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Technology: 10 retailer tips for choosing software tools

June 11/18, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 26

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Most flooring dealers use software to help manage and automate their businesses. However, choosing the right program to use can be a challenge, especially when considering just how many software companies and platforms exist. While some dealers find it easier to implement generic systems, others swear by using flooring-specific software. Despite differing opinions, all flooring dealers agree any program should make day-to-day business easier—if not, it might be time for a change.

Following are some software suggestions and considerations from flooring dealers who have achieved positive results in this regard.

Tip #1: Do your research

Jake Pierce, Pierce Flooring & Design, with three locations in Montana

In addition to using RFMS and Podium, Pierce Flooring & Design has an IT team that has created apps off the company’s database to monitor aspects of the business. According to Pierce, flooring dealers should consider their budget and the program’s efficiency. Ultimately, a software program should help get daily tasks completed faster. “All software will be lacking some reporting features when it gets to each individual business and how it runs,” Pierce said. “Also, every system has drawbacks when it comes to what it can and cannot do. Do your research, take your time and ask questions to other businesses that are using the software you are considering.”

Tip #2: Make a list

George McMurtry, America’s Carpet Outlet, State College, Pa.

America’s Carpet Outlet has used RFMS for its business software needs for 22 years. McMurtry recommends flooring dealers consider several points, including: who needs to have access to the program, and whether or not they want to immerse themselves in b2b. If a dealer answers ‘yes’ to the latter, he or she should “reach out to the major suppliers and see what systems are compatible.”

In addition, McMurtry suggests writing down everything the dealer wants the program to do. “For example, order entry, payroll, back office, etc. If you have multiple locations, you might even want internal inventory management. Then, look to see which programs can offer you the most.”

Tip #3: Find a program specific to your needs

Kevin Rose, Carpetland USA, Rockford, Ill.

Carpetland USA utilizes Comp-U-Floor software to run its business. “The [company] has always taken care of us and is constantly trying to keep up with changes in the flooring industry to accommodate the retailers and wholesale industry,” Rose said.

Carpetland USA suggests dealers ask themselves whether or not the software they’re considering is specific enough to their needs. “General software that is not flooring specific can create several issues once you get into the details of inventory, cost tracking and detailed information,” Rose noted.

Tip #4: Select tools that expedite tasks

Martin Cohen, Peacock Interiors, San Francisco

Peacock Interiors has used QuickBooks since 1999. (It also uses Measure Square.) The store is unique in that it is a one-man operation that mainly handles commercial and cash-and-carry jobs. According to Cohen, a flooring dealer can get easily married to the first program he or she uses, so it is critical the software saves the dealer time on everyday tasks. “If you’re a hands-on guy, you’re going to be using it every day and the support from the software is critical.”

When Cohen incorporated Measure Square, he was looking to speed up measuring processes. “The first job I did paid for the Measure Square program,” Cohen said. “Being able to import PDFs and easily do takeoffs with the program is amazing.”

Tip #5: Select a user-friendly program

Greg Besteman, Advanced Interiors, Jenison, Mich.

Advanced Interiors has been using QFloors for a little over five years. That’s the company’s primary business operating software for daily transactions for producing financial statements.

From a management perspective, Besteman suggests finding a software program that is easy for staff to use. “I don’t make money if I have to help everyone work through using the software,” he explained. “So the ease of them using the software by themselves on a day-to-day level is crucial.”

Tip #6: Choose a program you’ll be comfortable using

Steve Weisberg, Crest Flooring, Allentown, Pa.

Crest Flooring uses Rockson Technologies for management and accounting purposes. The store is also considering Measure Square software to fulfill its estimating needs. For Weisberg, flooring software should be easy to use and easy to teach to store employees.

“Consider how your business is run and don’t overkill it with more technology than you are comfortable with,” he explained. “Many dealers wear a lot of different hats every day that you will eventually need someone in your organization to be totally responsible for your software.”

Tip #7: Consider integration capabilities

Claudia Smith, Aggieland Carpet One, College Station, Texas

Aggieland Carpet One uses Pacific Solutions software. “Job Runner has really helped us grow without having to hire too many more people,” Smith said. “The learning curve is very short, and it’s easy to marry your paper flow along with the software processes. Smith said one key point is whether a software program will properly interface with other systems. “If you want to run a good business your processes have to be integrated,” she said.

