Earlier this year, Ron Dunn, president and co-ceo of Alliance Flooring, and his wife Sandy purchased an RV in order to visit member stores around the country, in an event called The DRIVE Across America.
“In our earlier years I knew every member and had been in all of our stores. Once our member count surpassed 250, this dynamic changed. At our last convention, as we focused on what owners and managers can do to drive business everyday, it occurred to me as I looked around the ballroom, I could not, in my mind’s eye, picture half the stores represented. I knew it was time to drive to their cities,” Dunn said.
He added, “One of the greatest benefits to our group membership is the meaningful networking that takes place. As good as much of the information being shared is, I realized we are not pulling from the experiences of over half our group.”
Since hitting the road in late May, Ron and Sandy have visited over 70 stores in 14 states and are currently on a drive through the Pacific Northwest visiting members in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Montana and North Dakota.
Dunn continued, “We are enjoying this immensely and have developed a nice three-part rhythm to each stop: meeting staff, touring the store, learning how each business evolved; then reviewing key products, suppliers, new marketing initiatives and growth opportunities; and then, as a recent addition, we interview the owner and staff members for a best-practices networking piece we are producing.”
Tracy Regan, owner of More Than Tile in Boiling Springs, S.C., noted, “Ron and Sandy are not only great hosts of our conventions, but are great guests as well. They asked questions and really listened to my answers. I feel like I matter just as much as the largest dealer in CarpetsPlus Color Tile, and I have felt like that from the day I joined.”
Duke Karns, owner of Carpetland USA in Lafayette, Ind., added, “Ron and Sandy came to visit our store in June. Everything they said was positive. They talked to each employee, from the warehouse to sales, etc. I was very impressed and so was the staff. As a matter of fact, that positive attitude rubbed off on everyone. We had one of our biggest up-months - 70% in retail! Now we’re 38% up in retail for the year, and I believe the Dunn’s visit contributed to that.”
Dunn said he plans to visit every member store. “Every stop has been insightful and invigorating. This will probably extend over the next two years, but in the end we will step foot in every member’s store, hear their story and then share their insights, experiences and success.”