Kronotex Interviews Margo Locust

ImageMembers of the industry all know that Fabulous Floors is the only magazine about flooring that speaks to the consumer. With its finger on the pulse of interior decor trends, the publication is so much more. Publisher Margo Locust spoke to Kronotex about a number of topics. Check of the excerpts below and click the link to see the full interview.

Are you familiar with Fabulous Floors Magazine? It is the only magazine devoted exclusively to the inspiring beauty, design, variety and quality of today’s floor coverings for the home. It’s part wish book, part idea resource, part educational guide and part decor gallery for laminate flooring, as well as all other flooring types.

Recently, the Kronotex USA Blog Team interviewed Margo Locust, publisher and editor-in-chief of Fabulous Floors, about her magazine and her perspective on an industry she loves dearly: floor covering.

KX-USA: So floor covering retailers also use Fabulous Floors?

Yes, floor covering retailers tell us that Fabulous Floors is an invaluable resource to have onhand to share with their customers. Since each issue covers every type of flooring, there’s no limit to its value to both consumers and sales associates.

KX-USA: Sounds like Fabulous Floors is everywhere!

Yes, the primary goal for me is to take it to the next level, to continue to remain the leading consumer magazine dedicated to flooring.

We’ve  launched into the digital world by putting Fabulous Floors in an electronic format as well as developed digital apps for smart phones on both Android and IOS platforms. These digital editions go along with the print editions, but not the same information… with video, voice over and animation. We’re not just a publication that puts a magazine on the newsstands. 

KX-USA: What is your perspective on laminate flooring?

I think laminate is a category that has become very misunderstood. When Pergo came out in the mid-90s it was a hot new product. In fact many consumers still think that all laminate is called “Pergo” kind of like “Band-Aid” or “Windex.” Since then, laminate flooring has become known as a do-it-yourselfer product and frankly, I think nothing could be further from the truth!

I think laminate flooring is truly an affordable luxury flooring option. Often, you can’t tell it from real wood, tile or stone. Now, with the new looks and advanced manufacturing technologies like hand-scraped looks, beveled edges, wider planks, it’s become even more fabulous.

Consumers want it all. And laminate flooring gives them the styles they want at a budget that’s affordable.

Click here for the full interview!

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The International Surface Event Gets Better and Better

Surfaces 2014 is only two weeks away.

Surfaces 2014 is only two weeks away.

Once again Surfaces is around the corner. You would think that since I’ve been going for over 20 years that it would get old; quite the opposite, it never does. In fact, the vendors get better, and the events are more exciting. Hanley Wood announced today the launch of two events designed to bring the flooring and surfaces industries together. TileExpo, a new trade show focused on the tile industry, will launch in conjunction with SURFACES and StonExpo/Marmomacc America (formerly S2). The International Surface Event will be held January 27-30 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas. NV. Exhibits will be open Tuesday-Thursday, and the Education Program opens Monday, January 27 and continues through Thursday.

I speak with many people who have attended past shows. I’m always surprised when they say, “Why should I go this year? I’ve been going for 20 years.”   Isn’t it silly to think a trade show this size wouldn’t have anything new? I’m actually astounded at what changes each year.

There are always new exhibitors as well as educational speakers with different topics.  As a speaker, I’m delighted when I have the opportunity to listen to another expert. I know I’m always looking for new material to share with those who attend my seminars. These days’ social media is  the hot topic on everyone’s mind. If you’re like the rest of the world, you are either catching up or really haven’t a clue. If I were you, I would bring plenty of staff and have them attend as many seminars as possible. This way when you get home, you’ll have lots to share and new ideas for your business. If you need more information, why not hire one of the speakers to work with you and your staff? Most of the speakers are from the flooring industry and know as much about your business as you do! Consider this might be an opportunity to get some profitable ideas for your business.

One of the things that is always amazing is the flooring installations. This is what makes our industry magnificent. Again, you will find some ideas for your business and get tips on the latest installation products. Consider bringing someone from your installation division to source  ideas to improve your department.

