NFA spring conference: Business is booming

Is there something remarkable happening during the members meeting?

Jason McSwain: We brought in a few speakers who spoke about preparing for the future – the value of looking at the threats that exist and what we can do today. You can ignore them or you can be proactive and say, “Hey, we need to know more about that.”

What do you see as threats along the way?

Vance Bell, who recently announced his retirement as CEO of Shaw, and Jason McSwain from McSwain’s Carpet and Flooring.

McSwain: They are both global and domestic. From a domestic standpoint, competition is not just from what we know today, but there is [companies] that change on that list? Is there another Floor & Decor that is growing or taking advantage of a market opportunity that has arisen thanks to COVID-19? In many cases, we have members who are fully dialed in and on top. We can add value to the other members by putting that on their radar.

Larry Flick: And are we losing market share to them? And if so, or if not, what can we do to ensure that we don’t lose market share, but actually gain market share?

David Chambers: Any domestic threat – if it is competition, what is it? We’re just trying to prepare the group and make them look two years into the future and try to understand what’s really going on in the industry.

How do you compete as one of the best retailers in the country against a Floor & Decor?

AJ Boyajian: I think it is service. Because it is not a prize. For us, it’s all about service and online reputation, all those things that will drive people in.

Deb DeGraaf: And isn’t it also about us creating an experience? Experience followed by service. That’s our main thing – how can we differentiate? We offer people a drink when they enter the showroom. We offer them a play area for the children. We give them a gift when we measure, something to leave behind.

Wipe: We try to be the Nordstrom of the flooring industry and the customer is always right, whether they are right or not. We are not going to win, price wise. We don’t even want to win, price wise. We might be the cheapest, maybe not, but our service will solve all these questions.

Eric Mondragon: I never apologize for being more expensive. I explain to customers the value of what they get, what they pay for, the whole service that comes with it. I always use the analogy of going to a restaurant. You have a choice. You can go to the drive-up window at McDonald’s and get a greasy burger and fries in a bag. And if it’s wrong, that was your expectation. You only paid five dollars for it. Or you go to a nice sit-down restaurant and your expectation is higher. You are willing to pay for it if you have the experience. And we try to provide that shopping experience so that they don’t scream at the price.

McSwain: Yesterday, when we walked through that room, you must be a dynamic retailer or a dynamic company. When we are leaders in the retail industry, leadership isn’t looking for how to get our business back to the way it was before COVID-19, it’s where you want to be: be dynamic and change your business fast enough for the changes coming are going there.

What percentage has the average NFA member increased in the first quarter of this year compared to Q1 2019?

McSwain: 20%.

Mondragon: Maybe even up to 25%. Everyone I talk to now says anything from 25% to over 30%.

How did your state’s policies affect your business last year?

NFA spring conference
Steve and Lauren Coles, Coles Fine Floors, San Diego, flank Jason Randolph from Karastan.

The count: One day we were open and the next day we were closed. And if you were open, you had police in your showroom. I zoom in with my staff every day. I try to keep them up to date on what we can and cannot do because I had staff that would say, “Hey, this client wants to meet me.”

“Well, you can leave samples outside and the customer can come and collect them.” We had to close for 10 weeks.

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