Floor Coverings International
Good growth by design
Business View Magazine interviews representatives of Floor Coverings International for our focus on Top Franchises in the U.S.
Floor Coverings International, a franchised mobile flooring company with more than 180 locations throughout North America, is committed to providing a quality experience for its franchisees and the customers they serve. Offering a simple, stress-free approach to cunsumers, franchise owners and their teams bring a mobile showroom directly to the consumer, saving countless trips to a retail location, and staying involved in the process from design consultation to installation. On the owner side, franchisees are given extensive training and ongoing support as they work to grow their businesses and build the Floor Coverings International brand.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when many businesses were shutting down, Floor Coverings International saw continued growth. As Chad Schloerke, VP of Operations, shares, “Coming through COVID, we found ourselves in kind of a unique position. We shut down the business for about a month, but then identified there was a lot of consumer demand still out there. We worked with our franchise owners to get back out, running and growing, and we haven’t looked back since. We will finish up roughly 50% year over year. Last year, even through COVID, we grew as an organization. These are good growth times for our franchise system, we are really healthy. We are now just looking to head into 2022 at the same head of steam.”
COVID did have its challenges for the organization, who quickly introduced a taskforce to help them get back to business, working out safety protocols and procedures to keep franchise owners and their teams safe as they got back out into the field. Schloerke recounts, “We are still mobile, we found our customers just didn’t want to go to a store, they wanted us to come to the home. We contemplated and tested a virtual style appointment, and customers still wanted us to safely come to them. It is the way to buy flooring. Safety protocols were tightly enforced and our communication with customers changed, particularly around safety and how we’ll come to the home.”
With 180 franchises in operation, there are several more that have recently joined the Floor Coverings International team and are going through the initial training phases. Training for new franchisees is a long process. According to Schloerke, “There is a lot to learn about our business, about our industry, about how to operate our business, so it’s very thorough. We don’t leave anything left untaught.”
Training begins as a remote learning process, known as “boot camp.” Franchise owners then travel to Atlanta for hands-on practice of the skills acquired through the remote component. Following that, new franchisees receive 12 weeks of training specific to new owners. At that point, there is ongoing franchise systems training, which includes conventions, regional meetings, and topic-specific system-wide calls. Continued support is available as franchisees work to grow their business. “One benefit we have is our ratio of number of franchisees to each ops person is very low,” says Schloerke, adding, “We have all kinds of work we do with our franchise owners from financial reviews to peer-to-peer meetings, business planning phone calls and zoom meetings. There’s a lot of work we’ll do just to support those who are really looking to grow and scale their business.”
Marketing training and support is another way in which Floor Coverings International works with franchisees from initial and ongoing training to monthly and quarterly marketing performance reviews, along with a resource center for owners who want to dig deeper into different marketing options.
Unique to the franchise space, Floor Coverings International franchise owners use a pay-per-appointment marketing program. CIO Ryan Aschauer explains, “We have a marketing engine that essentially drives local franchisees’ lead flow and appointment flow, and rather than having to necessarily front all the money for a speculative marketing campaign, they are actually investing in marketing on more of a pay-for-performance basis.”
Supplier and manufacturer relationships create a support system for franchisees, with suppliers like Shaw Floors providing exceptional products and working to resolve any issues that might arise on a job. “We have approved suppliers and they are some of the biggest and the best in the flooring industry,” says Schloerke. “They give support to us; they give support to our franchisees when there’s a questionable problem on a job. The beautiful thing in flooring is that is relatively rare, but if there is something going on at the jobsite, the manufacturers generally lean in favor of resolving it for our customer and our franchise owner. They go above and beyond in general because the relationship is very substantial.”
Staying up to date with technology is an ongoing investment for the organization, something which Aschauer suggests allows the franchisee to operate their business efficiently and provide a valuable experience for their customer, from the initial contact to the completion of the job. “For us, the big focus areas are always adding any new technology that allows the franchisee to more cost effectively scale their local business or adding technology that supports our brand experience, the actual end user, the customer experience, the folks that actually buy floors from us. We are constantly investing in new technology to support those.”
In terms of growth and innovation, Floor Coverings International continues to bring on new franchisees, many coming on board during COVID. Aschauer describes, “We are up nearly 60% this year, which is kind of unheard of for a company that is in its 30th year. We are adding new franchisees at an unprecedented rate. COVID has kind of helped us in that sense too because there’s a lot of folks that are looking at their career and trying to figure out what they want to do after some big life-changing times happened to everyone.” Large scale technology and marketing projects are happening throughout the organization, while the operations team continues to focus on recruitment of design associates and new franchisees.
Looking into the future, Schloerke shares his thoughts: “I’d say, in three years, we would want to continue to see big strides towards the vision we have for the organization, that this is the absolute workplace of choice, of course, for our corporate team members, but more importantly, for the folks that are joining at the franchisee level and the employees of our franchise owners. They’re the ones that drive that mobile showroom up to the home and help our customers and they’re the face of our business.”
Stacey Vogler, CMO, adds that an investment in brand awareness to continue to grow the brand and gain market share is at the top of her list. “We’ve got a really great foundation of that brand experience. What we will be working on really closely with our franchisees is making sure that other people know about that great experience that we deliver.” Vogler adds, “We’ve already established ourselves as the premier in-home flooring company. From a brand experience and customer experience standpoint, our ratings across all the major platforms are best-in-class. I think the exciting part for us is as we grow locations and grow the business exponentially over the next few years, holding to those brands standards and ensuring that no matter how large we get, the customers that interact with us have the same great experience that the folks that are interacting with us today have.”
AT A GLANCE
Floor Coverings International
WHAT: A leading mobile floor-covering franchise company
WHERE: Atlanta, Georgia