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Distribution: Haines’ secret to success

November 6/13, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 11

By Ken Ryan

 

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 9.58.47 AMFor Haines, the industry’s largest distributor with $490 million in sales, 2017 has been a year of transition and transformation under Michael Barrett, who was appointed president and CEO on Jan. 1.

For Barrett and his new executive team (which includes Hoy Lanning, senior CEO advisor; Reid McCarthy, CFO; Bill Rothenback, chief human resources manager; and Doug Drews, chief supply chain officer) the year started by re-establishing relationships with customers, its supplier network and 600-strong Loyalty Club members.

“We have traveled the entire network, listened to what their thoughts were on how we can be a better service provider,” Barrett told FCNews. “I know I have spent a lot of time in airports this year but it is well worth it.”

Lanning said it was the new CEO’s desire to meet with Haines’ constituents on their turf. “We were welcomed by the retailers. They really appreciated the commitment Mike has made to being with his customers and listening to their concerns. In our industry, there are not that many businesses that would go around to their customers to the extent we have and ask what we can do for them. I think it makes us unique. It is about the customer, after all. They are our livelihood.”

Barrett and his team take over a distributor that has finally absorbed the acquisition of CMH, which at the time was a top 5 wholesaler. Haines’ nearly $500 million in revenue dwarfs the No. 2 player in the field. Its geographic coverage encompasses the East Coast from Pennsylvania and New Jersey to the southern tip of Florida, Tennessee and West Virginia. Today Haines operates 25 supply centers and nine warehouse locations and is about to open a 500,000-square-foot central hub in Concord, N.C., which has the capacity to expand an additional 100,000 square feet.

Barrett, whose background is in operations and logistics, wants to transform Haines into a large-scale distributor that is also nimble in its market approach. “Our East Coast footprint and the service model that is being established will further differentiate our company in the future,” he explained. “We continue to look for ways to deploy technology that is additive to our service model and gives us the ability to successfully run the company. This, combined with a powerful logistics model that is continually evolving and improving, will be key to our ability to provide uncompromised service.”

During 2017 Haines outsourced the shuttle network that moves inventory from building to building, and it outsourced its delivery fleet component to JB Hunt, a Fortune 500 transportation company. As Barrett explained, “We are not a trucking company; we sell flooring—that’s what we do. JB Hunt will provide the logistical and transportation excellence to support us.”

JB Hunt’s Dedicated Contract Services unit (DSC) provides Haines with a host of outsourcing solutions to enhance efficiency. One service—dynamic routing—creates routes from scratch, typically for the coming hours or days using a given set of orders instead of using static/master routes. “It just makes sense to partner with someone with JB Hunt’s capabilities since they already have the software and the people with the engineering knowledge,” Barrett noted.

In 2018, Haines will deploy a customer-facing analytics technology called Predictive Delivery that provides customers with real-time information on estimated deliveries. Other technology enhancements designed to improve the supply chain will be rolled out in the coming months.  “We’re using technology to maximize efficiency,” Barrett explained. “We want to be good and fast.”

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Guest column: Lack of action is the No. 1 impediment to success

April 24/May 1, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 23

By Vinnie Virga

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 10.51.13 AMIf you were able to ask Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn or any other world-class personal performance speaker to identify the greatest inhibitor to success, they would probably say “fear of acting.” I would agree. When it comes to establishing and growing a successful business, every decision counts – even if you procrastinate and don’t take action, that is in its own way a decision.

Most barometers I’ve seen indicate the economy is growing, which means our businesses should all benefit. The question you must now ask yourself is this: Can you afford NOT to act? Competition is at an all-time high, and when these consumers are ready for remodeling of any kind are you confident they will call you? If you don’t know the answer with absolute certainty then read on.

In today’s ever-changing marketplace, the differentiating factor between businesses that succeed and those that don’t is the willingness to change, try new things and, most importantly, keep up with the times. What worked before won’t work now, and if you want to stay alive you’ve got to accept this notion and pivot accordingly. Consider the difference between McDonald’s and Howard Johnson’s. McDonald’s was willing to change with the times, even if every new product didn’t catch on. (Remember the McHot Dog?) Howard Johnson’s wasn’t willing to change even a modicum and, well, you know how that turned out.

