Chattanooga, TN — 10/18/13 CarpetsPlus COLORTILE® recently held its latest member Summit Meeting in Indianapolis, IN, October 12-14, 2013. CarpetsPlus COLORTILE members Mark and Mary Ann Dougherty, owners of Hoosier CarpetsPlus COLORTILE in Bloomington, hosted the event.
CarpetsPlus COLORTILE Summits enhance member businesses through networking, sharing best practices, and training. These events are hosted by a CarpetsPlus COLORTILE member who opens his or her business for the benefit of the group.
The Summit began full throttle with a trip down Highway 37 from Indianapolis to Bloomington to visit Hoosier CarpetsPlus COLORTILE on Sunday morning. Upon arriving at the store, the smiling staff was waiting outside the front door lining both sides of a red carpet.
After visiting for a brief time, members were lead into the warehouse where Ron Dunn, co-CEO of Alliance Flooring, opened the Summit with an introductory message, “A big part of our group is networking. As you’re networking with other members, on the bus, walking through the store, share with each other. Tell each other what you’re getting from what you’re experiencing. Our goal is that each of you get two or three things you can take back to your store and use.”
Mark and Mary Ann Dougherty gave a history lesson about their store and how they began in the business. Mark started out working at another local flooring store in 1978 where he worked with commercial and builder accounts. Mary Ann also began working there in 1980 as office manager and later moved to sales.
Then in 1994, they decided to open their own store, Hoosier Floor Covering. They started out in a 12’ x 12’ office space inside a warehouse with just two employees with no outside signage. With the many contacts both had made, they were able to build a clientele that included builder and commercial accounts. In 1999, they moved to a location with signage. They joined CarpetsPlus COLORTILE in 2001 and now have two locations in Bloomington with 13 employees, six of whom are family members.
After the Doughertys spoke, Dunn dismissed everyone and the store tour began with three different groups stopping at three individual “stations” to listen to how this successful store runs its operation. Manned by Hoosier CarpetsPlus COLORTILE employees, the three stations were Warehouse Operations, Paper Flow and Sales & Showroom.
The Sales presentation was broken up into a few shorter presentations. Builder and Retail was presented by Mark Breedlove, general manager, and Kate Doyle, Retail and Builder Sales. Trevor Mullis and Sheldon Beasley presented Commercial Sales; and Cody Burgess gave some background on marketing, social media and how to sell to different age groups including baby boomers and millennials.
When asked what she thought the number one most important thing about selling is, Kate Doyle said, “It’s relationships. Just being a real person and not pushy. Being involved in the community is also very important.”
The Paper Flow presentation was made by Diane McEvilly, Controller and HR Manager; and Kim Madison, Accounts Receivable Manager. They talked about how to handle special situations that could bog down cash flow, C.O.D.’s, the differences in residential, builder and commercial accounts; and the software they use. On the importance of good paper flow, McEvilly said, “It can affect your bottom line and the efficiency of every department. It really can.”
The last station was Warehouse Operations presented by Jon Hunt and Jeff Metzger. Hunt spoke about the importance of a good paper trail, recycling carpet and pad and scheduling installers using live-update calendar software that all in the company share on their smart phones. He also said each installer only sees his own schedule. Metzger spoke about his process for receiving, delivering and checking freight.
Hunt stressed the importance of a paper trail, “A clear paper trail protects me, the client and our company. We do the majority of our product ordering online and by email.” He also commented about recycling, “We’ve partnered with Kruse Carpet Recycling and by keeping those things out of our dumpsters has saved us a lot of money and also kept it out of Bloomington’s landfills. We also sell our pallets and carpet cores.”
The group gathered once more outside for a group picture outside the store and then loaded the buses and traveled to downtown Bloomington to their second location. Once they arrived, they toured the showroom and learned that this location is just the right size this community’s size can support. They sell out of that location but many times, according to manager Kerry D. McEvilly, they often send them to the larger showroom to see more options and product installation vignettes.
