The Starnet Worldwide Commercial Flooring Partnership held its annual fall membership meeting at the Omni Nashville Hotel in Tennessee November 4-6, 2016. The theme of the event, Forward to the Future, was aimed at preparing members for what’s next in business.

“We have great success, and we are a great group, but we need to continue to watch what’s happening in the future and shift and adjust to that change,” said Jeanne Matson, Starnet president and CEO. “That’s really what I consider to be my job: to be very aware and working in that direction.”

Matson said the board members hosted their annual strategic planning session in June, during which they set goals for 2020. “The goals are all about growing in a positive way,” she said. “We represent the strength of the service and installation side of the business, and we want to continue to improve our skills.”

Part of that forward movement was a focus on succession planning.

“Fifty-two percent of our member companies are family business,” Matson said. “We have second and third, and in some cases, fourth generations running these companies and dealing with some of the challenges that family members have when they deal with succession: who’s taking over and who’s going to run these businesses going forward.”

Although succession planning can be a challenging conversation for every generation of a family business, having support from Starnet and outside business consultants can help make the transitions smoother.

“We love the culture here and we don’t want to change the culture because there’s a lot of closeness, but we also want to address the fact that we have owners that are graying and ready to move on,” Matson said. “They are in their own succession planning and we need to help them and then continue to move on also.”

To provide solutions to those challenges, Starnet provided a series of concurrent workshops. The first was “Leadership Planning for a Family Business,” presented by Tom Juenemann, senior consultant with GroupOne Management Consultants, based in Portland, Maine.

“Cohesive and well-run family companies routinely outperform comparable non-family competitors,” Juenemann said. On the flip side, combative family firms often get distracted with family history and dynamics.

Lawrence Marziale, CPA from the CohnReznick Advisory Group presented advice on becoming a financially healthy dealer, an important step for every business. The workshop revealed financial indicators and industry benchmarks and offered advice on implementing new strategies and set financial benchmarks to increase the value and financial strength of an enterprise.

“Proven Appointment Making Strategies,” a workshop presented by Marisa Pense of Atlanta-based Methods in Motion, gave advice on how salespeople can increase their number of first appointments and more importantly, gain confidence in making the initial call. Pense also discussed the ups and downs of the sales cycle the importance of prospecting each day with existing customers and discovering new opportunities to sell more to them.

The Technology Tool Kit workshop, presented by the Starnet Technology Committee, featured systems that would help members maximize business efficiencies while improving profits and personal productivity. Highlights included wearables, such as the Apple Watch, an overview of MeasureSquare laser measuring device, and new customer management and project proposal tracking tools.

Tandus Centiva presented a Facility Manager Panel moderated by Jonathan Stanley, national vp education, strategic accounts at Tarkett. The panel discussed trends in the higher education market, building sustainable relationships and how flooring businesses can assist facilities management in reaching their goals.

On the second day, Starnet members attended the Shareholder’s meeting, followed by an afternoon of tabletop displays.

The event closed with a farewell reception, after which many members ventured out to the city to hear the live music Nashville is known for. The Starnet 2017 Annual Membership Meeting will be held April 27-30, 2017, at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif.