Carpet One Encourages Members to ‘Go Beyond Together’
At Carpet One Floor & Home’s winter convention, executives urged members to “Go Beyond the Ordinary” and laid out a comprehensive program of products and services, including a national partnership with Mohawk to help bring hope and restore dignity to some of America’s bravest, those who have been severely injured in combat.
This summer, the buying group continued to advocate its members Go Beyond but as the co-op approaches its 30th anniversary in 2015 officials reminded them to do it “together.”
“We can go beyond and create unbelievable things,” Eric Demaree, Carpet One’s president, told the group, “but we can do so much more when do it together. Go Beyond Together is more than a cliché theme for the convention; just look at what we’ve done over our 30 years of working as a group.”
At that, the membership was exposed to a litany of things the buying group has done first—from being the first U.S. buyer of Pergo to exclusive selling systems to exclusive warranties—“no one has as long a list of industry firsts than Carpet One and by working together we can continue to grow that list,” he said.
One of the firsts presented to members was the Healthier Living Installation (HLI) system, which was originally introduced in 2011 and helped create a system for members to set them apart from the competition.
Sandy Mishkin, president of CCA Global Partners, Carpet One’s parent company, pointed out “our warranties and selling systems have been duplicated and everyone says they will meet or beat our prices but selling flooring is more than that. What matters most is exceeding our customers’ expectations, that must remain the soul of our business, and with HLI we can do just that because installation does make a difference. All stores do installation but ours is healthier. HLI’s motto, ‘Healthier. It’s How We Install.’ Those six words said it all and created a new standard for installation.
Recognizing that “constant change is the hallmark of the 21st century, and that our mission is to help members embrace change,” he said the company listened to the membership and has restructured and simplified the HLI system so that “all concerns and barriers to entry have been removed.” As a result “we are once and for all separating ourselves from the competition with HLI.”
Along with adding a proprietary cushion to the system, known as HealthinEx, Scott Wheeler, COO, noted a whole new P-O-P kit has been created featuring new graphics showing why HLI is different than other systems along with a new label on the back of samples so the consumer will see it and it will help the salesperson talk about it and its benefits. In addition the HI display is being retrofitted with new graphics, as well as with QR codes that allow consumers to see videos on how the HLI system is different and better for their home. “And best of all, members do not need to get rid of anything they already have.”
In addition, he said yard signs have been created for members to ask their customers if they can put up to show they utilized HLI for their home and how it has made their house a healthier place to live.
Under the theme of Go Beyond Together, Mishkin said, “The success of the program will depend on how you embrace it and what happens on the store floor. If this gets buried then it won’t work as Carpet One can’t promote it by itself, but together we can make consumers aware of it and have it be a known name. Every member needs to support it, we can’t have 70%, we need 100% as it must be a part of our culture.”
He pointed out how the antimicrobial used in the HLI system costs less than two cents a foot, “so there is no reason you can’t include it in the total cost while discussing the benefits to having it done.”
Members seemed to really embrace the system, recognizing it as something different and unique for their businesses.
Dennis Rowland, regional vice president of Primera Carpet One in Prescott Valley, Ariz., said the company was incorporating HLI’s “services and benefits across all product categories—carpet, hardwood, resilient, tile and stone. We have for some time now promoted this tangible service within our carpet line and now as we introduce it across all lines I feel it is a great differentiator that will aid in our continued success.”
John Hughes, president of O’Brian’s Carpet One Floor & Home in Colorado Springs, Colo., said, “Implementing this new Healthier Living Installation will no doubt make us stand out amongst our competition—as they said at the Convention, it’s not ‘what’ we do, but ‘how’ we do it. We at O’Briens Carpet One are looking forward to the launch. We [even] ordered the Healthier Living yards sign to put in our customers’ yards when it begins.”
Carpet One officials also announced they will continue to differentiate the buying group’s wood program so there will be different offerings for different regions because what sells in Oklahoma, doesn’t necessarily sell in New York and so on.
“It is refreshing to see the co-op look at hard surface product selection and placement in a more geographically relevant way,” Rowland said. “What sells in one region of the country does not necessarily sell well in another and it seems as if the decision makers within CCA grasp that.”
Recognizing also that consumers are spending upwards of two hours “interviewing” a store online before ever setting foot in it, Terri Daniels, vice president of public relations, said the company is doing everything it can to get customers to know about Carpet One and drive them to their local store. She pointed to Carpet One’s C1newswire.com, which publishes right to the dealer’s microsite and does so with local content. “We write the release and C1newswire customizes it for your store and uploads it to your site so you do not have to do any extra work.”
