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CCA Global Partners helps members compete

Manchester, N.H.—During its annual summer conventions, CCA Global Partners businesses’ Carpet One Floor & Home and Flooring America offered members the opportunity to compete more effectively in its area rug business through the e-Commerce platform Rugs.Shop.

The website offers over 35,000 unique area rugs and facilitates the online ordering experience for customers. Rugs.Shop also supports the site with an online and telephone customer service team. Through this new program, members of Carpet One Floor & Home and Flooring America will be able to use the platform, customized to their local store, to offer this online area rug selection to their customers. 

“While customers still prefer to go into the store to purchase installed flooring, the area rug business has greatly shifted towards online sales,” said Charlie Dilks, chief product officer, CCA Global Partners. “Working with Rugs.Shop allows us to help our members compete and increase profits from online sales.

For a local, independent retailer, keeping up with the technology and support systems needed to effectively compete in e-Commerce can be difficult. The recent Supreme Court ruling on the subject of internet sales tax is just one example of risks involved for independent retailers trying to sell online.

The program offered through CCA reduces these risks significantly, if not completely. Participating members will receive a dedicated, branded site to use for their customers, creating a seamless customer experience. Members will also have the support of a customer service team, credit card processing and drop ship logistics services.

As an added marketing opportunity, stores can also provide their customers with a coupon to their rug shop after a hard surface flooring sale. On the sales management side, stores will be able to track sales to a specific sales professional in order to allocate online rug sale commissions.

 

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Ten people making a difference

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

One measure of success in business or in life is being able to make a positive impression on the lives of others. Whether that is achieved through strong leadership, perseverance, compassion, humility or some other personality trait, this year’s Ten People Making a Difference list has impacted the flooring world in many different ways—and in some cases well beyond the scope of the industry. As in years past, this year’s list includes top-level flooring executives whose work helped shape their company’s fortunes as well as those from outside whose efforts nonetheless were deeply felt within the flooring sector.

FCNews’ Ten People Making a Difference is an amalgam of movers, shakers and groundbreakers who achieve success in a variety of ways.

Dave Meberg: The Doer

By Brett Morrow

When I think of Dave Meberg, whom I have known as a friend for more than 20 years, I think of a guy who is intelligent, has a big presence—both physically as well as the way in which he conducts himself. One of the cool things about him is he understands the job from the ground up. He’s not one of these guys who hung around the country clubs growing up and just happened to take over his dad’s company.

Dave came from a family of old-school Norwegian guys. He learned to work the trucks; he worked the warehouse where his family made him sweep the floors. He understands the logistics of everything. He knows what the warehouse guys are up against, what the project managers are doing, the estimators and so on. To this day, I am amazed at how involved he is. Dave has his own business (he is principal, president and CEO of New York-based Consolidated Carpet), but he’s also actively involved with the Greater New York Floor Coverers Association, with Starnet and the New York City District Council of Carpenters. You don’t get to be on the district council very easily. To get to the point where Dave has gotten takes tremendous sacrifice, and yet he has earned everything.

Dave is a very good communicator who is extremely well prepared. He is a not a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants kind of guy. If he has a meeting coming up, he does his due diligence. He knows going in what the material costs are, what the labor estimates are, etc. He not only can talk the talk, but he can walk the walk as well.

Brett Morrow is vice president of Soundtone Floors, Long Island City, N.Y.

Rochelle Routman: The Disruptor

By Harlan Stone

When I hired Rochelle Routman to become our first chief sustainability officer two years ago, I anticipated great things from her. We felt her vision and expertise could not only help us, but also transform the resilient industry. But I had no idea that she would have such great impact in such a short period of time.

Two years later, Rochelle has relentlessly pursued her vision for transparency and sustainability, and this has resulted in a stunning series of firsts for our company and the resilient industry. Not only have Metroflor and Aspecta achieved the most rigorous third-party certifications in product, but we have also had groundbreaking achievements in transparency. Most recently, the issuance of the first JUST label for a China-based factory of any kind.

Guided by her leadership, and with the help of our product authority team, Metroflor earned Declare labels—analogous to nutrition labels for building products—across Aspecta’s entire range of commercial flooring, and the first-ever Declare label for a multilayer flooring product. We were also the first to have all Declare labels translated into six languages for full global product ingredient transparency.

But the real crowning achievement of Rochelle’s first two years is this persistent focus on transparency. Not just simple things like material ingredients, but also changing the game with transparency in operations, manufacturing, supply chain and social impact. JUST has arrived in our industry thanks to Rochelle, and it’s only the beginning.

When you go to a sustainability/transparency conference with Rochelle, it feels like you are accompanying a rock star though a music festival. She knows everyone, and everyone wants to stop her and show their appreciation for her never-ending energy and dedication to these important values.

Rochelle is driving and redefining what is possible in transparency and sustainability in the resilient flooring industry.

Harlan Stone is co-chairman of Metroflor Corp.

Stephanie Owen: The Online Educator

By Brett Miller

Stephanie Owen joined the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) in 2015 to spearhead its online learning platform, NWFA University (NWFAU). With no flooring background on her resume, but extensive experience developing educational curricula, Owen immersed herself in the industry while simultaneously researching online learning platforms.

Just 18 months later, NWFAU launched with 50-plus courses. Individual courses are just 10-20 minutes in length, so they are easy to fit into a busy schedule. Courses also are accessible using a PC, tablet or smartphone.

Since the initial launch in July 2016, course options have increased to 100-plus, with learning paths in installation, sand and finish, and sales. A manufacturing learning path launches this month, with future course development planned for inspections, customer service and business skills.

To date, 31,400-plus courses have been completed, averaging about 50 per day. Contributing to the success of the program has been the platform’s convenience and affordability. NWFAU is a member benefit, available for just $100 per year. And since NWFA membership is company-based, all member company employees are eligible to utilize NWFAU. Nearly 900-member companies currently use NWFAU as part of their employee training programs, equating to 6,100-plus individual registered users.

NWFAU and Owen have been recognized with an Association Trends 2017 Learnie Award for Biggest Success Story, and an Association Trends 2017 Gold All Media Award for eLearning & Live Training.

Also included on NWFAU are member-sponsored webinars, Expo education sessions and CEUs registered with AIA and IDCEC/ASID for continuing education credits.

Brett Miller is vice president, education and certification for the National Wood Flooring Association.

Gary Sinise: The Humanitarian

By Anita Howard

Actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise has supported veterans for nearly 40 years. His portrayal of Lt. Dan Taylor in the 1994 film “Forrest Gump” established his enduring connection with the disabled military community. Following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, he participated in many USO tours, later forming the Lt. Dan Band, which entertains troops and raises awareness at benefit concerts. The band performed at the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) Wood Flooring Expo in 2017.

In 2011, Sinise furthered his commitment to our nation’s heroes by establishing the Gary Sinise Foundation (GSF), whose mission is to serve and honor our nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders and their families. The GSF R.I.S.E. program (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment) specifically provides mortgage-free, fully customized smart homes for America’s most severely wounded heroes. In 2015, GSF partnered with NWFA to provide wood flooring in R.I.S.E. homes. To date, NWFA has provided flooring, logistics and installation for 26 homes, with another 21 homes in various stages of planning and construction. NWFA also has introduced GSF to other industry partner organizations, including the National Hardwood Lumber Association, National Tile Contractors Association and Marble Institute of America.

In recognition of his humanitarian efforts, Sinise was presented with the Bob Hope Award for Excellence in Entertainment, Spirit of the USO Award, Ellis Island Medal of Honor, Dwight D. Eisenhower Award and Presidential Citizens Medal, the second-highest civilian honor awarded to citizens for exemplary deeds performed in service of the nation.

To learn more about GSF programs, visit garysinisefoundation.org.

Anita Howard is the COO of the National Wood Flooring Association.

Kevin Brady: The Lawmaker

By Shana Teehan

You might not know his name, but if you are a small business—and that includes the vast majority of flooring dealers—you could already be benefiting from his work on the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, which offers a 20% deduction for qualified business income from so-called pass-through entities, which include S corporations and limited-liability companies.

Kevin Brady (R.-Texas) chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, regarded by many to be the most powerful committee in Congress with jurisdiction over taxes, health care, Social Security, Medicare, international trade and welfare. Brady is the chief author of the tax reform bill, which was signed into law in December 2017.

The tax break is intended to provide small businesses with some much-needed breathing room to compete with larger businesses and global competitors that have a smaller tax burden. Business owners can use their tax savings to hire new employees, increase employee wages and incentives, purchase inventory, expand their workspace, pay down debt or reduce their prices.

“As House Ways and Means Committee chairman, and lead author of the bill, my goals were simple,” Brady said. “Cut taxes for the middle class, simplify our unfair and broken tax code, and make America the most competitive place in the world to do business.”

Shana Teehan serves as senior advisor and director of communications for Kevin Brady.

