Posted on

Al's column: Discounting can actually hurt sales

March 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 19

By Jerry Levinson

 

During a recent weekly meeting with my staff, we were discussing ways in which we could improve our closing rate. Normally, there is a sale, special, discount or promotion that we offer our customers. Furthermore, it is common for customers to ask for an additional discount.

We role play at our meetings and go through the process of measuring, product selection, establishing what a customer’s experience will be and quoting her project.

We have one salesperson who offers an additional discount to her clients when asked. She feels the need to offer an additional discount whenever the customer requests a lower price. She perhaps also believes this extra discount will help her beat the competition’s price and thus earn her more business. (Oddly enough, her closing rate is among the lowest.)

Her case is not unusual—I know many salespeople who do this as well. However, when you lower your prices, you also lower your chances to close the sale. By decreasing your prices, you have just validated your client’s belief that there is no difference between you and the competition down the street. You have just told your customer the overall experience will be exactly the same as what your competitors provide, so she might as well go with the company who has the best price.

Instead of falling into this trap, I recommend setting your client’s expectations up front. Explain to her that you are not going to be the low-price leader, but you want to earn her business by showing her that she’ll get better service from you. For instance, we give our clients the “top 10 reasons” why they should do business with us, which separates us from the competition.

If you offer your customer reasons why you are different from other companies, she will most likely hire you to install her carpet rather than the competitors who offer less. Basically, you want her to consider the disadvantages of not using your company.

Preparation is key
So you’ve explained to your customer that your company provides great customer service, and you’ve expressed how much you care about your client. However, that may not be enough. Maybe one of your competitors is $1,500 cheaper and also claims to offer exceptional customer service. To make your company stand out from the others, prepare your salespeople with a list of seven to 10 reasons why clients should choose your company to do business with. In other words, make your process go from ordinary to extraordinary.

For instance, our installers remove the customers’ old carpet, sweep the floors and then treat the floors to address any pet accidents, mold, mildew. etc. Next, we install a new pad and carpet on a fresh, clean surface. This is a unique service we provide in our market.

Another way to sway a potential client to use your company—without relying on lowering your price—is to provide a copy of your liability insurance with each estimate. It’s something we all have but only produce documentation when asked. If you give it to your client up front, she’s going to also ask your competitors for that same document and they will be unprepared. They’ll have to scramble to provide that information.

If you want to earn a customer’s respect and business, you have to first respect your own talent, experience and process for providing excellent service. You should command higher prices and attract customers who are more than willing to pay you for what you are worth.

 

Jerry Levinson owns and operates Carpets of Arizona along with Profit Now for Flooring Dealers, which teaches specialty flooring retailers how they can grow their business.

Posted on

Metroflor adjusts sales department

Paul Eanes

Norwalk, Conn.—Metroflor has made significant changes to its sales organization, including promotions, role changes and territory adjustments. Paul Eanes will assume the role of vice president of new business development; Keith Kannapel, formerly Midwest district sales manager, is now director of sales, Metroflor; Alan Rowel, formerly Southeast district sales manager, is the director of sales, Aspecta; and Kevin Parker was promoted from technical specialist to Southeast district sales manager.

“We are implementing these changes to grow our business, provide our distributors with better service, and achieve a more concentrated focus on our traditional (Metroflor) and commercial (Aspecta) businesses,” said Russ Rogg, president and CEO.

As vice president of new business development, Eanes will discover new customers and channels of sale for Metroflor, which could include OEM customers as well as private label opportunities for new and existing customers.

Keith Kannapel

As director of sales, Kannapel will be responsible for directing all sales efforts for Metroflor LVT, Artistek LVT, Konecto, Engage, Engage Genesis and Engage Inception brands. He will lead the district sales manager team and work closely with distribution to garner additional market share through promotional activities, sales training, merchandising placement, aligned dealer engagement and new product launches.

Alan Rowell

In Rowell’s new position he will lead the commercial sales manager team, working in concert with Aspecta distributors to focus on the right customers and ensure that salesforce.com and Reed Construction Data are used to their fullest capabilities.

Kevin Parker

As Southest district sales manager, Parker will lead sales efforts with William M. Bird, Mastercraft Flooring Distributors and L. Bornstein & Company.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on

Couristan bolsters sales team

Troy Corey

Fort Lee, N.J.—As Couristan prepares for an explosive 2018 and the launch of several new collections at Surfaces 2018, the company has hired two leading residential floor coverings sales executives to service the Manhattan and Southern California markets.