Tip #8: Compare cost and flexibility

Colin Pinder, Pinder Tile & Stone, Nassau, Bahamas

Pinder Tile & Stone uses ABS for three different businesses in four locations. “ABS has customized its program to help me consolidate all of the accounting at one location,” Pinder said. “I met ABS many years ago at Coverings and found it was up to date with the newest technology.”

Pinder believes flooring dealers should strongly consider how much a software program costs as well as whether or not the software company is willing to customize programs. “I am in the Bahamas, so I have specific customs and freight rate issues that impact the cost of goods,” Pinder explained. “ABS worked with us so that we could enter inventory into the system without missing any hidden costs.”

Tip #9: Request (and complete) multiple demos

Brooks Clem, Peters Flooring and Paint, Hot Springs, Ark.

Peters Flooring and Paint has been a Roll Master user since 2005. “It just really runs our business—it’s our everything,” Clem explained. “I’ve gone through several kinds of software, and we’re also in the paint business. Our past software was more for paint and didn’t really handle inventory well. Before choosing a software program, Clem suggests requesting demos with multiple companies. “You need to interview the companies. Clem also recommends properly planning on the front end. “You need to know what you’re missing from your current software. Figure out what your needs are.”

Tip #10: Evaluate customer service

Heidi Press, ImPressive Floors, Bedford, Pa.

ImPressive Floors has used QFloors to operate its business for the last 10 years. The company also uses Measure Square for its estimating. Prior to QFloors, the retailer used a generic software program designed mainly for accounting. When considering a new software program, Press urges dealers to interact with the customer service departments.

“The best part of being a QFloors customer is the service it provides, which is only a phone call away,” Press said. “The online wait is minimal, and a well-trained representative is always available for any of the operating or accounting questions that come up.”

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Chameleon Power introduces new director of marketing

Novi, Mich.—Chameleon Power has added Fred Cizauskas as director of marketing. Cizauskas will be responsible for developing and implementing an overall corporate marketing strategy, directly engaging and managing the marketing team, and translating the company’s business objectives into marketing strategies that drive revenue. In addition, he will help overall brand development and messaging in the marketplace.

Chameleon Power is looking to expand its marketing efforts and provide a stronger presence across the United States. “I’m excited for Fred to join the Chameleon Power team” said Dan Dempsey, Chameleon Power president and CEO. “His integrated marketing experience and skill set around modern, scalable marketing and public relation methods will allow us to capitalize on the strength of the Chameleon Power brand as we continue to innovate and grow.”

Cizauskas comes to Chameleon Power most recently from the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society where he served as marketing director for services and advocacy. In this role, he was responsible for developing and executing corporate marketing efforts, including brand awareness and event marketing for the National MS Society’s 500-plus programs along with directing all marketing efforts around the societies Public Policy Conference, State Action Days and communicating out the efforts of the society lobbying efforts and successes from capitol hill.

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Guest column: Why going ‘mobile’ in your flooring business makes sense

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

By Kurt Wilson

 

With the explosion of mobile devices in the last few years, many new software programs and apps have come on the market that are designed to be used by flooring professionals. That begs the question: Why should you get onboard the mobile train?

Answer: Mobility enables your sales, estimating and installation team members to be more productive. For example, sales professionals can use their cell phone or tablet to look up product pricing and availability from the showroom floor and even give their clients a proposal document before she leaves the showroom floor. Using a mobile application, sales professionals can create a quote with product quantities after they have used the app to draw the floor plan and estimate these quantities.

If your business employs dedicated estimators, they can use mobile applications to receive project assignments from the sales staff or management, then send the estimated project back to the salesperson within a work period. Consider the Measure Mobile and Mobile Order Entry programs from RFMS, for example. Tim Blanchard, district manager, Design Source Flooring, Lenexa, Kan., can attest. “Measure Mobile and Mobile Order Entry have significantly empowered our sales team to independently and professionally close sales calls without relying on office staff or after-hours legwork. We have also seen a substantial increase of greater accuracy in regard to floorplan layouts, providing an increased cost savings on material and labor charges to our clients.”

