Best Practices: Wecker’s Flooring Center in York, Pennsylvania - December 2022
By Jessica Chevalier
Cousins Dan Wecker and Cody Carman purchased Wecker’s Flooring Center from Mike Wecker in 2019. While committed to maintaining the high standards and model that Mike established, amid the pandemic, the pair found themselves needing to pivot on their buying strategy to better manage the product shortages brought on by the shipping challenges of the age. Today, the duo is pleased to have made the leap, finding themselves better positioned than ever to serve their customers.
Installer Mike Wecker began Wecker’s Flooring Center in 1986 with a focus on carpet and sheet vinyl. He opened a small retail location in York, Pennsylvania, then upsized to the current location, also in York, in 1994. The store includes a 5,000-square-foot showroom and a 10,000-square-foot warehouse.
Both Dan, Mike’s son, and Cody, Mike’s nephew, grew up at the business-hanging out in the warehouse, where they would jump off racks into mounds of carpet pad. At 13, Dan began working in the warehouse and going to jobs with installers.
The cousins officially joined the business after college-Cody in 2003 and Dan in 2005. Cody explains that, just before completing his associate degree in business, he was talking to his father about next steps. His father said, “Why don’t you ask Uncle Mike if he has any room in the warehouse?”
Shortly thereafter, a sales manager who had been with the business for 20 years relocated out of state, and Mike asked Cody to “fill in.” He’s been in the role ever since.
Dan joined the business after graduating from Lebanon Valley College with a degree in business.
While Mike retired when Dan and Cody purchased the business in 2019, he found that he was not suited for a life of leisure. “He stepped away for a couple of months and went nuts not having anything to do,” explains Dan. As such, Mike has come back in an advisory role. “With so many years of experience, he’s a great mentor for us, and when we’re stuck, it’s nice to have a third person to consult with. He’s always there for us with guidance,” says Dan.
When the pandemic hit, Cody and Dan consulted Mike about how to manage the unexpected consumer demand paired with the unprecedented product shortages, and he advised that they increase their stocking. Today, Wecker’s has 75 SKUs of carpet and 50 SKUs of SPC in stock. In fact, the team quickly outgrew its warehouse and purchased two shipping containers to hold the excess.
In spite of the fact that both the demand and shortages of the Covid era have leveled, to some degree, the pair has decided to continue with its stocking position, and the company’s showroom represents these products prominently.
The cousins’ approach is to curate their offering. “We try to offer a large selection from a certain number of manufacturers, but we don’t carry every manufacturer’s products,” notes Dan. “We try to be important to certain manufacturers.”
Wecker’s is an Abbey member and finds great value in the group’s private label programs, as they are less likely to be showroomed than branded product. In addition, Wecker’s creates its own private label collections. The company notes that QFloors software, which it began using in 2015, enables it to build and manage its own private label collections easily.
Wecker’s carries a full range of flooring products, including a fabricated area rug program. “We used to stock 400 rugs in all the sizes, and we found much of that business was going online and prices were falling, so we made the decision to move to fabricated rugs,” says Dan. The company has the machinery to create rugs in house and manufactures stair runners. In addition, it relies on its partnerships with Stanton and Couristan for additional fabrication needs.
While Wecker’s invests in advertising on billboards and pay-per-click online, the company’s most substantial advertising focus is reviews. Wecker’s works with an outside agency-which also maintains the business’ social media presence-to post reviews on Customer Lobby, a service that tracks a business’s interactions with each customer and uses this information to send out promotions and reminders most relevant to them. “Mike had a wonderful reputation with customer service, and York County is a traditional area,” explains Dan. “People don’t shop around here. They come directly to us.”
Adds Cody, “Younger customers who are purchasing their first home will come in and say, ‘My mom and dad said I needed to come here.’”
Of course, bad reviews happen. And, when they do, Dan speaks to everyone on his team who was involved in the sale and installation and responds quickly. Often, all this happens before the review is ever posted.
That being said, the pair believes that a variety of reviews adds authenticity. “We have a ton of perfect reviews, so it’s not terrible to have one that is less-than-perfect because we are human, and this shows that the reviews aren’t fixed,” says Cody.
The company’s social media presence includes video posts, which Cody creates, that get a strong response with clicks. Cody and Dan meet with their agency weekly to plan the social media approach.
In a small town like York where everyone knows everyone, reputation and customer service truly matter.
“Our salespeople are a strength,” says Cody. “At close to 20 years with the business, Dan and I are the new guys here. The staff has taught us about the business, and when a customer comes in, we believe they are talking to the most educated people in our county about floorcovering.” The company has seven seasoned sales team members, one of whom also manages commercial accounts.
Wecker’s has been lucky to avoid too much turnover in recent years. “We have lost a couple staff members due to relocation or whatnot,” Cody notes. “Nobody leaves us to go to another flooring store.”
The pair prefers to hire new trainees from outside the industry and trains them for two to three months before putting them on the floor. “We want to make sure they understand how we run the business,” Cody says. “It is important that we set them up to succeed. We don’t want to feed them to the wolves. They have to have the right knowledge before they interact with customers.”
Ultimately, the pair believes in hiring for fit. “We want good ethics and a good personality,” says Dan. “Everything else can be taught.”
The team has sales meetings every Tuesday, where they sit down as a group to discuss business activity, as well as new products and technology.
On the installer side, Dan and Cody have set up an informal educational program for new trainees. “We have a good core group of installers, but they are getting older, so we have created an apprentice program. We have our first young man graduating soon, after two years as an intern, and two others are in the program right now.” When the trainees graduate, Dan and Cody help them get what they need to launch their own installation business.
As far as long-range goals, Dan and Cody are focused on having good people, doing things the right way, and maintaining their ethics. “No one is hands-on anymore today, but we are,” says Cody. “We want to maintain the ‘Mike Wecker way.’”
Adds Dan, “We have been a part of this community for many years, and our long-term goal is to keep giving our community what we have-good quality product and service that we stand behind. In addition, we will continue our stocking programs to provide our customers a great price point.”
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