Carpet One Home & Floor members and owners gathered in Salt Lake City for the buying group’s annual summer convention. Guided by this year’s theme, “Own It,” attendees were led through various ways to own the customer experience through all aspects of the sale—online, in store and at home.

“We have a very simple mission statement that everybody in Carpet One follows,” said Eric Demaree, president of the buying group. “Our mission is to help independent entrepreneurs and small business owners compete more effectively in the marketplace.”

From keeping showrooms grand opening ready every day, to going the extra mile and personalizing the in-store shopping experience, and maximizing online reviews (arguably today’s version of word of mouth), Demaree—with the help of experts from each aspect, engaging panel discussions, and Karen, a fictitious on-screen customer who attendees followed throughout her Carpet One buying experience—led the group through various ways to compete more effectively in the marketplace.

“We divided the whole convention into three different buckets: owning it online, because that’s where the customer’s journey starts,” said Sally Kelly, Carpet One Floor & Home’s vice president of regional network groups (RNGs–which the group refers to as “rings”). “We then moved from online to into the store, and then we moved from into the store to into the home. So, it’s owning the customer experience in all three different areas.”

Throughout the convention, attendees jotted down various ways to own the customer experience in each of the categories on sticky notes that were then collectively displayed on a mega “Own It” wall for all to see.

Organized into 42 different RNGs, Carpet One’s U.S. and Canada members had the opportunity to meet within their respective RNGs for additional brainstorming and networking opportunities during the annual convention. With ideas flowing, members and owners broke for lunch into their RNGs to further discuss and share other ways they currently do, or can, enhance the customer experience online, in store and at home, and just how those ideas can be implemented.

Members Weigh In

With 35 years in the industry, and 24 of those spent as a member of Carpet One, retailer Kim Camacho of Eureka Floor Carpet One in Eureka, Calif., is certainly no stranger to the benefits of being part of a co-op. “Working together with a lot of people is a huge difference to just being an independent retailer,” she said.

Since joining the network, she’s seen Carpet One evolve and grow to meet the times in various ways, including increased training opportunities and broadening its scope. “The world has changed, and CCA has gone along with it and really kept up,” Camacho said.

CCA’s focus on owning the customer experience online is a sentiment to changing times and the digital world we now live in. For some, operating in this digital realm has become second nature, and for others who aren’t as comfortable, CCA is here to help.

“I’ve been going to Carpet One since the first convention,” Kelly said. “There’s a whole group that’s my age group and doesn’t understand digital, but I think everyone here got the message that we have to embrace it. Our one-stop digital program hires millennials to help be the content managers, to help [retailers] and hold their hands. They are a great, energetic team and they get it.”

Camacho drew both inspiration and motivation to amp up her retail operation’s digital presence from this year’s convention. “It’s hard to keep up and we are living in a different generation,” she said. “There is a different way of dealing with other generations. But [CCA] has made it very easy, and they are super helpful about it. It makes you get inspired to go back and say ‘Okay, I feel good about this. I can do this.’”

Representing that next generation, first time convention attendee and newcomer to the industry Dani Landgrebe of Tudor Carpet One Floor & Home in Valparaiso, Ind., felt right at home among the convention’s mixed crowed of attendees. “I like that there is a wide range of ages that are here this year, and I hear that there’s a younger population than usual, so it’s really interesting how they are integrating that,” she said.

For Landgrebe, who attended the convention on behalf of her family business, which was started by her grandparents nearly 50 years ago, the convention was confirmation that she and the Tudor Carpet One Floor & Home team are on the right track when it comes to personalizing their business by way of their online presence. Landgrebe, who manages marketing and social media efforts for the retail operation, found the opportunity to step away from the showroom and see the bigger picture of what a strengthened digital presence can do for business very eye opening and beneficial.

“The convention validated something that I was already trying to do,” Landgrebe said. But it’s nice being here amongst everyone and hearing how important it is as a co-op being a part of the individual business that’s a part of a bigger operation to show your individual story.”

Highlights from the Show Floor

On the show floor, members got the opportunity to connect and interact with suppliers. Taking things up a notch, Karndean designed its booth with that interaction in mind. Through interactive kiosks, Karndean told the story of its two newest product ranges, Korlok and LooseLay Longboard. The kiosks also granted visitors access to the company’s new blog series, “Tips from the Table.”

While Mohawk displayed a new level of soft with its Innovia Dream, the manufacturer also seized the opportunity to get feedback on its Lees Carpet offering. A big draw, attendees were encouraged to vote for their favorite Lees product style. Added to its VeroStone luxury vinyl tile portfolio, Armstrong displayed the new Graham Junction and Bravado Point patterns at the convention.

Reorganizing and making plans to move forward with a new focus after filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, Beaulieu displayed its Impervio engineered waterproof flooring. As the manufacture’s entry into the WPC market, Impervio is a waterproof and pet-friendly floor available in extra-long and extra-wide planks and stunning wood visuals. On the soft surface side, Beaulieu displayed ContinuousColor, a well-received product that is a patented fiber technology that results in multiple 100% solution-dyed colored fibers twisted on to one another that allows for the creation of dimensional color and texture throughout the yarn bundle. In another nod to WPC, Tarkett highlighted its ProGen product at convention. Designed from a consumer’s perspective, ProGen’s four layers allow it to perform in all rooms, during all seasons.

The convention ended with a closing event at Utah Olympic Park, home of the 2002 Winter Olympics. In addition to enjoying food, drinks and locally sourced microbrews, those in attendance were wowed by the high-flying action of Olympians and National Team skiers and snowboarders performing acrobatic tricks before landing in the Park’s Spence Eccles Olympic Freestyle Pool.