Theresa Fisher: The Passionate Partner

By Howard Brodsky

As senior vice president of store design and merchandising, Theresa Fisher has helped shape the customer experience that has come to be the standard of excellence for independent flooring retailers. From the creation of Carpet One Floor & Home’s “Destination: Carpet One” store design program to her hand in developing differentiating branding for CCA exclusive brands, Theresa’s innate sense of style and understanding of today’s customer have made her an invaluable asset to CCA Global.

However, Theresa’s impactful store design is not the only way she has had an impact at CCA Global and throughout the floor covering industry. Without Theresa’s passionate persistence and dedication, Carpet One Floor & Home and CCA Global Partners would not have the rewarding partnership with the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and their Building for America’s Bravest program that we have today. This program builds smart homes for catastrophically injured service members, many of them triple or quadruple amputees, to help them regain some of the independence lost due to their injuries.

Theresa has helped bring our membership together to help make a magnificent impact on the lives of our injured heroes through partnership with Building for America’s Bravest. Carpet One’s participation in the Building for America’s Bravest program has not only ensured that 36 of these smart homes have beautifully installed flooring, but also brought the membership of our cooperative together to work towards a common goal.

True to Theresa’s nature, it wasn’t good enough to just get Carpet One on board to install flooring; she was compelled to do more. She pushed further to pull in our industry partners. Today, Building for America’s Bravest receives support from Carpet One along with Mohawk, Masterbrand and Hunter Douglas. Still, Theresa felt we could do more. She now helps organize a large group of members to participate in the annual T2T 5K and encourages members to host additional fundraisers to help raise the funds needed to build smart homes.

Her desire to do good for our members and the world along with her keen eye and innovative spirit have made her an essential part of CCA Global Partners.

Howard Brodsky is co-founder and co-CEO of CCA Global Partners.

Jeff King: The Advocate

By Scott Humphrey

Of all the relationships I have developed in my tenure in this industry, Jeff King, legal counsel to the WFCA, is easily one of the most influential and fascinating individuals I have encountered. Though his education and background are in the legal arena, his knowledge of the flooring industry is second to none.

After graduating from Albany Law School of Union University, Jeff practiced law in Washington, D.C., for many years before moving to Delray Beach, Fla., where he resides with his wife and renowned interior designer Luba King and daughter Larissa. He has served the WFCA and our industry for over 20 years. In addition to authoring three publications for the WFCA: “Contracts—Cannot Live Without Them,” “The Independent Contractor Primer” and “Green Flooring Primer,” Jeff is one of the most requested speakers at industry events. If you have had the privilege of hearing Jeff, you are in no way surprised that he has been selected as one of the “10 people driving the industry.”

Jeff’s knowledge of all flooring related occupations and the issues impacting us is surpassed only by his passion for change and compassion for the people who make their living in our industry. He accurately predicts national trends by monitoring state activity and is respected in our nation’s capital to such a level that his opinion is often sought by those formulating their stances and/or considering legislation. He has proposed solutions and/or offered draft legislation to address issues including: The Marketplace Fairness Act, independent contractors, overtime regulations, government over regulation, the labor crisis, etc.

Though this industry and the WFCA comprises many strong leaders and advocates, there is none more positively driving our industry than my friend and the legal counsel to the WFCA—Mr. Jeff King.

Scott Humphrey is the president and CEO of the World Floor Covering Association.

Zack Zehner: The Heir Apparent

By Keith Campbell

Not many companies get to hold onto their old values as they reach for the new ones, but that’s exactly what is happening here at Mannington Mills as the fifth generation of the Campbell family emerges into company leadership.

Zack Zehner, my nephew, currently serves as our senior vice president of distribution network and has been a driving force in Mannington’s progress over the past few years. Zack’s efforts have kept us on the forefront of innovation while continuing to foster important relationships among our distributor partners.

He joined Mannington in 2003 after five years as a lawyer in Washington, D.C., and has learned about Mannington by using that old-school work ethic and actually doing the hard work. He was a district sales manager, a product director for laminate and porcelain tile, and vice president of commercial hard surface before stepping into his current role.

Just as important, he’s leading the company’s culture into the next generation. Family values are the cornerstone of everything we do here at Mannington, and Zack understands that. Zack grew up in a family where those values were part of his everyday life. Mannington was all we talked about at family gatherings, and Zack really absorbed it all. His passion for this company and the people who work here is in his blood.

Zack’s dedication extends into the community as well. He is now president of Stand Up for Salem, a community revitalization organization founded by my father, Johnny, and where I served for many years. Our headquarters is in Salem, N.J., and although we do business all over the world—and may not live within the confines of the zip code—it will always be our home.

Keith Campbell is chairman of the board for Mannington Mills.

Diana Rosenberger: The Initiator

By Troy Virgo

Until recently, Shaw Industries’ sustainable sourcing efforts consisted of a standalone supplier guide that defined Shaw’s expectations of suppliers regarding environmental protection, social fairness, ethical behavior and identified desired disclosure around chemicals of concern.

However, Diana Rosenberger, sustainability manager-global sourcing, recognized an opportunity for Shaw to have an even bigger impact in its sustainability efforts by engaging with its supply chain differently. Doing so stood to ensure Shaw’s products met globally recognized principles and were aligned with Shaw’s sustainability commitments to impact those who source from this supplier base.

Diana helped the company create a legally enforceable, easy-to-read, sustainable sourcing policy that would be integrated into our Standard Terms and Conditions of Purchase. She brought the Ten Principles of UN Global Compact to Shaw to use as the backbone of our new sustainable sourcing policy. Diana’s efforts led to Shaw becoming an official signatory in late 2017. Being a signatory of the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, brings external credibility to Shaw’s new sustainable sourcing policy.

In short order, Diana’s efforts are positively impacting Shaw products, Shaw’s supply chain, the flooring industry as a whole and manufacturers in myriad industries by advancing options for safer chemistry.

Diana’s collaborative approach shows what can happen when we work together toward a common goal.

Troy Virgo is director of sustainability and product stewardship for Shaw Industries.

Kurt Denman: The Brand Builder

By Chris O’Connor

His diverse work experience combined with his passion for branding that is underpinned by meaningful consumer insights are the things that have enabled Kurt to drive change in an industry that can be predictable.

Over the past five years, Kurt and his team have worked to revitalize the Congoleum portfolio, improve the consumer journey and ultimately set the stage for the next chapter in Congoleum’s storied history.

By allowing market and consumer needs to guide the journey, we created a new category of PVC-free, digitally printed flooring. Equally challenging was to create a connection between this break-through technology and a new generation of consumers. Kurt had the vision to create a style-driven brand that would live outside the umbrella of Congoleum. While known for making high-quality products within the industry, Congoleum is also known as a producer of vinyl flooring. Cleo is not just another vinyl product; it’s different in every way.

The process of bringing a revolutionary product to market has been the most challenging and exciting part of my career. To see Kurt’s vision for the brand unveiled at Surfaces earlier this year was an unbelievable experience.

Chris O’Connor is the president and CEO of Congoleum.

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Lisbiz strategies: Complacency is the enemy of business

March 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 20

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

When things are good, we have a tendency to sit back. However, complacency is the silent killer and it can attack both big and small businesses. It reminds me of a memorable quote from Roger Babson, entrepreneur and founder of Babson College: “Neither success nor failure is ever final.”

This quote made me think of Howard Brodsky, cofounder and co-CEO of CCA Global Partners (the parent company of Carpet One). During a recent conversation, I asked him what he made of all the closings of old retail favorites such as Macy’s, JC Penney’s, Sears, etc., and what the implications are for the flooring industry.

“Retailers are just complacent and think they can thrive by sitting back and resting on their past successes,” he told me. “Being great just isn’t enough these days. When I was in retail it was easier to differentiate and to stand out from the pack. There were fewer competing choices for consumers. Today, being great is the price you pay for being in an industry; the key is to be great and outstanding.”

He went on to explain that everyone expects a personalized experience, and it is up to the retailer to make it happen. Customers want to be treated as if they are at the finest hotel, and every member of your team must be trained to deliver that service.

Another major problem is the U.S. is overbuilt, Brodsky noted. The U.S. has 40 square feet of retail space per person, which is 10 times the amount in Europe.

I also asked Brodsky for his opinion as to why Amazon would buy Whole Foods and if the retail giant actually needs a brick and mortar store. “Amazon amazed the world by its purchase, but it makes perfect sense,” he replied. “Amazon was interested in the grocery business and needed a physical presence. Whole Foods has more than 400 locations, which gives Amazon a place to try out their online super service and personalization with Whole Foods. Think about the special services Amazon Prime members receive.”

Consumers still love the personalized, intimate experience and contact they receive in a retail store—something not replicable online, Brodsky explained. In fact, businesses can tap into these consumer demands and emotions by having a combination of online and brick/mortar. While it used to be enough to know how to buy at the right price and then be a good marketer, now a retail store must be exciting and full of amazing experiences.

“The thing to remember is although the times may be unsettling, it’s exciting—retail isn’t going away; it’s time for a radical change,” Brodsky said. “The key is a culture that delivers memorable, distinguishable service both online and in the store.”

I then returned to complacency and Brodsky’s statements about personalization and asked if he had any suggestions for flooring retailers. He explained when things are going our way we have a tendency to want to “ride the wave.” However, the perfect time to experiment is when we don’t have a lot of pressure and stress. In fact, without tension we tend to make better decisions.

“You want to develop legendary stories that others will tell for you,” Brodsky noted. “You must anticipate the customers’ needs and deliver memorable experiences that meet those needs.”

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

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Flooring America: Times are good, no time to get complacent

February 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 17

By Ken Ryan

 

Grapevine, Texas—Flooring America’s winter conneXtion, held at the Gaylord Texan Resort, was a celebration of the good times that most members are experiencing. And president Keith Spano’s message to the group: Let the good times roll. “We have to make hay when the sun is shining, and the sun is shining now,” said Spano, who oversees the Flooring America, Flooring Canada, Floor Trader and IDG brands.

Spano told FCNews that 49% of members were up 10% in 2017, while 27% were up 20%. That means 24% had gains in the single digits and lower. “If you are not experiencing the success your peers are, we are here to help,” Spano said. “In fact, we have members who came up to us and mentioned that a couple of members were struggling, and they were like, ‘We want to help them.’ That’s the great thing here; everyone’s on the same team. It is all about unity and staying together.”

Rick Bennet, co-CEO of CCA Global Partners, echoed Spano’s sentiment that the economy is in a good place and 2018 is the time to invest. “If you are not having fun right now you may want to think of something else to do because business is good.”

Flooring America/Flooring Canada retails have aggressively ridden the wave of momentum the LVT category has created. As Cathey Gundlach, vice president of merchandising explained, “Our hard surface to soft mix is higher than CCA and the industry. Very early on our members embraced LVT.” As an example, Flooring America retailers have 66 exclusive SKUs of COREtec, USFloors’ highly acclaimed WPC product. Shaw Floors, another major LVT/WPC member, introduced Galvanite to members at the show. This solid core product features a 9.5mm core and 30 mil wear layer; it is offered in plank sizes of 9 x 72 and 18 x 36.  It will be available to CCA members in April.

However, the biggest vendor news was from soft surface company Engineered Floors, which has joined the co-op. “This is a huge boon for us,” Spano said.

New initiatives
For the first time in several years Flooring America did not unveil any new marketing programs at this convention. This was by design as members absorbed a bevy of new programs. “We decided let’s take inventory of everything that is available to us,” Spano said. “We tried to simplify this convention and not overwhelm members.”

The group did announce a new online visual aid, My Design Finder, which is heralded as a way to connect with consumers searching for floors. According to Frank Chiera, senior vice president, marketing & advertising, “My Design Finder is a visual way that allows a consumer to select her design style based on a project need, with Pinterest-like room scene photography which then identifies her persona based on that preference.”

Flooring America has hired a new advertising agency, Comm Creative, which was selected over six other candidates, including the previous agency that had served FA/FC for the past 18 years. “We are asking our members to change, so we have to lead by example,” Chiera said. Beginning in April Boston-based Comm Creative will launch an all-new creative featuring more customization and personalization to customers’ stores. Intricate details such as the size of a store’s windows and ceiling heights will be factored into the creation of signage for a store. “This is going to be huge for us,” said Bobby Meredith, owner of Flooring America OKC, who sits on the advisory council and was briefed on this move. “Comm Creative is very proactive and that lends itself to our group which is ahead of the curve in digital and social media.”

Chiera noted that Comm Creative “is an agency that clearly thinks with its heart. We realized they understood not only how to tap into the mind of our core customer but also that they would be an incredible strategic partner for us.”

Personalization counts

To stay relevant in a shrinking brick-and-mortar retail world, flooring dealers are often urged to deliver more personalization in their customer interactions. That message rang loud and clear at conneXtion with several executives imploring retailers to treat their customers with more tender loving care, Referencing the spate of retail store closings in 2017, co-CEO and co-founder Howard Brodsky told dealers they should treat customers the way hotels welcome guests.

“It’s about personalization, intimacy, one on one,” he said. “Consumers want to be talked to as individuals, not as a mass. And that person is willing to spend more money.”

Spano closed the convention with an important message to the members in attedance: “When you go home don’t get comfortable. Do something different. Make a change. Control your own destiny—or someone else will.”

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CCA Global Conventions: Carpet One dealers welcome new supplier, push digital, training

February 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 17

By Ken Ryan

 

Grapevine, Texas—Fresh off a year in which it achieved its highest purchase volume in 11 years, Carpet One Floor & Home convened its winter convention here with a strong tailwind that portends an even stronger 2018.

