6 Tips for Flooring Sales Teams

As a flooring retailer, you want to create a memorable experience for your customers. As the economy is reopening, it’s essential for flooring sales teams to provide excellent service without being pushy.

The main key for top salespeople is to love what they do. The best teams are willing to go above and beyond.

As a manager, there are a few characteristics that excellent flooring teams have that can seep into every step of the process.

The Benefits of Extroverts and Introverts

Most people are both extroverts and introverts. Few people are 100 percent one or the other. Studies suggest that ambiverts who fall in the middle of the spectrum make the best salespeople.

Extroverts love being sociable. They enjoy making small talk, meeting new people, and starting conversations easily. Introverts tend to develop deeper relationships by listening to their customers and being able to read them. They tend to ask the right questions and fully listen to provide sound advice.

Ambiverts strike a perfect balance of listening and talking. They utilize a good balance of flexibility, enthusiasm, and agreeability without being pushy or demanding.

A team made up of thoughtful, conscientious, charismatic, and open salespeople are more likely to enjoy high sales and return customers.

Establish Trust

Trust and rapport start as soon as you greet your customer and extends throughout the sale. Building a relationship with a new customer has less to do with what the salesperson wants and more to do with the customer.

Customers enjoy being able to gather unbiased information from a professional without feeling forced into a decision. They will also be more motivated to return and provide referrals.

Your Store Is More Than Your Products

No matter how niche your flooring products may be, they won’t be sufficient to differentiate you from competitors.

Without a team of passionate and experts, customers may walk in and right back out. The key is bringing your products to life and showcasing how they can benefit your customer.

The most unique thing about your store is your flooring sales team.

The internet allows customers to do extensive research before walking into your store. They can explore options, go over your products on your website, read customer reviews, and even have a list of questions. A superior service experience means anticipating these questions, providing in-depth explanations that aren’t available online, and suggesting better alternatives.

Most customers walking into your store have already selected the store for various reasons. Few walk in off the street without any idea or budget regarding their needs. The trick is asking the right questions right at the start.

Quality Service Requires Quality Training

Superb customer experience doesn’t happen by accident: it is created. The best teams have a standard of care that insists on quality, which is why they never expect their sales team to self-train.

Managers set the standard for consistency and high quality during ongoing education and training. Good performances should be rewarded and encouraged.

Excellent Customer Experience Doesn’t Stop at the Sales Floor

Everyone on your flooring team is expected to run through the sale without dropping the baton. From the salesperson to measurement and installation, all roles are equally important to avoid a breakdown in communication and experience.

After all, a smooth sale can be overshadowed by a bad experience during installation. No matter how good your sales team is, it’s vital that they have open and honest communication with all departments.

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Understand What Makes You Unique

High standards cover your entire business and functions only when everyone understands what they do, their roles, and how to communicate.

Customers are used to being told how excellent a store is or how it will price-match a competitor. Instead, focus on what makes your experience unique to them.

Now more than ever, customers are looking for a human experience. They want to connect with people rather than avoiding them. After all, customers can easily order products online. Many people are interested in finding common ground, sharing stories, and feeling seen.

Customers are paying for their peace of mind. They want a quality product that will serve their needs, and they want an installation team they can trust in their house.

Managers can efficiently run a well-oiled machine by focusing on virtues that represent good qualities in many people. Sincere enthusiasm paired with compassionate professionalism keeps everyone happy, including your flooring sales team.

2021 Summer Flooring Renovation Trends

In 2021, summer floor renovation trends focus on effortlessness. With home as the new hub for many this year, comfort is king. A wide variety of waterproof and low maintenance options are on the market for an easy home lifestyle including the following.

Beating out hardwood flooring, laminate, and carpet is Luxury Vinyl Plank. LVP is a popular trend for 2021 because it is waterproof, easy to maintain, and does not scratch. Appropriate for families with children and dogs, LVP is easy to clean and comes in a variety of colors. LVP flooring can be installed easily, appealing to the DIY demographic. With glue down or click in place methods of installation, a family could complete their own renovation without a professional installer.

