Throughout my career I have been fortunate enough to work with every major merchandising group in the industry. The relationships go back as far as 20 years and I am proud to say my books, CDs and DVD programs are often used to educate their members. Five different companies in this industry have contracted with me to write their company sales book. A like number has hired me to create their own in-store DVD sales education program or are using my existing programs. Some have even taken my materials as a basis for their own creations-not a problem, since my mission is education.
Given this opportunity to observe the growth of the industry merchandising groups, one factor remains constant; the more emphasis on education, the more likely the group is to be successful. A case in point: My relationship with Floor to Ceiling Stores (FTC) goes back many years, beginning when they were a regional merchandising group. In fact, back then they were known as Midwest Regional Marketing (MRM). Steve Sindlinger was the President then and still is today. Very quickly, Steve and the Floor To Ceiling directors decided to expand nationally so they dropped the MRM name, moved to new corporate headquarters and hired Ken Krick as their Dealer Programs Director.
Ken’s mission is to develop educational programs and facilitate the ongoing training for FTC dealers and staff. The dealer education program was just one focus of this energetic executive. Once a new franchise is sold, he and his staff, Tim Gowen and Royal Rich (Yes, that’s his name, “Royal Rich”), travel on-site, convert it to an FTC store and provide the initial FTC training which Ken calls “backroom” training. It consists of the company’s procedures, policies, computer, pricing and management. The training, however, is two-fold. The second phase takes place on the sales floor, familiarizing store personnel with their private label merchandise, carpet, laminates, ceramic, hardwood fixtures and other product supplied with the franchise. All this is accomplished in just three to four days! The involvement is ongoing with Tim and Royal serving as regional representatives available to assist and help dealers at their store as needed.
What separates Floor To Ceiling from every other group is this; they do kitchens! It is a perfect fit. Floor covering dealers can add the lucrative kitchen business to their operation. “Everything starts with the kitchen,” states Ken, “The flooring comes later.” This is just one of their unique selling propositions. Currently about 55% of FTC dealers carry kitchen cabinetry with the percentage steadily rising. Having kitchens in their product mix make the stores truly floor-to-ceiling.
Over the last three years a majority of prospects have committed to FTC because of the lure of the profitable kitchen business. FTC provides the expertise required to be successful. To facilitate training, FTC headquarters has a complete training facility with a state-of-the-art classroom and design center. Krick has a wonderful philosophy of training based upon personal experience. In his first position, the company sent him away three days for training. He was so impressed that they would invest their money in him, he vividly remembers the feeling he had: this was a professional organization that truly values their people. So Ken believes FTC dealers should send their people for professional training so they can experience what he felt as a young employee.
Ongoing TrainingBasic kitchen design is offered to the group twice a year which covers nomenclature of various pieces, product knowledge and actually teaches hand drawing that kitchen designers did prior to the age of computers. This exercise serves to make the trainee feel more comfortable and confident before entering the computer module. The first day of the two-day course also concentrates on how to use manufacturers’ product specification guides. By the end of the second day, trainees have drawn 6-7 kitchens.
FTC utilizes the “20/20” computerized kitchen design software, offering this training twice a year. These and other advanced product knowledge sessions in kitchen design given by outside experts add up to twelve days of annual training. You might want to know that kitchen cabinetry has expanded to luxurious “other room” cabinetry such as entertainment centers, “wet bars,” laundry rooms, libraries, boot benches, fireplace surrounds and armoires, leading to one more line extension offering even more opportunities for increased sales and profits through yet another unique selling proposition.
Ken enhances the FTC education offerings by bringing in nationally known experts that add stature and credibility to their own professional staff. I’m proud to say that they are the only group who offers Warren Tyler as the Floor To Ceiling sales education specialist instead of in-house facilitators employed by other groups. Proof of the incredible efficacy of this training is that the sales volume of award winners at their annual “Showcase” has quadrupled due to this high-level training. I don’t believe any other organization can make this claim.
Additional training includes product training on flooring, window treatments and other interior design products offered by Floor To Ceiling to their dealers, including decorative lighting, bath products, home fashion accessories and area rugs. Ken is proud of the fact that he has attracted luminaries like Sally Morse of “Ask Sally” fame and Margie Kyle, “The Design Doctor” for a two-day décor seminar. The participants are brought to their own “Parade of Homes” to learn, observe, critique and tear apart design elements with their instructors. As most of you know, interior design training is woefully lacking in the flooring industry.
FTC also brought in LGM Technical Carpet Services’ Lew Migliore for the first-ever “Claims College” to provide the highest level of technical flooring knowledge. I affectionately call him the “Dr. Lee” of the flooring world. He is the forensic pathologist in flooring. In Lew’s words, “The carpet doesn’t lie!” Lew also participates in Floor To Ceilings’ annual Education Day at their annual “Showcase” event. Some groups offer a larger menu, but none offers the level of expertise that FTC does through Ken Krick’s educational facilities.
Beyond this, they were the first to offer an in-house DVD training program featuring Warren Tyler, from which my own acclaimed Unleashing Your Selling Potential! program was spawned. Every FTC dealer has this program. To keep the education effort going, books on the art of selling, customer service, retailing and leadership are offered with some courses and are also available at the various educational events throughout the year. The Warren Tyler seminars on Leadership and Sales include complimentary books. Each of my sessions is offered at FTC HQ twice a year. It isn’t often when an outside consultant feels like a staff member, but that is exactly how the Floor to Ceiling people makes me feel.
FTC Showcase continues the educational effort, bringing in national class educators and speakers at this great convention. It is one event I look forward to each and every year. The momentum hasn’t stopped for Ken and his staff. They are busy developing new and better programs for the franchisees, including a curriculum for owners.
Ken’s position as Dealer Programs Director involves a tremendous amount of work; setting up stores with on-site training, the extensive sessions held at the training facility, Showcase, in-store consultations and program development. But it is paying off with a recent growth rate of almost 40 stores per year.
For more information on opportunities with Floor to Ceiling Stores, call Ken at (952) 890-8979 or visit them at www.floortoceiling.com.