drive the best results,” he explained. “Making changes just to change will have an adverse effect on consumers recognition of your brand and, therefore, on your sales.”

Convert leads to customers. While generating leads is a key point to growing business, dealers must be able to convert those leads into paying customers. To do this, Regner suggested dealers make themselves readily available to prospective customers.

“All call-to-action on your website or business page needs to be crystal clear,” Podium’s Regner explained. “Whether it’s a ‘Get a Free Quote Today!’ or ‘Schedule an Appointment,’ your customers need to know what to do to engage with your business. Other great and modern ways to convert online leads into in-person customers is to encourage two-way messaging by adding a text-to-chat solution to your website, as well as including a phone number or textable link to your Google and Facebook listings.”

To truly grow a business, Weller explained that dealers need to be ready the second those leads come in. “A full 50% of sales go to the company that responds first, so having a plan in place to quickly interact with customers is increasingly critical as an increasing number of consumers shop online.”

What’s more, Weller explained that being ready means understanding today’s customer. “Many customers will reach out with much more information and higher expectations than they had in the past. Listen for signs that they are ready to move quickly—because if they are ready and you are not, they will likely take their business elsewhere.”

Manage leads. A crucial part of converting leads is first properly managing them, according to RLM’s Goldberg. “I don’t care how many leads you generate; if you don’t have a way to manage those leads to a sale with full visibility in that process, you are just wasting money. This is where software, such as Retail Lead Management, comes into play.”

Get reviews. An important part of generating leads is appearing at the top of a consumer’s online search. One way to improve your business’ placement is with positive reviews, according to Regner.

“Review frequency, quantity and rating can (and will) help you show up on top when customers are searching,” he added. “If you want to show up at the top of the local online search, make sure to always ask for reviews in person, then send an invite, collect customer reviews after every interaction and respond to reviews and feed- back in a timely fashion.”

Don’t buy leads. While it may seem easy to purchase leads from different websites, Flooring Success Systems’ Armstrong strongly warns against doing so. “You have to be very careful where you buy your leads. Home Advisor sells the same lead to several flooring dealers. This is really great for Home Advisor, but not so much for dealers who have to fight over these leads. I spoke with a dealer not long ago who spent $70,000 over the course of a year buying online leads. It mostly attracted price shoppers who wasted hours of his time, and then bought from someone else. He didn’t come close to breaking even.”

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Technology: Roomvo breaks new ground

Visualization tool streamlines selection process while helping dealers, distributors close more sales

October 14/21, 2019: Volume 35/Issue 8

By Reginald Tucker

 

Engineered Floors reported increased engagement with its EF Visualizer tool, which is powered by Roomvo.

In an age where consumers in the market for floor covering are increasingly relying on the Internet and online tools to research products before narrowing down their selections, the need for manufacturers and specialty dealers to get up to “digital speed” has never been greater. This has opened up a tremendous opportunity for companies that specialize in visualization tools to make their mark.

Such is the case with Leap Tools, maker of the high-tech Roomvo visualization program that allows customers to take a photo of their own home and browse different options for flooring products (as well as other categories) in their own space instantly. The company primarily works with floor covering manufacturers and distributors—who, in turn, extend the visualization tools to their customers, the retailers and ultimately to consumers.

“We are really changing the game here in terms of how consumers are shopping,” said Pawel Rajszel, CEO of Leap Tools. “It’s 100% on trend as consumers migrate more and more toward doing research online before going to a store and picking a floor. They are able to interact with this technology in a very easy and valuable way, which is priming them for making these purchases faster and more confidently.”

The Roomvo tool, according to Rajszel, addresses a shortcoming in the traditional process of shopping for floor coverings. “It’s difficult to buy flooring—the typical sales process entails doing some research online, going to the dealer and then seeing if you find a few floors that catch your attention,” he explained. “Then, the dealer gives you some samples that you can take home. The samples tend to be 12 x 12 in size, and the consumer is supposed to take those samples home, put them on the floor and imagine what the whole room will look like with that floor in it. It’s very difficult to do, and few people find that useful.”

