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Carpet: Fiber report—Color, cleanability and durability get the nod

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

By Ken Ryan

Today’s carpet products are developed with the consumer firmly in mind as mills gather research to ascertain what’s on their customers’ wish lists. More often than not, it is luxuriously soft carpet that combines stylish design, vibrant colors with durability.

That’s a tall order to deliver, but consumers have shown a desire to spend top dollar for these goods, and mills are working hard to accommodate them. “When we talk to consumers, soft is one of the top attributes they want, so we put our resource and development toward that,” said Jamie Welborn, vice president of residential carpet product management and development, Mohawk Industries.

Shaw Floors, meanwhile, looks at today’s residential market and sees active families with kids and pets who put great demands on carpet. “They have greater expectations of performance for their flooring,” said Teresa Tran, director of soft surface portfolio management, Shaw. “They need their carpet to be durable and spill resistant, yet soft and beautiful.”

It’s not just the carpet mills working on these innovations. Invista, maker of the Stainmaster and PetProtect brands, has spent significant R&D on its Antron fiber. It recently announced a $30-million expansion in small-lot equipment specifically for solution-dyed nylon 6,6 bulk continuous filament (BCF) fiber production to support growth of the Antron brand and the Lumena fiber portfolio that serves solution-dyed BCF nylon commercial markets. “The new technology will expand our capability to continue offering high-quality, solution-dyed nylon fiber solutions,” said Kip Kimball, vice president of Global Commercial Solutions and Home Textiles for Invista.

Phenix Flooring continues to work on new fiber systems that utilize unique cross-sections that—when combined with particular deniers and twist levels—produce textures and an outstanding tactile experience for consumers. “In addition, we constantly update our solution-dyed color bank to keep up with current color trends and styling preferences as well as supplement with leading space dye advances that give sophisticated ombrés and gradations of color,” said Chris Johnson, senior vice president of sales and marketing.

According to Mike Sanderson, vice president of marketing, Engineered Floors, consumers are becoming more receptive to the term “solution dyed,” and that is affecting their purchase decisions. “They are finding out that it’s superior to traditional piece-dyed carpets, which is exciting for our Dream Weaver retailers.”

Residential segment

The days when consumers carpeted the entire house are long gone, as residential carpet has been relegated mostly to the bedroom. However, studies have shown that when consumers are in the market for carpet, they are willing to spend extra money.

There’s even more encouraging news down the road, according to Shaw’s Brad Christensen, vice president, builder strategy, who observed that while Shaw is certainly seeing growth in its residential segments, single-family homebuilding is also trending.

“The average age of the first-time homebuyer is 32. With that statistic in mind, by 2025 there will be 24 million Americans between the ages of 30 and 34. Previous studies showed the millennial market preferred densely populated, walkable, urban neighborhoods that offer multifamily living spaces to the suburbs of their childhood. Yet, new surveys demonstrate that while millennials might be content urban, multifamily dwellers right now, they see themselves as single family homeowners in the future.”

Residential represents the largest growth segment for Southwind, according to Richard Abramowicz, executive vice president. As such, the company is putting the necessary resources behind it. “I think residential is the biggest growth opportunity for all of us and why we are trying to be innovative with our products. It’s a very big market.”

What’s new

Mohawk has championed the push of luxurious soft and that continues to be a major thrust with SmartStrand. As Mohawk’s Welborn noted, “SmartStrand fiber is softer than nylon and polyester, performs extremely well and has nice hand/bulk, and you will see us continue to expand in that area.”

As the movement toward cleaner homes grows, Mohawk, among others, is responding by adding Forever Clean to SmartStrand as well as ActivFresh technology to its Silk Colorwall line, which features new products in 2018. “Some of the products are tighter, denser, cleaner than the old Silk,” Welborn said. “From a technology standpoint, we added ActivFresh, an anti-microbial additive to the carpet, which is a new feature. You will see us expand in that growing segment.”

