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

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

By Ken Ryan

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Online leads and follow-up

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

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

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

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

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

Beyond flooring initiative

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

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Floors & More: Members put pedal to the metal

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

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Las Vegas—The main objective of Floors & More’s 2018 winter convention was to drive business for members—literally. In keeping with the conference theme, “EXCELerate,” the latest initiatives were designed to help members accelerate profits and growth.

Highlights included expanded private-label branding campaigns, a renewed focus on digital marketing strategies and, of course, new vendor programs. The three-day conference was also packed with education and networking opportunities.

“EXCELerate is about being the best and getting more aggressive,” said Vinnie Virga, founder and CEO, Floors & More. “Times are changing and they’re changing quickly. Therefore, our members need to be nimble and move faster. We’re helping them to understand the importance of building their local brands using the tools we bring them. We’re also reinforcing the importance of customer experience.”

According to Virga, the group’s focus in 2017 was on setting the right foundation and reworking its business model. This year the group plans on growing at an accelerated pace. “We’re growing organically, and we’re also growing through acquisition,” Virga said.

A big part of Floors & More’s success hinges on executing multiple facets of a particular design project. To that end, the group has added eight new vendors to provide dealers with the whole flooring package. In addition to taking on companies such as Lonesome Oak, the group has added insurance and benefits vendors.

What’s more, Floors & More is providing its members with multiple services to help the collective grow. “We’re extending our private brand offering,” said Mike Cherico, the group’s vice president. “We actually reiterated the importance of education and private branding [at general session]. We have some killer programs with private branding and we’re going to continue down that road.”

Cherico pointed to the success of private-label branding opportunities available through Stainmaster, adding there is more on the way. “It’s the No. 1 brand name in flooring, and we have it as our brand,” he said. “We also have another collection coming with 10 PetProtect products.”

Embracing digital
Beyond private-label branding the group is supporting members on the digital front. “Our digital marketing is already very good, but some of things we’re doing are blowing the minds of our members,” Virga said. “The digital aspect is cutting edge and very effective with unbelievable ROI, and most of it is included in the base membership.”

Kim Weber, office manager and interior design for Greeley, Colo.-based Steamway Floor to Ceiling—a member since 2002—is a big fan of the digital services. “A lot of the benefits to Floors & More are the background things they do such as advertising and the website. I also like all of the new companies they’ve brought in and the social media support they’re doing for us.”

Brad Millner, CEO, Synergy Holdings, Yuma, Ariz., is similarly impressed with the group’s initiatives. “To be successful, dealers must embrace product line extensions to capture more revenue,” he said. “After listening to RFMS, Flooring Financial, Creating Your Space (CYS) and other dealers, we are examining each step of our sales, operations, installation and customer services processes to create a more streamlined, efficient system.”

Moving forward, Floors & More is partnering with CYS and getting insight from digital experts to better serve its members with respect to their lead-generation initiatives.