Blanchard is not alone. Andy Coomer, account manager at ProSource, Nashville, is also a believer. “After using Mobile Order Entry for several months, I am 100% on board. In my opinion, this is the best thing to come along since I have been at ProSource. I’m able to hand my customers a written estimate and email them a copy before they leave the showroom floor. I’m even able to check inventory on the showroom floor. That’s efficiency.”

As technology improves, the costs of deployment have significantly gone down. This means flooring dealers no longer need to pay large sums to purchase hardware and software. Today’s mobile devices are affordable, and many apps either have free versions or can be used on a cost-effective subscription basis.

Must-have tools
When deciding on what software or apps you use, consider the way the apps work together with your main business management system. This is important to prevent duplicate entries. Check to see if the software has features that allow remote access to your main database, real-time inventory checking, payment acceptance and posting, along with attachment of signed documents. In addition, the software should sync to your main database back at the office.

Mobile apps should also have the ability to use cell phone camera technologies to improve the way orders and quotes are created. For instance, many dealers use the camera feature to put together a project in the software and take photos of the product to attach to the quote to give to the customer. The warehouse can also use the attached photos to immediately confirm the receipt of the correct product when it arrives.

Bottom line: In today’s competitive business environment, it is vital that we take advantage of technology and use it to make us more professional and profitable. Mobile devices are here to stay. With our economy and business sector enjoying a very healthy and busy climate, it is critical that your business can keep up. By utilizing time-saving devices and apps, you can improve your profits and keep your staff current with their technology skills.

 

Kurt Wilson is the apps product manager for Measure by RFMS. His role entails working with RFMS’ mobile applications and their integration with the RFMS Business Management System. He can be reached at kwilson@rfms.com.

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Technology: Flooring software aims to bring simplicity to daily workflow

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

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Las Vegas—Business management, estimating and measuring software manufacturers continue to serve up solutions to simplify flooring dealers’ daily processes. At Surfaces, these companies showed off the latest programs and apps in cloud- and browser-based formats for both residential and commercial businesses.

The following is an overview of some of the new programs and apps unveiled during Surfaces 2018.

Comp-U-Floor
Comp-U-Floor’s latest web and mobile applications are now all cloud-based, which has sped up the databases five or six times the original speed, according to the company. The software can also now be run on any device, including iPads, Androids, computers and iPhones.

“With Comp-U-Floor web and mobile, you can access your system from anywhere on any device,” said Mark Wiltgen, sales and marketing manager. “There’s now a mobile app available for installers, which has multiple filtering and search capabilities. It has secure dashboards to provide a quick analysis of all business operations, which are all filed and listed based on the user’s role in the company.”

With this updated system, retailers can now walk around showrooms with the customer and do all of the sales processes from an iPad or other hand-held electronic devices.

Kerridge Commercial Solutions
Kerridge Commercial Solutions has unveiled an improved installation scheduling interface, a real-time general ledger for mid-month financials and increased trigger functionality, which sends users notifications whenever data is added, changed or deleted.

“Trigger functionality helps resolve issues before they become an issue,” said Lisa Truitt White, marketing manager for North America.

“For example, when a backorder is delayed and a purchase order is updated, the sales rep in charge of the order is notified immediately and can manage the customer experience prior to a job delay.”

Kerridge Commercial Solutions is also in the process of increasing functionality in its already ingrained CRM software.

Measure Square
Measure Square introduced its latest AR tool, which aims to make it easier for homeowners and dealers to conduct a home measuring, according to Steven Wang, president. To use the tool, a user simply calibrates the device he or she is using to measure and then selects the corners of the room. After the measurement of the space is calculated, the user can select various flooring types to view in the space. What’s more, the user also gets a finished drawing of the floor plan.

In addition to the AR tool, Measure Square has updated the number of devices able to run its applications. “We have launched the same software on Android devices,” Wang explained. “It’s now available on all devices.”

Measure Square has also integrated with other flooring software companies, including QFloors, RollMaster and Comp-U-Floor. These integrations aim to allow information to flow seamlessly from one program to another.