In Bellera High Performance Carpet, Shaw is giving consumers a wide variety of patterns, solids and textures from which to choose, albeit without sacrificing resiliency. “Our designers were extremely intentional with their choices, giving consumers numerous styles to match current trends,” Tran said. “We offer glamorous styles as seen in Outside the Lines, classic patterns in Diamonds Forever and Lead the Way, as well as visuals with a more organic look to complement modern farmhouse or coastal design trends. Each of these styles includes the attributes that make Bellera one of a kind.”

The fiber in Bellera has been treated with R2X soil and stain resistance technology and now features crush resistance to keep carpets lasting longer. To showcase the durability of its re-engineered fiber, Shaw simulated five years’ worth of activity with real people on Bellera carpet. When new Bellera samples and those with five years’ worth of wear were placed side by side, customers and RSAs alike were unable to tell the difference, Christensen said.

Phenix, which began showing carpet styles tufted from one of its new fiber systems during the winter markets, has identified a new yarn that provides great bulk and apparent value. “It has become one of our most anticipated launches, which we expect will lead to additional product opportunities,” Phenix’s Johnson said, referring to Opulence HD. “It’s a softer yarn that provides a look of luxury.”

Engineered Floors uses PureColor, a proprietary solution-dyed fiber, as its go-to market strategy at residential retail. “We try to educate the RSA and consumer on PureColor as often as possible,” Sanderson said. “Both groups are learning that since the color goes all the way through the fiber, stains that are detrimental to other carpets aren’t an issue with PureColor.”

Southwind’s Classic Traditions collection, a soft PET line, is being marketed as “eclectic patterns for everyday elegance.” It was shown at Surfaces 2018 and will feature eight stylish Color Point and LCL patterns that the company said are fashion-forward fabrics for the floor. “We had such a great response at Surfaces,” Abramowicz said.

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INVISTA small-lot technology upgrades to be launched

Camden, S.C.—INVISTA’s $30-million expansion in small-lot equipment specifically for solution-dyed nylon 6,6 bulk continuous filament (BCF) fiber production will become fully operational in the coming weeks. The launch will be officially commemorated with a ribbon cutting ceremony in July 2018 at the manufacturing facility in Camden, S.C.

The investment directly supports INVISTA’s commitment to the growth of the Antron brand and the LumenaTM fiber portfolio that serves solution-dyed BCF nylon commercial markets globally.

“The new technology will expand our capability to continue offering high-quality solution dyed nylon fiber solutions, while improving our ability to meet the needs of our customers,” said Kip Kimball, vice president of Global Commercial Solutions and Home Textiles.

INVISTA developed this innovative, proprietary small-lot technology by working closely with equipment manufacturer, Truetzschler. “We are excited to partner with INVISTA to deliver the highest quality of BCF extrusion technology, contributing to an important expansion for their business,” said Dr. Dirk Burger, CEO of the Truetzschler Group.

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Spring promos help dealers shake off winter blues

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

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Even though the winter weather is still putting up a fight in certain areas of the United States, flooring manufacturers and buying groups are getting into the spirit of the impending spring season with exciting seasonal sales and promotions.

Following are a few promotions and sales going on now.

Abbey Carpet & Floor/Floors to Go

Abbey Carpet & Floor and Floors to Go members are preparing for the national sale events taking place in May. When consumers are looking for the perfect place to purchase their new floor, Abbey makes sure its members have every opportunity to be top-of-mind with buyers. The campaign, developed with the support of Abbey’s supplier partners, offers consumers discount pricing in every product category.

Armstrong

Armstrong Flooring is hosting its “The Floor is Yours” spring promotion March 19 through May 14. During this period, consumers have the chance to save up to 10% on select hardwood, LVT and resilient sheet flooring collections as well as Alterna engineered tile, many of which feature the company’s Diamond 10 technology.

To qualify, the purchase must be made during the promotion period from a participating Elevate or Impact retailer. The maximum discount is $500 in the form of an Armstrong Visa card.

Carpet One

Carpet One’s second spring promotion highlights one of its most popular brands, Relax, it’s…Lees. The group will be relaunching the brand with 32 new products and special introductory pricing. The promotion will be supported by discounted pricing and consumer financing offers.