Jessica Correa, vice president of marketing for Carpet One, said the co-op is even launching an “Inspiration Gallery” based on extensive consumer research to find out what they want. On top of this research, the company went online and found the Top 50 questions consumers ask about flooring and created web pages that answer these questions. “This way when she goes online and asks one of these questions, it will be a Carpet One page that pops up—and it can be used on any device. We want to be the online default resource to make her shopping experience easier. Today’s shoppers are the ones in control but they need your help and your advice.”
For those who were unsure of how important this was, their questions were laid to rest by Jason Dorsey, one of the convention’s keynote speakers, who has been called the “Gen Y Guy,” when he pointed out, “people of the Gen Y group may be the most connected but it doesn’t mean we are the most informed; it means we have more chances of being misinformed.”
Demaree pointed out when it comes to these micro sites, Carpet One has created them in such a way that even though they are set modules, dealers can customize them however they want so in essence every Carpet One member can make a unique site—and if they already have a site they can integrate it into the micro site.
In addition, the company continues to add to its Carpet One University to help teach members how to succeed in all levels of the business. “One of the most important things for a store to have is highly trained professionals—in all aspects of the business. You can’t just throw warm bodies out there and hope they make a sale. We have an award winning university that now has over 800 learning modules broken up into all different areas of the business.”
He noted this is all part of the group’s strategy of being the “Most Preferred Store.”
Industry veteran Lee Horwitz of Ray’s Carpet One in Albuquerque, N.M., said there are many things his company has noticed over the years about CCA helping members succeed. “There is a very definite, consistent direction of creating tools that help us capture customers, and maintain their loyalty. With the work being done with partner vendors, web presence and on-going training, it really helps put in points of differentiation that only have to be practiced to be successful.”
Lastly, Carpet One in partnership with Mohawk, continued to stress their commitment of working with the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and Building for America’s Bravest organization which is building “smart” homes for veterans who have been the most severely injured—from double to quadruple amputees and more.
The group has so far committed to building 46 of these homes, each with a price tag of approximately a half million dollars as they are custom made to allow the injured soldier the chance to live as free and independent life as possible. Mohawk and Carpet One have committed to providing all the flooring and installation for these homes and at the convention, cabinetmaker and Carpet One vendor MasterBrand said it would supply all the cabinets for these homes because they were “so moved” by what they saw at the winter meeting.
Frank Stiller, whose brother was a New York fireman and lost his life on 9/11, started the foundation and said, “it is our responsibility to take care of these brave people and what Carpet One is doing is going beyond. We can’t express our gratitude.” He noted, while the organization has committed to 46 homes, there are so many more veterans who are in need and he can’t even call them to say when they might even be put on the list for a home “but we are committed to getting a home for every one of them and with your help we can do it.”
Todd Nicely, a U.S. Marine who lost his arms and legs to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan told the membership his new smart home “allows me to be independent and take care of my family. My wife won’t have to help me do so much. I don’t have to worry about asking her to get dishes down out of the cabinets or helping me make something to eat because I can’t reach the microwave. As a 23-year-old I don’t want anyone to be taking care of me and this home goes a long way in allowing me to live and place less of a burden on others.”
Theresa Fisher, vice president of store design and visual merchandising, who first presented the program to Carpet One, said the group sent to each member at no charge a P-O-P kit to help promote this cause, noting, “many of you will never touch a smart home but it’s strength is in the support of the whole group which allows us to do this and companies like Mohawk to support it. You never know who will hear of it and see it so it is important to help get the word out. We even put together an anytime promo kit because any time is a good time to raise money for our veterans—it doesn’t just have to be on a holiday.” She pointed to a member who held a wine tasting event in their store and raised $3,000. “Every dollar matters because these homes aren’t cheap, and these brave individuals deserve it.”
While the group continues to support other causes, such as its pink ribbon mats for breast cancer, which have helped raise nearly $1 million, Fisher called the Building for America’s Bravest the “most infectious thing we’ve ever done.”
Members agreed. Hughes, noted, Carpet One and Mohawk’s support of Building for America’s Bravest is “something to be really proud of. The commitment to 46 smart homes and seeing the service members and hearing their stories was very touching. In fact, we’re proud to report we recently ran a Building for America’s Bravest promotion for three days and raised several thousands of dollars. As Americans and business owners, this is the right thing to do for those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.”