I suggest you take photos of the installation and post them on your social media sites like Pinterest and Houzz. Find ideas that encourage your salespeople to sell more products and excite your customers. As retailers, you take products and turn them into solutions.

I suggest you talk with your manufacture’s marketers. What are they doing to drive customers to their web site and how are they utilizing social media? Can they give you some ideas for utilizing their social media and web site to drive traffic to your store?

With social media being the buzz word, you have a perfect opportunity to get great ideas to improve your online business. If you don’t “talk the talk” that well, bring someone with you who can.

Surfaces is more than about products. It’s about business solutions from some of the smartest manufactures in the world.

And the solutions are free.

Lisbeth Calandrino is the Associate Publisher of consumer publication, Fabulous Floors Magazine and has been providing custom training solutions for the flooring industry for the past 20 years. She is conducting two seminars at Surfaces: “How to Build Motivation and Eliminate Stress in Your Business” and “Ten Ways to Use Customer Service to Make Your Business More Profitable.” Please check for rooms and times. Lisbeth can be reached at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

Businessman Helping Businesses: Overnite Capital

 

 "Building a profitable business involves having good judgment, which are part of an owner's business skills," says Brian Battaglia.
“We take a good look at the growing potential of a company and one of those indicators is having strong customers.”
Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Battaglia, President of  Overnite  Capital. Overnite Capital helps businesses obtain financing through a process called factoring. Factoring isn’t new, but unlike traditional lines of credit that focus on a company’s credit score and profitability; factoring focuses on receivables and the customer’s ability to pay.

The first thing you notice about Brian is his enthusiasm and excitement about business. Brian is a CPA by education,  but you instantly know that Brian is more than what we call a “numbers guy.” Brian is a smart business person with a background in building successful companies. This is one of the things that separates Overnite Capital from other similar businesses. Of course, a company must qualify to benefit from Overnite Capital, but Brian is concerned about the success of the whole company.

Brian has experience since 1990, providing financial services to companies on some level. At one point, he realized it was time to take his entrepreneurial skills and open his own business. Brian realized he not only had the skills to provide the financial services, but his overall business acumen, gave him a background to understand his client’s perspective.

Traditional lending agencies, such as banks, are reluctant to loan  money to businesses that are new, aren’t  yet  profitable and maybe the business owner’s personal credit is weak. If a business has good receivables, it shows that they are growing and might be a candidate for factoring. It’s simple. In the factoring process, you are, in essence, selling your receivables to Overnite Capital. Typically, your company will receive 80-90% up front money of the value of the invoice before to the customer has paid the invoice. The remaining 10-20% balance (reserve) is also your money after customer payment less Overnite’s fees. “All businesses start out small, says Brian; if the business doesn’t meet our qualifications when they apply, it doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. We take a good look at the growing potential of a company and one of those indicators is having strong customers.

Brian views businesses from the eyes of an owner. It’s important that the business has a viable product and can build good relationships with their customers. “Receivables are indicative of a company’s worth, continues Brian; significant receivables means the company is doing business, and sales are the lifeblood of any business.”

At one point, any business can experience cash-flow problems. Unless they’re selling to customers to marginal credit, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to collect their receivables. Companies like Overnite, use this information to determine companies “factorability.”

“Building a profitable business  involves having good judgment, which are part of an owner’s  business skills, adds Brian. Business is all about risk taking, and  if you’re going to extend credit to your customers, you have to know they have a sound business.  We can help our clients make sound credit decisions.  That’s part of being partners with our clients, if they succeed we succeed.”

Real customer service is caring about your client’s success.

If factoring is new to you, Overnite Capital has five questions on their home page to help you determine if factoring is right for your company. Call TOLL FREE @ (800) 957-4309 or visit www.OverniteCapital.com

Lisbeth Calandrinois Associate Publisher of Fabulous Floors Magazine and  helps businesses’ build loyal customers through customer service and sales training. She can be reached at www.lisbethcalandrino.com.

Link

Tiles just seem to be getting larger and larger.  There are varieties of ceramic tile, porcelain, glass metal natural stone, and mosaics— even handcrafted concrete—come in sizes from one to 24 inches. The trend continues toward greater formats, for both large homes and smaller homes.