Carpet One will provide retailers with TV, radio, print and digital assets to support the promotion on a local level. The group will also support the promotion on the group’s website, Houzz, Facebook and a national paid search campaign. Carpet One’s promotional message will be “Lees—a carpet like no other,” offering the consumer a 25-year, no-exclusions stain warranty.

CarpetsPlus Color Tile

The CarpetsPlus Color Tile Spring into Savings sale comes into full bloom during April and May in member stores across the country. Select styles of their popular Destination brand carpets made with Anso nylon are being featured in this sale at participating dealer locations.

Members are also signing up for the second annual Shop for the Paws Animal Welfare and Rescue Awareness event, which will run after the group’s Spring into Savings sale. During this event, members donate money raised to their choice of local animal welfare charities. Many locations also collect dog and cat food, bedding, toys and additional monetary donations.

Couristan

Couristan’s annual Outdoor Living Merchandising promotion is taking place March 19 through June 30. The promotion offers deals on the company’s full assortment of indoor/outdoor area rugs as well as two dynamic merchandising display options.

Also, back by popular demand, Couristan is offering its Outdoor Living Merchandising display box free with an initial order of 20 area rugs from its Afuera, Cape, Dolce, Monaco, Monte Carlo and Recife collections (size requirements apply).

Invista

Invista is hosting its 2018 Stainmaster brand Celebrate Spring Sweepstakes, which is set to run April 1 through May 31. During the sweepstakes, five customers who purchase Stainmaster PetProtect luxury vinyl flooring will win up to $10,000 back on their purchase and installation (excluding sales tax and delivery charges). Consumers can enter online at stainmastersweepstakes.com. Note: One entry per individual per purchase allowed. Winners will be chosen July 31.

Karastan

Quality, beauty and craftsmanship have all been a part of the Karastan legacy, and this year the manufacturer proudly celebrates its 90th anniversary of offering high-styled, quality floor coverings. Karastan’s 90th Anniversary Sale kicked off March 1 and continues through March 31, offering extensive promotional campaigns for Karastan retailers. Consumers can take advantage of savings on Karastan styles ranging from beautiful wool to family-friendly SmartStrand Forever Clean styles.

Lastly, from April 26 to June 2, Karastan will celebrate National Karastan Month. This sale promotes a consumer rebate offer to entice luxury buyers to purchase floor covering.

Mannington

One Mannington retailers can take advantage of the company’s “Spring into Summer Sale,” which runs from May 15 to July 4. For specific details about the promotion, One Mannington retailers are encouraged to contact their local distributors.

Mirage 

Boa-Franc, maker of the Mirage brand of hardwood flooring, is offering a Play & Win with Mirage Spring 2018 rebate for customers across North America (valid in the U.S. and Canada, excluding Quebec) at all participating Mirage dealers from April 16 to June 9.

During this promotion, consumers will have the chance to save $0.50 to $1 per square foot  on Mirage flooring by playing an online game. This offer is valid on all Mirage products, regardless of species, color or width.

For more on the rules, visit miragefloors.com/rebate on or after April 9.

Mohawk

Mohawk’s Spring All Pet Sale, running from April 12 to May 24, aims to drive consumer awareness of the company’s Pet Protection warranty, covering all pets, all accidents, all the time. During the sale period, Mohawk will drive traffic to its participating retail partners by incentivizing in-market consumers with an in-store rebate and special financing offers. Mohawk also provides a variety of product discounts for its participating retail partners.

The promotions don’t end there. To seamlessly connect the online, in-store and product experience—and ultimately encourage retailer success—Mohawk has also featured this sale on Omnify.

Raskin

Raskin Industries plans to host two spring promotions for its dealers—one for Loft and the other for Ceramix. From March 15 through May 15, dealers have the opportunity to earn $5 on each carton of Loft purchased for residential use.

In addition, from April 1 through June 1, dealers can earn $5 on each carton of Ceramix purchased for residential use. Both rebates will be applied to an American Express card.

Shaw

From April 2 through May 12, Shaw will host its Spring for Green sale. Consumers will have the opportunity to earn up to $500 off on qualifying Shaw Floors products in the form of a manufacturer’s rebate. Note: The promotion is valid on a minimum of 500 square feet of qualifying products.