One program currently in testing is Measure Square’s new AI technology. “The program can automatically detect where the corners of the room are,” Wang explained. “The user first uploads a floor plan and the AI tool automatically detects where the room is and what the dimensions are.”

RFMS
RFMS brought a host of software enhancements to Surfaces. Among them is the Measure Mobile Order Entry, which allows dealers to go in the home and complete a measure and order (see page 35).

In addition to several mobile apps, new installer scheduling programs and a new CRM mobile app, RFMS is also developing a new data collection system. “We’re bringing a whole new ideology into the industry with our data collection system called Business Insights,” said Terry Wheat, CEO. “We’ll be able to give you trends on different products, average selling prices in different regions, average costs, etc. We will have data collected in one central [repository], and all the people who are already sharing data are already able to benchmark.”

The new system has been in development for the past two years. “To date, we have 162 stores sharing data and we’ll have 500 stores by summer,” Wheat said. “Our goal is to have in excess of 3,000 to 5,000 stores sharing data. And then we’ll able to give users statistics on their financials and sales across the industry.”

RollMaster
Integration with Measure Square, new Install Web Calendar and Mobile Sales apps and automation are just a few of RollMaster’s new innovations for 2018.

“We’re integrating with Measure Square for commercial and residential measuring,” said Kelly Oeschlin, marketing coordinator/technical writer. “If users have RollMaster and are using Measure Square once they do the takeoffs and whatnot, it gets uploaded back into RollMaster.”

This integration, along with the company’s new apps, are part of RollMaster’s mission to help make users better businesspeople, according to Oeschlin. The Install Web Calendar and the Mobile Sales App were developed to allow employees in the field to have access to customer information, which promotes productive, knowledgeable conversations. Managers can also have access to inventory, payments and other key features to help run the business.

RollMaster has also incorporated automation as a way to help its users. “There are all of these programs in marketing and business that we’re bringing in and giving access to our users, so they can connect,” Oeschlin explained. “For example, online reviews with Testimonial Tree. We also integrate with Retail Lead Management so that users can access that program.”

Pacific Solutions
New to Pacific Solutions is the company’s multi-family portal for its mobile plan. As Bob Noe Jr., president, explains: “If you’re in an apartment complex and using the multi-family portal, you can call up the unit number and confirm the floor plan, and you can tell it whether or not you’re changing the carpet and then submit that information to the system.”

Pacific Solutions’ SiteDraw has also been updated to allow the use of an iPad as a reference point for measuring. SiteDraw’s current features include measuring, drawing, positioning, placing doors, measuring angles and curves, naming rooms, placing flooring product in designated rooms, recording nots, access to saved files and various export options.

The company also showcased changes to its FloorRight software, which allows users to import flooring plans, create materials, draw rooms, add transitions, add bases, estimate the job, generate reports and integrate with management software. “Now FloorRight software can automatically find wall perimeters,” Noe added.

QFloors
QFloors has released the first edition of QPro POS+, a 100% browser-based cloud software. According to Chad Ogden, president, all current QFloors customers will eventually be grandfathered into the software at no additional cost.

“Our QPro product is the one that everyone has been waiting for,” he said. “It’s the first time we’re selling it to the public and we’re excited as a company.”

As a browser-based cloud software, QPro has lower operating and material costs, greater device independence, easier customization, more flexibility and compatibility, easier third-party integration and enhanced security and redundancy.

In addition to QPro, QFloors is offering users a commercial version of the original QFloors and a Mobile Office application. The company has also integrated with Measure Square to provide seamless transitions from one program to the other.

“For our current users, the Mobile Office can help increase sales with less mistakes and the receivables go down,” Ogden said. “They can also do everything in-house.”

 

Digital services galore at Surfaces

Various tech companies got a chance to shine at Surfaces as they sought to provide assistance to dealers struggling with their own websites and digital strategies. Among them: Creating Your Space (CYS) and Floor Force, which showcased updates to their programs and proven solutions for digital marketing and CRM.

CYS demonstrated the depth of customization to its full digital marketing program. How it works: Every dealer gets a custom, unique program starting with the website all the way through the digital marketing. “It helps them not only get their hands around a complicated offering that changes daily, but it also ensures they get exactly what they need for their business,” said Jay Flynn, vice president, CYS.