“You translate purchase volume into sales,” Eric Demaree, president of Carpet One, told FCNews. “We have strong economic indicators. Our overall performance was two times higher than the industry average, and a lot of that is coming from LVT and ceramic.”

In 2017, CCA members generated $250 million in LVT sales (including WPC and rigid core products), and the category continues to grow at unprecedented rates, according to Charlie Dilks, chief product officer for the co-op. Ceramic and wood are healthy as well while laminate now represents less than 3% of the business.

Overall, carpet shrank in 2017 although the rate of decline slowed to 45% compared to 55% hard surface. Residential carpet volume improved in the fourth quarter for members, Dilks said, and will likely get a boost now that Engineered Floors and its DreamWeaver brand is part of the group. EF’s acquisition of Beaulieu’s assets served as an entree for Bob Shaw’s company to join the co-op.

Demaree referred to EF as “the bright new shiny penny.” However, Carpet One dealers see dollar signs. “The color, style, design and price of the DreamWeaver brand is excellent—there is perceived value there,” said Heather Gollihur, owner, Carpet Master Carpet One, Champaign, Ill., who noted that EF’s emergence “will make all the other mills sharpen their pencils.”

Craig Dunn, manager at Miller’s Carpet One, Seaside, Calif., said he is “thrilled to death” that EF has been added as a vendor. “There is a niche they are in that we weren’t getting anywhere else. They’ll fit in well with this group. They always have plenty of stock—as a lot of their product is stocked on the West Coast, which is a big deal for us because of our location and for the fact people want product now.”

Palmer Johnson, manager at Johnson Carpet One Floor & Home, Tulsa, Okla., added, “with Beaulieu out [EF] is filling a void. You have a vertically integrated company that is very competitive.”

EF’s DreamWeaver brand is a strong player in PET, which is now over 50% of the residential replacement market, according to industry observers. What’s more, EF is a leader in cost efficiencies, another reason for their desirability among retailers. To no one’s surprise, the EF booth was the busiest during the two-day trade show portion of Carpet One, and executives appreciated the retail love. “We are incredibly excited to be here,” said Mike Sanderson, vice president of product marketing. Told that many Carpet One members urged the CCA executive team to bring on EF, Will Young, director of national accounts, said, “grassroots efforts usually work. It just takes time. We have a product line that can be sold to just about anyone who walks into a flooring store.”

DreamWeaver introduced its Resista line to Carpet One dealers. Available in 30 styles, Resista makes up half of the group’s polyester offerings.

Online leads and follow-up

The question was asked during the convention: Why does CCA continue to focus on digital marketing even though store traffic is trending down? As executives pointed out, people don’t shop like they used to, and they certainly don’t browse flooring stores. To attract consumers, Carpet One has invested significantly in digital media—including paid search, SEO and SEM. “Our website presence is amazing,” Demaree said. “Our members, when they get the opportunity to engage with a customer, are pretty good at getting the business.”

The fact is, however, few companies (across all industries) are good at following up on online leads, and studies show these lapses are costly. Harvard Business Review audited 2,241 U.S. companies to measure how long each took to respond to a web-generated lead. The results:  37% responded to their lead within one hour; 16% responded between one and 24 hours; 24% took more than 24 hours, and 23% of the companies never responded at all.

These results are especially shocking given how quickly online leads go cold—a phenomenon it explored in a separate study that involved 1.25 million sales leads received by 29 B2C and 13 B2B companies in the U.S. Companies that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead (defined as having a meaningful conversation with a key decision maker) as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later—and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer.

Similarly, a paper written and published by MIT professor James Oldroyd found that the chance of qualifying a lead drops to 10% after the first hour, and that no leads were qualified past the 10-hour mark.

To increase its conversion rate Carpet One emphasizes training and encourages owners to certify their sales professionals. Certification entails an annual knowledge assessment that RSAs must pass to earn professional development hours leading to certification. “I highly encourage every one of our flooring dealers to take the exam and to put the accreditation on their business card,” Demaree said. “I don’t give my taxes to someone whose card doesn’t say ‘CPA,’ so why would consumers buy from a sales associate who doesn’t have the proper credentials.”

Beyond flooring initiative

Carpet One announced a partnership with Serta Simmons Bedding. The “Sleep Boutique” program is being tested with eight members. The upside: higher profit margins, no inventory in member stores and no installation worries. The downside: it takes up showroom space.  Chris Taylor, owner of CarpetMaster, Latham, N.Y., has mattresses in two locations and has enjoyed success. “Be fully committed before you begin,” he told members.