Larger format tiles will make any room look greater.   Another innovation is precision-edged “rectified” tile for installations featuring tight, grout-free installation.

Crossville, a manufacturer of porcelain tile, has come out with a “game changer” called Laminam. The product is a large-format panel, size 1 x 3 meters (which is 39.5″ x 118.5″). They can also be cut “in-house “into various sizes such as 40″ x 40″ and/or 20″ x 60″ (perfect for a back-splash or bathtub surrounds).  The smaller sheets are still very large for pieces of porcelain but much simpler to handle in the field. This trend is something that provides an exciting addition to the A and D community as well as our consumer.

No telling what will happen next when the consumer starts to see what’s possible.

Tiling and flooring design forecasters are already seeing a major movement in tile toward the translucence and transparency of glass, enhancing the play of light within and across, the living spaces. Glass tile is particularly suitable  for modern kitchens influenced by stainless steel.

Glamorous 30’s Deco is also resurgent with its distinct, black and white punctuated with lipstick red! Depending on the mood you hope to achieve, colors can be crisp and bold or soft and mellow. It’s all about imagination and personal choice. We are seeing bright, shiny red from lips to fingernails. Red is still considered the color of love and the sexiest color when painted on your lips.

Trim pieces are important because they coordinate or complement your tile décor. There are listellos for creating any border, including frames and chair rails. Border tiles come in different widest and shapes for unique design needs—like mitered corners or transitions between surfaces (walls, floors, sinks, countertops, back splashes). Listellos can even accentuate specific architectural detail like an archway.

When designing with tile, consider the whole surface (with an eye toward coordinating with adjacent surfaces like countertops, walls and back splashes).). Different sizes, patterns and textures can complement and personalize a space from floor to floor and room to room. And remember, ceramic and porcelain tile blends beautifully with other design materials—metal, glass, wood, stone, etc. Some designers have even blended richly colored tile with glass and metallic effects, including subtle and striking wool, fabric or copper yarn details.

Lisbeth Calandrino is Associate Publisher for Fabulous Floors Magazine and helps businesses build loyal customers. She can be reached at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

Connecting with Your Consumers is the Key: Interview with Robert Barufkin, Sales Manager at Tom Adams Window & Carpet

Tom Adams invitationI was fortunate to speak with Robert Barufkin, Sales Manager at Tom Adams Window & Carpet after his Ladies’ Night Out a couple of weeks ago. I have spoken at many events but found this one to be very well organized and consumer friendly.

Before joining Tom Adams Window and Carpet, Robert was owner of a large Philadelphia Area Mannington Distributor. I found him quite knowledgeable and understanding of today’s target customer. Here is an excerpt from our conversation.
Robert, how would you describe today’s consumers?

The dynamics of the consumers have changed dramatically from the days of the 70’s and 80’s. A well place ad in the local paper or the TV station would get the customer’s attention and plenty of business. The consumer had to shop many stores to be educated, and the local carpet store was the place to go. The salesperson knew about your community in which their store supported the little leagues, church and schools.

Today you must be knowledgeable, truthful and show professionalism. In addition, your business must be social media smart if you are going to attract and connect with today’s customer. You must provide “added value” and be different from your competitors, if you’re not, then price becomes the deciding factor.

Most consumers educate themselves on the Internet and believe what they read. We must help them separate ‘fact from fiction’ without insulting them. If they see it on the Internet, as the commercial says, “it must be true.

Today’s consumers are conscious about getting the right product for their particular project. It’s important to educate consumers, but it’s also important to help the customer decide.  A good salesperson earns the consumer’s respect and trust, so the customer will rely on them to help make their decision.

Do women still do most of the buying or how they influence the selling process?

Our business is based on women; they are the decision makers of today. They make decisions on most home furnishings,’ and they understand fashion. Women are willing to spend money for fashionable items; most women understand why a shoe cost $200 a pair. Women no longer need the permission of their significant others to spend the money in the family account. In fact, it is now the husband who asks permission.  Angie’s list members are primarily women and targeted by Angie on purpose. They want good advice and referrals, and the purchase of an Angie’s membership provides that for them.