Indoor outdoor carpeting has also won a spot in summer trends this year. Improved over the plastic feeling polypropylene of the past, indoor outdoor carpet now resembles wool. It is durable, resistant to chemicals, and repels stains. It is appropriate for families with children and pets and has become popular with high-end wool manufacturers.

Vinyl that looks like wood or tile is another hot commodity this year. It is waterproof, pet friendly, and soft underfoot making it a good option for home gyms and nurseries. The corked backing deadens sound keeping rooms quieter, and it is resistant to scratches. With no dirty grout lines to clean, this vinyl can fool people. It looks so real you may need to touch it to believe it is vinyl.

Another popular trend for 2021 is tile. With the appearance of natural wood and the durability and water resistance of cement, tile goes well in bathrooms. Lastly, format tiles offer a sense of spaciousness. They cover a lot of area making a room seem larger.

If you are selling flooring for summer home renovations, this year the most popular color trend is blonde. Whitewashed and weathered looks and the grey/beige combination of “greige” are fashionable light shades for this year’s summer floor trends.

What kind of flooring are you seeing that’s in high demand this season? Share with us in the comments!

Have you connected with other vendors and retailers in flooring space in VendorPriceBook.com? Try it out, it’s free! Connect with others in the industry and grow together!

Customer Service: Back to Basics

With limited capacity laws implemented into stores, retailers have had to find different ways to retain people’s satisfaction and interest. Walking into a shopping center or retail department with complete comfortability has become difficult, and the convenience of shopping online contradicts the risk of physically buying products at the storefront. Flooring retailers have seen a huge shift for themselves since the beginning of 2020, as the pandemic hurdled product price increases, decreased revenue for supply and stifled buyer uncertainty within the industry as a whole. However by the end of 2020 home interior design started to become more profitable, and  CEO of Kenneth L. Mink & Song and manager of Macy’s Fine Rug Gallery, David Mink confirms that his rug business is seeing increase in profit, and says that “With more and more people working and spending time at home, the more they are spending on their home. This is a benefit to the rug business.” Since the end of last year, many changes have been made to store’s and online flooring retailers. 

Simple at Storefront

The most obvious trend for revitalizing customer service has put pressure on businesses to make their customer experience more streamline. Jim Mckay, vice president of sales for Great Floors, has limited the amount of manufacturers promoted in his store during lockdown, reevaluating the 40 hard-wood flooring planks displayed in his showroom by saying  “This is just ridiculous. We can’t even tell the difference between all these things. How’s a customer going to do that?” Macay says that “We have big stores, and it’s really easy for a customer to walk in that front door and be overwhelmed. So we’ve tried to simplify it,” aiming to limit manufacturer brands to create a streamlined store experience. Darren Braunstire, VP of Worldwide Wholesale Floor Coverings, explains how he separated wire brushed and smooth wood options into different sectors within the hardwood section, and how specifications are placed behind the tiles to keep from distracting the  main displays; Methodology like this amplifies customer experience through simplifying advertising tactics, while still keeping standard manufacturer promotion. 

Managing Online

In a 2020 analysis, more than 75% of consumers polled online services more engaging than storefront sales for their basic needs, like banking, food/restaurant shopping and video calls for emotional human support. This integration toward digital solutions has helped retailers promote products during social distancing. Director of U.S sales at Mercier’s, Wade Bondrowski, has expressed how social media presence has sustained communication and customer personalization, as data within these apps integrate products with customer interest. Keeping sales face to face, Adam Ward senior project manager at Mohawk, reveals that virtual conferencing has become a daily occurrence between staff members to ensure constant team collaboration, and Hallmark, a manufacturing company, reports that their increase in “real time responses,” online has kept connection between customers and specialty retailers. Omni-channel is a new culmination of all online promotion platforms into one source, which Dan Foskett, CEO at Flooring Superstore, has utilized to great extents. Foskett reports that his sales have grown 142% since 2020, with floor sample requests increasing by 172% and web sessions by 99%. 

COVID has shown the advantage of multi-channel digital sources ledwaying the path toward future customer experience, and the stresses within the flooring industry has produced creative solutions to a seemingly impossible situation. With coordination on both fronts, flooring retailers are reaching the highest global revenue levels since 2013, and have started out the first quarter of 2021 strong. 

