More than 1,000 owners and managers from Carpet One Floor & Home's independently owned flooring stores across the United States and Canada gathered in Dallas for their annual summer convention.
Under the theme "Focus," Carpet One Floor & Home and CCA Management teams shared ideas on how their cooperative members could focus more on their customers, their employees, and the digital marketing strategies.
"Our members are very busy with the daily activities needed to keep their business running," said Eric Demaree, president of Carpet One Floor & Home. This convention gives them time to step away from the day-to-day and focus on ways they can improve their business."
The convention opened with keynote speaker Dr. Robert Rohm, an author and corporate trainer recognized for his expertise in team building and human behavior. Rohm provided insights into how members can build stronger businesses by focusing on helping people first and by building relationships with their customers.
Scott McKain, a best-selling author and founder of a consulting and training organization, gave members practical ways to help them and their employees create the ultimate customer experience.
A major topic at the convention was One Stop Digital—the Carpet One program that helps members manage their online presence. The program includes local listings management in more than 100 search engines, reputation monitoring, and search engine optimization (SEO) analytics. As of the summer convention, Demaree said 385 of 875 stores are using One Stop Digital. Participants are seeing 168% more leads and website visitors who are spending up to 15 minutes immersing themselves into content on Carpet One websites.
"We are educating members that this is the new virtual storefront." Demaree said."Fifty percent of the searches that we can track are being made on mobile devices. What we're trying to do is give that consumer no matter where they are in he path to purchase an enjoyable experience."
He said this includes a national alignment with Houzz, a website and online community about architecture, interior design and decorating, and a national partnership with Angie’s List, a crowd-sourced review website.
Sales training was another area of focus.
"The days of referral business cannot sustain business," Demaree said. "You have to be in the consideration set. So where do you go? Let's say consumers go to four or five websites in search for floor covering. But do you know what 85% of customers do? They pick up the phone. The traffic today is not necessarily going to come through the front door. They find what they want and pick up the phone."
In response to this trend, Carpet One offers a tiered training program that teaches flooring sales representatives how to turn phone calls into cash.
Another digital initiative is helping store owners solicit online reviews. "Consumers want knowledge," Demaree said. "They want to have someone who is credible and who they can trust. So we have a review platform that solicits reviews from customers. We have thousands of reviews already and it improves SEO."
The convention also kicked off Carpet One Floor & Home's new NEX<40 initiative to engage the younger generation of Carpet One Floor & Home store owners and managers. Spearheaded by Frank Santaniello, senior director of member services and operations for Carpet One Floor & Home, and Brian Clardy, operations manager for CCA Global Partners University, the NEX<40 launch was aimed at the millennials and under-40 members who attend the convention.
"When we were on the floor last year we noticed that there were a lot of younger faces out there," Santaniello said. "We are trying to create a voice for these Carpet One members."
The Carpet One Advisory Council, which is a group of Carpet One store owners who act as a liaison between company executives and individual retailers throughout North America, had just one member under 40 years of age.
"The younger generation's voice was not well represented," Clardy said. "One of the reasons we wanted to start this was that we want to know how the millennials, or those under 40, look at the consumers coming into the stores. We also want them to help pilot different initiatives from Carpet One looking through the eyes of a younger generation."
The NEX<40 council is starting with five millennial leaders: Billy Mahone of Atlas Floors Carpet One in San Antonio, Texas; Palmer Johnson of Carpet One Floor & Home in Tulsa, Okla.; Andrew Wiebe of Red Deer Carpet One in Alberta, Canada; Lauren Allwein-Andrews of Allwein Carpet One in Annville, Pa.; and Serenity Moffett of Carpet One Floor & Home in Cheyenne, Wyo.
CCA leaders say that engaging this younger generation of members may help to solidify the future of legacy businesses. Santaniello noted that 40% of businesses overall transition to the next generation, while only 3% of fourth-generation businesses survive. Since studies show that millennials see value in peer-to-peer networking, NEX<40 aims to provide opportunities to meet at conventions, share best practices and network between conventions.
"This generation was born with a smart phone in their hand," Clardy said. "The thing we notice with our owners, we had to ease them into that everything can be digital, where with millennials this is all they know. We need to arm these millennials with what they need to do to succeed."