Worse, if the consumer makes a decision based solely on a sample, there might be some buyer’s remorse after the job is completed. “You really don’t know what it’s going to look like until it’s installed, and by that time you’ve picked the wrong floor,” Rajszel explained. “Flooring is not like a piece of furniture that you can simply return if you don’t like it.”

Roomvo, Rajszel noted, aims to eliminate those issues. “What we offer, for the customer to use in the comfort of her own home, is a tool that allows her to take a picture and have the floor in a given room instantly change to the floor that the manufacturer or dealer is selling. Within seconds, the consumer can see all the different flooring options available to her.”

The process is equally seamless for the manufacturer clients who use the Roomvo tool. “It’s instantaneous—there’s no Apps to download, no lengthy instructions to read and it’s very easy to use,” Rajszel explained. “It’s a dramatically different experience, and it’s a far superior customer experience. It’s one that we’re getting tremendous traction on from not only dealers but also manufacturers and distributors.”

More importantly, Roomvo decreases the amount of time the customer requires to select a floor. Rajszel cited the industry average, which is anywhere between 60-90 days from the time the consumer begins the selection process to the point of purchase. Roomvo, he said, trims that time frame significantly. “Anecdotally, we’re hearing many situations where people went into the store, used the Roomvo tool and basically bought the floor on the spot,” he said. “We’re dramatically decreasing the time it takes for the consumer to make a decision.”

Beyond traditional brick-and-mortar applications, Roomvo is also useful for retailers who employ the mobile, shop-at-home model. “Our tool creates a significant competitive advantage for any salesperson doing a measurement in the consumer’s home or going in for an in-home sale,” Rajszel explained. “For one, the reps doesn’t have to carry all those samples; they can do it digitally. Second, it creates a level of interaction with the customer in her home that is unparalleled. They are now engaged in discussing the different flooring options straight from the tablet or mobile device on the spot. Their close rates increase dramatically, and the consumer experience vastly improves.”

Leap Tools offers two different Roomvo options. One is the visualizer for the manufacturer; the other entails giving the capability to their dealer partners. At present, the company is working with big names such as Engineered Floors, MSI, Lumber Liquidators and distributors such as Galleher and Schnier.

According to Rajszel, getting started is super easy. “We typically launch customers in less than 30 days, and we do all the heavy lifting so that it’s usually less than an hour’s worth of effort for the customer.”

Many happy returns
While the Roomvo tool may be new to some, Rajszel reported it has been in use for more than seven years now. According to the company, the results speak volumes. “Most of our partners immediately see an increase in sales between 5% and 10% upon launching our tool,” he said.

One such client is California-based Flooret, a direct-to-consumer vendor specializing in long-plank vinyl flooring. When the company launched its site in 2015, the visualization capabilities were limited. There were issues with functionality, and it was difficult to obtain analytics. But all that changed when the retailer made the switch to Roomvo. After just a few months in, Flooret said it experienced an immediate increase in both engagement and sales activity. On top of that, visitor time on the site more than doubled, bounce rates fell and sales volume and conversion rates increased 23% and 20%, respectively.

“We wish we had switched to Roomvo sooner,” said Michael Maddox, co-founder of Flooret. “It’s a very modern solution, it was simple to setup and it’s intuitive for our site visitors to use. The feedback we are hearing is the vast majority of our customers love it.”

Flooret is not the only satisfied customer. Engineered Floors, which employs Roomvo technology through its EF Visualizer tool on its own site, also reports excellent results. “This is an amazing tool,” said Nick Swiney, digital marketing manager for Engineered Floors. “It makes it so easy for our customers to see our floors; they love it. And our sales reps are closing sales faster than ever with Roomvo.”

Brian Ritchie, territory manager for Engineered Floors, is one of them. “I had a dealer share the EF Visualizer link, and by the end of the day he received more than 250 views and 100 messages—which has resulted in at least three measurements.”

On the horizon
Based on the early success of Roomvo as it relates to flooring and countertops, Leap Tools is in the process of expanding the technology to cover visualization for other categories such as wall coverings and paint—related categories in which many dealers are already participating. “We have an exciting five-year roadmap and plans in place to expand the technology even further,” Rajszel said. “Everyone in the company is obsessed with delivering the future.”