It goes without saying that even with great customer service, you also need efficient processes in order to achieve that. With VendorPriceBook, communication between vendors and retailers is streamlined so that there are minimal delays. Quick service equals happier customers. From getting pricing for inventory, to making purchase orders—everything is done quickly on a cloud-based application that VendorPriceBook provides.

And it’s not all about communication—VendorPriceBook members can easily send announcements and promotions to retailers. It’s really a symbiotic tool that helps businesses on both sides make the most out of their relationship!

Learn more about VendorPriceBook today.

These Flooring Trends Might Surprise You

Styles come and go, and then come back again and that’s just the case for clothes–home design trends also experience shifts. Pastel pink tiles of the 90s. Checkered board floors of the 50s. Each decade seems to have its own signature look when it comes to flooring and interior designs. As flooring manufacturers, vendors and retailers, it’s important to stay on top of consumer trends because tastes do change, and that in turn affects supply and demand.

With the pandemic allowing more people to stay and lounge around in their homes, many people are looking to renovate. Flooring is a great first step to that process. Let’s take a look at what trends we think will stick out through 2021.

Hardwood: always a classic choice, hardwood can be elegant and modern at the same time. This year, you might want to take notice of cool color tones, wide planks, and environmentally friendly finishes. Source: The Flooring Girl.

Antimicrobial: health and safety are at top-of-mind now more than ever. “Antimicrobial” or “antibacterial” types of floors are those that are finished or with technology (i.e. Microban) which help inhibit the growth of bacteria.

Terracotta Tiles: social media is going crazy over these! These give a space a rustic, earthy charm if we do say so ourselves and they are less expensive than other ceramics. They can be as basic or as ornate as a home remodeler pleases–check out all the varieties here and you’ll see why they’re growing in popularity!

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If you want to visualize yourself as a renovator and understand the decisions they have to make before buying flooring, check out this video:

While there may be some debate on which flooring styles may ultimately takeover and be the next big trend, there’s one thing that will always ring true for consumers looking to renovate–they don’t want to wait around for pricing. With a long laundry list of items to buy and things to fix, a home renovator needs to know what flooring is in stock and what the cost is. As a retailer, a customer on the showroom floor will expect quick answers and paper pricebooks won’t cut it.

VendorPriceBook streamlines communication between vendors and retailers so looking up pricing and inventory can be made on-the-spot using a mobile device or computer. To learn more or to start your free trial, please go to VendorPriceBook.com.

How to Increase Customer Satisfaction Through Technology

For any business, supply chain management can mean the difference between failure and flourishing. In the floor remodeling market, this rings especially true. How many projects have been derailed when a dream tile or hardwood is out of stock?

Shiny marketing may attract consumers, but inventory and prices form the bedrock of customer satisfaction. At the end of the day, they want practical and stylish flooring available now at the lowest price point possible. If any of these factors don’t align, your customer falls through the supply chain gap.

Technology Intervention

Increasing supply chain efficiency used to require much more legwork. Today, as they say, “There’s an app for that”. 

Read on to see how mobile technology can help your business close the gaps.

Mobile vs. Manual Accounting

For efficient inventory management, ditch the paper and turn to cloud-supported accounting like QuickBooks Online or Xero. Mobile accounting allows you to update expenses, orders, and invoices in the moment. 

Standing in a bamboo field to source your next supplier? Simply pull out your phone and crunch numbers in the app. The bamboo farmer gets paid, and you jump ahead of bamboo flooring demand.

You can automate inventory by connecting order data to product stock in the cloud. This saves you hours and errors of counting inventory by hand. Buyers will see the difference on the shelves.

Customers need up-to-date pricing and availability so they can get to work on their home project.

Keep Everyone in the Loop

Centralized communication apps, like Slack or Discord, are another powerful tool to support customer satisfaction. 

Product updates can reach all employees in a single click. In turn, customers receive correct information about what’s available at what price, with the inventory to back it up. This builds consumer trust in your company.

Consider intercompany channels, the ultimate space for suppliers and retailers to communicate. A request that may have gotten lost in phone-tag or emails can now be found in one spot. It’s all about making communication accessible.

