The Private Flooring Sale: Make It Work for You

A private flooring sale built around the STAINMASTER® brand is not a new concept, but one retailer in Wichita, Kansas, recently rediscovered its power: simultaneously boosting sales and re-energizing its sales team.

Numbers are only one way to measure results, but the figures are impressive for the one-day, invitation-only event at Star: 291 recorded estimates/orders with 209 actual sales; a gross volume of more than $1 million with a single salesperson closing nearly a quarter of that.

Those results didn’t come without hard work. “It is 100 percent engagement, by 100 percent of the people, 100 percent of the time,” says Ryan Walker, senior vice president of Kansas Flooring Division (part of Star).

When the store set its goals for the event, employees were a little hesitant. “It was seen as an almost insurmountable task,” Walker says.

But as the event progressed, attitudes changed. The team realized, “We can do this. We can trust each other. Our team can make this happen,” Walker says. “I think it raised their overall level of confidence in each other and their confidence in their ability to pull off a sale like this.”

So if you’re considering a private flooring sale, follow these key points from Star’s success:

Working the process

Star was no stranger to private sales. “In years past, we stuck to the process very religiously, and it was very successful,” says Walker. “Then we went through a period where we tried to put a little ‘Star spin’ on [the private sales process], and we didn’t have the results.

“There’s a long list of to-dos that you have to get through, and it’s easy to look at it and say, ‘I can take out step 5 or step 10 and be OK,’” says Walker, whose responsibilities included managing the behind-the-scenes preparation for the event and monitoring the process/checklist provided by the STAINMASTER® brand.

Walker continues: “We tell ourselves that [our] market is different because of these things, or our customers are different because of this reason. But this process is tried and true, with all types of customers, all types of markets, all types of locations—and if you stick with it, it will be successful.” (Note: The private sale checklist is available by logging on to STAINMASTERLink.com.)

This time, Star followed the private-flooring-sale process to the letter, and nearly doubled its gross volume sales goal—a goal that was aggressive to begin with. “We kind of proved to ourselves that we’re not going to outsmart this process,” Walker says.

Having a phenomenal day

Star’s experience with private sales is not unique. After the market crash and recession in 2008 and 2009, some partners stopped using the private-flooring-sale process, or they neglected parts of it, says Pami Bhullar, director of retail development for the STAINMASTER® brand. Participation dropped and sales results were sometimes disappointing.

Despite dealers’ reduced involvement, the STAINMASTER® brand continued to evolve the process over the years—changing what didn’t work and refining what did. Bhullar, who estimates that he has been involved in more than 15,000 private sales, says following the process is critical.

Neill Wilson, senior manager, Aligned Retail for the STAINMASTER® brand, echoes that view. “Anyone can do a sale, but our process and preparation that has been developed and fine-tuned over the last 20 years gives an advantage to anyone who follows it,” he says.

“When the process is followed, historically we have very, very good results,” Wilson says. “For Star, this was a recommitment to the process and a dedication to the work, and it led to them having a phenomenal day.”

Having a “phenomenal day” meant that the store handled tremendous volume, which presented its own challenges. But Walker says the staff set customer expectations up front that the sale would not be a typical day. That helped.

“Our customers were very patient,” says Walker. “We were processing payments and orders, honestly, as fast as we possibly could. We were three or four people deep sometimes, and the customers were very understanding of that.”

Mounting a triple threat

The STAINMASTER® private-flooring-sale concept works because it brings together a number of important factors.

First, there’s the power of the STAINMASTER® brand. “Having STAINMASTER® as a third party to endorse an event provides legitimacy and extra believability to the sale,” Wilson says. Some retailers like to also focus on a specific STAINMASTER® product such as PetProtect™, TruSoft®, or LiveWell™, but, says Wilson, “At the end of the day, it’s the STAINMASTER® brand that drives traffic.”

Then, there’s the impact of a major sales opportunity. “All the vendors and manufacturers—the suppliers—they know that they can sell so much product in a very short time,” says Bhullar. “They want to make sure that they give better values to, in this case, Star. So Star passes on those values to customers, and that makes it a unique proposition. It’s good for Star, it’s good for vendors, it’s good for STAINMASTER®, and most importantly, it’s really, really good for the consumer.”

And finally, there’s the “secret sauce” of the private-flooring-sale concept, which comes with training and support from the STAINMASTER® brand. “It’s plug-and-play,” says Walker. “If you’re willing to stick to [the steps], it will work. You’re not having to re-create the wheel; you’re not having to redesign the entire process. The process is there. If you stick to it, if you check the boxes, it will be successful.”

Stores that want to learn more about conducting a private flooring sale should contact their strategic area manager.