Shaw’s rebate aims to give participating retailers a competitive advantage in their respective markets as Shaw is covering 100% of the costs. Shaw Flooring Network retailers who registered on ShawNow by March 11 are eligible for the promotion.

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Aquafil signs agreement with Invista

Arco, Trentino, Italy—Aquafil has signed an agreement with Invista, one of the world’s largest integrated producers of chemical intermediates, polymers and fibers, to acquire certain tangible and intangible assets related to Invista’s nylon 6 business activity in Asia Pacific. Closing is expected March 29.

The acquired assets concern Invista’s business of polyamide 6 BCF fiber in Asia Pacific with a turnover of about $50 million and, after business integration, with an expected margin in line with Aquafil Group’s consolidated EBITDA margin. The total appreciation of the deal is not relevant for the group and will be financed by its internal resources.

“This is a milestone for the further development of Aquafil in the Asia Pacific region,” said Giulio Bonazzi, president and CEO of the Group. “This deal will accelerate Aquafil’s investment program in the area of Asia Pacific that remains the region with highest potential in terms of demand growth for synthetic fibers.”

The transaction does not include Invista’s other businesses in Asia, such as its nylon 6,6, polyester, polyols and licensing businesses and related brands.

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Invista makes changes to leadership

Maggie Bidlingmaier
Maggie Bidlingmaier.

Kennesaw, Ga.—Invista has tapped Dan Haycook as president of Performance Solutions. He will replace David Duncan, who is now executive vice president of building products at Koch Industries subsidiary Georgia-Pacific. In his new role, Haycook will be responsible for overseeing all operations and development strategies for the Invista Performance Solutions businesses.

Haycook previously served as the executive vice president of Invista Surfaces. He also has served in leadership roles for the Invista Apparel and Performance Materials businesses, spending six years in Shanghai, China as executive vice president of Asia Pacific. Previously, he held several leadership positions with KoSa, prior to the merger with Invista in 2004. Haycook joined the company in 1989.

Concurrent with Haycook’s new position announcement, Invista has also tapped Maggie Bidlingmaier as vice president of Invista Surfaces. She will lead efforts pertaining to the many Invista Surfaces brands, facilitate growth strategies and drive business development.

Bidlingmaier brings her years of success in building the Stainmaster brand and leading innovative retail channel efforts. She joined Invista in 2014 as vice president of Retail Channel before being promoted to vice president of Invista Stainmaster Flooring Solutions. Bidlingmaier will report to the new president of Invista Performance Solutions, Dan Haycook.

Before joining Invista, Bidlingmaier spent 15 years in various leadership positions with Avery Dennison, driving global businesses, strategic technology platforms and new product innovations.

Both Haycook and Bidlingmaier will operate from the Invista office in Kennesaw, Ga.

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Bonitz Flooring wins Antron Performance Award

View More: http://katherinetaylordesigns.pass.us/awards-night-2Kennesaw, Ga.—Bonitz Flooring Group has won the first Antron Performance Award for its use of performance-driven carpet choices at Concentrix Corporation. Invista, Starnet and Mannington Commercial celebrated with Bonitz Flooring at an event held at the Avenue in Greenville, S.C., Oct. 26.

Pictured are Marc Ahrens, vice president global commercial solutions, Invista; Jeanne Matson, president and CEO, Starnet; and Pete Larmore, president and CEO, Bonitz Flooring.

 

 

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Fiber report: Soft, durable and cleanability lead checklist

May 8/15, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 24

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 2.06.57 PMAdvancements in technology and manufacturing have allowed carpet mills to make significant improvements in fiber construction. The result: carpets that are soft, durable and resistant to stains and soils. Mill executives say today’s demanding consumers are driving these innovative breakthroughs.

“Performance-based fibers seem to be a big trend,” said Ayme Sinclair, marketing director, Stanton. “The biggest influence is an increased need from a more informed consumer base on making sure they are selecting goods that will stand up to the challenges of their active lifestyles.”

