Best Practices: Hadinger Flooring – May 2022
By Jessica Chevalier
Hadinger Flooring, run by Susan Hadinger, is a Naples, Florida-based retailer that grosses $30 million in revenue from a single storefront. Interestingly, Hadinger bucks several industry trends: it has an extensive stocked area rug assortment; its largest-selling category is carpet; and it invests heavily in its showroom.
FROM CARATS TO CARPET
In 1931, Tom Hadinger’s father opened a jewelry business in Wisconsin, and Tom followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a jeweler. Tom bought the business from his father in 1965 then purchased a second jewelry store in a nearby town. Soon, Tom found himself needing carpet for one of the stores. He contacted a carpet distributor and worked out a deal, then went on to sell carpet to a few friends through his distributor connection. Eventually, he came to realization that carpet would be a more lucrative business than jewelry.
Tom converted the basement of one jewelry store into a carpet store and added furniture as well. Eventually, he sold both jewelry stores and purchased a larger location for his flooring and furniture business.
In 1976, tired of Wisconsin winters, Tom became a snowbird and opened a small flooring store in Naples, while maintaining his two stores in Wisconsin. Eventually, he decided to settle in Naples, Florida full time.
Around two decades ago, Tom married Judy, Susan’s mother, and she began building the business’ area rug business, which now consists of about 8,000 stocked rugs, supported by a team of five employees.
Meanwhile, Susan, who began her career as a high school social studies teacher, got burned out and moved into corporate training. She was living in Denver, Colorado and enjoying her corporate training job, which took her on the road frequently. However, the birth of her son changed things. Susan wanted to be at home more, and she wanted to raise her son near his grandparents. So, she decided to give the flooring business a shot, and as it turned out, she loved it.
Today, Tom is fully retired, but Judy has continued teaming up with Susan on the area rug business. And, from time to time, having kept their relationships current and accounts open, Hadinger Flooring will still stock some jewelry and watches.
STRENGTHS IN SPADES
Hadinger Flooring believes itself to be the largest dedicated flooring store in Florida. The business has an extensive, 30,000 square foot showroom and a 21,000 square foot warehouse.
The business is dedicated to keeping the store contemporary and fresh. “We have a group that is constantly updating the showroom,” says Susan. “They’re never done. They are constantly swapping out our floors to showcase new products. In fact, I just got a text from one employee on our flooring team, Arlena, who wants to repaint the showroom and was inquiring about how much she can spend on that. We have a new deck out back. We are really fortunate to have people who work here who care and try to make our space as nice as they can.”
Susan considers her team the greatest of the business’ assets noting, “We have employees who think of Hadinger as more than a job.”
Currently, Susan would like to hire a few more employees on the sales side and secure relationships with a few more subcontractor installers. To better compete for top candidates in this tough job market, Hadinger has raised its starting wage for both, and that has made some difference, drawing in quality candidates.
Traditionally, the rug business has accounted for around 20% of Hadinger’s sales. Prior to Covid, Hadinger had begun winnowing its area rug offering a bit, cutting back stock by 10% to 20% a year. However, amid the pandemic, the retailer saw a significant increase in area rug sales, which Susan attributes to the fact that consumers were hungry for stocked material they could get their hands on immediately.
To stay atop rug design, Susan and Judy make regular trips to High Point and Las Vegas Markets, as stocking what customers want to buy is especially critical in making an area rug business profitable. And, of course, having five area rugs experts on staff to help customers with sizing and design is an added bonus that helps buyers feel confident in their investment, an experience wholly unlike buying a rug online. And that’s competitive advantage is one that sets Hadinger apart, Susan believes, “In a time when no one wants to work or commit to customer service, we are really dedicated to being experts in the field and helping people from start to finish. We’re in the customer’s home, moving the customer’s furniture and helping them get their rug in place.”
She continues, “We have lots of competition here in Naples: Abbey, Carpet One, Wayne Wiles Floor Coverings. I don’t know that we’re the only ones that focus on customer service, but we have low turnover rates. We have salespeople who have been here for years. Our people know what they are doing. We do product knowledge seminars every week. I think that the common consumer doesn’t realize how detailed floor buying and installation are. There’s a lot they need to know. We know all that and can make their experience easier. And when things go wrong, which they sometimes do, we always fix it and take care of the customer.”
While carpet remains Hadinger’s largest category for sales, Susan reports that LVP is not far behind, and the hardwood and ceramic categories are also strong. In addition, Hadinger sells cabinets and countertops. While Hadinger does offer a wide span of price points, Susan reports that it will never be “a low-price leader,” choosing instead to sell on service.
It also has business in the commercial market, mostly main street, and does builder work, which accounts for around 30% of business, but retail is Hadinger’s bread and butter.
Hadinger Flooring looks to build relationships that are more than transactional. Each May, the retailer hosts a golf tournament to say thank you to its partners. This includes around 75 builders, designers and architects who bring them business.
To go along with the event, Hadinger chooses a local charity and donates proceeds to them. This year, that charity is Golden Paws, a nonprofit that provides skilled assistance dogs to combat wounded veterans and children with disabilities.
In addition, annually Hadinger does a rug giveaway to local teachers. This is mostly stocked area rugs. “It helps turn inventory and does a good thing. The teachers really appreciate it,” says Susan.
CONTINUING THE CONVERSATION
Hadinger has changed the makeup of its advertising efforts over the years but remains committed to both traditional and online strategies. Traditionally big in newspaper, the company has pulled back on that but continues. It also advertises in local home and design publications. Hadinger has beefed up its online presence and become active on Facebook, which, Susan reports, feels like more of a conversation with the customer than other social media forums.
TV ads have been an especially useful tool for Hadinger. Susan appears in one out of every four commercials, which an employee films on her iPhone. Many of the ads focus on partnerships with suppliers, such as Coretec and Karastan. The ads are all 15-second spots.
Hadinger has been a member of the National Floorcovering Alliance (NFA) since soon after the group was formed. Susan attends as many of the meetings as she can and notes, “It’s a great group. I love the NFA.”
In terms of future plans, Susan reports that she wants to enhance the lifestyle of her customers by upgrading their interiors as well as continue “putting food on the table” for her team and to keep growing, noting, “We’re poised to do just that.”
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