Twenty-nine years ago, Carpet One Floor & Home was founded on a philosophy that didn’t focus solely on how cheaply it could buy from suppliers. Instead, it also focused on how well it could merchandise and sell for a higher profit.

“Our foundation was merchandising, management and marketing,” President Eric Demaree says. “Our parent company is CCA Global Partners, which has 12 affiliated divisions. Carpet One Floor & Home is the first and still the largest.”

Today, Carpet One Floor & Home is growing faster than the industry. While many independent specialty retailers have lost market share to big-box stores, Carpet One Floor & Home is growing and becoming more profitable and diverse. The company consists of nearly 1,000 stores around the world. Each Carpet One Floor & Home location is locally owned and operated, but they can all take advantage of the organization’s sizeable buying power and partnerships with major brands, mills and manufacturers.

The individual owners also have a good amount of autonomy over the kinds of markets they cater to and the selection of carpet, hardwood, laminate, ceramic tile, vinyl and area rugs they carry. Each owner has one share of the organization so, together, they are the owners of CCA Global Partners. All of the operating profits from the 12 affiliated companies are sent back out to the shareholders based on a percentage of their purchases.

“In addition to being top of mind for consumers purchasing flooring, we have a vision for Carpet One Floor & Home to be the professional choice in each market,” Demaree says. “Our members are diverse. Many do mostly residential remodel and replacement, while others do commercial bids, main street commercial, new builds or insurance restoration work for policyholders. We touch every avenue of floor covering.”

Information is Key

Training and communication are critical to Carpet One Floor & Home’s success, and it helps owners with local marketing and networking to build positive word of mouth. Carpet One Floor & Home uses its Intranet system to host live webinars and stream videos, which help keep each store up to date on what is happening in the company and with suppliers.

Carpet One Floor & Home also hosts two system-wide conventions each year. These generally have between 1,200 and 1,500 people in attendance, and provide an opportunity for the company and its store owners to go over things like new technology and product launches.

The owners also have a say in the direction of the company. Demaree leads an advisory council that meets with store managers to discuss opportunities and receive feedback. The company conducts an all-member survey each year, and performs competitive studies to learn how to go to market better versus the competition.

“We also have conference calls, video conferences and regional network groups,” Demaree says. “We have 40 owners who serve as regional coordinators, and they meet with other owners to discuss issues that are relevant to their geography. All of this helps us stay cohesive, but we aren’t a franchise operation. We provide an a la carte menu of services from which our entrepreneurs can pick and choose.”

To help ensure that each location is aesthetically appealing, an internal visual merchandising team oversees items such as signage, messaging displays and lighting. This team can provide internal blueprints to storeowners to help with floor planning. The company also works with outside retail merchandising companies for help with concept development.

Carpet One Floor & Home also takes advantage of technological initiatives such as electronic catalogs, pricing and tagging systems, and planograms. It also has a lead management CRM system for automatic marketing and emailing.

Going Digital

Carpet One Floor & Home’s digital marketing strategy helps its members with everything from online advertising to email marketing. Getting into digital publishing has been one of Carpet One Floor & Home’s most recent undertakings in utilizing technology to reach customers.

The company’s primary product offering is floor coverings, and the purchase cycle can be long. In fact, consumers may buy floor coverings only once every five to 10 years. That can make it difficult for Carpet One Floor & Home to stay in front of the consumer. The company’s new digital magazine – Beautiful Design Made Simple – provides inspiration, tips and advice beyond flooring to help customers create a beautiful home, no matter how far away their next flooring purchase.

“Our targeted consumers love visual presentations,” Demaree says. “In addition to attracting consumers that are researching flooring, we are integrating the digital magazine into the in-store experience. Offering a beautiful home décor magazine for free allows us to capture customer emails. This magazine is something our consumers will want and will willingly give us their contact information for.”

The digital magazine should also help Carpet One Floor & Home overcome one of its biggest challenges: a consumer market that is more demanding and prone to extensive online research.

“Consumers are looking for pricing and they are well-armed with information, even if some of that information is wrong,” Demaree says. “We have to provide them with more information and be better than ever with value-added service.”

Demaree believes Carpet One Floor & Home’s long-term fortunes hinge on having an active voice online and in its local communities. It can’t outspend its giant competitors, but it can best them with service and product differentiation. That is why the company is doing everything it can with innovative marketing to help consumers find and choose their local Carpet One Floor & Home.

“We have to try to prevent the race to the bottom,” Demaree says. “We must help our message to break through so the consumer understands that they get what they pay for.”