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Network Optimism

Network Optimism

Olga Robertson, FCA Network President and CEO

FCA Network Optimism Pushes Through 2009

CHICAGO—Olga Robertson, FCA Network President and CEO, kicked off the group’s 2009 annual convention by welcoming an “astounding” turnout of 84%: “This year we’re heading back to the basics and looking at alternative approaches to increase your business,” she explained. “Education is key; it’s the common thread among successful people who strive to be better. You understand that and are extremely smart to be here.”

She proceeded to compliment the group—comprised of 50 members and 58 storefronts— noting FCA’s ’08 success stories, including the addition of seven members, a 3% increase in the sales of better goods, a decline of only 5% in net purchases (compared to the industry’s 20% average), an increase in several members’ businesses and continued strength in its vendor relations.

“FCA is different because it’s a successful retailer helping other retailers; we experience the same things our members do,” Robertson explained.

Robert Hill, chairman of FCA Network, agreed, noting the membership’s unique identity as a low-cost buying group that resists the “one size fits all” approach has truly been a differentiator. And members said he could not be more correct.

Al and Tony Capaul of Capaul’s Floor Covering in Tomah, Wis., members for eight years, said it’s the small things that add up— claims, products, pricing, marketing—and this is where the group helps. “It’s definitely been a worthwhile membership for us.”

Expanding a bit on his experiences, Frank Marotta of The Carpet Co. in Chesterfield, Ohio, said, “Being part of a group gives you so much more in this business— networking, great pricing on fantastic products, value, the list goes on. What really separates Olga and Bob [FCA], however, are their practicality, pricing, partnership and patience.”

Bob Johnson of Liberty Floor & Window Coverings in Griffith, Ind., continued, pointing out rebates, cost to dealers and private labeling as key initiatives helping members survive and thrive. However, he said, “It’s the group’s delivery on promises that truly sets it apart.”

In keeping with its above-average status, Hill told attendees when looking ahead expect the best but prepare for the worst. “Last year was tough, prepare for ’09 to be tougher with recovery by 2010.”

To help members follow this strategy and be successful, Hill noted several suggestions:

  • Internet—the importance of having a Web presence,
  • In-store signage, promotions, events, etc.,
  • Keep experienced people,
  • Set higher expectations,
  • Conduct more training— close sales at higher price points,
  • Study competitor’s products and practices,
  • Work to make less mistakes,
  • Strive to raise margins 5%,
  • Introduce and showcase more new products.

Along with all of these proposals for increased business, Hill and Robertson noted attitude as a key factor through it all. “This is the time for optimism,” they said, “and after this year we’re in for another boom period.”

And Robertson explained FCA Network will be there to help the whole way through. “Last year everyone did a lot of cutting,” she said. “In ’09 they need to realize there are still opportunities out there and not operate out of fear but go find the customer.” She advised members to avoid negative press, stay focused on business and watch cash flow.

“Our members are good, salt-of-the-earth people, open to new ideas and eager to learn new things, hard working, involved in their communities; they’re living the American dream and we’re here to help them in some small way—to take some of the burden off their shoulders and help them prosper.”

About Floor Covering Associates

Since 1976, FCA Flooring Specialists (FCA) has specialized in the supply and installation of flooring, carpets, hardwood, laminate, LVT, Bamboo, Ceramic tiles, and more to the southern and western suburbs of Chicago. Today, FCA a locally owned and managed company is one of the largest flooring retailers in the country. The company includes major retail centers in Shorewood IL, Naperville IL, Kankakee IL, Merrillville IN, and St. Charles, IL as well as a Design Center which sells furniture and draperies, a commercial division, and an online store.

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