Dealer takes his biz to the next level with Custom Area Rug program | Best in Class Retailer

going back when I ventured into the business and I knew
my dad created that niche of high-end flooring. And he had his own installers and they’d been there forever. And I knew that I could
take that to the next level. (instrumental music) – Hey guys, John Weller here. I’m here today with
Doug, president and owner of Bockrath Flooring and Rugs. We’re here today to talk about
his last year in business. He transitioned from a website-only, digital marketing strategy to
an all-in digital marketing with Google Ads, Facebook
advertising, and website. And we’re gonna talk about what happened to his business and how it’s
going over the last year with that change in strategy. So Doug, welcome to Sarasota. I see you’re wearing
the appropriate attire. – Yes, yes, thank you, thank you. – Came here on your vacation
and decided to spend some time with us, and I’m excited
about this conversation. So real quick, let’s just
start about how you got into the flooring business. – So, basically, I’m
that good, old-fashioned, my dad started the carpet
business as a carpet layer with his brothers. And outta college I tried something else, besides floor covering, and I was into repping for a vendor. A carpet vendor. So, I was a sales rep for a carpet vendor, and my dad called me up one
day with the opportunity to come in and buy him
out and start as a manager and just work my way from
the bottom then to the top, and so I did that, and here I am 23 years later, and now I’m the owner of
Bockrath Flooring and Rugs, second generation. – Hey man, there’s a lot
of those heritage stories in our industry. – Yes. And it’s fun, actually, now
going into this digital era and taking companies with guys with second generation experience. And now being able to introduce, you know, all of that heritage
and these stories online and in the digital era. So, listen, I know we have your website and I know that there’s
a lot of cool things about your store that
are unique to Bockrath versus other flooring stores. What are some of those things
that have been successful and unique to you guys that
a lot of flooring companies don’t do, that separate
you from the Box Drawers and those other companies? – Okay, so, again going
back when I ventured – Okay, so, again going
back when I ventured into the business and I knew
my dad created that niche of high-end flooring. And he had his own installers and they’d been there forever. And I knew that I could
take that to the next level. You know, we had guys that
can install woven, axminsters, You know, we had guys that
can install woven, axminsters, wools, pattern carpets,
do decorative things with hard wood. So we had the name and
I wanted to just take it to the next level, so… I came into it. We used to outsource, one of
the biggest, proudest moments I have, with adding on to the Bockrath categories is the rug studio and before
we created the rug studio, we used to outsource
fabricating of carpets like, we had a guy that would
do machine binding. We had a girl. Actually a dad and a daughter
that would hand bind. So, we would outsource it. So I’m looking at all the piles of carpet that we had to send out and um, I’m like, “whoa, we could probably create our own fabricating in house.” So I went to the, um – one of the hand binding gals and I said, “Would you
wanna come on board?” and then that kinda started the, well, what we call the rug studio. And we have our own fabricating,
big area in our warehouse. And what we did is build a big platform. So we bring in carpets,
we shape ’em, we size ’em, fabricate ’em, top sews. And I kinda, at the time,
hid it from the show room, that I knocked out a wall and made about a seven
foot opening so when you’re in the show room, you could
see the people working. My rug artisans creating
the rugs, fabricating them. And when a customer see
that, it’s an automatic love of doing this and actually creating a sale and they know they don’t have
to buy the rug off the rack. We can actually make it for them and create any size that they need. – I think that’s, you know. – It’s like (mumbling) take that. – That’s a perfect example
when a customer sees and you tell a story. – Yep. – That makes what you’re doing or what you’re selling, unique and cool. – Yes.
