Floor Covering Weekly August 12, 2013 : Page 1

Vol. 62 No. 15 A Hearst Business Publication August 12, 2013 $4 9 F LOOR C OVERING W EEKLY The Industry’s Business News & Information Resource Innovative vinyl ooring Congoleum the Social media wins friends, in uences dealers By Janet Herlihy More specialty ooring retailers are using a variety of social media services to connect with consumers and increase awareness as well as manage their reputations online. Each of the major buying groups provide information and services to help members get started and maintain current information. And dealers are appreciating and bene ting from the e orts being made. Making friends on Facebook “I asked all my personal Facebook friends to be friends of the business page too,” said Alicia Self, store manager at Colortile & Carpet in Salem, Ore. Self oversees the store’s social media activ-ities, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn as well as a network of members of the Salem Chamber of Commerce, but Facebook gets the most attention. Self, daughter of storeowner David Lee, has been Continued on page 6 FCW Exclusive Q2 sales surpass industry expectations e second quarter’s growth in sales — approximately 6.7 percent — surpassed the expectations of industry executives heading into the quarter. According to industry executive-level readers of FCWPrime who recently took part in FCW ’s Executive Quarterly Index survey, this continues the acceleration of growth that began in the fourth quarter 2012. All categories within the ooring industry showed improvement, according to FCW survey respondents, with April and May having the strongest growth year to date for the ooring category. Hardwood had the best growth, followed by carpet and vinyl. Laminate was reported the weakest category in terms of growth, with 39 percent of these executives seeing the category losing share. FCW respondents also now forecast a 2013 Responding to member needs at Carpet One By Santiago Montero business; to help them take back market share by supporting core suppliers; to help them execute With more than 900 members, it’s Carpet One’s proprietary mer-tting that the theme of this year’s chandising programs; and, to Carpet One convention was e continue to invest in and apply Power of Partnership. traditional and digital marketing e most powerful of those strategies that drive much of partnerships, said Eric Demaree, today’s ooring business. president of Carpet One, a sub-At the core of this is being sidiary of CCA Global Partners, Continued on page 19 Eric Demaree responsive to members’ needs are those between the members themselves. at’s why it was not Demaree and it is why, in an era where competition who kicked o this year’s convention, but is erce and growing, Carpet One members have been able to grow and take back some rather a Carpet One member. Symbolism aside, Demaree states loud and of the market share specialty retailers lost clear his singular goal: “I have one objective. during the recession, said Demaree. One question that he keeps hearing from Everything we do — whether product, train-ing, merchandising, training, systems — is members nowadays is: Now that consumers to help members sustain pro table growth. are more price-conscious and it is harder to make money, how to I maintain and improve at’s it. at’s the whole game.” e goals of this year’s convention are margins without compromising top line sales? Continued on page 12 simple: To help members build a pro table For breaking news updated each business day, visit us online at www.fcw1.com P e r i o d i c a l

Q2 sales surpass industry expectations

The second quarter’s growth in sales — approximately 6.7 percent — surpassed the expectations of industry executives heading into the quarter. According to industry executive-level readers of FCWPrime who recently took part in FCW’s Executive Quarterly Index survey, this continues the acceleration of growth that began in the fourth quarter 2012.<br /> <br /> All categories within the flooring industry showed improvement, according to FCW survey respondents, with April and May having the strongest growth year to date for the flooring category. Hardwood had the best growth, followed by carpet and vinyl. Laminate was reported the weakest category in terms of growth, with 39 percent of these executives seeing the category losing share.<br /> <br /> FCW respondents also now forecast a 2013 sales growth of about 8 percent, which is up from a 7.5 percent forecast only 30 days ago and a 5 percent forecast coming into the year.<br /> <br /> All three major end markets of residential new construction, residential replacement, and commercial are expected to show stronger growth in 2013 versus 2012 as well.<br /> <br /> Executives also pointed to similar improved profit dollar growth for retailers, distributors and manufacturers, with profits expected to increase nearly 6 percent in 2013.<br /> <br /> FCW respondents anticipated input costs to be up 3 percent in 2013 versus a prior forecast of 4.5 percent about 90 days ago. Average selling prices accelerated up in the 2 percent range for manufacturers and 4 percent range for retailers, which is up from 1 percent and 2 percent respectively from 2012.<br /> <br /> In addition, respondents in all categories reported net hiring in the last 90 days, most notably at the retailer and distributor levels.<br /> <br /> FCW’s Executive Quarterly Index serves to highlight and compare expectations and performance in the market. Respondents were represented in all categories and sectors of the industry: 47 percent were retailers, 33 percent were manufacturers and 20 percent were distributors. Of these respondents, about 68 percent are in the residential sector while 29 percent represent those that serve the commercial market.

Social media wins friends, influences dealers

Janet Herlihy

<br /> More specialty flooring retailers are using a variety of social media services to connect with consumers and increase awareness as well as manage their reputations online. Each of the major buying groups provide information and services to help members get started and maintain current information. And dealers are appreciating and benefiting from the efforts being made.<br /> <br /> Making friends on Facebook<br /> <br /> “I asked all my personal Facebook friends to be friends of the business page too,” said Alicia Self, store manager at Colortile & Carpet in Salem, Ore. Self oversees the store’s social media activities, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn as well as a network of members of the Salem Chamber of Commerce, but Facebook gets the most attention.<br /> <br /> Self, daughter of storeowner David Lee, has been involved in social media for about three years. “I invested in an iPhone 5 that has an app for social media administration. I try to post every three days minimum, every day if we’re in the middle of a sales event. I ask questions on Facebook as well as post events. Our website, colortilesalem.com, has links to our Facebook page and Twitter. Our Facebook page has 279 ‘likes’ and Facebook has an app that provides great analysis that includes how many times a post is shared,” she explained.<br /> <br /> Facebook also suits Gary Dulmes, CEO of Dulmes Décor Carpet One Floor & Home, Sheboygan, Wisc. “I started out making and posting videos on the local newspaper’s website to get attention. One time we talked about getting pet stains out of carpet and I rode a horse on the carpet. We tried to use some imagination and humor to generate some top of mind awareness (TOMA). then I starting putting the videos on YouTube and our own website,” Dulmes noted.<br /> <br /> Twenty-five posts go up every month, including promotions and comments that people respond to and share, Dulmes said. A photo of a dog on a bed (in a room with beautiful wood flooring) asks, “Are your pets allowed on your bed?” Within six hours, there were three comments and 14 likes.<br /> <br /> “We post pictures of finished jobs and have had contests. If someone leaves a comment, one of the designers gets an email so the person gets a quick response,” Dulmes said.<br /> <br /> Facebook can also be a vehicle to gather potential customer information, he noted. “We want to be seen as experts on flooring and our videos on how to get stains out of carpet help do that. We’ve posted ‘Meet our designers’ on Facebook and that helps build trust as well,” he said.<br /> <br /> Shawn Dorr, owner of 2 Guy’s Deco Flooring America, in Gillette, Wyoming, said keeping current through Facebook is definitely worth the effort. “We do pay a fee to Flooring America to get their daily content but it’s less expensive than a newspaper ad. We have posted video testimonials, events and pictures of completed projects. there’s a picture of an exercise room in a basement with a new LVT wood-look floor, which has been clicked on 226 times,” Dorr said.<br /> <br /> Certified Abbey Carpet & Floor, Lancaster, Pa., uses Facebook and email blasts, according to Mark Legenstein, co-owner and vice president of flooring. “We hope to achieve a regular awareness of our services and occasionally start a conversation with our customer,” Legenstein said. “this is often achieved by not even mentioning our services but (by) posting community events and other softinformation.”<br /> <br /> Angie’s List for the good, the bad and the ugly<br /> <br /> Angie’s List, organized by geographic area, has become popular among consumers looking for all sorts of products and services. People who join Angie’s List are encouraged to write reviews — good and bad. Colortile’s Self said, “Angie’s List is great. Every time we get a review, we are notified and we check it out and follow up.”<br /> <br /> Dulmes Décor Carpet One Floor & Home is also active on Angie’s List, which has a minimal cost, according to Dulmes. “We tell the installers to ask the customer to post reviews of our work on Angie’s List. We keep track of what’s on Angie’s List and Yelp. If somebody’s unhappy, we contact them right away and try to fix it and get the review updated. I will call and talk to the consumer myself,” he stressed.<br /> <br /> How do you know?<br /> <br /> Self acknowledged that “Measuring effectiveness is hard, but we ask every customer who walks in to store “How did you find us?” and a significant number of them say through Facebook or Twitter. We also use LinkedIn to keep the store name out there.”<br /> <br /> Dulmes explained, “the effect on sales isn’t what you’d get from a sale ad in the paper, but we ask everyone who comes in, what brought them in and we are getting responses like, “We saw a picture or a post on Facebook.” I’d like to see it drive business, but its TOMA. It may not drive immediate sales but when they are ready to buy floors, we hope they will remember Dulmes Décor Carpet One<br />