Susan Curtis, senior vice president, product development for Phenix, agreed. “We are seeing demand for innovative fibers that provide a high degree of performance tied to active lifestyles and exhibit a diverse array of color and luster options.”

Increasingly these innovative fibers are found in polyester; executives say manufacturing techniques have fueled the PET market, which has overtaken nylon as the preferred carpet fiber. “Consumers are very happy with the quality and performance of PET and request it when choosing their new carpet,” said Brian Warren, senior vice president of sales and marketing, Foss.

Beyond fiber type, the macro trends that have driven the fiber market for years are still dominant today, according to Seth Arnold, vice president of residential marketing for Mohawk Industries. “What that means is consumers want carpet that is easy to clean and will last a long time. With carpet being an infrequent, high-end purchase, for consumers it often boils down to cleanability and durability. We don’t see that trend going away.”

Observers point to another trend that’s holding its own: the desire for luxurious soft carpet. “We thought we had seen the top of the mountain with premium soft,” Arnold said. “We spent a lot of time this past year on soft. We spoke to 300 consumers in 10 different markets and looked at seven different fiber types. Consumers voted for softer, which is what led to SmartStrand Silk Reserve. We are raising the bar again in soft.”

Active segments
The dominance of hard surfaces in the home has opened the door for innovative ways to use carpet. Curtis noted that since the consumer is now using carpet in selected areas of her home, she often chooses multiple styles with specific features and benefits that fit the intended use of a room. “Traditionally, consumers may have chosen a solid or more generic aesthetic but are now seeking unique textures and colors they can mix and match with other flooring materials. A soft touch and comfort are still important attributes, but we have seen the need for products with unique patterns and colorations grow significantly.”

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 2.07.10 PMThe multifamily segment remains carpet’s greatest salvation within residential. That’s partly due to the fall in homeownership rates (which are at their lowest level since 1965, according to the U.S. Census Bureau), which means more people—especially millennials—are renting. Executives note that builders and property managers are increasingly looking to carpet as a way to combat sound issues associated with hard surfaces. “The shift towards hard surfaces remains a continued trend across all business segments, particularly multifamily,” said Brad Christensen, vice president-soft surface portfolio management, Shaw Floors. “However, we are seeing more consumers looking to incorporate higher quality soft surfaces with bolder patterns and styles in bedrooms and other specialty areas of the home, making residential an opportunity for growth in carpet sales.”

Residential retail remains steady, executives say, and with the influx of higher end, luxurious soft products hitting the market, dealers have more opportunities to trade up consumers. “We encourage our retailers to ‘X plus’ every customer,” Mohawk’s Arnold said. “Our premium soft products give them reasons to upsell.”

Product initiatives
In response to consumers’ insights for stylish, high-performing carpet that complements their living spaces, Shaw created the TruAccents display. This new compact, rotating display houses both nylon and PET carpet styles and pairs them with hard surface products for easier consumer shopping and convenient retail selling options. “For those consumers who prefer to purchase strictly nylon, we’ve also expanded our LifeGuard technology to the Anso Color Wall in our Titanium platinum product collection,” Christensen said.

Phenix recently introduced its Opulence HD solution-dyed PET polyester fiber featuring a finer denier yarn that is low luster with well-defined tips that give off a suede-like finish. “We developed this new fiber from the ground up by working with our extrusion division to create a yarn that provides great bulk with a soft very luxurious hand,” Curtis explained.

Stanton recently launched a line with Scotchgard 3M, pairing high style with high performance, Sinclair said. “This new line gives consumers assurance when they see a name they recognize, so it makes perfect sense for us to partner with them.”

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 2.07.18 PMAmong Mohawk’s biggest initiatives in 2017 is Airo, made of 100% premium PET fiber. As Arnold explained, “Airo is really our attempt to say, ‘What if we completely started from scratch; what would we come up with?’ This innovation is less about enhancing an existing fiber and more about looking at a fiber to create a construction advantage. Airo was a completely new way to approach product development.”