– and they see the – basically, work flow for
how this is gonna happen. It makes selling this
product so much easier and I think a lot of
times, when I go into a lot of retail stores, there’s
this plethora of brands and stuff, in there and
it’s more of a self-serve, find a color you like and
then I’ll tell you a story. And I think the world’s
moving to story telling on your specific expertize in the brands and the things that you carry, that is going to move the needle today. – Mm hm. And digital has made it
even easier to do that 24/7. while you’re sleeping
you’re story’s bein’ told, if you’re making content. So real quickly, what brought you to Floor
Force at the beginning? Like, where did you
make that transformation from whatever you were doing or before, I don’t know what you were
doing digitally before but, what transpired when you actually started
your relationship with us? – Well what happened is,
I’m a Carpet One member, so my dad joined in 1994. So, as I’m going to the conventions, which is basically Summer and
Winter, so there’s two a year. And I’m, you know, general sessions. I’m sitting through the change of, all of a sudden the website started and then it went to a dial. The old school way – you know, just the website started to evolve and at that time it was the
good old fashioned Yellow Pages and I was spending tons of money and, the people at Carpet
One are standing up on the stage going, “Well, you
have to embrace social media. This is coming.” So, I’m listening. And, the first- I tried a local company for my website and then
that didn’t go so well. Cause’ they didn’t understand flooring. And then they went out of business, so I kind of grabbed to it. Interviewed a couple other
local website companies. That didn’t go so well,
because they don’t understand – they don’t know what
carpet and Mohawk and Shaw and Masland and Paprika
is and just that language and understanding and
SEO and, it was just… And then, actually, what
happened with Floor Force was, a regional manager from
Carastan said, “You need to check a couple of these websites out.” And he showed me his laptop
and it was Floor Force. And he said, “These guys
embrace floor covering.” So they understand it, so
um, that’s when I jumped on board and it’s been great ever since. – [John] That’s awesome. – Yeah. – So, it is changing. Facebook is the new place
where you can really advertise, really cheap. It isn’t gonna stay, it’s gonna change. – Yes. – The prices are right now, actually low. They’re not – it doesn’t match up. I was just looking at a
Facebook report upstairs. That deal I’m telling you
about, the guy with six stores. Spent $1700 and had 150000, 30 second, video views. Meaning, he’s paying nothing to have someone watch a 30 second video. – Yeah. – That will not stay. Zero chance. – Well, everyone’s a
social media expert now. Everyone’s got these businesses locally and the reason I was
telling you before about, I was trying to support local businesses and I tried two or three, and it was – they didn’t understand
the concept of flooring which was agrivating, and number two is nothing
SEO was happening. And you just could tell nothing
was going’ forward with it. And I never felt comfortable
until I hooked up with you guys and it’s just, and I
kinda went slow and then, you know, as I had a marketing person because of the rug studio. Cause the rug studio
actually had me advertise and grab a marketing person
cause I knew I had that magic, different part of my business
that nobody else had. So when I got that I’m like, “I’m gonna get a marketing person.” So, I’ve had three
marketing people since then. And then grabbing,
jumping onto Floor Force and just kinda paying the
basic upkeep of the website and all that. Then I called Julia and I’m
like, “I gotta go all in, because you guys are doing Ad words and you’re doing the Facebook and you’re doing the blogging.” And it’s like, was
totally worth it and I – and a year now, later,
my business is booming, because of that. – Yeah. – So, it’s um.. Yeah, so, and you keep doing more. (mumbling)
– Yeah well, we have to. – So yeah.
– We absolutely have to, and – – And every day’s, you know, just – – The consumers expectation
continue to change too, right? – Yes. – I mean, I was just on the phone with some of the executives at a billion dollar flooring manufacturer and they just, the light bulb
went off and they’re like, “We really need to start thinking
about the user experience versus just coming out with new technology and carpet fibers and patterns. Because, at the end of the
day, right now, the person who feels like the user
experience is the best and most thought through, may win, regardless of the product. And, it’s true. If you look at these other industries, mattresses and all that. You know, I was talking
about this at Demo Tech’s. If you go on to Purple Mattress’ website and look at user reviews, a three out of five of them
were about the experience of buying the mattress
and have it delivered to their home, not about
the product itself. How crazy is that? – Oh it’s –
– [John] These people bought a mattress. – Oh yeah. – But what they left
online was, “This is crazy, I ordered it and it was here in two days. I unrolled it and then it was on my bed.” Nothing like the mattress is amazing. – Yeah. – The user experience of
buying it was amazing. – Yep. – And that’s the world we live in, right? – And that’s what’s neat about, um. My feedback is reviews, big time. Our show room and how
it looks on our website. That’s why I’m always telling myself, I visit carpet stores all
over the United States when I go on trips, Carpet
One conventions I pop in, the nearest Carpet One
store or a carpet store. And the show rooms are always the same, cluttered, the same stuff. But my show room, with
60 wood floors in place, clear and open, 32 carpets down. I can take a picture with
my phone of any angle and send it to you, and
you would go, “Oh my gosh, that’s a beautiful – boy,
that’s a nice show room.” So it’s important to, for, you know… That’s, your website
is your next show room. That’s your, that’s the new show room now. – Right. – That’s what people visit now. Cause’ when you go places everyone’s on their phones, looking and they’re just scrolling
and their faces are down and they’re researching and,
I’m that first impression guy. When you walk in my
show room, I get people to travel all over. Vendors, presidents of many mills. They’re like, “I cover
all the United States or this region, this
is the nicest show room I’ve ever been in.” So I was telling Julia, I’m
like, “Julia, that this, all this, has to be on my website.” and so people, “Man, I
gotta come and see you, I gotta come and see you.” Just cause’ the pictures – – That’s it. – Are – – I mean, you’re telling
a story with the pictures. – Yes.
