For two decades, Flooring America has been helping independent flooring retailers strengthen their businesses from the inside out, offering the guidance and support members need to be in business for themselves but not by themselves.

“We’re retailers helping retailers,” said Keith Spano, president of Flooring America, Flooring Canada, International Design Guild and The Floor Trader. “Everyone on our team has a retail background which I think is unique in our industry.”

Working exclusively for its membership, Flooring America is assisting with everything from marketing and advertising to finding propriety and exclusive products for members’ showrooms. It is also lending a hand to the often unaddressed and more difficult side of a business, like family transitions and succession planning.

“There’s a trust that we have in [members] and they have in us that has really helped us grow and take market share over the last 10 years,” said Spano.

Shifting its focus to what Spano refers to as blocking and tackling, Flooring America is walking members through ways to: sell the whole project, protect their margins, increase their margins and sell fashion, not commodity. “These sound like soundbites, but they really are just basic retail blocking and tackling that are critical to our members’ success.”

Driving Sales Home

Eight years ago, Flooring America introduced the ‘Where Friends Send Friends’ campaign to differentiate itself. “At the time, if you took our ads and Depot’s ads and every other retailer out there, the ads were all the same,” said Spano. “Where Friends Send Friends came in was to give a voice that was own-able and different; being the place where friends send friends, the most recommended store in North America—that was going to be our unique selling proposition.”

From day one, the campaign has resonated with members and since then, it has been reshaped and restructured through the years to make the most sense for members and business.

Along the lines of the Where Friends Send Friends campaign, Flooring America is continuously seeking ways to improve the business of its members. “The most important thing we can do is provide tools for our members to make them more profitable, close more sales, keep them ahead of the curve when it comes to competition and help them from a succession standpoint to operationalize their business to the point where its profitable and they can pass it on and create a legacy for their family,” said Spano.

Working even when salespeople aren’t is Drive, Flooring America’s marketing automation platform that Spano says is giving good salespeople the ability to be great salespeople.

“We find that the challenge that retail sales professionals have isn’t necessarily getting the customer in the door. Certainly traffic is always an issue, but really it’s about how do we make sure we don’t lose any leads? And making sure you’re converting those leads into a potential opportunity or sale,” said Frank Chiera, senior vice president, marketing and advertising of Flooring America/Flooring Canada and The Floor Trader.

A year since Flooring America introduced its membership to Drive, roughly 160 stores are currently on board and reaping the benefits of the platform, and by March, Chiera predicts there will be about 250 to 300 stores using Drive. 

“The Drive stores versus the non-Drive stores are seeing about a 12.6 percent lift in overall incremental closed sales versus the stores that are not using Drive that are seeing about 3 percent lift in closed sales,” Chiera said. “So the net impact with Drive is about a 10 percent lift in sales. If you analyze that, for a typical store, that represents about another $250,000 in incremental sales.”

As Flooring America looks to the next 20 years of business, Spano reflects on just how far Flooring America and its membership have come. “When we first started syndicating social media content for our members, we gave everyone iPads, and they didn’t know how to turn them on. And now, they are all wizzes and they know we are here to help them if they need something.”

Because of this relationship of trust, Flooring America members have been willing to try the new things proposed by the group, and because of that, Spano is confident that the group’s future is bright.

“The next 20 years, the future is very bright,” he said. “We continue to take market share. We continue to grow. Because of the last 10 years, our members are much more digitally savvy than I would say the rest of the industry and that has really given them a terrific foundation for everything else that comes about, whether it be Drive or geofencing or text and chat and all these different things that we’ve come out with.”

And with third and fourth generations up-and-coming in the business, Spano says Flooring America has the wind at its back and a phenomenal legacy ahead.