A new approach and a whole new retail format has been rolled out by a growing and aggressive, Wichita-based, retailing and manufacturing father and son run company called CAP Carpet.
Run by newly inducted Flooring Industry Hall of Famer Levon—the father—and Aaron Pirner—the son—CAP was one of the first Carpet One stores and its since grown into ProSource, The Floor Trader and Big Bob’s stores, and is now the 13th largest retail player in the country.
On top of that it’s also in the aviation flooring business and, a few years ago, it even bought the high-end carpet manufacturer White Oak Mills. As if that isn’t enough the company recently launched this new format retail operation called The Flooring Project.
TalkFloor.com had the exclusive opportunity to sit down with both Levon Pirner (LP) and Aaron Pirner (AP) and learn more about this new approach to marketing floor coverings.
The following are excerpts from the conversation. You can watch the video in its entirety on the TalkFloor.com website.
TF: What is The
AP: Our effort has been to try to do what the customer wants us to do. We’re in a unique position—we can bring great salespeople, a great supply chain and great partners from a product prospective and also great technology.
After 45 years in business, our goal was to truly listen to our customers. So we went out and did market research focused around what consumers want from an environment, product and technology standpoint. In simple terms The Floor Project is a culmination of what our customers’ desires [are], so in turn, we could make it easy for them to purchase floor coverings.
Our focus was to have customers answer five key questions: 1) How soon can I get it? 2) What’s it going to cost? 3) What’s it going to look like? 4) Is it right for me for my life stage? And 5) Is it right for my lifecycle?
Through our market research we literally had pictures of the samples and displays that are common in the industry. We tested that. We tested business concepts all the way down to the size of samples the customer wanted.
With a little technology and a partnership with our suppliers we can show customers exactly what any flooring will look like in their home. All you need is a mobile device.
[In essence] what we have tried to do is make it so we can answer those five key questions so customers can buy. They need to be sold, but they love to buy.
TF: Talk about the Flooring Project and its basic concept.
LP: One of the thought processes was to truly find a piece of floor covering that the customer loved. So there are no price tags on anything. There is a QR code; they can read that. It isn’t that we’re trying to hide the price, but we wanted the first sift of product to be what’s truly pretty and what excites them.
AP: There were a lot of simple things that we tried to fix. For those customers who are very price sensitive we tried to price by the project. They do buy by the foot but ultimately they pay by the project.
Therefore, our project partners—or salespeople—the people responsible for owning the experience the customer has in our stores, talk about total dollars. We built the pricing system [to] make it easy to sell, shop, to trade up or trade down based on what their budget wants and needs, because often they won’t tell you.
TF: Brands are not seen anywhere in the store that I could see. This is obviously the result of something you learned from consumers. Talk about this decision.
AP: Consumers feel the process was confusing. If the customer doesn’t have a good experience whom does she call? Does she pick up the phone and call [the manufacturer]? No. She picks up the phone and calls us. It’s our job to be a good ambassador for [any] manufacturers involved, to take care of the customer in a way she deserves.
And do it fairly.
You’ll find brands on the website when you get into it, but we didn’t lead with brand. We felt from a customer perspective the store [is] the brand.
Editor’s note: There is a great deal more to this interview than space permits. To hear the three-part conversation in its entirety visit TalkFloor.com, click on the TalkFloor TV logo and scroll down to “Levon & Aaron Pirner on the Rollout of the Flooring Project.”
From a PR post at the CRI to communications director of the Atlanta Mart, Dave Foster launched two of the top industry websites and currently hosts his own Dalton-based radio program, FloorRadio. email@example.com.
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