CYS customizes its digital programs based on the following criteria: the size of a business, its goals, the competition in the store’s area and the store’s budget. “There are a number of digital marketing tools out there with varying goals and purposes,” Flynn said. “What we’ve done is broken it down for the dealer based on those four parameters and said, ‘Here are the tools and the right budget based on where you are for your business.’”

While digital marketing and social media strategies are still relatively fresh concepts to industry members, John Weller, co-founder, Floor Force, sees an optimism in dealers and a shift toward greater digital involvement. “We’ve gone from about 20% of our retailers investing in websites and paid advertising to over 50%. We now have over 1,000 retailers doing Google AdWords, which is a huge sign that people are starting to really understand digital marketing. We expect to have over 1,000 dealers on our Facebook campaign this year. Things are progressing.”

As for new offerings, Floor Force has completely changed its portfolio. “We’ve added integrated CRM to our program, and we’ve also partnered with Retail Lead Management,” Weller said. “We’ve developed a really well-thought-out CRM system that is fully integrated with our website.”
Floor Force is also launching a new Facebook inventory ad program that will allow retailers to put products into various product catalogs and clearance sections, which will then be continuously added to a curated product catalog of in-stock products available for consumers to see throughout their online journey.

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Technology: Embracing artificial intelligence is a smart move

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

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

Mention the term “artificial intelligence” (more commonly referred to as AI) and most people think of science-fiction movies. But the reality is this emerging technology stands to reinvent business as we know it today.

So, what is AI exactly? In essence, AI entails software, machines, etc., designed and programmed in such a manner they think like humans—all while learning in the process. Truth be told, we have only just begun to see how AI is already improving our lives. Some examples include: Apple’s Siri, Google’s self-driving cars and Facebook’s image recognition software, to name a few. Personally, I don’t know how these things happen; I just know they enhance my experiences and interactions with the world.

In that same vein, more businesses and brands are expected to use AI to customize the user experience by analyzing data, consumer-buying trends and browsing history. In the world of tomorrow, you won’t have to ask for the customer’s name, email and contact information; it will all be available through AI.

But the biggest impact of AI, industry experts say, will involve social media. We will continue to see a rise in real-time personalized content targeting with the aim of creating increased sales opportunities, mainly because AI can make use of effective behavioral targeting methodologies. There are other benefits for business as well. For instance, the capabilities of AI-powered fraud detection tools are available to help companies protect against fraud schemes. Speech and face recognition as well as chip readers are also common AI technologies that provide consumer protections. Interestingly, some people hesitate to embrace AI. Skeptics often ask, ‘Will they outthink us?’ or ‘Aren’t we smart enough?’ In truth, AI tries to understand our patterns of behavior and how we think. From that we can build “smarter systems” and better understand how to expand and understand our concept of intelligence.

AI has actually been around for some time. In 1950, English mathematician Alan Turing published a paper titled “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” which opened the doors to the field that would be called AI. (Siri, for instance, is an intelligent personal assistant included in Apple’s iOS, watch, Mac and TV operating systems.)

I started thinking seriously about AI while listening to an interview with Eric Yuan, the CEO of Zoom on Masters of Scale, a podcast program hosted by Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn. This is my favorite podcast because the interviews are with the new business leaders in our country.

There are many video conferencing and webinar platforms out there, but Zoom is beta testing AI technology designed to help businesses by testing matching voices to facial recognition. How it works: Once you match a voice to a face, you will be able to know who is talking and who is listening. Yuan calls this an engagement score. The meeting, which will be recorded and transcribed, reveals helpful information about the participants. For instance, if the transcripts show you’re talking 80% of the time and only listening 20% of the time, what are you learning? Probably not much. Imagine if your managers have this information and can explain what it means to employees; this feedback can be used to help employees improve their listening behavior.

Retail businesses could use AI to determine if a customer is willing to purchase the product, seeking support or switching to another provider even before she actually approaches the store. AI might also collect essential data on the customer for the purpose of improving the overall shopping experience. How many businesses have an in-house person that can collect and decipher this invaluable information?

