Best Practices - February 2013

By Sonya Jennings

 

In an attempt to find ways to improve and expand, Rob Menefee, owner of Flooring America & FA Design Build, has implemented many new ideas that have helped his business move forward. The company has learned to adapt to the changing sales process, find and hire good people, and generate more revenue by significantly increasing the average sale.

Like most business owners, one of the things that keeps Menefee up at night is finding and hiring good people. “If you don’t pay close attention to that side of the business, it can become a huge problem,” notes Menefee. Companies like Nordstrom impress Menefee because the staff always seems truly eager to help customers, so he looked to Nordstrom’s model of hiring good, consistent personalities. Menefee found a company called Omnia to help him screen potential employees. If a person seems like a good fit after the first interview, he or she is then put through Omnia’s behavioral assessment. People with three basic personality traits make good employees for Flooring America: first, someone who enjoys working with people; second, someone who enjoys meeting new people; and thirdly, someone who is naturally caring and wants to help his or her fellow employees. “It sounds simple, and, of course, many people say they like working with, meeting and helping people, but the truth is, most people don’t. We are looking for a rare personality type,” Menefee notes. The test is designed to discover who actually has all of these personality traits as opposed to someone who just says that they have these personality traits. Several of Menefee’s strongest employees took the test to set a baseline model, so a new prospective employee’s report might say, “She is caring like your current employee, Sally and loves people like your employee, Sam.” Hiring great people cuts down on workplace drama and guarantees that customers will be treated well.

Flooring America has addressed the important issue of streamlining customer information for the benefit of both store employees and clients. When customers call with questions regarding their account, bill or order status, they can get frustrated if it’s necessary to explain a situation more than once. Menefee solved this issue by using a feature of the RFMS software system. In the past, if customers had an issue or question, they might have to explain their particular situation to various people on the phone, depending on who was available to take the call. The company’s software is now set up to track through the sale, installation, service issues and follow-up for each customer. Now, when a customer calls, any store employee can pull up his or her account and be up to speed immediately. This minimizes the frustration level for customers and gives the store’s employees all the information necessary to provide the most efficient service possible. 

Menefee takes a page out of the large retailer playbook by focusing on increasing the amount of the average sale. A typical floor only needs to be replaced or updated every seven to ten years, so if a customer buys today, she may not enter the store again for nearly a decade. By starting a sister company called FA Design Build, Menefee created a way to increase the average sale by staying connected with customers and providing additional service. FA Design Build is a full-service residential and commercial remodel business with a Class A general contractor’s license, handling projects from design to installation. The business has separate employees, including a designer, estimator, two project managers, and subcontractors. Each of the company’s stores features kitchen and bath vignettes that show examples of upgrades the company can make to a home or business. If a customer is in the store to replace flooring in her home, most likely she has a project in mind for updating a room in her home. According to Menefee, 85% of the mature residential market is considering changing something in the home. There is already a level of trust if the company has been chosen to handle a flooring project, so adding a remodeling project to the sales saves the customer the troublesome process of seeking out a contractor. Flooring America’s salespeople are given incentives to generate leads for FA Design Build, and they approach the subject organically while discussing flooring needs. Many people feel stuck in their homes due to the poor housing market, so they are more likely to remodel a kitchen or bath knowing that they will be there for a while. The stores have created so many leads for the sister company that FA Design Build has been the most profitable part of the overall operation for the last two years. 

When asked about new business trends, Menefee notes how many customers are calling on the phone instead of actually entering the store. With Internet research, customers find products they are interested in without entering a building. Busy lives and Washington, D.C. traffic cause many people to prefer to handle the sales process over the phone. This presents a learning curve for salespeople who are used to dealing mostly face-to-face. The good news is that the calls can be recorded and offer a lot of opportunity for coaching and training by sales managers. The typical phone calling customer is well-informed, and on the commercial side, might be calling from his or her desk at work to arrange a flooring change in a law firm or business office. 

As far as product trends go, Menefee is seeing a shift toward the new fibers offered by manufacturers like Mohawk. “In some ways, these new products are resurrecting carpet,” notes Menefee. SmartStrand is an example of a product that is able to combine softness and stain resistance like polyester with durability like nylon. His customers are gravitating toward new carpet products like this—even competing against hard surfaces in living spaces, not just in bedrooms. Menefee sees new products like this helping carpet to recover some of its past market share.



ORIGINS

Rob Menefee's parents, Ed and shirley Menefee, began the business in White Plains, Maryland under the name of Carpet Country in 1979. At that time, it was mostly a carpet cash and carry business. Over time, it grew in both size and scope to new locations in Woodbridge, Virginia (1986) and Fairfax, Virginia (2003). The company now offers carpet, hardwood, tile, sheet vinyl, LVT, cork, bamboo and window treatments. Its sister company, FA Design Build, was founded in 2005. Rob Menefee took over operation of the company in 2001. Retail sales account for 80% of the company's business, with commercial/new construction making up the remaining 20%. In 2013, Menefee projects 3.5% of sales going toward advertising.


Copyright 2013 Floor Focus 



Other Archived Articles

Tight Lending Standards Still Hurting Home Builders   Full Article
Washington, DC, Oct. 9, 2014 -- Tight mortgage lending standards continue to affect sales for single-family builders, according to a survey released by the National Association of Home Builders.

Wholesale Inventories Increase in August   Full Article
Washington, DC, Oct. 9, 2014 -- U.S. wholesale inventories rose 0.7% in August, according to the Commerce Department.

Initial Jobless Claims Hold Steady Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, Oct. 9, 2014 -- Initial jobless claims held steady at 287,000 last week, according to the Labor Department.

Quick-Step Starts Promoting Q-Wood Flooring on the Internet   Full Article
Dallas, TX, Oct. 9, 2014 -- Quick-Step developed a new website specifically for its Q-Wood category of flooring.

Mortgage Application Volume Rises Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, Oct. 8, 2014 -- Mortgage application volume increased 3.8% last week from the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Got You Floored on Fast 50 List in Piedmont Region   Full Article
Greensboro, NC, Oct. 8, 2014 -- -Got You Floored, Inc. was named by the Triad Business Journal to the Fast 50 for the Piedmont Triad Region in North Carolina.

Georgia Gov. Deal Visits Mohawk in Calhoun   Full Article
Calhoun, GA, Oct. 7, 2014 -- Earlier this week, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal toured the Mohawk Flooring Center in Calhoun and spoke to employees about the importance of the flooring industry in the state of Georgia.

Interface Issues Third Quarter Earnings Warning   Full Article
New York, NY, Oct. 8, 2014 -- Shares of Interface fell 16.5% in after-hours trading Tuesday after the company announced lower-than-expected preliminary third-quarter results.

National Retail Federation Expects Holiday Sales Boost   Full Article
Washington, DC, Oct. 7, 2014 -- Retail spending during the holiday season is expected to be the highest in three years, according to a forecast by the National Retail Federation.

Job Openings Highest Since 2001   Full Article
Washington, DC, Oct. 7, 2014 -- Job openings increased to 4.84 million in August, up from 4.67 million in July, according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

Builders Offering Incentives as Sales Soften   Full Article
New York, NY, Oct. 7, 2014 -- Home builders nationally have begun sweetening offers in light of slowing sales, according to a Bloomberg News story.

Domotex To Feature Installation Technology for First Time   Full Article
Hannover, Germany, Oct. 7, 2014 -- Domotex 2015 set for Jan. 17-20 will feature 1,300 exhibitors from more than 60 countries.

Fincibec Group Seeking Tile Award Entries   Full Article
Sassuolo, Italy, Oct. 6, 2014 -- The Quinquennial Tile Award, now in its fourth edition, seeking entries using the Fincibec Group's three brands, Century, Monocibec and Naxos, between Jan. 1, 2011 and Dec. 31, 2015.

Armstrong Raising Some Vinyl Prices   Full Article
Lancaster, PA, Oct. 6, 2014 -- Armstrong said it will raise prices in the U.S. and Canada on commercial vinyl composition tile and BioBased Tile by 4%, commercial wallbase by 4%, and select residential tile products.

Stifel Sees Stronger Hard Surface Sales, Weaker Carpet Sales   Full Article
New York, NY, Oct. 6, 2014 -- Analyst Stifel Nicolaus believes that third quarter flooring sales will show stronger sales of hard surface flooring and weaker sales of carpet.

NeoCon East Offers Education for Designers   Full Article
Baltimore, MD, Oct. 6, 2014 -- NeoCon East has announced its educational program for design professionals seeking continuing education.

Duncan Appointed President of Mannington's Residential Business   Full Article
Salem, NJ, Oct. 3, 2014 -- Mannington Mills announced today that Ed Duncan will replace Kim Holm, who is retiring, as president of Mannington’s Residential Business.

Services Sector Growth Slows in September   Full Article
Washington, DC, Oct. 3, 2014 -- The services sector of the economy grew at a slower pace in September, according to the Institute for Supply Management.

CRI Annual Meeting Set Nov. 12   Full Article
Dalton, GA, Oct. 3, 2014 -- The Carpet and Rug Institute's 2014 Annual Membership Meeting will be held Nov. 12.

Unemployment at Six-Year Low in September   Full Article
Washington, DC, Oct. 3, 2014 -- The unemployment rate fell to 5.9% in September as the economy created 248,000 jobs, according to the Labor Department.