Responding to member needs at Carpet One

Santiago Montero

<br /> With more than 900 members, it’s fitting that the theme of this year’s Carpet One convention was file Power of Partnership.<br /> <br /> The most powerful of those partnerships, said Eric Demaree, president of Carpet One, a subsidiary of CCA Global Partners, are those between the members themselves. flat’s why it was not Demaree who kicked off this year’s convention, but rather a Carpet One member.<br /> <br /> Symbolism aside, Demaree states loud and clear his singular goal: “I have one objective. Everything we do — whether product, training, merchandising, training, systems — is to help members sustain profitable growth. flat’s it. flat’s the whole game.”<br /> <br /> The goals of this year’s convention are simple: To help members build a profitable business; to help them take back market share by supporting core suppliers; to help them execute Carpet One’s proprietary merchandising programs; and, to continue to invest in and apply traditional and digital marketing strategies that drive much of today’s flooring business.<br /> <br /> At the core of this is being responsive to members’ needs and it is why, in an era where competition is fierce and growing, Carpet One members have been able to grow and take back some of the market share specialty retailers lost during the recession, said Demaree.<br /> <br /> One question that he keeps hearing from members nowadays is: Now that consumers are more price-conscious and it is harder to make money, how to I maintain and improve margins without compromising top line sales?<br /> <br /> The Internet<br /> <br /> Carpet One offers a fully integrated digital marketing plan that even includes recommended levels of investment depending on market size and potential for flooring sales.<br /> <br /> “A lot of them do it successfully but not a lot do it in a coordinated fashion,” said Demaree. “We have experts who have helped us coordinate a digital marketing plan. Every day we will have a new look to our website, we offer a tremendously robust product catalog online, videos, all types of navigation tools, and hanging under that is Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube videos. You have to be everywhere online.”<br /> <br /> Carpet One offers members the tools they need along with things like localization across websites, how to build content online and content management, SEO, customized micro sites, reputation management and more.<br /> <br /> “In some cases, we have to do a lot of one-on- one hand holding to move our members into the digital world,” he said, “and we do it.”<br /> <br /> At the same time, there is also print and radio for those markets where more traditional advertising remains effective. “Believe me, we’ve thought out every single zip code and every single marketplace. The more we can do for them that adds value, the more time they get to spend with customers and employees. The stronger our organization becomes, the stronger and more successful they become. That’s our formula, that’s what we work on,” he said.<br /> <br /> Noting that in order to be successful, you have to market your advantage in such a way that the consumer gets it, Demaree added, “You have to have the courage to intelligently raise margins so you can afford to invest more in marketing. You have to have the discipline to do that. Get on the floor; touch every product; understand good, better, best; make it logical to the consumer. It’s not just about price; they want better goods at the best possible value.”<br /> <br /> That’s where Carpet One’s proprietary systems and offers come in: lifetime installation warranty, the Healthier Living installation system to improve performance and durability for the life of the product, well-trained certified professionals, branded products, not just private labeled, and more.<br /> <br /> While he is reluctant to share details of the several programs outlined at convention, Demaree does understand that it can be a complicated message for members who are bombarded with ideas and new systems, never mind the day-to-day minutiae of running a business. But Demaree emphasized that Carpet One also has the resources, through training programs, and the talent to help members execute those initiatives.<br /> <br /> “Once something is put in play, we reach out to members through surveys, regional groups, our advisory council and convention. We are constantly reaching out, asking how we’re doing, what should we change, what do they like and don’t like. So whether its electronic pricing, pricing and tagging systems, web development and design, the product catalog, the way we merchandise the floor — everything we do we look at in detail.”<br /> <br /> Which brings it all back full circle — members talking to other members. Informally, you see it on the convention floor. More formally, there is a website called Connect where members can share ideas within the co-op.<br /> <br /> But in the end, said Demaree, excellent marketing is what distinguishes successful retailers — without the marketing muscle to build store and brand awareness day in and day out, the only way for traditional standalone businesses to grow is one customer at a time. Carpet One members, he said, want more — and they get it.

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