The evening culminated back at the Alexander Hotel in Indianapolis with an Appreciation Reception and Dinner. The hard work of the Alliance Flooring staff and Hoosier CarpetsPlus COLORTILE was recognized as was the member Advisory Board group who helped to plan the Summit. Past Summit hosts were also honored.
Coming to Summits is very important to many members. One such member is Dave Lee, owner of COLORTILE & Carpet in Salem, OR, who flew 2,306 miles to attend. He won the award for the member who traveled from farthest away.
At the end of each Summit, the Star of the Summit award is presented to the member who shows a noticeable willingness to participate, asks questions and shows interest in what is being presented. There were two winners for 2013 and they were Jamie Hornstra of Fred’s CarpetsPlus in Torrance, CA, and Mark Lundy of Floor Craft in Colorado Springs, CO.
Hornstra remarked after winning the award, “I was certainly surprised to win the “Star of the Summit” award and think it’s a great idea to honor members who are wanting to take advantage and learn as much as possible from these events. I want to thank Alliance Flooring, and the Doughertys and their team for making a such a memorable event!”
On Monday morning, members of the Hoosier CarpetsPlus COLORTILE staff answered questions during a Q & A Panel discussion. Mark and Mary Ann Dougherty also participated. After the Q & A Panel discussion, a new advertising and marketing initiative called Alliance Media Pro was also launched. This program features many things that members asked for at the Orlando Convention in March.
Jon Logue led an Advisory Board group during that Convention that discussed advertising and social media and how Alliance could help. Logue said, “Each of the four of us (Ron and Ryan Dunn, Jon and Kevin Logue) met with a quarter of our Advisory Board at our last Convention and we each took a subject and discussed how we could make improvements to help the group. What came out of our discussions was Alliance Media Pro. We took all their suggestions and created a program that addressed what they said would be very useful on a day-to-day basis.”
Kevin Logue, Alliance Flooring’s co-COO and vice president marketing, presented the new program and said, “With Alliance Media Pro, our members can utilize professionally designed, coordinated advertising, and run amazing advertising campaigns with ease and for far less money if they did it on their own.”
Logue also said, “Alliance Media Pro offers participating members a new jingle for radio, TV and internet usage, coordinating posters and POP kits, direct mail, newspaper and magazine ads, TV spots, radio spots, radio and TV scripts, website graphics and social media posts to produce top of mind awareness in their local markets.”
David Ellis, Alliance Flooring’s Advertising and Public Relations Manager, helped develop the program and commented, “Alliance Media Pro covers it all – from traditional to digital to social – it’s all there for them to use. If they need a spot or ad customized, we can do it all in-house.”
Ellis continued, “Alliance Media Pro provides members with local marketing campaigns to address some of the biggest challenges they face, without the hassles of doing it all themselves. They have access to the ad creative and these campaigns help to control brand identity across all sales channels they utilize. Alliance Media Pro will save them time, money and headaches. Alliance Media Pro is just another way we provide value to our members.”
Members received the new program with great enthusiasm. Marty Mokry, owner of Advantage Carpet in Bridgeview, IL, said, “My main reason for attending the Summit was to learn more about Media Pro and I was very happy with the presentation. I believe Media Pro’s commercials, POP, promotions and jingle will allow me to be competitive in my market by targeting the younger consumer. I’m very excited and am anxious to get started!”
As the Summit was drawing to a close, Ryan Dunn, Alliance Flooring’s co-COO and vice president of sales, commended the host store, “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Hoosier CarpetsPlus COLORTILE staff, this Summit was a huge success. They got out of their comfort zone and did a great job.”
Members were then asked for their Summit takeaways. Some said the importance of updating the store’s appearance, the enthusiasm of the staff, indoor category signage, the comfortable feel of the showroom color choices, great commercial area, limiting C.O.D.’s and branding in the store was superb, among many other comments.