AI should be embraced, not feared. The technology is being used in ways to make our world more secure and allow us to immediately know what is going on around the globe.

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Technology: Chameleon Power gives dealers, suppliers an online edge

Photographic room visualization tools ease flooring selection, specification processes

 

By Reginald Tucker

 

If you’re not incorporating photographic visualization, virtual and augmented reality in your marketing, prospecting and lead-generation initiatives, then you’re missing out on potential sales opportunities and literally leaving money on the table. That’s according to the folks at Chameleon Power, a software company specializing in proprietary tools designed to help manufacturers, distributors, retailers and contractors deliver online and in-store/in-home presentations for their respective clients.

“Our core space is photographic visualization that lets users alter a photograph online while maintaining the photographic integrity of the original image,” said Dan Dempsey, Chameleon Power president and CEO. “Whether it’s for specification purposes or online and in-store selling, our technology moves the buyer down the path toward purchase.”

How it works: Chameleon Power dynamic visualization solutions provide real- time rendering of outcomes during usage. (Users may select from stock room scenes or upload their own rooms for instant viewing and selection of flooring products.) A website visitor or mobile app user can make instant changes of flooring and complementary surfacing to help with decorating decisions.

Chameleon tools are deployed as website solutions, in-store kiosks and mobile apps, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) solutions as well as product design and simulation technologies. Chameleon complements its tools with a suite of rendering, product photography, color correction, product simulation and print services. “We morph ourselves into whatever our clients need to help them embrace our software tools,” Dempsey said.

What’s more, Chameleon Power’s technology is flexible in that it can be applied toward various uses depending on the end-user channel. Online merchants, flooring retailers, homebuilders, designers, architects and many other channels servicing the end-user can implement Chameleon tools and services. For example, flooring dealers utilizing online tools, in-store kiosks, AR and VR tools can help their customers with colors, patterns and textures as they move to close the sale.

“That’s one of our key differentiators,” Dempsey stated. “Chameleon can ensure continuity from 2D to 3D, VR, AR, product simulation and beyond, which provides a more fluid set of tools and creates efficiencies and cost-savings for the suppliers.”

Constantly evolving
While Chameleon Power is by no means a newcomer in its field (it has been around for 20 years), the company has accelerated its product development in the 3D/virtual reality/augmented reality areas over the past several years. Many innovations from Chameleon spawn from client needs, including technologies for “blending,” which, according to Dempsey lets users to create unique mosaic combinations of tile and stone configurations.

Chameleon also creates simulation and print services to accommodate carpet manufacturers looking for more cost-effective, photo-accurate sampling solutions. “We have two color experts on our staff, including a color scientist who is our vice president of R&D, and our engines are developed based on our color science expertise,” Dempsey stated.  “Chameleon color tools help with product decisions and specifications, and we also help suppliers evolve their color palettes. In fact, the world’s largest paint and fabric companies use us to manage and enhance their product palettes.”

Today, Chameleon covers the gamut of visualization platforms, offering many different types of tools that all spawn from its original visualization engines.

Chameleon Power has also ramped up other aspects of its business, namely the Render Services category. The company employs more than 30 graphic design professionals who provide assistance for a range of commercial and residential clients. “A leading commercial flooring client works with us to specify products in projects all over the globe,” Dempsey stated. “They have 400 salespeople that we interact with daily to create outcomes with their products in a theme or a 2-D drawing of the floor plan or 3-D rendering.  We send back the project typically within the same day and help them close deals. Our graphics team even helps with flooring designs since they are graphically trained professionals. We also have render farms that do nothing but churn out volumes of vignettes based on numbers of products and scenes.”

Happy campers
Dempsey rolled off a litany of projects for clients such as Arizona Tile, Armstrong Flooring, Emser Tile, Shaw, Milliken and Ply Gem, to name a few—each with their own needs and requirements. Arizona Tile, is a case in point.  Over the course of the past five-plus years, the supplier worked with Chameleon Power on three different site projects—a standard visualization site, where customers can view the company’s products in various residential and commercial settings, as well as two customized portals specifically developed for Arizona Tile’s needs.