Listen to Your Customers

How often do customer service representatives hear the same complaints? Or the same wishes? 

Perhaps a certain type of laminate sells well, but your customer service center receives a high volume of complaints later. “This laminate catches dust and dirt at the seams.” Soon after, customers are calling on their warranties. 

Imagine if you could solve the problem months ahead in product design.

Through mobile communication, you can. In-app tags and search tools allow customer feedback to be flagged and gathered. These trends can be analyzed to materialize real changes – before the customers and demand wave disappear.

The Virtual Marketplace

At one time, suppliers and retailers relied on trade shows to find each other. Now, you can discover or be discovered by simply scrolling on your phone. 

Apps like VendorPriceBook bring together retailers, suppliers, and brands. Much like a dating app, each business has their own profile with photos and information. Filters allow you to cast a broad or narrow net. And while it might be less romantic than an OkCupid match, sometimes a beautiful vertical alignment is born.

Jump In, Jump Ahead

Floor remodeling customers are a reliable demand stream just waiting for an organized operation to provide the products they desire at competitive prices. Empower your company using mobile technology to tighten the supply chain, wherever you may fall in line.

If you’re not sure where to start, our flooring app contains essential tools to maintain up-to-date inventory and prices. Give it a try for free to see how small tech changes can create big ripples in your business. Our newest features include the ability for retailers to create purchase orders right on the app! VendorPriceBook is truly revolutionizing the way retailers and vendors do business!

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Sources
https://www.gocanvas.com/mobile-forms-apps/46-Retail-Sales-Wholesale-Distribution/show_category

https://www.vendhq.com/retail-apps

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/tradebeyond-the-fastest-growing-retail-sourcing-app-innovates-with-major-retailers-300823455.html

https://www.cbxsoftware.com/solutions/tradebeyond/

https://www.theverge.com/2017/9/12/16291246/slack-shared-channels-frontiers-announcements

https://www.merchantmaverick.com/reviews/quickbooks-online-review/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/joycemazero/2019/11/05/excellence-in-supply-chain-management-requires-supply-chain-expertise-in-the-boardroom/amp/

Using VendorPriceBook to Find and Connect with Retailers

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FIND NEW CUSTOMERS

Expand Your Retailer Base

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Where would we be without GPS? It helps us find where to eat, where to shop and how to get from point A to point B. GPS locators are everywhere; from our cars to our cell phones. Now, VendorPriceBook is harnessing the power of Google Maps to help you find customers in your area and connect with them on our social network.

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“Having a map feature for Vendors seemed like the logical next step,” says VendorPriceBook founder and CEO Charlie Mirzakhanyan. “It’s the easiest way for Vendors to find and connect with Retailers in their area as well as find new Retailers across the country.”

“We’re always improving our features for Vendors and Retailers,” continues Mirzakhanyan. “This map feature is directly inspired by feedback we’ve received from clients who wanted an easier, more intuitive way to connect with other flooring businesses. We’re excited about the future of VendorPriceBook and hope you find these new features useful.”

VendorPriceBook’s new map feature allows Vendors to search by ZIP code, destination, city, state and keywords. “This feature is very exciting,” concludes Mirzakhanyan. “It will change the way Vendors obtain and maintain new and existing Retailers. This is a game changer.”

HOW TO CONNECT WITH NEW CUSTOMERS USING THE MAP FEATURE

Step 1) Log in to your VendorPriceBook account.

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Step 2) Click on the ‘Find New Connections’ button.

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Step 3) Search by ZIP code, destination, city, state, or keyword.

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Step 4) Choose the retailers you want to connect with and click on the ‘Connect’ button. In addition, if you are on the road and need directions, click on ‘Direction.’

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Step 5) After clicking ‘Connect’, assign a pricebook/catalog, sales agent, location and documents. Click ‘Submit’ to send a connection request.

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After the retailer accepts your connection request, a virtual connection will be established between you and the retailer. They will be able to see your entire product line and access the information you have provided to them (e.g. pricebooks, catalogs, documents and announcements). They can use the search box to search for products as well as download your pricelist.

