Atlanta, GA — 2/25/15 Alliance Flooring, Inc., parent company of CarpetsPlus COLORTILE®, Carpetland USA COLORTILE ® and Floorco Direct-to-the-Trade, recently held its convention, February 21-24, at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, under the banner, “Drive ‘15 – Renew. Recharge. Refresh.”
CarpetsPlus COLORTILE, Carpetland USA and Floorco dealers from around the country gathered on Saturday night to kick off the group’s annual convention with a Welcome Reception. The reception featured live music and a caricature artist. As relationships were renewed and old memories relived, members looked forward to making new memories at this year’s Convention.
The Convention’s theme, “Drive ‘15 – Renew. Recharge. Refresh.” is appropriately named considering the environment the industry has been trudging through in recent years. However, this group’s members, as a whole, have been operating above the average – but not without a lot of hard work, effort and diversification. “Renew. Recharge. Refresh.” is just what these dealers come to this Convention to get.
Jon Logue, co-CEO of CarpetsPlus COLORTILE, commented, “The convention theme is ‘Renew. Recharge. Refresh.’ I’ve been around a long time and this is what I always come to do each and every year.”
Early Sunday morning, members attended multiple sessions. The first session, entitled, “How Do We Drive Business” was given by Ron Dunn, co-CEO of CarpetsPlus COLORTILE. He asked members to write down the topic they would most like to hear addressed to maximize their time at Convention. He then encouraged them to do just that – talk to each other – “in this room, at dinner, between events.”
Dunn, since the summer of 2011, has been visiting member stores around the country in an RV. On his most recent “DRIVE Across America”, he interviewed dealers about what they’re doing to bring customers into their stores. He asked them, “What are you doing that’s working for you to drive customers into your store? I also asked them to give examples of both traditional and unique methods.”
Many of those interviewed were featured in videos played during the session to emphasize methods that are working for each store to bring in customers. Some were using web, some were using television, print and radio while others also utilized social media.
Dunn said, “American Express and Price Waterhouse Coopers have done a lot of research into the buying habits of today’s consumers. What is determining where they shop? There’s a number a pieces connected to that – web, social media, all that is such a huge part of it. We’ve invested a lot into the program for that. We don’t mandate to people but we stressed it a little bit harder at this Convention saying if you’re not in it, get in it.”
The last part of the session was about how members have been rebounding their businesses while coming out of this recession and how could they continue to get better. A basketball goal and a team was picked and brought on stage to illustrate this analogy. In basketball, people are going to take shots. Some shots are going to be missed.
Dunn said, “The visual point of it was that you realize if you’re coaching a team you have to have a strategy for rebounding if you’re going to win. Because shots are going to be missed. Just like in business. You’re going to give it your best shot but that promotion didn’t work. Something happened. There was a winter storm on the day you had it planned or whatever it happens to be. Or else you just missed it. So what’s your plan for rebounding your business?”
The group was presented with these observations about why they could be missing their shots:
- You’re rusty – Lack of practice, lack of sharpening people skills, showroom is dusty
- Lack of skill – Is your showroom a breeding ground for skill enhancement
- Distorted perception – You’re aiming at the wrong spot
- Distracted – Lose sight of what your goal is
- Perpetually opposed – You always have competition
- Fouled – Concentrate on your game even when bad things happen. Rebound yourself first, then your business.
Dunn then yielded the floor to keynote speaker, Simon T. Bailey. An author and leadership speaker, Bailey is the former sales director of the world-renowned Disney Institute and founder of Brilliance Institute, Inc. He issued a call to action for members to shift their thinking, to create a disruption from the norm that ignites innovation, increasing accountability and profitability in life and business.
He said, “Men and women who shift their brilliance become uncomfortable with being comfortable. The reason why business owners don’t shift is because they have emotional equity in what they’ve always done. But businesses who shift their brilliance are hungry and they don’t wait for things to happen, they make things happen.”
He also recommended it’s important for members to exceed expectations. To do that, he said they should write down behaviors that you need to put in “park”, those you need to “start” and those you need to “accelerate” or get better at.
Jon Logue, Alliance Flooring’s co-CEO, was up next and gave his State of the Industry presentation. He announced that there are five new LVT plants being built in America with a $400 million investment in the category. He said there was a $2.4 billion growth in LVT.
He announced that LVT was doing very well and was about half of the group’s hard surface residential business. He also stated that 10 new suppliers had been signed by the group. He ended the session by saying, “Renew! Recharge! Refresh!”