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Carpet One strategy hinges on ‘Owning the shopping experience’

August 14/21, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 5

By Reginald Tucker

Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 10.19.22 AMSalt Lake City—Competition for the consumer’s disposable dollars has never been more fierce, especially when it comes to renovation/remodeling projects. To gain an advantage, experts say, it’s critical that retailers take complete ownership of the entire sales process—from the research phase all the way through installation—if they are to close more deals and generate repeat business.

That was the underlying message Carpet One management conveyed to its members in attendance here at the group’s summer convention. During his opening welcome speech, Eric Demaree, president, Carpet One Floor & Home, challenged retailers to “own the customer service experience,” beginning with online, where the consumer typically begins her research; to the store when she’s ready to pay the retailer a visit; all the way to her home, where the installation and post-sale care take place.

In driving home the importance of providing complete and professional customer service throughout the process, Demaree cited published research and reports on the issue. “The Harvard Business Review describes it as the customer’s “end-to-end” journey. A major international consulting firm describes it as the product of the interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. That all sounds so academic for me; I see it this way: ‘A great customer experience is any value add that any person or company delivers to me that makes me feel good and want to tell other people about the company.’”

Regardless of the difference sources, there’s a common theme that emerges. “There’s a wealth of evidence out there that shows those who own the customer service experience generally outperform the competition in every single area,” Demaree stated. “These retailers tend to make more money, they have less employee turnover and they get more positive reviews. More importantly, 50% of consumers—including all of us in attendance here—will spend more money with companies that provide us with a superior customer experience, according to American Express.”

To that end, Demaree told attendees this year’s convention is all about discovering and sharing ways members can make their customers feel good, with the hope they will tell others about their positive experiences. To drive the point home to members, Carpet One showed a documentary-style video/testimonial that showed one woman’s journey through the entire purchasing cycle—from the research phase all the way through to final installation. The video—which was broadcast in segments or “episodes” over the course of the convention—followed the journey of “Karen,” a 45-year-old working, married woman with two kids—and pets.

Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 10.19.38 AM“For the next two days,” Demaree told attendees, “we are going to go on a journey through the eyes of Karen as she shares her story about finding the perfect floor, from the time she goes online to start her search to the in-store shopping visit, to what she experiences when the measurer and installer go through her home as well as the services she receives after the job is complete.”

The exercise was designed to inspire ideas that retailers could not only share with other members but also bring back to their businesses after the show. Gayle Selden, president of Ed Selden Carpet One Floor & Home, Lakewood, Wash., believes retailers can improve the way they interact with customers by remembering their own customer service experiences. “A lot of it is just returning to the things we know but have forgotten to do over time,” she explained.

Others agree, adding that focusing on the little things—such as how employees greet customers—can go a long way in making customers feel appreciated. “Everyone who answers the phone is part of the process—even if they are not in sales,” said Juan Cisneros, sales associate with Upland Carpet One Floor & Home, Ontario, Calif.

Other fundamental ideas include improving the look and feel of your showroom, beginning with the entrance. Jim Aaron, vice president of merchandising, CCA Global Partners, believes the in-store experience starts in the parking lot and the window. “You’re trying to create a feeling of, ‘Wow, I feel really comfortable here.”

Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 10.19.43 AMTheresa Fisher, senior vice president of visual merchandising and brand development, concurs. Comfort is key, she said, given the fact most flooring purchases are not something people are accustomed to making. It helps to make sure traffic lanes within the store are wide open and that the space is decluttered. “People in general don’t feel comfortable when they’re confined, and women in particular don’t want to feel crowded.”

But let’s not forget about drawing customers into your store in the first place. For Stevie Leasure, owner of Carpetbagger Carpet One, Charleston, S.C., the key was transferring advertising and marketing funds from traditional means (print and billboards) to online initiatives. “We have really embraced the digital space; 75% of our advertising is through electronic marketing today.”

All in all, management likes what it is seeing at the membership level. “We have the best dealer base, and we are exceeding the industry growth rate,” Howard Brodsky, co-founder, chairman and co-CEO, CCA Global Partners, told FCNews. “It’s an exciting time for the industry.”

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CCA Global Partners acquires Romano Consulting Group

CCAglobal-Logo-680x320Manchester, N.H—CCA Global Partners has acquired the intellectual property assets of Romano Consulting Group to support the enhanced CCA Consulting department. Romano Consulting group has long been respected in the floor covering and home improvement industry for its ability to help businesses identify and overcome business challenges ranging from organizational structure to merchandising and financial management. This acquisition gives CCA’s consulting program access to proven programs, software and industry expertise.