Yesterday’s marketing plan cannot keep up with today’s consumers. If you do not have a plan that is aligned with current marketing methods, and if you are not looking at your plan daily, you are prolonging the inevitability of failure. Managing any successful and thriving business has an element of risk. Every entrepreneur faces the unknown and stumbling blocks along the way, but the successful ones have a support system and an effective strategy and are willing to step up to the plate. Oftentimes their risk is rewarded with increased revenue and a boost in customer acquisition.

Large leaps forward consist of smaller, focused steps. Concentrate your efforts in digital marketing. I have touched on this in the past, but it bears repeating because getting up to speed with your social media and other digital marketing strategies will be the biggest difference maker in attracting customers that traditional media might miss. A well-managed social media program is the most cost-effective marketing for your business, because it gets the right message to the right target consistently and frequently. Content is king and timely responses are vital. Remember, you are your brand. Don’t shy away from collaborating and promoting like-minded content to expand your audience and bolster your overall brand recognition.

Every choice you make is either a hindrance or a help to your business. Remember, failing to take action is still a choice—a costly one. If you want your business to thrive, think about what fears might be inhibiting you from achieving unparalleled success and formulate a plan for tackling them head on.

What’s stopping you from achieving the success for your business and quality of life you deserve? What’s stopping you from contacting Floors & More? Be bold and decisive and turn your dreams into reality. Better yet, let us help you do that.

 

Vinnie Virga is managing partner and president of Big Bob’s Flooring Outlet and Floors & More buying group. His experience includes management of various CCA Global Partner retail groups, including Flooring America.

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Marketing Mastery: Maximize your sales team’s success

January 2/9, 2017: Volume 31, Number 15

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 3.50.37 PM“I’m trying to implement improvements to my selling system,” a dealer I was coaching told me. “But I’m getting resistance from some members of my sales team. How can I get them on board?”

Many dealers can relate to this question. I get it most often when I’m helping them implement a more effective selling system. If you want to maximize your sales team’s success and get the greatest buy-in for your sales system, you have got to have three things in place: the tools to succeed, training on how to use the tools and accountability.

Tools to succeed. Have you ever told a salesperson you need them to close more sales, or they need to quote higher margins? And have you ever been frustrated because no matter how many times you tell them, they never seem to improve much? If so, it’s likely because you’re giving them the outcome you want but not the tools to achieve it. That’s like telling someone you want him to drive a nail into a two-by-four but neglecting to give them a hammer. If you want your team to close more sales and command higher margins, you have got to give them the right tool. In this case that means providing them with a selling system that positions them as trusted advisors, creates differentiation, eliminates price resistance and leads prospects on a logical, step-by-step process from shopper to buyer.

Here are some tips to help you implement this kind of system. First, write out your sales system using bullet points. If it’s not written down it’s not a system. Second, what happens in the first 60 seconds after a prospect walks in is critical, so carefully script this out. Third, develop a list of questions to ask prospects. Fourth, build in differentiators and trust builders that are done every time, like using testimonials, offering walk-ins a beverage menu, wearing shoe covers in the home, inspecting her vacuum, etc.

Training to use the tools. It’s not enough to have the tools in place; you have got to train your team on how to use them. I’ve worked with dealers who simply handed their team a sales form with a list of questions but didn’t train them on scripts, processes, etc. They then wondered why their “system” didn’t work. Training is key.

Accountability. Raising teenagers taught me it’s not what’s expected, it’s what’s inspected. This is good advice for salespeople, too. You have got to hold your team accountable to not only use the tools but to use them correctly. Accountability also includes recognizing and rewarding your team as they implement and succeed. I provide dealers with a turnkey sales process and teach them to publicly reward salespeople with a dinner gift card the first time they use it on a customer.  Reward and recognize the behavior you want.

All three of these—tools, training and accountability—can be accomplished with a one-hour weekly sales training. During these trainings you can role play by having a salesperson play the customer and another “sell” to them. You can troubleshoot, cover different selling scenarios, reward and recognize their successes, and host contests.

This may seem like a lot of work, but consider the payoff. Let’s say your average ticket is $3,500 and you have four salespeople. By implementing a system like this, each team member should be able to close one extra sale each week, figuring conservatively. This equals an additional $14,000 per week, or $728,000 per year, without spending another dime on marketing. This makes your sales training easily the most profitable hour of your week.