In conclusion, Ryan Dunn drew a name of a Summit attendee for a free trip for two to the next Summit, which is currently set for 2014 in Bend, OR, at Randy Reed’s COLORTILE store. The lucky member was Scott Melkonian, owner of Karen’s Advance Floors in Clarkston, MI.
After the Summit, the hosts talked about their Summit experience. Mark Dougherty, co-owner of Hoosier CarpetsPlus COLORTILE, reflected on the hard work of his staff preparing for the Summit, “Everyone went above and beyond. Ron Dunn always says, ‘all of us are smarter than any of us’ and it shows at a Summit. Our team was a major part of this and they really get it – Diane, Kate, Mark, Jon, Trevor and the rest of them did a tremendous job. The Alliance team also did well under fire having only those 8 weeks to prepare.”
He continued, “We were very honored to be the hosts. It was a big undertaking. We were honored to follow in the line of great stores who have hosted before us. When Ron asked how many had attended a Summit before, only about half raised their hands. So we were honored to continue and add to the tradition.”
Mary Ann Dougherty, co-owner of Hoosier CarpetsPlus COLORTILE, said, “I hope people who spent their money to get here and participate got something they can apply to their business. It’s been a phenomenal experience. We’ve been really busy for these past two-and-a-half months. We put in a lot of hard work and it did add some extra expense we don’t normally incur but it’s a great thing — a privilege.”
She went on to say, ” We dearly appreciate our employees. We couldn’t do this by ourselves. We’ve definitely grown with the right people. We weren’t always good at what we do. It was a lot of trial and error in the beginning. Being a part of CarpetsPlus COLORTILE where the sharing of ideas was done freely by all members was such a help to us starting out. It’s always very educational. It’s great to be in this group.”
Jamie Hornstra, Fred’s CarpetsPlus, Torrance, CA, “This was my first summit experience and was the most beneficial event I have attended so far in my short flooring career. I learned so much information including getting to know members on a personal level and being able to discuss common issues from warehouse to C.O.D.’s. I would encourage everyone to attend Summits.”
Dave Lee, Color Tile of Salem, Salem, OR, “I really enjoyed going to this summit – it was great! I have been concerned about the next generation called the “millennials” and them being groomed to purchase from big box stores. Learning to reach them is imperative in our future growth. I got a lot out the Question and Answer Panel. The Doughertys were excellent hosts with an excellent staff in their store.”
Dan Buerkle, The Rug Market, Rochester, NY, “The summit was WONDERFUL!! The store was really nice and it looks great from the road. There were really good ideas one could take back to their store, but something that was very impressive to me, and not always mentioned is work chemistry and your team. The team worked together very well.”
First Time Summit Attendee Quotes:
Shawn Yaeger, CarpetsPlus of St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, “I was anxious about leaving the store knowing my workload, and since this was my first summit, I didn’t know what to expect. It provided me the opportunity to see how the Dougherty’s ran their business and after returning, I am reflecting on how we can improve our store to make it even better. The information I gained was worth my taking the time to attend.”
Annette Aumsbaugh, Aumsbaugh Flooring, Columbia City, IN, “This was my first summit and I would like to say kudos to all the Alliance Flooring team who put this wonderful event together! Being with a smaller group of people allowed me to do more networking. The Operations portion of the event was very helpful to me.”
Missy Bakken, DeGeus CarpetsPlus, Rochester, MN, “This was my first time and the entire experience was amazing! I was impressed with every aspect of it. As we walked through the door, everyone was so welcoming and kind. There were so many ideas I brought back to implement. I thought it very beneficial to meet other members and for them to want to help you grow your business. We all shared things that worked and things that didn’t work for us. We as members have a definite advantage belonging to this buying group.”
Tysen Rovig, CarpetsPlus COLORTILE of Billings, Billings, MT, “I really appreciate the difference in Conventions and Summits. From someone who started brand new in flooring, and to have the opportunity to go to another store and learn their day to day operations – it was very informative and valuable to me. I learned what I do wrong and what I do right and will implement the new things I learned!”