In addition, Leap Tools would like to expand its client base to include more distributors and retailers. And, of course, it would like to grow its base of participating manufacturers. “Manufacturers can extend their brand and support their distribution and retail partners by leveraging Roomvo’s proprietary technology,” Rajszel said. “By simply signing up, retailers can benefit from an improved customer experience in store and online. Roomvo translates into happier consumers, happier dealers and happier manufacturers. It’s a win, win, win.”

Leap Tools plans to showcase its capabilities at several major trade shows in 2020, including NAFCD, Surfaces, Domotex, Coverings and NWFA.

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FloorForce: The ‘all-in-one’ partner

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

By Lindsay Baillie

 

(Editor’s note: This is the fourth installment in a series detailing how flooring dealers are enhancing their digital presence by partnering with FloorForce.)

 

FloorForce has redesigned Carpeting by Mike’s website so that it seamlessly flows with Mohawk’s site.

When Carpeting by Mike began its partnership with FloorForce in 2017, after meeting through Mohawk’s Omnify, the flooring store said it was blown away by how many digital marketing solutions the tech company could provide.

“We found it really intriguing that they could combine our website, our marketing, our phone number, etc.,” explained Typhannie Watson, vice president. “We could combine everything at once through one company vs. having different avenues. Prior to FloorForce, we had different vendors that did everything for us.”

In addition to handling all of its digital processes, FloorForce also helped Carpeting by Mike redesign its website. “They designed our website so it would look very similar and feel very similar to a Mohawk website,” Watson explained. “This way it was a seamless transition for customers to move from a Mohawk website to our site, and they didn’t feel like they were dealing with two different stores.”

Thanks to its partnership with FloorForce, Carpeting by Mike’s website is constantly being updated with the latest promotions and trends. What’s more, any changes to the website are usually made within 24 hours. “They’re very receptive,” Watson noted. “We have somebody who we know knows flooring and can take care of us. They’ll do it right away and have it look the way we want.”

For Carpeting by Mike, FloorForce is a one-stop digital shop. “They’re going to update and take care of our product catalog, take care of our advertising, have us look so close to a Mohawk website, etc.,” Watson explained. “Nobody else could offer that to us because they don’t have that direct partnership with Mohawk. We feel like our technology and social media presence is actually speaking flooring the way Mohawk is speaking flooring so it makes more sense to our consumers.”

Beyond FloorForce’s ability to offer multiple digital services for retailers, the company’s overall customer service capabilities also stand out. “Any changes, updates or questions I have—or if I find an error or wording about my company or something that is wrong—my contact person at FloorForce is incredibly helpful and top of mind,” Watson said. “She’s right there and forwards it to the right department, keeps track of it and then emails me be back within 24 hours that it has been updated and changed—which is huge.”

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Technology: System integration makes business a breeze

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

By Lindsay Baillie

 

QPro offers B2B and API integrations to streamline business operations.

Technology can be confusing, especially when you look at the nitty gritty of what makes up a software program. A lot of pieces go into creating a program that has the ultimate goal of making the software user’s life easier. One specific component of flooring software designed to streamline business processes is system integration.

According to Chad Ogden, president, QFloors, there are three types of system integrations available. The first is called proprietary, which involves two developers from different companies working together to decide how they are going to exchange information.

The second is B2B. For this type of integration, Ogden explained, the developers do not have to get together there are set agreements on how everything will be transferred. “If everybody plays by the rules things can be transferred without developers getting together,” he said. “This means, if I do it right then I can have 10 different manufacturers or suppliers do their end, and I don’t have to communicate directly with any of them. Typically, this kind of integration follows what’s called an industry standard, which is fcB2B for the flooring industry.”

The third type of integration is application program interface (API), which allows for the public sharing of information.

Why do these three types of integration matter? Experts say fully integrated software systems allow dealers to run their businesses with more efficiency. “Systems that are not integrated typically require double data entry, additional software training and are typically more expensive to operate and maintain in the long term,” said Alex Aya, vice president, Comp-U-Floor.

When it comes to business software, one point of entry is crucial for reducing human errors. “Knowing the information being entered in one place has ‘invisibly’ updated related modules creates genuine security that only comes from the certainty that the data is both correct and complete,” said Maria Cauchon, media services director, sales and marketing, RFMS. “Productivity is increased because integration eliminates many manual, repetitive data entry tasks.”

Integration also helps to keep business processes streamlined. As Kelly Oechslin, marketing coordinator, RollMaster, explained, “It brings together all relevant business data into one place and then allows for that data to flow through to every single daily flooring business process in real time and with 24-hour/7-days-a-week/365-days access from anywhere with an Internet connection.”

Due to the benefits of integration, many software manufacturers have created different features that integrate with other programs and companies. Following are the various integrations several of the top flooring software manufacturers have to offer.

American Business Software (ABS)
The modules of ABS’s FloorPro ERP system are fully integrated for a more user-friendly experience for the retailer. “For example, when a user receives inventory, this information automatically updates inventory quantities and flags any open orders that require this material,” Joseph Flannick, president, explained. “Inventory available for sale is automatically reduced when a new order is placed. Inventory is removed from the system when it is invoiced, and sales information is automatically generated accordingly. The inventory value can be obtained easily with the click of a button.”

Comp-U-Floor
Comp-U-Floor offers API integration with MeasureSquare, Retail Lead Management and Pensoft. What’s more, its subcontractor payroll is built into its software.

Other integrations include the company’s Google Calendar interface. “Our Mobile App will allow installers to receive job alerts and tell them how to get to the jobsite and monitor the progress, updating the software in real time as they add photos or change the job status,” Aya noted. “Also, office staff can monitor the installation process and decide when to invoice the customer.”

Comp-U-Floor’s fcB2B interface is another integration that allows for the automation of purchase orders to go directly to the vendors.

CZNTech Pricing integrates hundreds of pricing documents into its robust database.

CZNTech Pricing
CZNTech Pricing has the ability to integrate hundreds of pricing documents into its robust database, according to Cindy Trocciola, CEO. To do this, the software uploads the documents with CZNTech’s Import Mapping functionality.

“This technology allows you to obtain the latest pricing from your vendors and add your mar- gin for an unlimited number of price levels with the click of a button,” Trocciola explained. “We also provide integration back out of the system that can be utilized for most of the popular flooring software programs currently on the market.”

CZNTech Pricing also automates the creation of salesperson spreadsheets so dealers can give detailed pricing information to sales staff.

Call 720.263.1389 for more information.

MeasureSquare
MeasureSquare provides open APIs for third-party programs to integrate with MeasureSquare Commercial Takeoff software, On-site Measure Mobile App and web-based flooring calculators.

“MeasureSquare Commercial Takeoff software and on-site mobile App help estimators to create accurate estimates of materials and labor charges with the digitized floor plans,” said Ariel Fu, vice president of operations. “Dealers can click on a button in their CRM or ERP system to import floor plans and estimation data and create bids or proposals for their customers.”

According to Fu, the flooring calculator assists with lead generation and conversion. The calculator is embedded in a dealer’s website, and when a prospective customer clicks on a product he or she can create a floor plan and determine the quantity of product needed.

NivBen Software
Nivben’s Premium Flooring Estimator 2040 integrates with GTCO Rollup III to trace blueprint drawing to establish floor patterns for estimates. What’s more, according to Dennis Benton, president, it runs with PDF Take-Off Software to upload architectural drawings as PDFs and automatically establish quantities of flooring.

Pacific Solutions
Pacific Solutions offers a host of integrated programs for both commercial and residential flooring. Job Runner is the company’s project management software for commercial flooring contractors, while FloorManager is its business management software for residential flooring. Pacific Solutions also offers FloorRight Commercial and FloorRight Professional, which are estimating and takeoff software programs for the specified contract sector and residential flooring industry, respectively. The company offers field measuring software called SiteDraw as well as its Data Back Service.

RFMS
All of RFMS’ modules are integrated in multiple ways for different scenarios. As Cauchon explained: “The integration starts with the initial contact with the customer, the on-site measure or takeoff and goes all the way to the final posting to the general ledger over in the accounting module. The product data files start from the ecommerce module that imports manufacturer/mill data files and is automatically populated for use by multiple RFMS modules, thereby eliminating the need to use external product sources such as spreadsheets.”