“In each case, Chameleon was able to accommodate very specific, custom requests we had and accomplish what we wanted to achieve,” said Adria Harrison, director of marketing. “All three sites are core components to our marketing strategy.”

Emser Tile is another satisfied customer. The manufacturer credits Chameleon Power with the creation of the room visualizer built into its website. “Chameleon has demonstrated a commitment over the years to be on the cutting edge of visualization tools, including the utilization of VR in their offerings,” said Bob Baldocchi, chief marketing officer and vice president of business development. “We believe customers’ expectations to visualize their selections with quality imaging in real time is increasing, and Chameleon is helping Emser Tile to meet these expectations.”

Upside for dealers
Chameleon’s manufacturer clients are not the only ones who stand to benefit from the suite of products offered. Floor covering retailers—those on the front line with consumers—have something to gain as well. According to Chameleon, sites that deploy its tools see user site times increase threefold. But the benefits don’t end there. “We’ve learned if someone actually gets to the point of saving a virtual room scene or project they’re working with, they will end up buying that product more than 75% of the time,” Dempsey explained. “It’s a fantastic lead generator—the best sales guide RSAs are going to ever deploy.”

Some of the big names on the retail client side of Chameleon’s business include the likes of Abbey Carpet & Floor, Carpet One, Empire Today, Floor & Décor and Rite Rug. The company also has distributors and interior designers that use its products regularly. “We offer a customer-facing technology, designed for someone who’s thinking about flooring and is now trying to decide where she’s going to buy it and which product she’s going to use,” Dempsey explained. “Providing technology at the website level ensures the customer is committed when they walk into the store. Having a website version that is also accessible on a kiosk at the store connects the dots between online and retail.”

Statistics and anecdotal data compiled by Chameleon Power show close rates and usages rates are significantly higher with a visualizer than without it. What’s more, the rate of return on investment in Chameleon systems is fairly quick. As Dempsey explained: “We have dealers that come in at $2,500 to start to use the tool, so one to two sales will pay for it. And we have some dealers that spend $50,000. It’s all based on complexity, product ranges, geographic scope, others.”

Regardless of a particular retailer’s size or market, Chameleon Power believes virtual marketing is no longer a luxury—it’s a necessity. “This used to be a premium tool that only the companies with the biggest budgets employed,” Dempsey stated. “It was a differentiator back then; today it is a standard technology.  Consumers who begin their research online expect retailers to offer it.”

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KCS appoints new vice president of research, development

Cary, N.C.—Kerridge Commercial Systems (KCS), provider of specialized software solutions, services and support focused on delivering fully integrated trading and business management solutions, has appointed Cary Anderson vice president research and development North America. Anderson will be responsible for all aspects of product strategy and development for KCS in North America, focusing on ensuring the KCS solutions meet the ever-changing demands of its customers.

“Cary has a long and distinguished track record of working closely with distributors and understanding the challenges and opportunities of the industry, and that makes him a perfect fit for Kerridge Commercial Systems,” said Alan Cross, KCS executive vice president North America. “I am delighted to welcome him to our team.”

Anderson brings more than 30 years of industry experience, with a strong focus on the LBM market. As a well-respected leader in technology, he has been responsible for helping distributors grow and prosper. Anderson’s expertise has been sought out for many articles written in leading LBM publications as well as educational webinars. All of his experience and insight will be put to use immediately as he fills this role at KCS.

For more information visit, kerridgecsna.com.

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Swiss Krono, Kronospan sign long-term agreements with Välinge Innovation

Viken, Sweden—Swiss Krono and Kronospan groups have recently signed long-term agreements with Välinge Innovation, committing to promote Välinge’s 5G technology worldwide. Swiss Krono and Kronospan have both been Välinge licensees since 2005.

“Both Swiss Krono and Kronospan have been early adopters of the 5G technology to offer their customers fast, easy and robust installation and a significant part of their product portfolio is already today offered with 5G Fold Down technology,” said Niclas Håkansson, CEO, Välinge. “We are now pleased to have signed long-term agreements with Swiss Krono and Kronospan groups respectively and see them as valuable partners with the ability to continue to drive forward the most user-friendly locking system on even more markets.”

