Got You Floored: An Entrepreneur's Unique Approach to Flooring Retail
Matt Ketterman, owner of Got You Floored in Greensboro, N.C., is building wealth by doing things differently than most flooring retailers: he says he spends zero on advertising, his one store location is not near a major shopping district, and he works about 20 hours a week.
Ketterman invests profits from his nearly $10 million flooring operation into other business and real estate opportunities. The serial entrepreneur is shaking things up by working smarter, not harder.
“We’re up 31% over last year, and this is with a new location. Construction is up, apartments are up, and retail is flat,” Ketterman said.
His last retail location, which was destroyed in a fire in 2018, was located near a Costco, which he said attracted a lot of price-conscious shoppers. The new store location is a 15,000-square-foot showroom and warehouse near the Piedmont Triad International Airport on a plot of land Ketterman has owned since 2005.
“We’re now more of a destination out here,” he said. “I’d rather talk to one quality person than waste time with five people who may buy a remnant.”
While the company does traditional retail, three sectors make up the lion’s share of the store’s revenue: apartment replacement, new construction, and retail investors.
“This is a mecca for developers,” Ketterman explained. “The big apartment communities all have home offices here, and we are tied in with all of those folks.”
Got You Floored also has 1,100 realtor partners who send homeowners to the store to choose carpet, vinyl or luxury vinyl tile in preparation for a home sale.
The shopping experience is a study in Southern hospitality and simplicity. Customers who walk into the store are always greeted with, “Would you like something to drink?” and they are offered Starbucks or another beverage. It’s quickly followed with “How can we help you?”
If the customer is renting or moving, the sales team steers them toward stocked products, which are showcased via samples stored in a desk at the center of the store. Those who say they are staying in a home or working on a more significant commercial or multifamily project are upsold to the special order products which make up 20% of Got You Floored’s business.
A focal point of the showroom is resilient flooring by Cleo Home, a Congoleum brand introduced in 2018, which Ketterman says he sees as a major opportunity for multifamily and other real estate investment properties. Cleo Home Ozark covers the entire showroom floor and the streamlined white display is centered on the showroom wall, reflecting Ketterman’s preference toward cleaner, contemporary lines and fewer displays. He said he is banking on the Cleo collection appealing to style-conscious real estate investors who want to stand out in the market.
“While I don’t think we could get the return on investment on this product for units in a suburban type of development, it could work downtown where the rents are $2,000 a month,” he said. “It can also work in our area for common areas, club houses and pool houses. The ease of installation on this product and the visual is a fit.”
Cleo’s eco-conscious construction eliminates PVC, plasticizers, chloro-chemicals and volatile organic compounds. Its 100% waterproof mineral composite core is made from 85% locally sourced limestone. The product’s wear layer features a high-performance, ultra-low-VOC coating, enhanced with a Scotchgard protectant. Imaging is created through Congoleum’s high-fidelity digital imaging process, which features direct-to-base printing.
“The digital imaging process nearly eliminates repeats and features subtle shading,” said Kurt Denman, chief marketing officer and executive vice president of sales, Congoleum. “When you see it in a larger expanse, you really do appreciate how beautiful the design is and how nuanced the color and the layers and depth.”
Cleo is available in 55 designs across two plank shapes (7 x 48 inches and 9 x 60 inches) and two tile shapes (12 x 24 inches and 24 x 24 inches). The products can be installed as a floating floor or glue down and either edge to edge or grouted. The company began shipping the new display in April with about 500 displays currently in the field and will continue to ship about 200 displays per month.
“The flooring distributor is charged with understanding their market,” Denman said. “This is a commitment, so let’s be sure that these displays are not going to the person that’s competing day in and day out on price. We want people who are consultative sales people that try and understand the need of that consumer and really find the right solution for them.”
To get the word out about Cleo, Ketterman’s team is focused on getting in front of key decision makers and influencers through word-of-mouth, community service, and savvy marketing.
“Matt is engaged in the community at a level that is beneficial to the community,” Denman said. The store hosts barbecues and parties for realtors, property managers and maintenance technicians. They also sponsor Matt’s Run to Fight Hunger each year on July 4.
“The only reason it is my name is because I had this running streak for 23 years, 8,700 days,” Ketterman said. “The local news thought that was pretty neat.”
Then, like Forest Gump, one day Ketterman stopped running daily and channeled that energy into doing a 10K that benefits the Second Harvest Food Bank, the charity of choice for the Piedmont Triad Apartment Association.
The community touches continue with the store’s six sales reps who do measures, site and home visits. They will leave behind a branded glass or mug filled with candy at each location.
They also rely on a referral program that keeps realtors and property managers coming back to do business. Customers who refer a client for a job valued at $2,000 or more earn a $100 certificate redeemable for cash or credit toward their next purchase. Referrers of projects valued less than $2,000 receive a $50 certificate.
In the past, referral partners were asked to come to the store to claim a $100 bill and have their picture posted on Facebook. After doing that for six years, Ketterman realized that only one out of seven referral partners were claiming their prize. Now, he sends a check to the referral partner directly.
“We thought if we are getting this kind of referral business with a one out of seven redeeming, how much more important is it for that envelope to show up? Most people do direct deposit and that’s almost like a thank you note, handwritten. We’re trying to recreate some of the old ways of doing business.”
Ketterman is also encouraging property managers to simplify the flooring replacement process by ordering through gotyoufloored.com. For every apartment project ordered through the website, $10 is donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank. Since the program started, more than 100,000 cans have been donated.
“Who doesn’t go to Amazon to shop?” Ketterman asked. “We get used to how easy it is. The goal here is to have these property managers get used to emailing us and trusting that the system will work. We want to make it a disruptor in our marketplace.”
Quality installation is a life force of the business. Ketterman’s installation team includes 25 crews, which each constitutes a crew leader who owns a van and one or two helpers.
“We make a difference in the lives of about 75 workers who are subs and they mean a lot to us,” Ketterman said. “We take care of them. If their van needs to be fixed, I pay for it. If they’re getting married, I pay for their wedding. It’s a loan, but it keeps them on the road and keeps them happy.”
His modus operandi follows the advice of Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet—treating people very well is good for business.
“If someone has a life event—their van isn’t working, their family has a life change, or a health issue—and you help them manage through those things in a way that keeps them from sliding into a place where they can’t recover, it’s very forward thinking,” Denman said.
This forward thinking stretches to financial classes, which Ketterman teaches at the church he attends.
“One of my dreams is to teach finance to these installers,” he said. “If you lift them up—a rising tide lifts all boats. Plus, you get that loyalty back.”