CCA Consulting will combine the expertise gained from Romano Consulting Group with CCA’s proven track record of helping independent businesses in the floor covering and home improvement industry to help improve the effectiveness and profitability of CCA’s member businesses.

“This acquisition has helped us accelerate the growth of our consulting services,” said Howard Brodsky, chairman and co-CEO of CCA Global Partners. “We are now able to offer our members a more complete, comprehensive consulting service to our members.”

In addition to the assets acquired, David Romano, the founder of Romano Consulting Group, is helping to integrate his programs and tools into CCA’s Consulting department’s programs and offerings.

Based on the acquisition, CCA will be repackaging its current services along with the new services obtained under the CCA Consulting umbrella. The group will offer four distinct service lines: Business360, Team360, Leadership360 and Insight360.

“Our team has developed a strong package of services that cover all elements of the business,” said Rick Bennet, co-CEO of CCA Global Partners. “Our members can now access all the tools they need to grow and develop their business right here at CCA.”

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Flooring America/Canada appoints new advisory council members

Manchester, N.H.—Flooring America/Flooring Canada, a division of CCA Global Partners, recently appointed Patrick Marlowe, a member since 2009 with two locations in Florida; Jenny Mrozinski, a member since 2000 with a showroom in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Michael Toste, a member since 2011 with two locations in California; and Travis Carlson, a member since 2002 with a showroom in Fort Myers, Fla., to its advisory council.

The council consists of 13 members—11 members from the U.S. and two members from Canada. The members serve three-year terms with various start and end dates to ensure the council has new member representation on a continuous basis.

To qualify for a seat on the council, members must be stockholders of their business, be able to provide strategic and tactical insight on current and future programs, and be open-minded to look outside his or her business to focus on what is best for the overall membership.

“The Advisory Council plays an important role in the management of the cooperative as it’s our connection to understand the needs of our membership,” Keith Spano, president of Flooring America/Flooring Canada said. “These new appointees will be a tremendous addition to the council based on their business acumen and their experience as successful flooring retailers.”

For more information visit the Flooring America/Flooring Canada websites.

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Carpet One Floor & Home raises over $100,000 for T2T 5K

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-9-41-21-amManchester, N.H.—Carpet One Floor & Home store owners and employees participated in the annual Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk in New York City on Sept. 25. The efforts of independently-owned stores across North America as well as employees in the company’s two corporate offices generated $103,457 in donations.

The annual event honors the sacrifice of Firefighter Stephen Siller who laid down his life to save others on Sept. 11, 2001. The Tunnel to Towers foundation supports first responders and military through the Building for America’s Bravest program. This program builds customized smart homes for injured veterans.

In appreciation for their sacrifice and service to their country, Carpet One Floor & Home members and Mohawk Industries partnered to furnish and install all the flooring for the homes built by the Building for America’s Bravest program. “For the 15th anniversary of 9/11, we wanted to bring our store owners together to participate in the T2T 5K Run & Walk. We’re proud that over 200 members of our cooperative participated and that even more have helped raise funds for Building for America’s Bravest,” said Howard Brodsky, CEO of CCA Global Partners (the parent company of Carpet One Floor & Home).

To learn more about Building for America’s Bravest and Carpet One Floor & Home’s efforts visit CarpetOne.com/Our-Bravest.

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14th Annual Alan Greenberg Charity Golf Tournament raises funds for the FCIF

aggolflogoManchester, N.H.—The 14th Annual Alan Greenberg Charity Golf Tournament hosted by CCA Global Partners took place on Sept. 21 at Barnsley Gardens Resort in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Members and supporters of the floor covering industry gathered for a friendly round of golf to benefit the Floor Covering Industry Foundation (FCIF). The $140,000 in funds raised will support the foundation in their efforts to financially assist those who are, or have been, affiliated with the floor covering industry that have experienced catastrophic illness, severe disability or other life-altering hardship.

“We feel fortunate to host this wonderful event,” said Howard Brodsky, chairman and co-CEO of CCA Global Partners. “Having the opportunity to bring awareness to the admirable work of the FCIF, and raise money in the process, is something we truly cherish.”

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-9-47-03-amEach year, the event draws manufacturers, distributors, retailers, industry trade associations and individuals from within the floor covering industry, along with supporters from related industries together. They contribute to the FCIF by participating in the tournament as well as through sponsorships and donations.

“This event continues to be one of the largest contributors to the FCIF thanks to all our colleagues that participate,” said Rick Bennet, co-CEO of CCA Global Partners. “It’s a powerful feeling when an industry is able to unite and offer support to a worthy cause.”

To learn more about the efforts of the FCIF or to apply for aid, please visit www.FCIF.org.