The storefront and sign for Great American Floors, based in Norcross, Ga.

Great American Floors began in 1992 as a shop-at-home service with a couple of deck boards. The beginnings were humble, as the business was operated out of owner Jason Seltzer’s home with the assistance of his father Marc. Now, nearly 20 years later, Jason is returning the Norcross, Ga.-based company to its roots. While the company operates a showroom, Seltzer finds that most of his business is coming from the shop-at-home segment.

Great American Floors operates two core businesses: a showroom and a shop-at-home business.

“When we started we noticed we were the only ones doing a shop-at-home service in our area,” Seltzer remembers. “All of our competitors had the bigger showrooms, and it seemed that whoever had the bigger businesses had the bigger sales. So for all those years, that was the goal we kept pursuing.”

Great American Floors stocks a wide range of hard and soft surface products.

By around 2003 the company moved into a 15,000 sq. ft. building. “We were where we had always wanted to be, size-wise,” Seltzer says. “We continued doing the shop-at-home, but had grown our showroom business, and had moved into a prime retail location.”

However, with the collapse of the economy, Seltzer and his employees moved to a more modest 10,000 sq. ft. location in 2009. “We still have the showroom, but we moved out of that prime location. We also put much more effort into shop-at-home. Those decisions saved our business,” Seltzer states.

Owner Jason Seltzer estimates the showroom contains about 80 percent Mohawk products.

Since 2002, Seltzer has been a Mohawk Floorscapes dealer, and he has sat on the advisory board for several years. He says retailers used to come up to him and wonder why he spent so much time on shop-at-home.

“A lot of people thought it was a huge waste of time to drive to someone’s house when you don’t know if you’re going to get the sale. But what I’ve found is that when people are coming to your showroom, they’re just kicking the tires. They’re going to go to your showroom, Home Depot, and several other guys before they make their purchase. But if you are invited into a customer’s home, you’re on their turf, and they’re a lot more comfortable. It’s a lot easier to start a relationship.”

The showroom features 10,000 sq. ft. of flooring products.

He says before the recession, the company’s close ratio was about 80 percent for shop-at-home, and 40 percent in the showroom. Today, the ratio is closer to 65 percent shop-at-home, and around 25 percent in the showroom. “When people ask me why I do shop-at-home, I tell them I prefer a higher close rate to spending a lot of energy for a low number of people who are going to purchase,” Seltzer says.

The shop-at-home business includes one vehicle carrying a wide range of products, and two to three employees who go out for appointments. Comparatively, there are usually two people in the showroom, and on busy days up to five, plus a few warehouse employees.

“We still have a showroom because a lot of people like to know there’s something behind your vehicle and your deck boards,” Seltzer explains. “They want that peace of mind that there is a physical business.”

Jason Seltzer

He says for shop-at-home, it is important to have a good product mix and to ask the right questions before you go into a customer’s home. “The main thing is when you schedule the appointment or a customer calls, you want to ask really good questions to clarify what they’re looking for. Are they going to be in the house for six months or 12 years? Do they have pets or kids? You should keep those notes with you when you go to the appointment. And if the appointment is at 10 a.m., get there on time, dress professionally, and build a rapport. Don’t be pushy.”

Seltzer estimates that his showroom is about 80 percent Mohawk product. “Mohawk has done a wonderful job of promoting its SmartStrand carpet,” he notes. “People call and e-mail us every day asking about SmartStrand.”

He adds that it is important when advertising to promote both sides of the business equally. “We don’t want to sound like we will only come to your house. People like to make their own decisions. They can call us for an in-home estimate, or come by the showroom. We love when people come in who have already done their research and are a little more educated. They have probably seen reviews about our company. They’re really interested.”

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