Troy Corey will ensure dealers in New York City will have access to Couristan’s residential broadloom and area rug collections, while Nick Maugeri will be responsible for the Southern California region. Both executives bring more than 30 years of experience forging relationships with specialty and high-end retailers and will report to Len Andolino, executive vice president of Couristan’s residential division.

Nick Maugeri

“We are committed to developing the strongest salesforce to bring our collections to market,” Andolino said. “Both Troy and Nick have unbelievable track records in the high-end floor covering sector, and we look forward having them leverage their experience and deep relationships to expand Couristan’s reach within these two incredibly important markets.”

Prior to joining Couristan, Corey spearheaded sales at GCC International. His expertise spans on product development and manufacturing, and includes strong sales connections all over the United States. Prior to this, he served as national sales manager and buyer for his family business, Rosecore.

For nearly 20 of Maugeri’s 35-year career, he worked for his family business, Wool Merchants, which manufactured, imported and distributed high-end wool carpeting. During this time, Maugeri developed relationships with Southern California’s most prestigious retailers and distributors. In 2001, he left the family business to pursue a career as an independent agent of broadloom and area rugs.

Posted on

Retail Education: Creative promos spark sales during lull

December 18/25, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 14

By Ken Ryan

 

This special FCNews Retail Education series, sponsored by 3M, is designed to help specialty retailers build their business through proven merchandising and marketing strategies as well as general best practices.

 

There’s a reason many flooring dealers use the weeks leading up to Christmas to take a much-needed vacation—it’s because those 30-45 days between Thanksgiving and New Years are generally the slowest time of the year for business. To that end, most flooring retailers refrain from investing too much in advertising and hold off promotions until January.

As a general rule, Carpet One Floor & Home—the largest retail buying group—does not share information on past or future promotions because it does not want to disclose this information to competitors. However, the group’s members—individually—are free to come up with their own sales promotions, and some did this holiday season. Atlas Floors Carpet One in San Antonio, for example, is running a “12 Days of Christmas” promotion with a local radio station whereby the winner receives a $500 store gift card. “It definitely generates some excitement and is a fun way to lead into the holidays,” said Billy Mahone III, manager. “The winner actually sings about our company to the classic holiday tune on live air. This is our second year doing it. We weren’t sure how it would go the first year, but it turned out to be a lot of fun.”

Fellow San Antonio retailer, O’Krent’s Abbey Flooring, similarly held a “12 Days of Christmas Giveaway” with local TV station KSAT 12. Contestants entered through ksat.com, with the winner taking home a festive holiday rug from O’Krent’s. During the holidays, the retailer also launched a Pet Defense promotion offering 35% off of select styles of carpet.

In order to drive sales during what is typically a slow season, retailers are reaching into their promotional bag of tricks. At Annville, Pa.-based Allwein Carpet One Floor & Home, for instance, the retailer is offering discounts on rugs and remnants in a move to clear out inventory and make a few extra bucks in the process. “Around this time of the year I like to offer extra discounts on all in-stock products and products that can walk out the door within a few days,” said Lauren Allwein-Andrews, manager. “We have been running extra discounts on all in-stock area rugs in addition to special order rugs because they are a quick sell. Customers can instantly upgrade their décor and satisfy their instant gratification fix. The same is true for all in-stock remnants, bound rugs and anything else that we want to unload so we can get our inventory down before the end of the year.”

As the weather gets colder, according to Allwein-Andrews, the store sees an uptick in carpet sales. As such, it offers various sales on carpet because consumers are looking for a sweet deal this time of year.

Not all dealers see the holidays as a time to play off seasonal promotions. At Flooring America/Flooring Canada, which just finished a strong national promotion on two of its key proprietary brands (Innovia carpet and Downs hard surface) no December promotions are planned for its members. As Keith Spano, CEO, explained, “Most of our members use this time prior to conneXtion (our winter convention) to evaluate the products and programs on their showroom floors and make plans for new product introductions. This is also a good time for our members to evaluate retail trade-ups by category, local representation, stock items and vendor partnerships as we head into a new calendar year.”

Throughout the year 

Crest Flooring in Allentown, Pa., is no stranger to year-round promotions to drive business. Starting Nov. 20 and running through most of December, the retailer is offering a 36-month, 0% and no-money-down offer on carpet and LVT. Customers can get new carpet in their entire upstairs for $99 a month based on 800 sq. ft. of carpet. As well, they can have LVT installed in their kitchen for only $30 a month for 36 months based on 110 sq. ft. of kitchen.

