Woodstock, GA — 7/24/11 Floor covering is a relationship-driven industry. On all levels, the success of a business hinges on the strength, or weakness, of those relationships.
So, what do you do if you expand to a point where you no longer know all of your repeat customers and clients the way you once did? The answer for Alliance Flooring is to hit the road.
Earlier this year Ron Dunn, President and co-CEO of Alliance Flooring and his wife Sandy invested in their version of “The Madden Bus” and have hit the road visiting member stores across the country. Dunn said, “In our earlier years we knew every member and had been in all of their stores. Once our member count surpassed 250, this dynamic changed. At our last convention, as we focused on what owners and managers can do to DRIVE business everyday, it occurred to me as I looked around the ballroom, I could not, in my mind’s eye, picture a large number of the stores represented. I knew it was time to DRIVE to their cities.”
He added, “One of the greatest benefits to our group membership is the meaningful networking that takes place. As good as much of the information being shared is, it will be even better as we begin pulling from the experiences of our entire group.”
Since hitting the road late May, Ron and Sandy have visited over 70 stores in 14 states and are currently on a DRIVE through the Pacific Northwest visiting members in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Montana and North Dakota.
Dunn continued, “We are enjoying this immensely and have developed a nice three-part rhythm to each stop: meeting staff, touring the store, learning how each business evolved and is currently running; then reviewing key products, suppliers, best practices, new marketing initiatives and growth opportunities; and then, with those who are willing to get in front of the camera, we interview owners and staff members for an “under the hood’ networking piece we are producing. Clearly, there is a big difference between efficiency and effectiveness just as there is a huge difference between management and leadership. Members are sharing great insights on how to be effective and how to lead and how to do the right things in this economy.”
All members visited had nothing but positive reactions to the visit. Tracy Regan, owner of More Than Tile in Boiling Springs, SC, had this to say, “Ron and Sandy are not only great hosts of our conventions, but are great guests as well. They asked questions and really listened to my answers! I feel like I matter just as much as the largest dealer in CarpetsPlus COLORTILE, and I have felt like that from the day I joined!”
Duke Karns owner of Carpetland USA in Lafayette, IN, said “Ron and Sandy came to visit our store in June. Everything they said was positive. They talked to each employee, from the warehouse to sales, etc. I was very impressed and so was the staff. As a matter of fact, that positive attitude rubbed off on everyone. We had one of our biggest up-months — 70% in retail! Now we’re 38% up in retail for the year, and I believe the Dunn’s visit contributed to that!”
How many states and stores do Ron and Sandy plan to visit in this Drive across America? “Every member!” was Dunn’s quick reply. “Big Red is easy to drive and every stop has been insightful and invigorating. This will probably extend with multiple trips over the next two years, and in the end we will step foot in very member’s store, hear their story and then share their insights, experiences and success.”
Wayne Whiteside, owner of Lexington Paint & Flooring in Lexington, SC said, “I can now say joining CarpetsPlus COLORTILE was the best move I could have made for my flooring business. I am more organized in my showroom, and appreciate the member backroom (website). Ron and Sandy, thanks for visiting the store!”
Jeff White, owner of Color Carpets, Winston-Salem, NC. “I really enjoyed my time with Ron and Sandy. The opportunity to give feedback to them was priceless! Their enthusiasm is contagious! Good lunch, great company and great business ideas were exchanged! My wife Beth, our daughter Madison and her husband Shannon Beard, along with my son London were excited about spending some time with them.
These tough times are times of learning, fine tuning and honing skills. The fire we had last year caused us to switch to in-home sales as our store was being remodeled. During that time we learned product like never before and became more in tune with what our consumers are looking for. As a result, our sales increased 30%. I enjoyed sharing this and other things with Ron and Sandy. I even had my picture made with their dog Lacy and Big Red!
Sam Quandahl, owner, Floor Coverings of Winona, Winona, MN, observed, “What stood out to me with Ron and Sandy’s visit was that they were on the tail end of their RV trip and still had great energy and enthusiasm. To extend that kind of care toward a small business like mine was impressive.”