– And then people are like, “That’s an experience. That’s what I want.” and honestly, I think you’re right. A show room with a bunch of clutter and all these racks, I mean
who feels good about that? – I know. – I can’t imagine anyone, I mean unless you’re an interior designer and that’s your thing. – Yeah. – But, I think most of
us today, expect that, by the time we get to that show room, we’ve engaged with the company, there has been some sort
of personalized journey that when I get there, you
already kinda know what I want, who I am and you’re gonna show me that and we don’t have to spend three hours going through all that stuff and I think – – Exactly.
– If we can do that, via digital marketing and tell that story and take people through that, you should just be doing
nothing but closing. – Yeah. – That’s really what
the show room should be. Everything that you do
physically should be to support what we’re doing digitally. – Yes.
– That’s really where we think it’s going and, yeah. – And like I said before, when I go to Corporate One Conventions, it’s all about social
media and I just said, “I wanna go all in.” And, it’s nice cause’ you don’t
stress about the newspaper and you don’t stress about
TV and all the people that try to call you: Radio people, newspaper people. I’m just like, “I’m fine, I’m fine.” And that gets rid of a lot of my stress about people visiting me to do advertising cause’ I’m all in social media. I am never turning back, moving forward, cause’ that’s the future. I embraced it, I know it. – [John] Yeah listen.
– Bottom line. – Communication’s been hacked, right? – Yes. – And a lot of people
are intimidated by it or choose to say, “Oh, it’s
ruining the world” and whatever. It’s done, it happened.
– Yeah. – Whether we like it, don’t like it, that’s really irrelevant. The customers love it, as
you said, everywhere you go, everyone’s in their phone. – Yeah. – That’s how we communicate,
that’s how we learn, that’s how we educate and
now we can tell stories to targeted audiences,
through video that allow you to really, really have
an immersive experience. – Yep. – 24/7 With these people, so
it’s exciting where we are and it’s exciting that retailers like you are really grabbing it
now, at recognizing it and asking us, “Hey, how
do we do this even further and take it?” So, it’s gonna be an exciting
future in a few years, working together. – Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah, I mean, I – it’s just knowing that you have the best
installers and all my sales team. I don’t wanna grow and get
bigger with installers, I wanna – I want the
rug studio to grow more and I want that to be the future for me and keep carpet and wood growing also. – [John] Right. – But, I just have this
passion about that rug studio and no matter what we do, all
my customers are always happy cause’ the workmanship and the pride. All my people, just, they love
wearing the Bockrath uniform, they love – and they’re there forever. They call themselves… They’re just not carpet layers they’re um, oh gosh, they’re, they say they’re uh, they’re um, well we call
the rug girls artisans. So, we give them like
that, cause’ they are. I mean, they’re fabricating –
– [John] Right, 100 %. – And they’re making it. They’re making this beautiful
carpet into a different shape and fabricating and a top
sew, leather, what have you, all the different fabrics
that we get to choose from. – Right. – So, I’m just trying
to think about the word for the carpet layers, um, craftsmen. – Craftsmen, okay. – Craftsmen. They’re like craftsmen and so
I always tell my customers, “Look at us on Google Review,
Angie’s List or Facebook. We want people to, to um, to let us know what they experience. Cause’ a lot of stores, you know, don’t have all the
daily reviews and stuff. – No, if you look at most of the box tours that are in our business, they will allow people to
leave reviews on the product but you’ll never see a service review. – Yeah.
– [John] Not gonna happen. – Yip. – Um, and if you think about
it, what I was just saying, like purple Mattress. Most of those comments
are about the experience. You can win there. And I say this all the
time about small businesses in our industry. You actually have everything
stacked in your favor. – Mm hm. – The large box store
cannot deliver the unique, personalized experience that you guys can. – Correct.
