The Women's Leadership Conference, a half-day event held January 30, at the start of The International Surface Event (TISE), hosted a series of speakers and panel sessions on various topics, ranging from advice on being your authentic self, the new workforce, the metaverse and how to add new products or services. 

Panelists Rachel Berlin, designer, Precision Floors & Decor; Randi Fuller, co-owner, Mesquite Tile & Flooring; and Katherine Millard, sales and design, Odile’s Fine Flooring & Design, for the session "What’s the Next Step: Considerations to Adding New Products and Services Into My Business," shared advice on how to branch out in your local community to help build your business. Each of the panelists identified specific steps to take to build on to a retail flooring business. 

When choosing to add a new product or service, it is imperative to add one thing at a time. "Dial in on a new service and run with that," said Millard. The goal is to fold in that new product/service and polish any processes, procedures and marketing that surround that new offering before moving on to others. 

Berlin explained that Precision Floors & Decor decided to add window treatments to its lineup, specifically Hunter Douglas products. The team felt it was the next right step for their client base. However, Berlin warns, "Know what you're good at," meaning not every product will be the right fit for every retail flooring store. Fuller recommends finding something that is a "natural extension" of your current offerings. 

The panelists all agreed that choosing to align or partner with other retail businesses in your area is a great way to increase store traffic; however, choosing partners whose business goals align with your own is key. Ultimately, the goal is to find others who can fill a product or service that "you know you are not going to offer," said Fuller. The examples given were painters and window treatment installers. 

"What other trades are connected to flooring?" said Berlin. "Reach out to them and try to be referral partners." Part of being a referral partner includes assisting each other in commenting and sharing each others' content on social and even hosting events that involve each other. 

Millard suggests identifying who is promoting what and how that can benefit your business. The next step is to get involved by hosting an event in your showroom and invite small businesses to set up shop. As an example, her event included local artists where her flooring clients shopped for popular hand-made items right there in her showroom. So, it is not necessary that the partner businesses don't have to be flooring-related. The bottom line is to find partners who are local and share your goals. 

Finally, the last tip to building your business is to fill a void within your community. Fuller said she asked herself, "Where do I fit in this flooring business?" She and her team identified that interior design was not offered in her area. She listened to her clients and decided to educate herself on what adding an interior design department to her flooring retail store would entail. It took about three years before the new department was launched.