Abbey Carpet and Floor and Floors to Go held their annual convention and expo together for the first time this year in Phoenix, Ariz. Feb. 23 – 25. Under the banner of “Partners in Excellence,” Abbey leadership combined its membership for a weekend of education, networking, flooring, and fun.

The event kicked off with speakers from the Abbey leadership about the success of 2018, as well as new suppliers, Peerless, Anderson|Tuftex, SLCC Flooring, and HRI Rugs, new exclusive private label collections, and new online marketing tools. Following, Keynote Speaker, Connie Podesta kept the audience laughing with her stand-up comedic presentation vis-à-vis different customer personalities and how to adapt sales techniques based on a person’s personality “shape.” Podesta helped retailers find their “shapes,” and then showed them the characteristics of each shape to help cater to those customers on the sales floor. “If you’re a square or triangle, you won’t sell to a circle in your normal way,” Podesta said. “Circles need a minimum of seven to eight minutes of pointless small-talk. And in those seven to eight minutes, they’re deciding if they trust you or not. If they don’t trust you, they won’t buy from you.” How do you tell what shape a customer is? Ask them! “Ask the customer how they want the session to go and give them two options,” Podesta suggests. Giving a customer two options lays out a framework for how a consultation will go, and gives sales teams a template to work with. After general session, the Phoenix Convention Center hosted several educational sessions, including product-driven breakouts lead by partner-companies and sessions on technology, digital marketing, and tax reform.

The digital landscape was also a hot topic this year, with upcoming digital marketing tools and website upgrades. Continuing their partnership with Google, Sean Bean, agency development manager, gave a presentation on the evolution of the digital consumer. With an estimation of 20 billion web-enabled devices by 2020, Google “[focuses] on the user, and all else will follow.” The average consumer hits 50 touch points before making a purchase, and as sales with digital touch points rise, it’s important for retailers to engage customers online even if they don’t sell directly on their website. Bean and his team have spent the past few years studying the mobile consumer and have found that today has become the “age of assistance,” where consumers are more curious, demanding, and impatient than they have been in the past. And while mobile searches for “where to buy...” have risen, retailers must have a strong digital presence to win digital customers. “Connect. Drive Action. And make it easy,” Bean suggests. To help Abbey and Floors to Go members with the digital tools at their disposal, Abbey’s marketing team will be launching deeper analytics for retailer websites, including demographics such as age and gender to help retailers create content that will connect to their users. “We’re here to help our members,” said Bill Wilson, vice president of marketing. “We’re partners it their success.”

There was plenty of time for networking and entertainment as well, with the annual partnership mixer and hot buys dinner on Saturday evening, as well as the Mexican Charreda and Western Show dinner fiesta and the Artageous dinner party. Members celebrated the unique culture local to Phoenix at the Corona Ranch and Rodeo grounds where they watched, and participated, in an authentic western rodeo and Mexican Charreda experience with bull riding, rope tricks, and fancy horse footwork. Abbey leadership and volunteers donned their ten-gallon hats by competing to catch a bull calf and racing to milk dairy goats. On Monday night, Abbey hosted the Artrageous dinner party, with all proceeds from a silent auction of sports, movie, and literature memorabilia as well as vacation packages donated by vendor-partners supporting St. Jude’s children’s hospital. The night included dinner, live music, and speed painted portraits of famous musicians.

Next year, the Abbey Annual Convention and Expo will be hosted in sunny Orlando, Fla.