Best Practices - July 2013
By Sonya Jennings
Macco’s Floor Covering Center is a business focused around design, where training and customer service are key components to success. The company consists of seven locations in the northern Wisconsin area, with carpet representing 60% of sales and hard surface 40%. Key vendors are chosen mostly because of their relationship with the National Floorcovering Association (NFA) and, according to Jeff Macco, CEO, “We’d rather be important to a few vendors than sort of important to a lot of them.”
In the northern Wisconsin market, television and radio have proven to be the best avenues for Macco’s advertising, with an emphasis on television. One television advertisement can speak to an audience in the general area of several Macco’s locations. The company used to employ a local actor with a unique voice to record Macco’s commercials, but the actor began representing other companies as well. Because his voice was so recognizable, Macco’s message was diluted by sharing the spokesperson with oth er companies, so the decision was made for Jeff to begin recording the company’s commercials. Later, his brother Jim Macco took over representing the company on television. Jeff says, “Our advertising is believable because Jim says, ‘This is me and my family…we work every day to serve you.’ It is not a paid actor, but a real person running a family business.”
Every television spot is quite similar, featuring an item on sale for that month with a start date, end date, and a theme for the specific promotion. The same type of voice commercial is also featured on two of the most popular local radio stations, one country music and one popular music. Radio advertising packages are purchased with drive time slots to speak to the highest number of listeners.
When asked how Macco’s sets itself apart from its competition, Jeff says, “Training. Many companies say that they believe training is important, but we actually do it.” Monthly training is conducted for installers, and training for sales staff is held every six to eight weeks to keep employees’ skills fresh and up to date.
Within the next month, the company will take all of its installers off of the job for a full-day class of training with Tom Jennings, a customer service and flooring installation expert. When an installer is working in a home, there is much more to consider than performing a high quality installation on the floor. Macco’s installers are trained to make the homeowner feel comfortable by interacting and communicating in a professional manner. Small considerations, like not leaving a soda can on the counter, eating lunch away from the installation area and taking care to keep the homeowner’s restroom 100% clean, can make the difference between whether or not a customer will be happy with the installation. These things have nothing to do with the actual flooring installation, but they are extremely important. Jeff comments, “It’s the little things that matter. Our installers are trained professionals not only in installation techniques but also in communicating with the homeowner. They pay attention to the small details that demonstrate respect for her home.”
For sales training, the sales staff is split for half-day training sessions every six to eight weeks. Topics like new products, new installation techniques and sales training are covered in depth. Salespeople are also sent to Mohawk University for several days of product training.
Another way that the company stands out among its competition is by creating a design-based shopping experience. There is an interior designer in each store with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in design. Most customers do not want to make a mistake with such an important design choice like flooring. Knowing that an interiors expert is helping to make these decisions gives peace of mind to Macco’s’ customers. Designers will help with choices other than flooring as well. According to Jeff, “It’s not uncommon to walk into our store and see paint chips, fabric swatches, photos of furniture pieces, and flooring samples all spread out on the floor—our designers will help put together an entire look.”
Thirty percent of Macco’s sales are from its commercial business, which was launched in 2004. Macco’s jumped into the commercial pool in order to be diversified. According to Jeff, “We felt it was our best defense against a fluctuating economy. A lot of times, one area of our industry may falter while another is doing fine.” The jobs in commercial are much larger, the margins thinner and it can take a lot longer to get paid, but Macco’s gets many jobs because it can get bonding for a large job. The company has the labor force to complete commercial work in a timely manner. The company has been involved with all types of commercial projects, including healthcare facilities, schools and offices.
The owners of Macco’s recently bought into Hadinger Flooring of Ft. Myers, Florida, expanding into a new state with unique trends and considerations. On the advertising side, Hadinger uses television commercials and newspaper inserts. With an older population in Florida, there are still many people who read the newspaper instead of reading news online or watching it on television, so the newspaper inserts speak to that audience. Hadinger sales are 55% carpet and 45% hard surface, and wood is gaining in popularity in some areas of the home where tile was typically placed.
HISTORY OF THE BUSINESS
James Macco, father of Jeff and Jim, founded Macco's Carpet Warehouse in Green Bay, Wisconsin in 1976. At that time, it was a cash and carry shop selling mostly carpet and vinyl floorcovering. Today, Macco's Floor Covering is a design-based business focusing on the middle to upper-end customers with seven locations in Wisconsin and one location in Ft. Myers, Florida. The company is now owned by four individuals: Jeff and Jim (who are brothers), Jim Walter and Scott Brown. Macco's offers carpet, hardwood, laminate, natural stone, tile, sheet vinyl, LVT and area rugs.
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