After lunch, CarpetsPlus COLORTILE’s next generation, Ryan Dunn, co-COO and vp sales and Kevin Logue, co-COO and vp marketing, showed the audience how to renew and refresh their showroom by announcing new display and product introductions.
Kevin Logue said the company’s primary initiative is the introduction of its Destination Statement Collection for carpet. “It’s a boutique system that will go inside an existing CarpetsPlus store. It’s very modern, it’s very dramatic, it’s something that we feel will take our dealer’s to the next level in terms of their retail presence, and be a new flagship program for CarpetsPlus.” He added that the company started with color and will quickly incorporate performance as well as pattern into the collection. “It’s something that the dealer can grow into,” Logue said.
“The Color Destination is going to be the single most important display we’ve ever produced,” said Todd Ramsey, member and co-owner of 3 Kings CarpetsPlus in Fort Wayne, Ind. “If it’s not 30 to 40 percent of your sales then you are doing something wrong.” He added that the display won’t sell itself but will grab the consumer’s attention. “And from there, it’s going to be a very easy sell because it has all the tools built in, it’s very customer oriented. Once we receive it, it’s going to be front and center in our store. And it’ll be a go-to every single time.”
According to Ryan Dunn, the Color Destination color wall is also one solution to a challenge that the company and industry as a whole is currently facing. “Carpet continues to lose share to hard surface at a high margin. So how do we make carpet cool again? And how do we help people want to sell it again?”
Dunn added that more than 50 percent of what retailers are now selling is in hard surface where the customer return rate is half that of carpet. “When 60 percent of a sale is hard surface, you will not see that business again for another 10 to 15 years. So we have to address the challenge of how to maintain a high margin, buy right and sell right, and bring in new opportunities,” he said. “So that’s part of what this Destination boutique is about — making carpet cool again with the pattern, color, style and the design.”
A focus on geometric, small-scale and random patterns is included in the pattern destination, officially called Inspired Living. Each is designed as a statement piece to immediately attract customers in the showroom and serve as a new flagship for the company. In addition to offering upscale fashion and design to today’s modern customer, the group’s goal is to provide superior functionality with its performance destination, SpillStop with LifeGuard, which highlights a waterproof backing. “We see it as the next logical step for this group,” Logue said.
“For the first time we had our CarpetsPlus buying committee in Chattanooga going through products with us, helping us make decisions in terms of merchandising and displays. The Destination idea arose from that meeting; dealers were expressing an interest in doing something bolder, modern and more dramatic—something that would make a statement on the floor, set our group apart and take it to the next level.”
Just prior to their annual Rush Hour event, at the new-for-this-year New Supplier Meet and Greet, members were able to get to know who they are and what they do. Members formed many new relationships as they were introduced to ten new suppliers.
At Rush Hour, a fast-paced buying event on Sunday night, members got a head start on special buys from suppliers. Tysen Rovig, owner of CarpetsPlus COLORTILE, Billings, MT, won the first Big Game Challenge, a football throwing competition. Everyone had a great time including suppliers who were excited about the buying activity this year.
On Monday morning, a call-to-action was given by Ryan and Kevin as they geared up for the main event. As the doors were opened, members flooded the exhibit hall and nearly overwhelmed the order desk as they hurriedly turned in their orders. Members also saw other introductions including COLORTILE Enhanced Vinyl Plank with the LifeGuard waterproof core, Stainmaster Pet Protect displays, Elite Performance Home and COLORTILE Wood & Stone tile from several suppliers.
Members were also individually given a 15 minute refresher on the group’s advertising and web program, ProPlus. The company also believes that its website will help substantially drive business to its retail members. “We are able to connect everything – new advertising, new products, new promotions – but we sit down with each of [our dealers] individually and say, what are your needs as a store? And then customize each piece,” explained Dunn, adding that their website design is mobile and tablet-friendly and has a built-in connection to social media.
“That’s just a must nowadays,” Dunn said. “And everyone is trying to figure out how we market to the millennial generation that’s now in the housing market. Well, they’re online.” But, he added that the company doesn’t see this generation buying online, but using the web to educate themselves and harvest information. “One of the big ways they’re doing that is through social media. So the synergy there, the tie in with what we can do with ProPlus, is very natural.”
The Awards Banquet was later that evening where Mark Strauch, Colorado Springs, was recognized as the CarpetsPlus COLORTILE Retailer of the Year. The Carpetland USA COLORTILE group’s Retailer of the Year award winner was Eric Langan, Davenport, IA. The group’s Lifetime Achievement Award went to Bob Sullivan, Grand Rapids, MI. A new award, the Salesperson of the Year, went to two people, Pat Douds, Canton, OH, and Mike Hornstra, Torrance, CA.