Every flooring prospect has an unspoken question on their mind: ‘Why should I buy from you instead of your competitor?’ If you don’t effectively answer this question you wind up losing customers and competing on price. One effective way to answer this question is by creating differentiation, and I spoke with Lindsey Waldrep, VP of Sales and Marketing for Crossville Tile, to get her thoughts on creating differentiation.

It’s tough to be a retailer right now. Dealers are getting hit by the box stores, slammed by online and unethical dealers, and it seems that everyone is offering cheap price. What can retailers do to combat this?

When retailers are establishing their business model, they should really be cognizant of whether they going to be a volume dealer or operate on high margins. Then bring in the appropriate product to support that business model. People in the flooring industry tend to be hoarders. We want to stock every sample, every board, everything in our warehouse. I believe that a more curated approach to your offering that ties in with your overall business model is more effective.

Commoditization is a big problem with flooring retailers. I consider differentiation to be the opposite of commoditization. What are your thoughts on the importance of creating differentiation?

It’s very important. Part of creating differentiation is your positioning in your market, what is it that you’re trying to do in your business model. Are you going to be a volume dealer or work on high margins? Then stick with that position. A lot of times retailers want to be all things to all people. I think this is a mistake. People who shop for makeup at Walgreens are not going to walk into Saks, and vice-versa. Know who you are, know who your audience is, and create your experience for that audience.

How can creating differentiation boost referrals?

Retailers should revisit the jobs after they’re completed to take photos to show their customers what they can do. Post those photos on your Facebook page. Somebody might see that and think, “Oh my gosh! That’s so-and-so’s house down the street. I love her kitchen. I’m going to go buy from that flooring store.” To me those photographs are part of having a referral system. It’s part of that word of mouth. And who doesn’t like to brag about having a beautiful space or a beautiful home? They’re going to tell all their friends that you featured their new floors, and they’re going to be honored that you took the time to show them off. It gives them bragging rights!

What else can retailers do to create differentiation?

Using vignettes is very effective. There are a lot of retailers out there that either don’t have vignettes, or don’t keep their vignettes updated. People want to see more than just a little chip or sample, so I recommend using vignettes and keeping them updated. If it means that you have to build them in a separate area of your showroom so that you keep the front of the house neat and tidy, that’s fine. Always have something rotating and in production, then get photographs every time one goes up. Then if a customer is going for a particular look, you can say, “Oh, you know what? We used to have that in a vignette.” Then pull it up on your iPad or a photo album to demonstrate that you can create that look for her.

By following Lindsey’s strategies, you’ll take a big step towards creating differentiation in your market. I hope you found this interview helpful. If you have an idea for a future interview, drop me an email.



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Jim Augustus Armstrong is The “Coach”

Jim Augustus Armstrong is the President of Flooring Success Systems, a program that equips dealers to double their profits, cut their work hours in half and beat the boxes! Many dealers have totally transformed their businesses and their lives for the better after joining Flooring Success Systems.
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