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Having a virtual connection with Retailers gives you the ability to instantly provide them with up-to-date pricing, information, announcements, and increase engagement with your company and product.

Go beyond product photos: provide consumers with complete remodeling ideas and inspirations.

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Click to Join and Connect with Thousands of Retailers and Vendors

Is Your Stone & Tile Store Stuck In The Stone Age? Evolve with VendorPriceBook!

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In a new study released by Floor Trends Magazine, researchers found that only half of tile & stone companies use the Internet to promote their businesses. In this rapidly growing technological climate, that seems like a shockingly low number. Fully 48% of tile & stone retailers and vendors are missing out on the benefits of promoting their companies via websites, blogs, and social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. What is holding them back?

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We here at VendorPriceBook understand the frustrations of doing business online. One of the biggest problems is that retailers have to go to multiple vendors’ websites and log in with different passwords to access their pricing and company information. On top of this, most companies also do business by phone, fax, email, and hard copy pricebooks. If a retailer has fifty vendors, this process can get quite complicated, not to mention time-consuming and frustrating. Until now, there hasn’t been a centralized database for all your pricing in one convenient location. That’s where VendorPriceBook.com comes in.

VendorPriceBook aggregates vendors’ pricing into a single website, allowing retailers to access pricing and company information with a single click of the mouse. But we’re more than just a directory for pricing–we’re a growing community of professionals, committed to connecting vendors and retailers in social sharing and communication. Think of us as a combination of LinkedIn and Facebook for the flooring industry.

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We believe communication is key to developing business relationships, strengthening trust and building partnerships between retailers and vendors. If that sounds like something you believe in too, check us out at VendorPriceBook.com to see how we can help grow your stone, tile, carpet or hardwood business and promote communication within the flooring industry.

Find VendorPriceBook on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+

Software vs The Cloud: How Cloud Computing is Revolutionizing the Flooring Industry

Many floor coverings businesses currently use software to handle their pricing and inventory. Most software programs seek to get businesses online and ease business-to-business (B2B) communications. These are admirable goals, to be sure, however, many problems can be solved by new and emerging technologies that move internal software systems into the cloud.

Cloud computing eliminates the need for internal systems like data storage and software. All services in the “cloud” are accessible anywhere there is an internet connection.

VendorPriceBook is a cloud-based tool. Now, to access pricing and inventory information, there’s no downloading, no memory or software required. With VendorPriceBook, all your business operations are accessible online.

You can take your job on the go with smartphones, tablets and laptops. You can take your retail showroom mobile, connect with new customers instantly and provide customer service updates.

While software programs are great when it comes to inventory control and organizing internal systems; they lack the ability to improve communication between Vendors and Retailers. With the pace of technology moving more quickly than ever, cloud-based computing is rapidly becoming the industry standard for doing business.

VendorPriceBook is more than just a business tool, it’s building an online community. By connecting companies in the cloud, we can increase accessibility, streamline communication and create meaningful B2B relationships that help grow and maintain your business for the future.

Are You Saying “Green” or Being “Green”?: Go Paperless with VendorPriceBook

“Going green” is a marketable strategy for many businesses. But, is your company really eco-friendly or simply “greenwashing” the truth? Some vendors offer recycled or energy-efficient products, but these eco-friendly options still only represent a small percentage of the market. Until “green” materials gain traction in the flooring industry, what can retailers and vendors do reduce their carbon footprint?  Retailers may not be able to control the kind of product in their showrooms, but they can control how they receive their price books. Now, everyone has the option to go paperless.

The flooring industry is currently in a state of flux, struggling to update the outdated, paper-based pricing system. VendorPriceBook.com provides flooring vendors and retailers an opportunity to transition into the 21st century. Toss those price books into the recycle bin and access all your pricing in one eco-friendly and efficient cloud-based web system with VendorPriceBook.com.

By adding VendorPriceBook.com to your “green routine,” not only will your products be eco-friendly, but also your management and operations. VendorPriceBook.com is an essential addition to all companies interested in environmentally-conscious business practices. VendorPriceBook.com allows retailers and vendors in the flooring industry to eliminate waste by going paperless, reducing their carbon footprint, and streamlining their day-to-day operations.