Rusmur Floors Carpet One Floor & Home, in Bridgeville, Pa., is offering customers $20 off carpet remnants on 12-foot x 9-foot and larger carpets. Customers are instructed to go to the dealer’s Facebook page, download the coupon and redeem it in-store for the savings.

Several other flooring dealers are offering similar deals. Flooring America of Ashburn, Va., is inviting customers to enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win a $1,000 gift card to REI (Recreational Equipment), an American retail and outdoor recreation services company that sells sporting goods, camping gear, travel equipment and clothing.

 

Posted on

Laticrete rolls out new specialist sales structure

LATICRETE logo high res imageBethany, Conn.—Building on more than 60 years of providing customers with unmatched service, Laticrete is introducing a new sales structure to strengthen its field sales expertise. With the new structure in place, Laticrete aims to better understand and fulfill its customers’ needs by deploying a nationwide group of sales specialists to support its five core business channels—Tile and Stone Installation Systems, Concrete Construction Chemicals, Spartacote Resinous Flooring Systems, Stonetech Surface Care and Maintenance and Masonry Veneer Installation Systems. Additionally, Laticrete will increase its sales managers and directors, as well as decrease the size of each territory being overseen to ensure a more intimate experience at every level.

“Business is booming for Laticrete,” said Ron Nash, vice president of sales North America. “As our company continues to grow, our primary goal is to ensure all business strategies are aligned for long-term success and efficiency. With a focus on assisting end-users and contractors, as well as creating demand for our distribution partners, the new sales structure is designed to incorporate selling teams that are knowledgeable in their fields and provide expert targeted guidance.”

To support the new sales structure, Marcella Prado will take on the role of national sales manager for Stonetech and Stone Care, and Robert Duke will take on the role of national sales manager for Masonry Veneer Installation Systems. In both positions, Prado and Duke will be responsible for managing and building a dedicated team of sales specialists in the United States and Canada. Additional promotions include Chris Collins and Jeremiah Johnson who will become regional sales managers and oversee all business channels of Laticrete in the newly formed “Front Range” and “Gulf Coast” regions. Brett Spencer will direct all selling efforts in the western United States as the region’s new director of sales.

Posted on

Stanton Carpet makes changes to sales leadership

Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 4.39.19 PMSyosset, N.Y.—Stanton Carpet has announced three key changes in its sales leadership. Effective immediately, George Forte will transition from vice president of sales to executive development director; Mitch White has been promoted to vice president of sales for Stanton; and Kevin Blaine joins the team as Northeast regional vice president for Stanton and Antrim.

In Forte’s role as executive development director, he will be responsible for all new sales training, follow up training, key accounts, recruiting and special projects among other responsibilities. Forte started as a regional manager in 1998 and was promoted to vice president of sales in 2003. In this post for 14 years, his expertise helped lead Stanton to significant growth and transformation to mostly company sales personnel over this time.

White, as vice president of sales, will be responsible for all sales managers and all sales including Stanton, Antrim, Rosecore and Crescent throughout the U.S. and Canada. White will spearhead all major sales initiatives while managing Stanton’s big picture sales growth. White joined Stanton 11 years ago as Northeast regional sales manager having grown to include a large portion of the east as Eastern regional vice president.

Blaine joins Stanton, succeeding White, with responsibility for 12 salespeople to grow Stanton’s Northeast business. Blaine is a seasoned veteran in decorative carpet and rugs for 30 plus years joining Stanton from his post as Northeast regional sales manager for Kaleen. He has been a top performer in selling and marketing machine woven and tufted broadloom as well as hand-loomed broadloom and rugs.

Posted on

Fall promos: Sales, incentives usher in new selling season

September 11/18, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 7

 

The autumn season is upon us and for many flooring manufacturers that means it’s time to unveil fall promotions to accelerate business and excite the customer base.

Here are some recent fall sales.

Armstrong Flooring
Armstrong Flooring announced “The New Look of Tough” national retail promotion to correspond with its new national TV and digital advertising campaign on HGTV. Consumers can receive 10% off qualified Armstrong Flooring products for savings up to $500. The promotion runs from Sept. 18 to Nov. 13 (redemption through Dec. 15) and includes some of Armstrong Flooring’s most popular products. Qualifying collections include: Artisan Collective engineered hardwood; TimberCuts engineered hardwood; Woodland Relics engineered hardwood; Pryzm luxury flooring; and vinyl sheet with Diamond 10 technology.

