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Monday, September 17, 2007

Flooring It Differently - Dobson Floors, Garland, TX

It's always fun to come full circle especially when it comes to Flooring It Differently.

Dobson Floors, Garland, TX appeared in the article that triggered my very first post: Women Of Flooring America Making Their Mark. Dobson's president, Suzanne Brown, is one of a few women in the flooring industry working day in/out to floor it differently and improve the flooring shopping experience for consumers who shop there. Women in particular appreciate these differences!

Sonya Keller, our Wear-Dated representative in that
part of Texas outside Dallas, interviewed Suzanne Brown on September 4, 2007.

SK: Suzanne, what inspired you to get into the carpet business?
It was by chance, actually. Dobson Floors was my first employer out of college. I was hired as a receptionist at one of our satellite stores. Within my first year at the company, I became an “in-house” decorator working with custom home builder customers. Over the past twenty-two years, I have held various sales positions, moved into management and eventually became president of the company.

I love the industry. I learn something new everyday. If you find a good company to call “home”, you can achieve really great things through integrity and hard work.

SK: What made you take the retail approach you've taken?
To be honest, I’m fine tuning my retail approach constantly. Two things that we try to remain consistent on are providing premium quality products and outstanding customer service. We try to always reflect this in both our product merchandising and marketing/advertising pieces. Although we offer some exceptional values, our brand message is not to be a “discount house”.

SK: How do consumers, especially women consumers, react to your store experience?
The most consistent feedback that I get from consumers is that they are amazed at the product selection that we offer and that our salespeople are incredibly knowledgeable about these products.

We have product training sessions almost every week. We have a really great group of people that strive to be “flooring consultants” as opposed to simply “salespeople”. Consumers really seem to appreciate that difference.

SK: How do you keep up with trends?
We are fortunate to be a member of Flooring America. They invest incredible amounts of resources on tracking flooring trends globally, nationally, as well as regionally, and they share this information with their membership.

On a personal level, I am involved in different types of affiliations and networking groups that allow me the opportunity to share information with other floor covering professionals and members of the A&D community. I also try to read a lot of design magazines [two favorites are Metropolitan Home and Architectural Digest] and attend trade shows whenever possible.

SK: How do you showcase trends to consumers?
We update product samples constantly so they reflect current trends and offer our customers as wide a range of choices as possible. Products that we choose to keep in stock inventory are displayed prominently in the store.

In addition to product samples, I make sure that our display floors are kept as up to date as possible, changing approximately once a year. I also regularly create grouted mini-boards with different tile/listello combinations that act as "idea starters" for customers.

SK: What other special steps do you take to be different in your community?
We have been fortunate to have been selected as the Outstanding Floorcovering Supplier by the Consumers Choice Award since its inception in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. This has been a great honor for us since it is voted on by members of our local community.

Additionally, we have contributed to Habitat for Humanity and the “Go Red for Women” Campaign from the American Heart Association.

Thank you, Suzanne!

I asked Sonya to describe the store as a consumer would see it, and help put the pictures above into perspective.

When you walk into the store, it is divided into two areas. To the left is hard surface and to the right is soft surface, with Karastan immediately visible.

The showroom is very open and draws one inside the store to see more. The displays on the soft surface side [see photo right] are low enough that the whole showroom is visible. That's very shopper-friendly!

The tiled kitchen vignette with marble counter top pictured above shows the view immediately to your left as you enter the hard surface side of the store. It acts as a visual "entrance" into the tile area.

Notice from the photos how the store doesn't follow a rigid format. Displays and vignettes break up the space, creating interesting inspirational spaces that engage the shopper.

Congratulations, Dobson Floors for truly Flooring It Differently! Thank you, Suzanne, for sharing your perspective with us and for exuding so much flooring passion in your store.

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