– [John] You have everything stacked in your favor. You just have to communicate that in the new digital world that we live in. You win. – Yes.
– It’s hands down, a better experience, you’re
gonna be taken care of by your neighbor, by someone
you know has skin in the game. They’re not just an
employee for a company. – Yeah. – Who wouldn’t pick that? – I know. – It’s just we have to improve the way that retailers communicate that in the new digital first world. And you’re catching onto it and you’re seeing the results of it, so, it’s an exciting –
it’s an exciting time to be in the floor covering
business, hands down. – Hands down. Agree 110 percent. 110 percent. Um, I’m that person that,
like, ask a lot of questions and I process stuff. (coughing) And I’m balancing like, this full-time marketing pursuing. And, the money it costs, and my cash flow. And, the real thing about
social media evolving and it just keeps evolving and I just, one day, just said, “You know what? This person isn’t… This isn’t gonna work, having
a marketing person do this. And the more I think that,
the more I talk to Julie and I did turn it on and I turned it off and I knew about your packages. And I’m like, “I gotta do this.” Because, it just kinda
kicked in and I just did it. And, ever since then,
there was no turning back and it’s been awesome,
since I flipped that switch. And just said, “Let’s do it, let’s – I’m gonna jump back
and, oh and by the way, I wanna do, um, let’s talk about… The um… (clicking tongue) Oh, the um… Facebook and then also, blogging. What’s that?” It’s this, this and this. Oh, no problem, you should do it and just, let’s do it all. And then the only thing I didn’t do, is go to that second level of Facebook, which I’m gonna do now. Because, you know, I’m educated
more about how Facebook, what’s going on with
Facebook and you can’t, you know, us, personally, can’t really do anything
organically that’s not gonna stick. And, its only gonna be our friends. And um, again, I am, you
know, I’m here visiting in Florida and I’m over
here visiting you guys and I’m just more and more excited to be a part of this partnership
and hearing the truth and believing you guys and
seeing the success I’ve had. And really, a year. Only a year, of being all in. I’m excited for another
year and another year and as we keep evolving together and I’m on board basically, so. – That’s great to hear. That’s why we do this. I mean –
– Yes, yes. – At the end of the day we, I mean, obviously we’re a business
and we’re here for profit. But, when you talk to… I watch our team talking to new hires or people that are interviewing. They don’t talk about the finances. They don’t talk about their commission. They’re like, “Dude, we go to the shows, and we get hugged by our customers.” Because we are doing
something so important. We are feeding children; we’re
sending people to college; we’re keeping the lights
on in a family business, that’s 50 years old.” Like, that’s what everybody
talks about and it’s interesting to hear that, I mean, it just
again, the more we hear that. – Yeah? – The more it inspires
the team to do what we do, which is fun. It’s more than just a business, I guess. – So, yeah, like I said
it’s great to just, channel in one source and that’s it. You know, I’ll throw an Ad
in the Daily Church Bulletin and stuff like that. Little things, but it’s very
minute and all my eggs are in this social media basket. And it helps your every
day, you know, movin’ on because you’re just dialing into one. One thing.
– [John] Wow, what you said. – So…
– Everyone’s in one place. I mean, you know where they
are, they’re right here. They’re inside that phone.