Consumers who purchase a minimum of four cartons will qualify for a 5% rebate offer, while those who purchase a minimum of 16 cartons can qualify for a 10% rebate. The purchase must be made during the promotion period from a participating Elevate retailer. The maximum discount is $500 in the form of an Armstrong Flooring Visa Prepaid card.

Bamboo Hardwoods
Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 3.11.29 PMBamboo flooring just got a little bit “racier,” as in car racing. Bamboo Hardwoods is offering a 2017 industry incentive program for its retailer and distributor partners via a “Sell Bamboo, Win a Triumph TR6” promotion.

Running now through Sept. 30, retail salespeople qualify to win a classic 1970s-era British classic car—the Triumph TR6—by selling an order of (greater than one box) Bamboo Hardwoods’ brand flooring then entering their order details via Bamboo Hardwoods’ car promotion homepage. Distributor reps are also eligible for cash prizes. “Our overall thought on this program is to bring some additional retailer-level interest toward our amazing bamboo products and have a little fun in the process,” said David Keegan, president and CEO of Bamboo Hardwoods.

Upon completion and verification of qualifying sales via bamboohardwoods.com, the company will issue the retail sales associate a unique lottery ticket number to be checked against a live drawing on Oct. 9, where one lucky winner can drive off with the car or take cash equivalent. Additionally, every RSA and corresponding DSR each gets a $50 cash reward for qualifying sales during the promotional period after their third sale/entry.

Mirage
Consumers can save big this fall thanks to the Mirage Fall 2017 Rebate Sale, taking place across North America at all participating Mirage dealers from Oct. 2 to Nov. 25. Consumers get a $0.50/sq. ft. rebate on Mirage flooring during this promotion. This offer is valid on all Mirage products, regardless of species, color or width.

“Fall is often synonymous with remodeling projects for many consumers that need to change their décor,” said Brad Williams, vice president of sales Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 3.11.24 PMand marketing at Boa-Franc, maker of the Mirage brand. “Thanks to the $0.50/sq. ft. rebate offered on all our flooring during this sales event, it is a great opportunity to save big while enjoying the quality for which Mirage floors are known.”

Nearly 2,000 Mirage Maestro Dealers throughout North America are participating in this event. For the rules and a list of participating dealers, visit miragefloors.com/rebate.

Shaw Floors
Shaw Floors announced that registration for its fall national promotion, the Shaw Friends and Family Sales Event, is now open to Shaw Flooring Network aligned retailers who participate in the company’s consumer financing program. Registration must have been completed by Aug. 25, and the promotion—which includes a broad assortment of Shaw, Anderson and Tuftex styles—will run from Oct. 1 to Nov. 11.

Specific details of the promotion may be found online at shawnow.com. Benefits include a downloadable coupon of up to $1,000 in savings and 24 months special financing. Shaw Floors’ Spring Anniversary Sale saw record retailer engagement, and aligned retailers who took advantage of the special financing option reported increased average ticket sales and enhanced customer retention.

“The coupon was the primary trigger in this offer and had a big impact with consumers,” said John Staff, owner of Staff Carpets. “The sale helped us exceed daily sales goals and our business is currently up 40% compared to last year.”

Tarkett
Tandus Centiva, a Tarkett company, is promoting the launch of its completely new area rug collection by giving away a free area rug. Between now and midnight Oct. 6, Facebook followers of Tarkett Contract can enter for a chance to win a customized 6-foot x 10-foot area rug. The contest can be found at gvwy.io/mckgo0f.

Posted on

EarthWerks unveils new products, technologies at distribution meeting

2017 EarthWerks Distributor Meeting Group PictureHouston—EarthWerks revealed its latest flooring innovations during its distribution meeting in Houston. Among these innovations is a rigid core flooring to be introduced in the coming months.

“We have long been known for our research into the production of these amazingly realistic flooring products and continue to push for advanced designs and manufacturing techniques,” said Jonathan Train, president and CEO. “Getting it right matters, and we believe we have achieved that.”

Distributors were also introduced to sales opportunities for 2018 as well as the company’s new advances in WPC and HDC flooring technologies. In addition, they learned about various marketing advances including EarthWerks’ newly launched website with user-friendly innovations.

“2018 will be a very exciting and successful year with the launch of our premium high-density clic program, Noble Classic Plus, coming this fall,” said Lindsey Nisbet, head of marketing and product development, EarthWerks. “We have also just released a completely new CEU program, available now through local A&D representatives.”