RollMaster
The core RollMaster system is fully integrated from measuring and estimating services to financial reporting and sales analysis. What’s more, the system is integrated via its open API with various marketing and business applications.

“Some of our most popular are Testimonial Tree for increasing online reviews; ChargeItPro/ Gravity for credit card processing and vaulting; and Tableau for converting sales analysis data into easy to read charts and graphs,” Oechslin explained. “One recent integration we’ve made a part of the core system is Language Translation on all our customer-facing documents, as well as work orders and purchase orders. We are currently at 12 languages and counting.”

QFloors/QPro
QFloors utilizes proprietary and B2B integrations, while QPro is more focused on B2B and API. As Ogden explained: “QFloors currently has different kinds of integrations with a lot of different companies: Measure Square; Heartland, which is a credit card processing company; and Podium, which is a customer referral company. Retail Lead Management also has an integration with us, and we have a payroll integration.”

These system integrations are intended to positively impact the user’s experience. “These integrations will allow users to have access to other software products that companies like QFloors are not experts in,” Ogden added. “For example, we are not experts in estimation tools like MeasureSquare. We are not experts in payroll processing like some of our partners. We are not experts in customer referrals like Podium.”

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FloorForce: Taking it to another level

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

By Lindsay Baillie

 

FloorForce has helped Yates Flooring Center use social media more effectively, including Facebook advertising.

(Editor’s note: This is the third installment in a series detailing how flooring dealers are enhancing their digital presence by partnering with FloorForce.)

National Flooring Alliance member Yates Flooring Center in Lubbock, Texas, began its partnership with FloorForce three years ago. Today, the company is a member of FloorForce’s advisory board.

According to Anthony Maye, vice president of sales, Yates Flooring Center, partnering with FloorForce just felt like the right move. “They seemed to be much more connected to our vendors and manufacturers. They had the ability to close the gap from manufacturing marketing to our own store’s website.”

Since working with FloorForce, Yates Flooring Center has seen a large increase in not only the number of its web leads, but the quality of those leads as well. “Our web traffic is up, and we are getting calls daily on products consumers are finding on our site,” Maye explained. “They have also helped us bridge to social media and allow us to easily see what is effective as well as what direction we should move with our advertising. They are a true partner for us, and we feel we have a competitive advantage.”

When it comes to helping the company bridge its social media strategy, Maye said he believes Facebook is the most prolific platform to reach its customers right now. “Many dealers make a simple ad and try to hit a market, but FloorForce takes it to another level,” he explained. “They are on the backside of data algorithms with Facebook that make their advertising directive much more impactful. Also, tying in those ads to a landing page designed to continue the process of this consumer seeing us on social media to us finishing an installed product in her home is all planned out. It’s amazing to be in a finished job that is over $20,000 and realize this all came from a simple Facebook ad.”

As a member of the advisory board, Yates Flooring Center has the opportunity to learn all that FloorForce can offer its specialty retail partners. “FloorForce, now with AdHawk, is what I would call frontline on the offense of reaching consumers via multiple platforms,” Maye added. “That dynamic and the algorithms change almost daily. Also, it is great to see the behind-the-scenes development from engineers to graphics to the final product. As a board, we help give focus to the flooring retailer and help FloorForce in determining how they can help us in our day-to-day operations.”

 

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Dealers continue to see value in Mohawk’s Omnify program

June 10/17, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 26

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Almost three years ago Mohawk launched Omnify, an omni-channel solution that aims to simplify digital marketing by capturing and tracking leads while also streamlining social media publishing and search engine marketing. Today, Omnify works in conjunction with many of Mohawk’s other initiatives including its revamped Five Star program as well as Edge, its new go-to-market strategy.

Many Mohawk dealers adopted Omnify when the manufacturer unveiled the program at Solutions in 2016. Rahim Daya, principal and general manager, The Westvalley Flooring, Alberta, Canada, became a believer only five minutes into FloorForce’s chief innovation officer John Weller’s Omnify presentation. “We were the first company in our market/region to sign up for Omnify,” Daya explained. “I have been hands on with my company’s digital presence right from day one, realizing the importance of Internet marketing. After a careful review of optimization options available in my region and speaking to John, I decided to work with Omnify.”

