I just got off the phone with Warren Tyler and now I have this sudden urge to go out and sell something, or start a new company, or, better yet, climb Mt. Everest. He has that effect on people. Lack of ability-be it selling or climbing-is not what weighs us down. It is lack of willpower, lack of imagination and our innate aversion to risk. This is what Warren has taught countless people over nearly five decades in the flooring business. He started as an assistant to a carpet cleaner and wound up with a successful five-store flooring chain. From there, he went on to become a highly regarded author and one of the most sought-after speakers in the business. He has worn many hats in his career and now, I'm delighted to report, he is adding another. With this issue we are proud to welcome Warren Tyler to NFT as a regularly featured columnist.
His column, High-Impact Retailing, appears on page 12. He begins this month by discussing the advantages of aligning yourself with a retail group. Please, he cautions, don't call them "buying groups." Buying is only part of it. And when you read his column you'll see this is not an unabashed pitch for retailers to sign on. He outlines what these groups can do for an independent retailer, but he hastens to add that they may not be for everyone. He knows that there is no cookie-cutter approach to success in the flooring business. Methods will vary from person to person and from store to store but Warren reminds us that the objective is universal: commit yourself to becoming better than you are.
I know what that sounds like. Like many people, I am leery of speakers who merely spout platitudes about self improvement (Dr. Phil springs to mind). A friend once dragged to me to his self-help meeting because he couldn't "graduate" until he brought in a potential recruit. After doing nothing more than shaking my hand, the leader (or guru or whatever he was called) began to tell me my life was a mess and my only hope was to sign up for his group. I didn't, of course. The man knew absolutely nothing about me. His was just a sales pitch.
Warren's approach is exactly the opposite. His impressive background and the level of respect he commands in the industry are the proof. What sets him apart is that he has walked in your shoes. He knows the flooring business and he knows what drives success. And, having worked your side of the counter, he knows something about the mindset of independent retailers. Frequently, they are tradesmen or have inherited the business. Often they have had little if any formal sales training. In essence, Warren maintains it is their success that holds them back. They're making a nice living and the bills are paid on time-so why tinker with it? Well, Warren wants to encourage you to tinker with it. And then tinker with it some more. He is very insistent on this point.
"They are leaving 90 percent of their potential sales on the table," said Warren in our recent conversation. "I tell them if you just change a few things, you will lift your business to new heights. But the first thing you have to do is try to be better."
Warren reminds us that the flooring business is driven by passion. This is one of the main reasons he is such a good fit for NFT. "Remember the overwhelming majority of our shoppers are women. She is not coming into your store to buy flooring. She is coming to you because she wants a beautiful home. Warranties, discounts...that's not what's going to sell her. She wants you to help her create a beautiful home."
Reflecting on his background, Warren said he came to flooring as a cleaner's assistant after his discharge from the Army. He liked the people so he learned the business and stayed with it and worked constantly to better himself. "You know something," he said, "if I had gotten a job as a tailor's assistant back then, I probably would have ended up with a string of men's stores. I am just that passionate about what I do."
And the menwear industry's loss is the flooring industry's gain. Welcome to NFT, Warren.
Editorial Comment: NFT welcomes Warren Tyler
June 9, 2006