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Marketing Mastery: How to make 2017 a huge success

December 19/26, 2016: Volume 31, Issue 14

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

(Second of two parts)

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 3.50.37 PMI teach dealers a three-step system for achieving any goal in their business or personal lives. In Part I of this series I covered the first step, which is to clearly define your “big rocks,” the important goals you have for your business. I also gave readers an assignment to write down two or three big rocks they’d like to accomplish in 2017.

In the second and final part I will cover the next two steps you’ll need to accomplish your rocks.

Step No. 2: Practice time blocking. In my previous column I explained the importance of making time to accomplish your most important goals. A simple yet highly effective method for doing this is called time blocking. I’ve been using this strategy for years, and I’ve taught it to hundreds of dealers. How it works: Time blocking entails making appointments with yourself to accomplish your big rocks. First, decide how many hours per week you want to invest in accomplishing your big goals. For argument’s sake, let’s say it’s four hours. Open your company calendar and block out four hours in your schedule. It could be a single four-hour block, or you could break it up into four hour-long blocks.

Treat these as real, unbreakable appointments in much the same way as you would view a measure appointment for a $10,000 flooring sale—perhaps even more so. For instance, if you were with a prospect, bidding on a $10k wood job, would you accept phone calls, check emails, send texts or play on Facebook? Of course not. So don’t do it during your time blocks. Turn off your phone and emails. Hang a “do not disturb” sign on your door. Even better, do your time blocks offsite at a coffee shop or at home.

Step No. 3: Focus on results-producing tasks. Let’s say you’re currently working Monday through Friday, and that you spend Fridays working the sales floor. Let’s also say that one of your big rocks is, “I will take every Friday off by April 1.” You’ll likely have to put some things in place to enable you be able to take Fridays off, for example:

  • Hire a new salesperson
  • Train the new salesperson
  • Implement an “ups” system
  • Implement marketing to generate more prospects

For argument’s sake, let’s say you’ve time blocked Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. to work on this rock. What are you going to do during this time? Results-producing tasks are assignments that move you directly toward your big rock. In this example, you might dedicate your first time block to the results-producing task of creating a job description along with an ad to recruit a new salesperson. The next several time blocks might be spent developing a sales training initiative or identifying a turnkey sales program and implementing it into your business. (Disclosure: My company, Flooring Success Systems, has developed a turnkey sales system for dealers, so if you need help with this, contact my office for more information.)

Your next several time blocks would be devoted to implementing an ups system. Your final time blocks on this rock would be to implement marketing strategies.

This same process can be used on virtually any goal you set for your business. By following these three steps—defining your big rocks, time blocking and focusing results-producing tasks—you can make 2017 a great year.

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Solutions: Mohawk arms its aligned dealers with tools for success

December 19/26, 2016; Volume 31, Number 14
By Lindsay Baillie

 

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-4-13-43-pmDallas—If one thing was made clear at the Solutions convention here recently, it’s Mohawk’s unwavering commitment to the success of its retailer partners. From a bevy of new innovations spanning the entire soft and hard surface spectrum to refreshed displays and digital marketing tools, Mohawk is working hard to help retailers achieve their goals in 2017 and beyond.

The three-day event included extensive showroom hours, Mohawk University sessions, product demos and information sessions—all of which explored the company’s new solutions, products and tools.

To complement Mohawk’s new product introductions was a vast showroom highlighting the company’s latest displays. Showcasing both hard and soft surfaces, the displays are scaleable and interchangeable. “We have several different ways that we show product and for the first time, from what we’re hearing from our retailers, with not a tremendous amount of investment they’re going to be able to position their in-store retail environment in a really unified, consistent, one-notebook way across soft surfaces and hard surfaces,” said Karen Mendelsohn, senior vice president of marketing, Mohawk. In the past Mohawk has had bigger fixtures that made it look like the company was selling merchandising instead of flooring but with these new displays, “Product is hero,” she added.

Retailers have also picked up on this change. “I think [the new displays] will work well,” said Yolanda Donaldson of Donaldson Flooring, Solano County, Calif. “I like the way they look. They don’t take up a lot of room. I also like how they’re more streamlined so you can get more in your store.”