For Daya, Omnify truly does simplify digital marketing. “Mohawk has done an excellent job of realizing that store owners are not online marketing executives,” he said. “With Omnify, you have the expertise of people who know and understand the flooring business working with you to deliver tangible results. The program has allowed me to benefit from the Internet while being able to focus on what my company does best—sell flooring.”

For Daya’s business, Omnify provides the latest, up-to-date graphics and interface that aligns with the consumer’s ethos—a major selling point. Through Omnify the consumer is led through the digital pipeline to Daya’s front door. “[Omnify] is vested in ensuring state-of-the-art marketing is employed on a dealer’s behalf,” he explained.

Tom Heffner, president, About All Floors with locations in Birdsboro and Wyomissing, Pa., has also seen the value in using the omni-channel program. “We’ve been using Omnify since its inception,” Heffner explained. “I’ve had lots of sales reps come in and offer me digital advertising programs, but they’ve all been expensive and haven’t worked. With Omnify you are partnered with Mohawk to drive your brand in the local market while tying it to the world’s largest flooring manufacturer. There is an interest in it working for both my company and Mohawk, and they’ve committed the resources and people to make it work.”

Paula Anselone, owner, Anselone Flooring, Mansfield, Mass., signed on for Omnify in November 2018 and has already seen a difference. “We have noticed a significant increase in online leads and have found it helps our customers with a more fluid shopping experience,” she said. “I would definitely recommend Omnify to other flooring dealers, especially if they use FloorForce web hosting. It’s a no-brainer.”

While flooring dealers have a host of options when choosing digital marketing programs, many believe Mohawk’s Omnify provides greater value. “Digital marketing programs that are not segmented specifically towards flooring do not offer the same level of value as Omnify,” Daya told FCNews. “Mohawk and its senior management team understand the process and are extremely value driven in this area. A combination of flooring expertise and a sound understanding of digital applications make this the best valued program in the market based on my experience.”

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Technology: Top 10 tips for choosing the right software

June 10/17, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 26

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Selecting the ideal software for a flooring business should not be done in haste. That is according to several software manufacturers that urge dealers to take their time getting to know and understand the ins and outs of each system.

New software—whether it is a store’s first system or simply taking the place of an existing program—often requires a dealer to invest time and money before it is running at maximum efficiency. In addition, employees must be more open to adapting to the new business/measuring/inventory system, which can greatly affect the success of the software.

Following are 10 things to consider before leaping into a new software purchase.

Evaluate your business cycle. When considering new software, experts say it is important to know the current status of your business cycle and where the company needs to be to increase revenue and reduce operational costs. The right software should reduce or eliminate errors, minimize repetitive actions and lower operational expenses.

“If your business involves too many manual processes, your bottom line is affected,” said Edgar Aya, president, Comp-U-Floor. “Every time a mistake is made it affects your overall profit, reduces your selling time and directly impacts your overall business health. This is where the right software can make a huge impact on your profitability.”

Define your objectives. Before looking for software, dealers should create a list of what they want the program to achieve. For example, does a dealer want stock inventory? How important is inventory control? Does the dealer want to focus on automating paperwork and bookkeeping?

“Many people include every feature and function they ever heard about in their wish list of things they want the software to do,” said Joseph Flannick, president, American Business Software (ABS). He reminds dealers that all their software does not necessarily have to come from one vendor.

The main objective, he said, is to be realistic. “Think more along the lines of ‘must have’ vs. ‘nice to have.’ The larger the budget, the more things you can include in the ‘must-have’ category.”

Weigh the benefits of industry specific vs. generic. Software manufacturers say this choice depends on multiple factors, including the size of the company and the goals of the business, among other consideration. RFMS advises flooring dealers to look into flooring- specific software before investing in a generic program.

“Because of the uniqueness of the flooring industry—think about roll goods and inventory control or measure/estimating projects—most of the time industry-specific software is the best choice,” said Rod Bayless, director of sales and marketing.