In the same vein as completely new is Foss’ Cashmere, which the company touts as a new category of affordable wall-to-wall carpet that looks and feels like wool but has the durability of commercial tiles and indoor/outdoor broadloom products. Warren said “the secrets” behind the carpet’s style and performance are its exclusive NaturalTouch fiber that can create a wool-like softness using PET and the company’s DuraKnit technology that prevents fraying, unraveling or zippering.

Engineered Floors has enjoyed big success with its PureColor Fiber system and its family of brands, especially within its residential PureColor Nylon collection—Your Retreat. “It features our PureColor Soft Nylon with Cationic technology,” said Mike Sanderson, vice president of product marketing. “We are essentially offering what is widely recognized as a premium fiber system in a collection of stylish yet affordable products.”

The residential division of Dixie has been an active partner with Invista/Stainmaster. In 2017, Dixie is launching six new styles as part of the Stainmaster LiveWell program. T.M. Nuckols, the new executive vice president of Dixie Residential, noted, “We have a good mix of styles in the solution-dyed nylon PetProtect program as well as many piece-dyed products.”

 

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INVISTA announces Stainmaster Carpet Road to Success Sales Competition winners

invistaKennesaw, Ga.–INVISTA has named Hiller’s Flooring America, Minnesota (first place); Giant Don’s Flooring America, Alaska (second place); and Jimmie Lyles Flooring (third place), the Stainmaster Flooring Center (SFC) retailer winners in its Stainmaster Carpet Road to Success Sales Competition.

The contest, which ran May 1-June 30, was conceived by the brand to honor the 20th anniversary of the SFC Retailer Program. Eligible SFC retailers nationwide were tasked to exceed their Stainmaster carpet sales by the highest percentage growth during the months of May/June 2016 when compared to their May/June 2015 sales. The top three performing SFC dealers were awarded a monetary cash prize ($5,000, $4,000 and $3,000, respectively), and employed Retail Sales Associates were presented gift cards ranging from $300 to $500 specific to dealer winner rankings.

“We’re excited to have been recognized by Stainmaster carpet as a champion in this competition commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the SFC Retailer Program,” stated Robert Elder, owner of Hiller’s Flooring America. “As a partner of the Stainmaster Flooring Center network for so many years, my team and I look forward to continued growth and success for many more years to come.”

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Stainmaster ‘Top Dog Sales’ winners named

The Carpet Shoppe, HI
The Carpet Shoppe of Honolulu

Kennesaw, Ga.—Invista announced that Brentwood Carpets (Raleigh, N.C.), The Carpet Shoppe (Honolulu), Floors By Ray (Chico, Calif.), McSwain Carpet & Floor (Cincinnati), and Britt’s Home Furnishings (Lawrenceville, Ga.) as the five nationwide store winners in its “Stainmaster Carpet Top Dog Sales Competition.”

The competition, which ran from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31, encouraged retail carpet stores that carry Stainmaster increase total store sales during September and October

Based on previous sales history, each store that registered for the competition was assigned to one of five specific performance groups—the Great Danes, the Labradors, the Hounds, the Spaniels, and the Terriers. Each dealership that exceeded its previous year’s September and October sales by the greatest percentage was determined the winner. Double points were awarded for selling Stainmaster PetProtect carpet.

“As someone who has been in the carpet industry for a long time, I couldn’t be more proud of my team and their commitment in selling one of the most trusted, quality brands available in the market,” stated Ehron Hobbs, owner of Floors By Ray in Chico.

The “Top Dog” retail store winners:

  • The Great Danes McSwain Carpet & Floor
  • The Labradors Brentwood Carpets
  • The Hounds – Britt’s Home Furnishings
  • The Spaniels The Carpet Shoppe
  • The Terriers Floors By Ray

Associates crowned “Top Dog” selected one of three prizes—a Sharp 32-inch LED 1080p SmartTV, a Bose Sound Link Bluetooth Speaker III, and a Sony 1000W 5.1Ch HD Blu-ray Disc Home Theater System.

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Pami Talks: Retail guru shares his selling wisdom

By Ken Ryan

Pami speakingAtlanta—Pami Bhullar is the director of retail development for Invista, North America, but to legions of flooring dealers he is a training guru who travels hundreds of thousands of miles each year to share his retail wisdom.

