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Monday, January 24, 2011

Renee LeCroy, Don's Carpet One, VP Sales and Marketing

Renee LeCroy, Don's Carpet One, VP Sales and Marketing
Meet Renee LeCroy, VP Sales and Marketing with Don's Carpet One in Birmingham, AL, flooring fairy godmother and marketer extraordinaire.  She's also a serious Woman in Flooring.

You'll find this interview with Renee valuable not just because she offers terrific perspective on the retail experience, but also because she has successfully integrated social media marketing into her flooring business, going so far as to participate in Bathroom Blogfest 2010!

C.B.: Renee, please tell me about yourself. 

You’re going to have trouble believing this given my youthful appearance, but I’ve been in the flooring business for 18 years. I am now the vice president of sales and marketing at Don’s Carpet One. I’m married with 2 kids—a high schooler and a college girl. On the side, I love to sing in the church choir, play on the lake and dominate my Bunko group.

C.B.:  How did you get started in flooring?

In college, I never really thought about working in flooring. I was all about sales and marketing. I was working in television when a friend referred me to Don’s. I came in on the marketing side and my role there has evolved over the years. In that time I’ve truly been in the trenches, getting to know flooring from every angle.

C.B.: What do you like least and most about the flooring industry? 

I love that the flooring industry is ever-changing. It’s a fashion industry, and because of that there are constantly new products and new developments. I love exploring them and educating customers about the latest and the greatest.

With that said, you are dealing with a product that customers are only buying 2-3 time in their life. Because they have been inundated with misinformation, they sometimes come in with unrealistic expectations. Every manufacturer and retailer has their own language. It’s a challenge to override that and get us all on the same page.

C.B. What 5 things would you do differently to improve the retail flooring experience?

1. Each showroom should be equipped with Internet capability. The customer needs to show us what she’s seen.

2. The sales experience should start at home. A dentist doesn’t give you a root canal without looking in your mouth! We need to get inside and see the space so we can make good recommendations.

3. Customers should be better educated about installation. What should she expect pre- and post- installation?

4. Warranties need explanation. The customer should know her end of the bargain on floor maintenance to get maximum life out of her purchase.

5. Quotes should be detailed proposals, complete with options, so she can make an informed decision.

Renee LeCroy, Your Fifth Wall
C.B.:  Amen to all that, Renee!  What got you started in social media? 

I have a dear friend (a Bunko buddy none-the-less) who had delved into social media and had great success for her business. She was convinced I had a story to tell. And here we are...

C.B.: How do you use Twitter, Facebook and your blog? What are your favorite topics of discussion online?

Social media starts with a blog. Mine is Your Fifth Wall. It’s a place to lay all your thoughts out and open the channels for discussion. I use Twitter and Facebook as touch points, but Your Fifth Wall is certainly the hub or the anchor of my online presence. I love to talk about floor maintenance, new product entries and installation. But truly I like discuss just about anything!

C.B.: How has that affected your in-store business?

We see the blog as more of a foundation. We use it to distribute information and gain trust. While we have seen an increase in business, we see more value in the relationships we are building for the long-term.

C.B.: How do you balance the time it takes to participate in social media with your other obligations? Do others in your organization participate with you? 

I wear a ton of hats at work. Finding the time to blog is definitely a challenge. I wouldn’t pretend to do it by myself. While the concepts and information are all mine, we keep a retainer with an advertising agency to help with the writing and the fine print. I couldn’t do it without them.

C.B: What are the biggest surprises you’ve experienced as a result of participating in social media?

TIME! I had no idea how much effort it would take to keep the blog posts coming. It’s also intriguing that I can now see blog potential in almost everything I do. We have so much information to share. It’s overwhelming!

C.B.: Renee, any words of advice for retailers? 

Do not launch a “stop and start” or “drop and drag” philosophy social media campaign. What on earth do I mean? Don’t start social media by just opening a Facebook or a Twitter account and then leaving it unattended. And for heaven’s sake, don’t use homogeneous, regurgitated information. One size does not fit all! Readers want to see the real you and hear the valuable information you have to offer. Create a dialogue online. I can promise you won’t be sorry.

Thanks, Renee, for sharing such terrific advice and perspective!  I've heard so many good things about your store and retail experience, and hope to come visit soon.

Here's how to contact Renee:
Comments, questions, reactions? Have you implemented any of the suggestions Renee shares about improving the retail experience in flooring?  What about her advice on implementing social media? What has your experience been?


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Reminder: Please, no self-promotional or SPAM comments. Don't bother if you're simply trying to build inauthentic link juice. Finally, don't be anonymous: it's too hard to have a conversation. Thanks, CB

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