Industry-specific software can also help eliminate errors prior to installation. Some experts believe measuring software should provide the installer with a clear drawing as well as all the information he or she needs for the project. “It should have a printout indicating where the flooring needs to be installed with all seams showing,” said Dennis Benton, president, NivBen. “It should also have a fill-cut sheet displaying the fills and their sizes. This will help the installers proceed with the project with ease.”

Choosing between cloud-hosted vs. cloud-based. Beyond comparing industry- specific programs with generic software, dealers should also look into the differences between cloud-hosted and cloud-based software.

“There are many companies that offer services for low monthly fees that are cloud-hosted,” Comp-U-Floors’ Aya explained. “This often means the older desktop technology was moved to a server, so it is easier for a provider to push out updates to all of its users at one time and allows for easy management of the older technology. This dated technology will not help you grow to meet customer demand.”

By comparison, cloud-based technology is fairly new to the flooring industry and often requires an upfront investment—namely time. As Aya explains: “It is written in the latest advanced code, is responsive to your devices anywhere and anytime, has links to other internal components within the software and allows using the Google Calendar Interface for installer or service scheduling.”

Look for an easy-to-use program. Software is designed to automate operations and maximize efficiency. To fulfill both those requirements, observers say, software must be easy to use for all users.

“If only one or two people in your company know how to use the software, it obviously limits the level of impact you will see,” said Chad Ogden, CEO and president, QFloors. “Look for user-friendly software that everyone in your company can learn—even those who are not particularly tech savvy. A good way to evaluate ease of use is to count how many different screens and clicks are required to perform a certain function.”

Look for integrated software. To remain relevant and profitable in today’s rapidly evolving flooring industry, using available digital technology combined with industry-specific software is key. This means taking the time needed to find the best fit so that you can benefit from the efficiencies, analytics and performance improvement available.

“Dealers should invest in a system with integrated accounting that seamlessly pairs their flooring-specific processes—such as job cost, inventory value, purchasing and other business reporting—in real time, and then flows easily to a system’s analytic platform to deliver critical business data in a readily comprehensible visualization format,” said Kelly Oechslin, marketing coordinator, RollMaster.”

Using an integrated soft- ware program also makes per- forming various tasks on a job site easier and can reduce human error, experts say. “The easier your measure solution is integrated with your business management the better,” said Steven Wang, president, Measure Square. “That way you don’t have double entry or need to switch to other software.”

Schedule system demos.After learning about a software’s benefits, bells and whistles, it is important to schedule an in-depth demo with team members from every department of your company. “Since each department will have needs that are specific to their area of the business, it might be best to set up a series of shorter demos with each department,” Bob Noe Jr., president, Pacific Solutions, explained. “Remember, if you have buy-in from the majority of your staff, the adoption of the software will be a much smoother process.”

Ask about tech support. Beyond a software’s features and benefits, dealers should also look into the quality of support available from each software company. This includes any resources available to help bring the staff up to speed as well as technical and training support.

“Training and technical support, if not included with your purchase, can sometimes be unanticipated ‘gotcha’ costs,” QFloors’ Ogden warns. “Before purchasing software, ask a lot of questions about the options and costs for training, conversion and ongoing support. Also, find out what your technical support will look like. For instance, after your purchase, can you call and talk with a live person if you have a question?”

Request referrals. Don’t just take the vendor’s word on it. Before choosing a software system it is important for a dealer to speak with other businesses that have used it. The key, according to Pacific Solutions’ Noe, is to find dealers of similar size and scope.

While speaking with those referrals, experts also suggest dealers ask about their experiences with the software company’s technical support and training staff.

Choose a system that evolves over time. A great software program will grow alongside a dealer’s business, experts say. To this point, it is important for dealers to evaluate where they want their business to go in the future and then select a system accordingly.

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A look back at 2018’s top introductions

April 29/May 6, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 24

By Lindsay Baillie and Ken Ryan

 

In a marketplace plagued by “me-too” products, it is up to manufacturers to develop standout flooring. Whether it’s carpet, hardwood, laminate, tile or resilient, suppliers have had to step up their game in style, design and performance to excite flooring dealers and customers alike.

In 2018, the industry saw a plethora of new products enter the scene. Following is an overview of those products that stood out to flooring retailers.


