Several weeks ago I was invited to speak at Carpet Network’s Homecoming 2009 in San Antonio, TX. Carpet Network is a shop-at-home franchise founded in the early 90s by Christine and Lenny Rankin. At the time they had a very successful floor covering store and decided to take their concept to the next level. It was obvious to Chris that it was often difficult for customers to make decisions in the store. It was much easier when the customer looked at the products in their own home. "With that," says Chris, "the shop-at-home concept that was to be Carpet Network was born."
Chris continues. "At the time, when retail stores are struggling to survive, our mobile concept is booming. Our state-of-the art Unicell vans allow our customers to view thousands of carpet, floor and window covering selections from the comfort of their homes or business."
Just a note about franchised business, they are successful for one main reason: they have a proven system in place. There is no question McDonalds and Dunkin’ Donuts have survived because of their systems. Franchise businesses have a failure rate of only 25% within the first five years, and traditional businesses have a failure rate of about 80%. It’s the system that works. By buying a franchise you are buying into a set system of rules and regulations that have been tested and work.
So, what better place to hold a “homecoming” but in San Antonio during Fiesta time. A local nonprofit group or military organization sponsors every one of the 107 official Fiesta events of 2009. Fiesta is one of America’s truly great festivals. It began as a way to honor the memory of the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. For over 100 years Fiesta has celebrated the diversity and culture of San Antonio.
The theme of Homecoming 2009 for Carpet Network was all about how franchisee members could take advantage of new ways to build their business. Social networking with Facebook and Blogging spurred much great discussion. Facebook seems to be a way of communicating for everyone these days — including the Fiesta — with their page hosting hundreds of comments as well as information on events. With golf events, carnival, great food and music, San Antonio at Fiesta is a wonderful place for a convention.
- 85% of Americans believe a company should not only be present via social media but also interact with its consumers.
- 60% of Americans interact with companies on a social medial web site, and one in four interacts more than once a week.
- 56% of American consumers feel both a strong connection with and better serviced by companies when they can interact with them in a social media environment.
Of course no business event is compete without its stars. Dave Fitzwater was chosen for the President’s Award, Carpet Network’s highest achievement. I had the opportunity to talk with Dave and get his thoughts about Carpet Network’s mobile business and why they are so effective. Here's what he said:
- The ability to go to the customer is key. You don’t have to wait for the customer to come to your place; you have been invited to theirs. It’s important to be professional and organized.
- Without a storefront your overhead is greatly reduced. Having a well-equipped mobile showroom is just as effective as a brick and mortar business.
- People get connected to the person with the products. Not the products or the storefront—but the person. Often times this gets misinterpreted by salespeople. They push their products instead of building their own credibility.
- You must have good training and support from your home office. Having a good franchise behind you keeping up with trends and providing good back up is key.
Great weather, wonderful town and great people; what could be better?
- *2008 Cone Business in Social Media Online Study
- Carpet Network
- Fiesta, San Antonio Facebook
- Global Business blog
- Franchise Direct blog