Looking at the hard surface displays in particular, Donaldson appreciates the new sample sizes. “I like that the boards are bigger so people can get more of a look at a big, long piece instead of a little square,” she explained.

Mohawk, known for its innovation in carpet, also introduced SmartStrand Silk Reserve, a product the company says has managed to make silk feel even softer. The new line comes in a better/ best solid offering with a 50-color palette, multi-color offering, tonal offering and different pattern constructions.

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-4-13-28-pmDealers like what they’re seeing so far. “I’m really excited about the Silk Reserve, which is a little bit different as far as the denier of the yarn,” said Sandra Molski, owner, Flooring & More, Janesville, Wis. “It’s even softer, which is just completely incredible to me that they were able to make silk even softer. But I’m really excited about the loops because they’ve got a lot of [tones]; the colors really hit the mark with lots of gray which everyone is going for right now.”

In addition to the look and feel of SmartStrand Silk Reserve is the product’s marketable story. With the tagline “Durability to the Max” SmartStrand Silk Reserve features Max, a 5,400-pound rhino as its mascot and durability tester. Marketed as a product that can stand up to the messes of a rhino, this product has intrigued many retailers.

“They’ve done the rhino, they’ve done the elephant challenge and recently there was a Tough Mudder competition, so what the fiber offers is truly revolutionary,” said Michael Kundert, owner, The Pad Place, Sarasota, Fla. “Its ability to cleanup and its durability makes it definitely a winner. Everybody is looking for these pet-proof items. What could be more pet-proof than rhinos and elephants compared to dogs and cats? This type of marketing will drive sales towards it.”

In keeping with its strategy to present itself as a total flooring company, Mohawk introduced a full line-up of hard surfaces, including the company’s unique rigid core SolidTech line. Mohawk has placed this product in its own category, stating that it is different from LVT. SolidTech utilizes Mohawk’s uniclic multi-fit technology and is available in three collections: Galvyn, Revella and Vershire.

SolidTech and its marketing companion Doug the Pug excited many retailers with the product’s durability and waterproof capabilities. Donaldson, for instance, believes this product will help her business because customers seem to be interested in buying similar products. “I think it’s going to work out really well,” she said. “This seems more durable than the others.”

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-4-13-20-pmOther hard surface offerings of note include new ceramic tile and laminate offerings. There are five new ceramic tile collections including, Amelia Manor, Donovan Manor, Bartlett, Marianna and Accent Statements. These different styles incorporate wood, linear and marble looks.

From Mohawk’s new laminate offerings are four collections inspired by modern European palettes and reclaimed looks. These collections include Reclaimed Spirit, Wooded Vision, Artistic Creation and Painted Charm.

With respect to wood, Mohawk presented four new introductions. Weathered Vision, Modern Vision and Coastal Impressions are 9⁄16-inch thick x 7-inch-wide, three-ply core products made in the U.S. with Mohawk’s TruFinish 50-year warranty. Vintage Vintique is a ½-thich, 7-inch-wide product featuring TruFinish.

Lou Morano, president and owner, Capitol Carpet and Tile with six locations in Florida, summed it up this way: “I think the laminates and the hardwood are probably some of their best introductions from the new products that they’ve come out with. The longer planks, wider widths, styling and coloring altogether were some of the best they’ve had in years. I think we’re going to do really well with them and they’re priced right.”

 

Sales support
screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-4-13-34-pmIn an effort to help retailers at all levels of business, Mohawk has introduced Omnify, a digital marketing product that creates what the company calls “simplified connected retail” and provides aligned retailers with brand integration (FCNews, Nov. 21/28).

The platform provides what Mendelsohn called “omnichannel solutions” for retailers, which will enhance the customer’s online, in-store and product experience. Through this platform content is automatically updated to a retailer’s website which allows for seamless transition of product and sales information between Mohawk and aligned retailers.

David Beebe, owner of Stoneridge Carpets in Reed Springs, Mo., embraced the concept. “We currently do everything that Omnify does, per say, through an advertising company. I think there’s a little savings for us and I think it’ll be done much better. It’ll consolidate what we’re doing and do it better.”

 

 

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Retailer2Retailer: The Seven Ps

by Scott Perron

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