How have you designed your showroom to accommodate today’s fashion conscious female consumer? 

We base our showroom on style and fashion, not on prices. We have vignettes and many larger samples to help women visualize what their selection will look like.  We offer free services such as scaled drawings of their room with full seam layouts and asbestos testing for old vinyl flooring.

We lend out samples, and we pick them up if needed. To add even more value to the sale, we partner with a certified plumbing company to do all toilet removals, repair   ice maker issues and gas shut offs. The key is to become a friend and always strive to “be easy to do business with”, so that each new friend will send a referral.

Now comes the tough part, how to you attract more women to you store.

We try to do a “Girls Night Out” every quarter, based on the season and the special guest speaker. Our attendance varies. We invite associate retailers in the furniture, restaurant, kitchen, fitness, and yoga and clothing industry. We have vineyards that promote their wine, restaurants that serve appetizers and “goodie” bags for the participants.

What works to bring in customers?

Bringing in a professional speaker who knows their product and can connect with the audience is the key. We have also hosted autograph events where we bring in “Philadelphia Sports Legends,” where we have lines of people waiting to meet their heroes. The key is to give our customers a positive experience and make them want to come back.

We’ve had installation clinics to help customers understand the complexities of the installation process. All of these ideas work on some level. The success and failure depend upon your ability to get the word out. It takes social media, phone calls, local signage and excellent word of mouth.

We support causes that are important to our customers with breast cancer awareness bring tops on the list. We have a   “Pink Party “party in October to support this cause. We give out pink wristbands and a portion of the sale to Breast Cancer Awareness.

Lisbeth Calandrino is associate publisher and social media Manager for Fabulous Floors Magazine. She also helps businesses build loyal relationships through customer service and sales training workshops. For speaking or training she can be reached at www.lisbethcalandrino.com.

USING HOUZZ TO MARKET YOUR BUSINESS

houzzEveryday there’s something new in social media, but not every day does Houzz come along. Houzz is an online community about decorating, landscape design architecture and home improvement. If you’re in the flooring industry, could there be anything better?

Houzz was founded in 2009 by Adi Tatarko and Alon Cohen as a result of their remodeling experience. Instead of cutting pages out of magazines for their project, they decided to create an online data bases. In December 2010 they released a mobile app for iPad which was downloaded over five-million times.

How can you use it? I asked  Teresa Henton Account Executive at h2b Creative in Chattanooga, Tennessee to create a blog post. Thanks Teresa..

Houzz can be thought of as an idea generator; the app’s search feature links professionals, products and users.  Thousands of Houzz members are on the site because they are planning a renovation and are looking for inspiration. Registered professionals post their project photos complete with product information, architectural style and design features for free.  Users filter the images by room or style to pick their favorites, and add them to idea books.  Everyone can engage in discussions, ask questions, and get product information and tips.

Whether 2013 finds viewers buying a home, remodeling an existing space or just seeking a little curb appeal; their go-to-guide is Houzz. To help members search for the ideal design, professionals have shared one million images from their portfolios.  Each has a back-story or explanation, and some cross reference to other pictures for a specific project or designer.

Houzz users can sign up either as a homeowner, renter, or a home improvement professional or vendor. After signing up, users are offered a choice between getting inspired, seeing products, or finding professionals in their area.

Houzz allows professionals to successfully market to and communicate with potential clients. It is the largest database for residential design and decorating ideas.  Houzz is a collaborative platform for home remodeling and design, bringing homeowners and home professionals together in a uniquely visual community.

Reasons to be on Houzz;

  1. It’s a social site that’s growing and growing fast, 226,965 unique visitors per day!
  2. 90,000 professionals showcase their portfolios and share their work with a community dedicated to home and landscape design.  Can you afford not to be found on it?
  3. Houzz members collect favorite photos, find design professionals in their area and talk with other members. It could be you that they are talking about!
  4. It’s Free! It’s something that you just can’t pass up!

 

Lisbeth Calandrino is Director of Social Media and Associate Publisher of Fabulous Floors Magazine. She can be reached for speaking or training at www.Lisbethcalandrino.com.

