I just returned from a trip to Orlando, FL and worked with several different groups of people. Business owner Randy Stinson of Stinson Carpets invited me as a speaker for the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce and to meet with a group of flooring retailers to discuss business concerns. Stinson Carpets, a leader in the flooring industry, was given the honor of Mohawk ColorCenter Dealer of the year for the Florida Region. Randy Stinson, CFE of Stinson Carpets, is community minded and a team player. He hosted the discussion group at his store and invited other regional Color Center Dealers as well as the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce. In addition Stinson’s has the privilege to host the Chick-fil-A Leadercast here in the area on May 7 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The Leadercast is about experiencing authentic leadership, learning from the world’s best leaders, awakening your passion to influence and aspiring to impact lives.
Why does Randy work so hard in the community, especially when business is so challenging?
"I’ve always been a team player," says Randy. "I believe in my community and in bringing events that benefit all of us. With the world changing so quickly it’s important to stay with and ahead of the trends. Customers are the lifeblood of all of our companies and they deserve the best of what we have to offer."
Business is better, but business is different. The new home market is quiet, remodeling is picking up and residential customers are shopping. Things should be all good, right? Well there are some other things. These other things are called social media; specifically Facebook.
If you need to find information on a carriage, do you Google or Facebook? It seems that Facebook is starting to rival Google for information. Consider that you’re looking for information on a baby carriage. If you put baby carriage in Google you will get over 3 million citations. When you get all done, will you know what type of baby carriage you need; will you trust what you read? Let’s put “I need a baby carriage” and "what should I buy" in your Facebook search and what will come up? Probably answers from 15 friends on what they’ve bought and what works. You can’t buy these referrals.
How important are referrals? They are the lifeblood of any business. By the time a business is 5 years old, 85% of their new customers will come from referrals. Every business needs to find a place for customers to share their experiences. Apparently recommendations from friends on Facebook are rivaling the Google search. Is carrying more weight than the Google search. It makes sense to me; I would rather hear what my friend has to say about the baby carriage than all the citations from Google. It’s personal and my friends have no vested interest in what I purchase.
It’s obvious what this means. You had better get up to speed if you’re looking for customers. Customers posting to your “like" (or fan) page will be providing information to “possible customers.” Think of how this can snowball and provide you with new customers.
We talk about word of mouth, with Facebook and Twitter you have the advantage of listening to conversations. You also have the opportunity to influence conversations with customer testimonials.
This brings me back to these meetings in Orlando. One of the big topics was social media, why it’s important and how it fits. Barbara Abramson, one of the group members, not only knows how to use social media, I think she’s one of the most “in the know” flooring people I’ve met. Barbara and her husband Ira own Sanford Carpet, which they took over from Ira’s parents. Barbara has brought innovation and energy to the sales floor while Ira handles the installation. During our meeting Barbara was helping make videos, taking photos, tweeting and celebrating her birthday on Facebook. For the next meeting Barbara agreed to get everyone up to speed in social media if they wanted to meet again. Another outcome of the meeting was the development of the Central Florida Color Center Leadership Council. Despite the time necessary to effectively run their own businesses here is a group that’s devoted to each other’s success. They don’t see themselves as competitors, they see themselves as partners.
The next meeting is set and Barbara is going to get everyone up to speed in social media. This is serious folks, everyone has to bring their laptops and their Facebook and Twitter accounts and be ready to work.