Terra Linda by Anderson Tuftex

About the product: Terra Linda is a 100% Stainmaster Luxerell BCF nylon carpet with textured styled. Available in 24 colors the signature product also features A/T’s Softbac Platinum Backing.

Sierra Nevada by Audacity from CFL
About the product:
Audacity’s water-resistant laminate floors are available in five collections—Classic Naturals, Hearthside, Lodge, Monticello and Vintage. In the U.S. and in Canada, Audacity Flooring is sold exclusively through select Armstrong Flooring distributors.

Adventure II by Engineered Floors
About the product:
EF’s Adventure II is a 5.5mm luxury vinyl plank with a 22-mil wear layer and a ceramic bead finish. Available in nine wood-look visuals, the 7 x 48-inch plank can be installed floating and comes with a 10-year commercial warranty and a lifetime residential warranty. What’s more, Adventure II is Floorscore certified for indoor air quality.

Sono by Inhaus
About the product: Sono is a 100% recyclable, PVC-free flooring that is made up of 60% mineral powder and 40% polypropylene. Sono is waterproof, easy to install and highly stable under both humidity and heat. The company continues to invest in its digital printing to ensure quality, on-trend visuals.

RevWood Plus by Mohawk
About the product: 
RevWood Plus is a revolutionary wood floor destined to make consumers rethink the wood category. RevWood Plus planks offer reliable durability that resist stains, scratches and dents. Thanks to its 100% waterproof flooring system, spills, accidents and tracked-in-stain-makers are kept on the surface for quick, easy cleanup.

Sweet Memories collection by Mirage
About the product: 
Mirage’s Sweet Memories collection features the manufacturer’s exclusive staining and brushing processes to create floors with the charm of yesteryear. Variations, knots, cracks and other natural characteristics help to create the collection’s authentic appearance.


Titanium by Karastan

About the product: Karastan’s Titanium rug collection is grounded by a careful combination of both traditional and transitional patterns. The collection is meant to satisfy a craving for contrast with a fashion-forward fusion of matte and sheen finishes.


Acrylx by Raskin

About the product: Acrylx is a solid surface waterproof floor available in three collections: Premier Home, Premier XL and Premier G-Core XL. Acrylx’s high-density core is made of pure materials and minerals that are tightly bonded with polymers to create a solid core that is more impact resistant and denser than other floors.


Great California Oak by Republic Floors

About the product: Great California Oak is an extra-wide, pure SPC floor with beveled edges and realistic grains. The 100% waterproof flooring carries a limited 25-year residential warranty and a limited 10-year commercial warranty. What’s more, it features the company’s new antibacterial EVA underlayment padding.


Bellera by Shaw Floors

About the product: Created with a holistic approach to meet the design and performance needs of consumers, Bellera is a top-to-bottom innovation known for style and durability. With Bellera, Shaw’s new Endurance high-performance fiber is combined with proven technologies such as R2X soil and stain resistance and LifeGuard backing to create a worry-free carpet.


Harbor Plank by Southwind
About the product: 
The Harbor Plank series features planks 6 x 48, with a high-density wood plastic composite core and a Uniclic locking system. Attached to each luxury vinyl plank is the Southwind IXPE underlayment pad, which is impervious to water, hides subfloor imperfections, provides added sound absorption and comfort underfoot.


COREtec Pro Plus by USFloors
About the product: 
The COREtec Pro Plus Series consists of two collections: COREtec Pro Plus (5mm total thickness) and COREtec Pro Plus Enhanced (7mm total thickness). COREtec Pro Plus Enhanced includes all the features of the Pro Plus collection coupled with a four-sided enhanced bevel for added realism.


Radius by Stanton Carpet

About the product: Stanton’s Radius broadloom carpet is available in Stanton Street, the company’s Decorative Commercial line. Radius is a cut-pile nylon and is crafted for residential to heavy commercial application.

TruTEX by Tarkett
About the product: With its unique textile backing, TruTEX luxury sheet flooring resists mold and mildew while adding superior strength against rips, tears and gouges. With 20 realistic, high-definition stone and wood designs, TruTEX is easy to install over existing floor coverings, greatly reducing the time spent preparing subfloors.