But maybe you think “going green” is a hippie fad that sounds nice, but doesn’t make sense for your company’s bottom line. The good news is that going paperless is actually a financial benefit for the flooring industry.

We all know that vendors must provide their price lists to retailers for businesses to run smoothly. The problem is, the paper-based system is costly, disorganized, and quickly becoming outdated.

Let’s say, for example, that XYZ Distributor provides price binders to 500 retailers in the Southwest. It costs $7 to print one price binder and $1.50 to print and ship pricing updates (in a smaller manila envelope, for example). To deliver the price binders to their 500 retailers, XYZ Distributor must spend thousands of dollars to ship them across several states and/or hundreds of man-hours for sales agents to deliver these price binders in person to their retailers.

But the cost is not exclusive to the vendor. Retailers often receive emails and faxes with pricing updates from their vendors. They must print these pages, and add them to their existing price binders. They must go through this process with every new price updates, product modification, or when a product becomes out of stock. This doesn’t include the man-hours spent in and out of the office trying to contact vendors over the phone for accurate product information that is not provided in the hard copy documents.

Most vendors and retailers are already using the Internet to maintain a company web page or at least check their email. It makes good business sense to utilize VendorPriceBook.com as a tool for streamlining your business, reducing printing and shipping costs, increasing productivity, organizing access to price lists, AND helping save the environment.

This system will benefit ALL vendor and retailer relationships. And the best part, IT’S EASY. “Going green” doesn’t have to be a headache or a financial burden. VendorPriceBook.com will make your work more efficient and reduce costs created for the current paper-based system. It will save retailers and vendors time and money, and result in a satisfied end-user experience.

Going paperless with VendorPriceBook.com makes sense for the environment, and cents for your business.

To B2B or not to B2B: Making The Most of Your Business-to-Business Interactions

Business-to-Business (or B2B) communications can cause numerous problems for a number of disparate reasons. Trying to coordinate between vendors, manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers can make for a hectic schedule–and that is before a single customer even lays eyes on a product. The truth is, there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes that most customers never know about. Although complex, B2B interactions are far more common than Business-to-Consumer (B2C) interactions. If you are a flooring retailer, for example, your day-to-day operations are split between your B2B (vendor, for example) and B2C responsibilities. Part of the problem with B2B interactions is the high risk involved, as compared to B2C interactions. For example, if a retailer fails to make a sale, they may be out a few dollars. But if there is a breakdown in the B2B chain, you may be looking at a loss of thousands.

Let’s say, for example, that a flooring retailer has information from a vendor that a certain tile is available in 12″ x 12″ or 6″ x 6″. A customer orders 2 boxes of the 6″ x 6″ size. However, when the retailer calls to confirm the order, he discovers that the 6″ x 6″ size would require a special order with a wait time of three months! The customer is unwilling to wait this long.

The retailer has to make a choice: either refund the customer (and lose their confidence) or steer them towards another, similar product (and lose credibility based on product knowledge). Either way, the retailer is left at a real disadvantage–and all because of faulty, unclear, or outdated product information.

This is the twofold risk of B2B interactions: loss of profit and loss of consumer confidence/brand credibility.

VendorPriceBook.com eliminates this risk by allowing the instant sharing of updated pricing and product information between Vendors and Retailers.

For Vendors, VendorPriceBook.com offers industry-specific target marketing. Our Marketing Assistance Program provides your retailers FREE access to VendorPriceBook.com, which in turn translates to direct retailer-to-vendor (B2B) connectivity. VendorPriceBook.com takes the legwork out of rounding up info from dozens of retailers around the country–we do it for you!

For Retailers, VendorPriceBook.com is equally as beneficial. By eliminating multiple price books, our service can streamline and organize your day-to-day operations and lower your overhead in the long run. Our paperless, cloud-based system provides the maximum of ease and accessibility in this age of rapid online growth.

As for the example above, VendorPriceBook.com allows Vendors to instantly update their product information online, without having to scroll through multiple product listings on their own website, or having to send out email lists or hard copy catalogues.