Välinge’s 5G technology is used today by more than 100 flooring producers around the world. The 5G technology aims to make flooring installations easier and more than 1.5 billion square feet of flooring has already been installed worldwide with 5G/Fold Down locking systems.

“We consider Välinge’s 5G technology as one of the most sought-after locking systems in the market and therefore plan to increase our volumes,” said Max von Tippelskirch, CSCO of the Swiss Krono Group. “We have learned that 5G is highly demanded by professionals as well as DIY-customers on several markets. With this strategic long-term cooperation with Välinge, we will continue to offer high-quality products to our customers, both from a technical and design perspective.”

Wolf Harig, who acted as senior advisor to Kronospan during the negotiations, explained, “This agreement means Kronospan has secured the future license needed to continue with the 5G technology.”

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QFloors unveils updates, additions at Surfaces

Las Vegas—QFloors generated notice at Surfaces, as the flooring software company showcased new products, features and technologies.

“Our booth was flooded with people, both current and potential customers, who wanted to learn more about our new commercial, mobile and cloud products,” said Chad Ogden, president, QFloors. “We are really excited about these new and unique offerings, and I think the word has gotten out.”

Following its partnership with MeasureSquare, QFloors has developed even better integration to MeasureSquare’s flooring estimating software products. The QFloors ERP software system and the MeasureSquare takeoff estimating system work together to provide a seamless mobile solution, from initial measure to final payment.

Utilizing this integration, QFloors created its new Mobile Office Suite, which allows dealers to take their office with them to the job site or customer’s home. The new Office Suite makes it possible to effortlessly move through a range of activities including: measuring and estimation, checking stock, creating a proposal, emailing the proposal/invoice to the customer and capturing a signature—to name a few.

New commercial additions have also been developed. “We made it possible to treat commercial work and retail work completely separate from one another, for those floor covering dealers who do both,” Ogden said. “The reports are calculated differently, depending upon commercial or retail. We created a new dashboard that helps you see all of the projects going on at the same time. We’ve also added new updated reporting, new AIA reporting and several other finesses that just make QFloors ERP software much more commercial-friendly.”

QFloors has also officially released the first edition of QPro POS+, a 100% browser-based cloud software. Benefits of this new type of cloud technology include: lower operating and material costs; greater device independence; easier customization; more flexibility and compatibility (now and in the future); easier 3rd party integration and enhanced security and redundancy.

All current QFloors customers will eventually be grandfathered into the software at no additional cost. “Not only will these customers not have to pay for upgrades,” Ogden explained, “but they also will actually typically have costs decrease, as some of these IT and licensing fees go away.”

For more information, visit qfloors.com.

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Armstrong sets diamond standard in solid hardwood

Lancaster, Pa.—Armstrong Flooring is extending its exclusive Diamond 10 technology to a new solid hardwood collection, Appalachian Ridge, which takes the warmth of wood to new heights with on-trend looks, rich colors and lush textures. With Diamond 10 technology, Armstrong Flooring is able to deliver a solid hardwood that is more versatile and durable for homeowners with busy lifestyles.

Appalachian Ridge transcends the typical. Scraped and brushed artisan effects are harmonized with gentle sanding to create a refined, tactile canvas, brought to life with carefully selected stains and color washes. This fusion of soft focus texture and unparalleled, multi-tonal colors creates a designer floor with subtlety and sophistication.

“Our research consistently shows solid hardwood is the most coveted flooring choice by consumers for its timeless beauty and the considerable value it adds to a home,” said Michael Bell, vice president – wood. “But, a factor preventing some from purchasing is concern over scratches and maintaining that beauty over time. When investing in hardwood, consumers seek peace of mind that their floor will look beautiful for the long term. For many consumers, scratch is a top factor when considering the durability of the floor.”

Both Appalachian Ridge and Paragon are made from 100% solid Appalachian hardwood with patent-pending Diamond 10 technology. Unlike many protectants that can leave a cloudy finish, Diamond 10 technology provides clear scratch protection allowing the natural allure and beauty of the wood to shine through. It forms a hard traffic-and-wear-resistant barrier on the surface that also protects the wood from soils and stains.

For information, visit armstrongflooring.com.