On Oct. 2, it was flooring dealers and mill executives who traveled to Georgia-Pacific Headquarters here for “Pami Talks,” modeled after the exceedingly popular TED Talks program.

Bhullar’s message was simple, direct and concise. “This is not rocket science,” he told audience members. “We sell flooring. It is not hard. Let’s have fun with it.”

Selling floors in this online world has become more challenging for retail sales associates (RSAs) as consumers have access to more information than ever before, Bhullar explained. “More than 90% of customers have spent 6.5 hours on the web and have looked into 12 sources of information for flooring before coming into your store. And we used to worry that our customer would visit three or four stores before coming to us? Technology has made it possible so that customers can visit 100 stores. That means it is more important than ever to have a story to tell. If you don’t have a story then all you have is price and negotiation.”

For RSAs, success begins with passion and caring or what Bhullar termed “an honest desire to help the customer.” If you don’t have the energy and passion, you will likely fail because that lack of enthusiasm will reveal itself to customers.

Bhullar said there is an infinite amount of information floating around but not enough knowledge; RSAs must continually listen and learn to stay current. But in some instances that is not happening. Bhullar said he spends a considerable amount of time “mystery shopping” flooring dealers. On several occasions the sales rep he encountered did not have proper product knowledge or provided misinformation. “I had a guy show me carpet and he tells me, ‘This is nylon 6,6.’ I said to him, ‘That is great. Can you show me nylon 12,12?’ He said, ‘Let me go check,’ and I hear him asking the manager if they have nylon 12,12.”

The sales rep was wrong on at least two accounts. First, he was uneducated about product; there is no such thing as nylon 12,12. Secondly, he used industry jargon (nylon 6,6) that consumers typically do not understand.

Bhullar encouraged dealers to spend five to seven minutes every morning when they first arrive to their stores to study one product in their showroom sand get to know the two main benefits it offers. He encourages them to repeat the exercise every day for 30 days or longer until they have covered every product in the store and can confidently recite the benefits.

Selling tips

Bhullar said there are three common customer needs that “bubble to the top” during an in-store discussion. “No 1 is durability and how easy [the product] is to clean. The customer might not say it in those words but that is what she wants in a product more than anything. Second is style and look; third is price and value. And low price does not equate with value.”

He suggests RSAs practice their pitch, polish it and not be afraid of making recommendations. After all, the RSA is the perceived expert. “Did you know 67% of consumers will buy a recommended option but less than half of RSAs make a specific recommendation?”

Customer engagement is another key component to the selling process. Bhullar contends no one wakes up on a Saturday morning with the desire to visit a carpet store just to flip through samples; if they come into your store, they are in the market—so be prepared.

“Can I help you?” is not an effective opening line, he said, and should be replaced with something akin to, “Have you been here before?” If the response is “No,” the RSA can explain what the store offers and why it does delivers better than anyone else.

Another good question to ask: “Why are you replacing your floor?” Bhullar said this can elicit many responses. Most important, you learn why a customer is in the market. Do she own a rental property? Is she a homeowner looking to move? Perhaps she just needs new carpet after 15 years.

Bhullar noted two common mistakes RSAs make are moving through the presentation too quickly before truly understanding a customer’s needs and discussing price too quickly. He also shared tips on what words to use and how to use them. A few examples:

*Emphasize home rather than house. “Home is where you live. Home is where your kids are, where your memories are being made. A house is too impersonal.”

*Emphasize benefits vs. warranty. “A customer doesn’t buy a product for the warranty; she buys because of the benefits it brings.”

*Using phrases like “certainly,” “I would be happy to,” and “my pleasure” is much more effective than the oft-used “no problem.”

*When it comes time for payment, say, ‘How would you like to take care of this?’ rather than, ‘How would you like to pay for it?’ Bhullar noted, “People don’t like to pay for things, they like to take care of things.”

While first impressions are important, he said, lasting impressions are even better. “Every time a customer walks into your store understand what she can do for your business. If she has a good experience she may tell 10 people. A well taken care of customer becomes an ambassador for your business, so give your customer a reason to brag about you.”