Posted on

Shannon & Waterman hires new sales directors

Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 10.19.14 AMMemphis, Tenn.—Shannon & Waterman, a manufacturer of luxury custom wide-plank flooring for home and office, recently welcomed Megan Stout and Jessica Johnson as sales directors. Based in Memphis, Stout will be responsible for directing sales in the Southeast U.S. region. Johnson—based in Dallas—will be responsible for sales in the Southwest U.S. region.

Stout previously worked in Memphis real estate sales, earning numerous top designations and garnering lifetime membership in a multimillion-dollar sellers club. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Mississippi with a major in journalism and a minor in English with a concentration in public relations.

Johnson has nurtured client relationships through different sales roles over the past 10 years in the state of Texas. She has had tremendous success working with clients in the residential real estate, commercial real estate, general contractor, retail, architectural and interior design categories based locally and nationally. She excelled as a consultative sales professional, earning high sales honors and exceeding sales goals and customer expectations consistently.

Posted on

Rise in e-commerce concerns flooring retailers

July 31/Aug. 7: Volume 31, Issue 4
By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 11.20.23 AMAs e-commerce grows in the retail channel, specialty flooring retailers have expressed concern that online sales could negatively impact their business. It’s a subject that has many store owners and managers on edge.

“Don’t get me going on this topic,” Ben Boss, owner of Boss Carpet One Floor & Home, Dixon, Ill., told FCNews. “Looking out 10 to 20 years, I wouldn’t be surprised if the flooring retail landscape is completely different.”

Andrew Wiebe, co-owner of Red Deer Carpet One Floor & Home, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, echoed those sentiments and fears, adding, “It’s coming, folks.”

Cathy Buchanan, owner of Independent Carpet One Floor & Home, Westland Mich., had this observation: “Just look at Amazon and how it has taken [online retailing] by storm. Our world and the interpersonal relationships are dwindling. I am concerned.”

Looking at news reports, you can understand why dealers are feeling uneasy. Through June 20, there have been 5,300 store closing announcements in the U.S. this year, making 2017 the second worst year on record at the six-month mark. The worst year ever for store closings was 2008 during the Great Recession, when Credit Suisse counted 6,163 closings. Some believe 2017 might eclipse that number.

The growth of e-commerce and what retail experts say is an overbuilt retail landscape has contributed to this situation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce, e-commerce sales in the first quarter of 2017 accounted for 8.5% of total retail sales. That compares to 7.8% of total sales in Q1 2016, 6.9% in Q1 2015 and 6.2% in Q1 ’14. Five years ago, for example, e-commerce represented 5.1% of total retail sales.

So while flooring dealers worry about e-commerce’s rise, there is some encouraging news. The retail consultancy Alix Partners tracked five years of financial performance for 20 publicly traded retailers. For the group, online sales grew from 10.5% of total sales in 2012 to 15.5% in 2016—but margins steadily declined by 150 basis points to 9% in the year. It concluded that retailers’ store fleets were subsidizing their online businesses.

What’s more, it cited a recent study of millennial shopping habits in which 82% of respondents said they still prefer shopping in stores.

While the tactile, face-to-face experience of shopping for flooring in a brick-and-mortar store will likely never go away, retailers like Wiebe said dealers must come to terms with the growing trend toward online sales, particularly among DIY and low-cost segments.

Deb DeGraaf, owner of DeGraaf Interiors, Grand Rapids, Mich., agrees there are consumers who will always want to touch and feel before they purchase, “but in that case some of us are going to be used for the touching and feeling of the product and the customer will then purchase online. I see this being a problem particularly with case goods. Rolls of carpet will remain primarily through retailers and box stores because of the challenge of receiving the roll. It is very important that we as independent retailers create an experience and romance the customers when we get the opportunity.”

As e-commerce sales grow some flooring retailers say they will turn to more private-label goods as a way to slow e-commerce’s growth. Others, however, worry that suppliers can use e-commerce to leapfrog the retail channel and sell directly to the end user.

“We should be very concerned,” said Casey Dillabaugh, owner of Dillabaugh’s Flooring America, Boise, Idaho. “Anything that eliminates the friction of the purchase decision in the eyes of the consumer ought to be considered serious competition. As such, as retailers, we must be willing to explore other non-traditional ways of relating and communicating with our potential customers. With all that said, I do believe there will always be a sector of the community that still wants the experience that only a specialty flooring retailer can provide. In the end, it’s how we relate to the customer that will ensure our survival.”