At a Glance
Name: Jim Boyd’s Flooring America
Jim and Gerri Boyd have been co-owners of Jim Boyd's Flooring America (formerly Jim's Carpet World) near Baltimore for more than 45 years, and they've been through it all, including not one but two nationwide recessions. Today the business is strong as ever. In fact, when we asked Jim what were his favorite years leading the company, he said the last 15. "After 47 years you think you know this business, but you really can still learn," he says. In the last year alone, Boyd, at 74, acquired a commercial flooring division and started a remnants store. The business expansion was all in preparation for his retirement in a couple years, when his son and a business partner will take over. Boyd spoke with WFB's Andrew Averill about his operation.
What was one of the best business decisions you made?
I was in a poor location for 20 years, and when we finally moved it was an immediate change. We started doing better.
What was that location like?
We were on a main street, but the building was facing the opposite direction. It was confusing how to get there. The most we ever did was $1 million in revenue a year. I told my wife I might as well go work for somebody. The new location is in a very identifiable location, and it's not tucked into a warehouse somewhere. There's a good car count in front of the store. We can have 300 people come in here in a month. It didn't happen overnight, but being here and constantly advertising built up our foot traffic.
What advertising has worked for you?
We've had success with traditional advertising. Most is on local TV. We run ads on a station called Me TV that runs old TV shows like "I Love Lucy" and "The Andy Griffith Show." We're targeting baby boomers. We'll do daytime TV ads, too, around shows like "Ellen DeGeneres" and "Dr. Oz." We run TV ads consistently. It's the sort of thing you can't start and stop. We also recently did a mail campaign to previous customers.
Was the mail campaign successful?
We got a huge response from it. We have a deep customer list after so many years, so we spent $7,500 to send a hard-sell mailer to them [pictured at left]. We had our biggest month ever because of that mailer, and now we plan to run that campaign twice a year to reach out to old customers. You'll find that previous customers, when they're getting ready for hardwood or carpet, will still forget about you, believe it or not. You need to keep your name in front of them. Owners would be wise to touch base with past customers regularly.
What gets customers, new and old, coming to your store?
We believe reviews are big. We solicit reviews of our work whenever we can. We hire a local company that sends our customers text messages after the job is over and we've already closed with them. The text contains a request for reviews and links to each of our pages on the big review sites. Good reviews are hard because people don't want to be bothered. If you ask 20 people, you'll be lucky to get two reviews. About 95 percent of our reviews are good, but you'll get a bad one now and then, I don't care who you are.
What do you do about bad reviews?
We respond to bad online reviews immediately on the review site and we'll call the customer privately. Online we try to explain what the problem might be. Gaps in hardwood? We'll say something about the humidity level, for example. On the phone we try to correct what's wrong as soon as possible. We try to rectify anything we can. Even if we're not wrong, we never say the customer is wrong. We feel whatever it costs to make them happy is less than what it costs us not to.
Why did you decide to expand after so many years?
My succession plan is for my son to come in and take over. We needed to set up more profit centers for him, because he was making a pretty good income before he started working for us.
How did the acquisition work?
This commercial flooring company was blindsided after the Great Recession. With commercial, you have to have the money to run it, but they were suddenly cash-poor. They had some very good accounts, so we got together and I told them we could help support that business. They were handcuffed. We're mainly a retail operation, but adding Main Street commercial has been great. We estimated it would bring in $840,000 of new business, but it actually brought in more than $1 million.
How are you transitioning the company to your son?
A business consultant and I discussed options after a store manager wanted to buy in to the company, too. We worked out a deal where the manager would buy a portion of stock for $X amount and buy that stock from company profits over 10 years. My son, Keith, will do this, too. The object is to sell my stock over a period of time to a key employee or family member to keep them here, but only if it's right for them.
How do you see your son and the manager sharing the company?
My son is new but he was a mill rep. He's very bright and great at organization and detail. I picture him being on the operations end of the business and our store manager being on the sales end of the business. You need both of those things to be successful.