LL Flooring is a national name in flooring with over 400 locations and a team of flooring experts and digital tools, all designed to help both pros and consumers make the best choices in hard surface flooring. Whether you’re a homeowner, DIY or professional contractor, LL Flooring tools, tips and resources will help make sure your project comes out exactly as you imagined. And now a new set of services designed especially for pros, makes this even easier. Leading that effort is Charles Tyson, the CEO for LL Flooring.
Tom: Charles, welcome back to the program.
Charles: Hey, Tom. Leslie, great to be back with you. It’s an exciting time for us in flooring business and thanks for inviting me to spend a few minutes with your listeners.
Tom: Well, you know, most of our listeners know that you guys are great at supporting homeowners, but I don’t think they know a lot about how you make life easier and more successful for the pros and their businesses. So can you talk a bit about that?
Charles: The fact that we’ve got over 420 stores makes us, you know, pretty convenient for pros who want to be able to get in and pick product and then also be able to pick the product up. We carry a lot of inventory at the at the local level. And time is just so important for pros when they’re trying to run the business. You know, we’ve got dedicated people in our stores that will stay open late or open early for our pros. You know, we have some pros who are very confident in our sales teams. And so, they will send and refer their customers into our stores and will help those customers pick out a floor. And, you know, that can give back a pro maybe two or three hours. Instead of them having to spend time in the store, we can help them be more productive.
Leslie: I mean, it’s really amazing because LL Flooring just becomes a partner to both the homeowner and the pro. And I think in doing so, your digital tools are just super valuable. So many people have a hard time envisioning what something is going to look like in their home. And what you have done is just inspiring people to make smart choices that they know they’ll feel confident about.
Charles: In the past a customer would have to come to a store and pick up a sample. And so, it became quite a long, tedious transaction. Right. That might have to come back three or four times until they found a floor that they really liked. So, we developed an app that allows them to use our Picture It tool which allows them to scan any room in the house, and they can then upload any one of our floors into that tool and they can see exactly what floor is going to look like in their home. So, we see the average customer probably looks at eight or nine different floors. So, we really see it as a productivity tool to driving creativity while people are thinking about their projects.
Tom: I would imagine that that increases the confidence in the purchase and the happiness in the project. If they’re reviewing eight or nine floors, it’s very difficult to do that when you can only work with pictures on a website or in a catalog or with a small flooring sample actually installing that floor visually. When you finally find that floor that just says yes to you, you get a lot of confidence that that’s the right one.
Charles: The feedback from customers, Tom, is they find it a fantastic enabler. So, it’s allowing them to make decisions with a higher degree of confidence. I think sometimes, you know, I know by myself I might procrastinate for a couple of months. I’m really not sure if I ever pick the right floor. And we’ve seen that time to converge when people use the tool to be less. And so, I think that that’s a good indication that it’s helping people make good, strong decisions on which floor to pick.
Leslie: And I mean, how impressive is it if your pro comes in and says, hey, we can actually check this out in your home, so you know you’re making the right choice?
Charles: I think the other thing that it means the pros don’t have to carry massive samples around with them anymore. You know, we offer free samples and happy to provide those, but it allows the pro to be a lot more flexible. I think it helps the pro project, his own business, his or her own business, too, in terms of the level of professionalism that the customers really appreciate using these tools.
Tom: We’re talking to Charles Tyson. He’s the CEO of LL Flooring. Charles, I understand that LL Flooring is now launching a new online platform for pros. Can you give us some background on the platform?
Charles: We recognize that pros really want to spend time running their business and they can make decisions and have a customized tool in the palm of the hand that can look at everything that we offer. It’s how do they look at the assortment? How do they look at pricing? How do they look at previous orders that they’ve purchased from us? It really becomes a working tool for their mobile phone that’s customized for them.
Leslie: I mean, it really seems like a true partnership. Now, I know we have so many people listening who are either pros themselves or have had experience with installing floors. But how does flooring help those pros and the homeowners who just need a hand installing the product?
Charles: What we want to be able to do is provide the pro an end-to-end solution that makes it easy for them. So, we do simple things like schedule appointments to do pick-ups. We know exactly when that pro is coming in. We’re going to have that product ready to be loaded onto the truck or we can deliver directly to the job site. So, we really call it that end-to-end solution of how do we make the process more productive and what they do every day and get rid of friction points that create downtime or a lack of productivity when they’re servicing their customers, Generally, what is what we hear from our customers? It’s the most important thing. You know, will this pro finish the job when they say they’re going to finish the job and it’s our responsibility to help and ensure the program can do that with the way we provide product.
Tom: Charles, over this past year, we’ve seen more than ever before how important a safe, comfortable, attractive space is to folks, given the fact that we’ve all spent a lot more time indoors. And we certainly expected to. Do you guys with 400 stores across the country, you’ve always had your finger on the pulse when it comes to the trends. Can you share maybe some of the popular trends that we’re seeing here in spring and summer 2021.
Charles: Yeah, you know, obviously vinyl is sort of has become the new emerging category. A lot of that is driven by the waterproof capability where people have got kids, they’ve got dogs. They want to live in rooms that are actually used where a kid might drop a cup of water. And so waterproof vinyl is an just exploding category. But it’s not all about resilience. You know, we’ve done a lot of work investing in our Bellawood brand, and we’re seeing just great expansion with wider boards, with six inch forward, seven-inch boards, new engineered wood flooring. So, I think when you look at the overall trend, natural product is coming back and it’s coming back in formats that customers are able to look at, price points that they’ve not seen before, particularly in engineered wood flooring. Beautiful seven-inch-wide boards, 10-foot-long boards that often only ever showed up and really premium end of the housing market. And now we’re able to position great looking floors into everybody’s homes from the very, very competitive pricing standpoint.
Tom: Charles Tyson, the CEO of LL Flooring, thank you so much for stopping by the Money Pit, Charles. And continued good luck and congratulations on all the good work you’re doing for both the homeowners in the pros out there to make their flooring projects everything they dream it can be.
Charles: Thanks, Tom. Thanks Leslie. I appreciate the time.