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

NWFA Seeks Entries for Community Service Awards   Full Article
St. Louis, MO, Jan. 9, 2015 -- The theme of this year's National Wood Flooring Association Expo is "Play it Forward."

Wholesale Inventories Increase in November   Full Article
Washington, DC, Jan. 9, 2015 -- U.S. wholesale inventories recorded their largest increase in seven months in November, according to the Commerce Department.

NAR Economist Expects 7% Home Sales Increase   Full Article
Washington, DC, Jan. 9, 2015 -- Existing-home sales are forecast to rise about 7% in 2015, according to National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

Unemployment Falls in December on 252K New Jobs   Full Article
Washington, DC, Jan. 9, 2015 -- The unemployment rate fell to 5.6% in December as the economy created 252,000 jobs to close out the year, according to the Labor Department.

Green Seal Begins Client Services Program   Full Article
Washington, DC, Jan. 8, 2015 -- Green Seal, the environmental certification organization and the original “Green Seal of Approval,” said it has begun a client services program led by Mark Stanland, a long-time industry marketing professional.

Torlys Adding Facility in Calgary   Full Article
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Jan. 8, 2015 -- Torlys said it is opening a new 31,000-square-foot facility that includes office space, a product showroom, and a warehouse in Calgary.

Immigration Policy Could Boost Housing Market   Full Article
Cambridge, MA, Jan. 8, 2015 -- President Obama’s executive action on immigration could provide a significant impetus to the housing market, according to George Masnick at Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Jobless Claims Fall Slightly Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, Jan. 8, 2015 -- Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell slightly last week and remained below 300,000, according to the Labor Department.

Planned Job Cuts Fall in December   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Jan. 8, 2014 -- Planned jobs cuts in December by U.S.-based employers fell to a total of 32,640 workers, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas Inc.

CFI Offers Carpet, Resilient Workshops at Surfaces   Full Article
Las Vegas, NV, Jan. 8, 2015 -- Certified Floorcovering Installers is offering training at the Surfaces trade show this month.

Nemo Tile Names Juranich CEO   Full Article
New York, NY, Jan. 7, 2015 -- Frank Juranich has been named COO of Nemo Tile Co.

Mortgage Application Volume Declines Sharply   Full Article
Washington, DC, Jan. 7, 2015 -- Mortgage application volume fell 9.1% last week from two weeks ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey.

Private Employers Hire More Than Expected in December   Full Article
Roseland, NJ, Jan. 7, 2015 -- U.S. private employers added 241,000 jobs in December, according to payrolls processor ADP.

Oil Plunge Could Hurt Home Prices in Some Areas   Full Article
New York, NY, Jan. 7, 2015 -- Although home prices have continued to rise, plunging oil prices could cause a slow-down in price appreciation in some markets, according to analysis firm CoreLogic.

Domotex To Feature Innovations in All Categories   Full Article
Hannover, Germany, Jan. 6, 2015 -- Domotex 2015, which runs Jan. 17-20, will once again feature the best of floorcovering in all categories.

Factory Orders Fall Again in November   Full Article
Washington, DC, Jan. 6, 2015 -- Factory orders in the U.S. fell for a fourth straight month in November, according to the Commerce Department.

Services Sector Expands Again in December   Full Article
Washington, DC, Jan. 6, 2015 -- The services sector of the economy continued to grow in December but at a slower pace.

WONZ To Show New Fiber Technology at Surfaces   Full Article
Marietta, GA, Jan. 6, 2015 -- Wools of New Zealand said it will exhibit rugs colored with gold to introduce a new fiber technology at Surfaces 2015 Jan. 20-23.

Former Burtco President Kokoszka Dies   Full Article
East Ridge, TN, Jan. 6, 2015 -- Robert Edward Kokoszka, 76, of East Ridge, died early Friday, Jan. 2.

Beaulieu Holding Series of Regional Events   Full Article
Dalton, GA, Jan. 6, 2015 -- Beaulieu America is taking its new products and promotions to dealers across the country in the form of regional events it calls “Dealer Family Reunions.”