The New World of Interior Design

An,Julin_PhotoI love meeting young people; they always have a fresh perspective.

A couple of years ago I was speaking at Jack Laurie Floors and an interior design student, Julin An won an hour consultation with me. We talked about networking, spoke on the phone and I lost track of her.

Two weeks ago Julin reached out to me on Facebook and we discussed where she was in her life. Excitedly Julin told me she recently received her B.S. in Interior  Design from Purdue University, Indianapolis. My best to Julin with her new career.

Julin is a warm, talented and funny young woman—her photo says it all. I’d say she’s also a good networker!

I asked Julin if she would answer a few questions about the nature of design in 2012.

Julin, what is being taught in design school?

As far as design goes, we are taught an array of design principles and values that cover history of art to modern construction and everything in between!

We’re taught how to hand draw while learning composition, perspective and proportion; how to create, read and understand different kinds of construction documents.

One of the most valuable training we get in design school is learning how to work in groups because it relates to real-life practice.  Social skills in a group setting are very important.

Of course, time management is what keeps it all together!

What are the latest software programs? I know 20/20 used to be the staple program and is still used by many firms.

The latest design software programs are Revit, Google Sketch Up, Rhino, 3DSMax (and more). These programs give us the skills to keep us competitive.

Is ‘Green’ really important?

It is extremely important to our environment in the sense that it helps reduce, reuse and recycle materials for another purpose as well as saving energy and costs.

Recycling is such a great preservative to our land and air.  Many people don’t see the importance of recycling and could not care less, but I think people would reconsider once they’ve visited over populated cities and see the accumulated waste and polluted air.

Were there any surprises in design school?

I didn’t know the scope to which “green” design was being applied.  When you hear “green” you generally think of “recycling.”  However, what I have learned through my studies and work experiences is the extent companies go through to be more reasonable in their production and sales.

Manufacturing plants are cutting down their process lines and are creating waste management in the attempt for zero landfills; light bulbs (technically known as luminaries) have had a major transformation in their features and are ultimately becoming cost effective in energy consumption.

These fixtures have time and light sensors to save energy costs; hazardous chemicals are eliminated from products and are replaced for more natural ingredients.

It’s quite impressive how “green” is applied.

How has design changed over the past 10 years?

Jobs are lagging, and companies are downsizing more people are becoming entrepreneurs.

We are using clever sustainable products within the interior, exterior and architectural design as well as the construction processes.

Design objectives have shifted gears from creating privacy to creating open spaces because our society requires collaboration and has altered into a multitasking generation. We are designing for early empty nesters, generation X, Y & Z; and utilizing natural daylight as much as possible.

What about the use of technology and communication?

Technology is playing a huge role.  With all the video conferencing and cyber work, we have to be keen on the newest technology trends to keep our designs up to par, so they cater to the latest technology operations.

What suggestions would you give someone hiring a designer?

As a new designer, I would like to know what companies are looking for. As a recent grad I want to prove that I have the skills to become a great designer. Everyone talks about experience, but it’s hard to have experience until you get your first real job.

I think a neat way of hiring could be to host an “interview mixer” and invite several applicants to partake in the event.  This allows companies to block out a time for interviews, and it also allows more applicants a chance to sell themselves as a designer.

 What suggestions would you give someone contemplating the design field?

This field truly requires passion, drive and a tough mentality.  It’s easy for people to get discouraged in this field, and you really need to have tough skin to survive the constructive criticism. It’s the critique that helps us learn, grow and improve!

I think that some people still think of our field as a glamorized decorating gig. It is extremely demanding with complex tasks and enormous responsibilities.

As an interior designer, you really have to be well-rounded, individual and capable of utilizing both your left and right brain.

I don’t think any of us knew what we were getting ourselves into until we experienced our first all-night design project.

Designers are faced with a lot of challenges which require good social skills and communication skills.

It is an exciting field; every day and every job is different. That’s what makes this such a great profession.

Lisbeth Calandrino is associate publisher and director of social media for Fabulous Floors Magazine. She can be reached at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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