– Exactly, so. – So, there was a time when you started doing some
Google Advertising with us and I know that you pulled back. And then I know that you also came back and started even advertising more. Can you just talk about,
kind of what that was? What transpired that, that basically had you pull
back on the advertising? What your thought process
was, what was going on? Then, now you’re back on, and just talk about that for a second. – So, back then, so I
had a marketing person that worked for me and it was a lady and she worked, you
know, full-time and, so, as I’m trying to do things locally, through Facebook with her and, you know, I joined Floor Force as, just the website, and just paying the monthly website fees. – Right. – And I knew all the
opportunities and I’m hearin’ all this stuff about
the radio people still and the newspaper. And I just, I’m these type
of guys that just listen and I observe and I take
a lot of mental notes and just, I did try it. And, when I say “Try
it”, I tried the AdWords like you just said. And then I just said to myself, “You know, I’m gonna basically get
rid of this position, of this marketing person and
I’m gonna put all my eggs in this social media category.” And I heard about your blogging,
I heard about your Facebook and I knew about AdWords
so I just said to myself – Julie and I have always been
talkin’ and communication and I said, “Let’s – I wanna go all in.” And I just had that
moment where I went all in and for one year my
business has flourished and leads are coming in like crazy and the phone call, on my phone’s ringing. And it’s just absolutely has
grown my business tremendously and I’m embracing social
media and I’m all in and I’m tellin’ all the other
people when they call me’ “I’m already on social media and I’m not gonna really listen
to your spiel, basically.” So, I’m all behind social
media and going forward into the future and embracing
it, all the way through, all the way down the roads. – Cool. So, yeah, I just heard, I
know there was a speed bump in when we were doing it and
it was like, “Hey listen, we’re gonna pull back a little bit of the advertising budget. And then all of a sudden
it came back strong. Glad to hear that it’s
really worked out and um, I know that we have a
mission to take those even to another level now. – Yeah. – So I’m pretty excited to put this content
strategy together with you. To really expand upon it and see how we can even
take it to another level, as things are moving along
in digital marketing. – Cause’ if I wanna Ad too is, the ease of the transaction to, is, you simply ask for a credit card. It’s run through and it’s tracked, so it’s basically for
our expenses and stuff so we know what we’re spending
and then the nice thing about Co-Op. We do get Co-Op dollars,
so we turn that around and we throw that into Carastan, who actually gives us Co-Op
money for the AdWords, since it’s – we put Carastan in there to kinda help us with,
with uh, with the… With the money we get. The spiffs, or what do they call that? The um… – Yeah, Co- Op. – Co-Op money. That’s the word, Co-Op money. – What’s your philosophy on
advertising when things are slow versus when things are great? And there’s a lot of
conversations that we have. With customers, especially, right now the economy’s been amazing for a long period of time. But I still hear, you know,
from people in different parts of the country that have seasonality. They’re like, “Yeah, we really pull back in, you know, our slow time.” And I talk to other retailers and mainly, the more successful ones just
say, “That’s the opposite. We actually put more money into
our slow times than we do.” What’s your philosophy
on advertising in and out of good and bad times or
cycles in your business? – I did have that thought process back when it was radio, TV and I’m kinda just throwin’
stuff here and there. But when you embrace social
media, it’s like a package deal and so you take that journey
and you go all the way through. You don’t go through the
– you don’t slow it down and you don’t take off, you
know, push the gas pedal and take off the gas pedal. You just go. And uh, that’s kinda what I
was talkin’ about earlier is.. Is kinda just, I joined and
then was paying for the fee for the website and
some other little things and then all of a sudden, the opportunity that evolved this blogging
and you know, Facebook and all that and there’s more opportunity as a package deal and it’s – you just- I just took on that journey and I think you have to just have that, and go with it, non-stop. I don’t believe in dialing back when it comes to social media. And goin’ to Carpet One Conventions and hearing people talk about social media and if you’re not embracing this, then you’re gonna be left behind and you gotta just keep it going. You cannot back off and
get back on and back off. You just gotta keep it going and I’m seeing the great results from it. – So you’ve noticed, have you
noticed, since transitioning to a full strategy not backing
off, a more steady flow of traffic versus seasonality,
that maybe you had before, is that – ? – My traffic has been
constant since I’ve been on board for a year. It’s just, my traffic –
I even opened on Sundays. It’s been two years since
I’ve opened on Sundays now and got a little grief from
my sales people at first, but my Sundays are awesome. I get people that tell
me that, “I see your – see the website, your reviews
and I really wouldn’t be here if you weren’t open on Sundays.” My Saturday traffic. Seven days a week, people
are comin’ through my doors. Like, constantly. And that doesn’t even count
phone calls and leads. So, and in fact, I had a
meeting with my sales staff. Here’s the new customer, guys. Phone calls and leads. Do not take them likely. These are serious customers. – Yeah. – And, this has evolved from
our social media campaign that we jumped on board a year ago. And I really, they’re all
going, “You’re right.” You know, cause’ they’re
used to the cold-calls, back in the day, and it
was like ,”Hey, you know, do you have this and do you have that?” It’s not – these are more dialed in, cause’ they’ve already
looked at my website. They’ve researched,
they’ve read my reviews. And I got one funny story is
that, we had a review where, it was a negative situation
turned into a positive. And I love those because, hey, things really didn’t work out maybe, but Bockrath’s really,
they’re there for you and they did it right and they were honest and that got a couple jobs. I got a couple jobs off of that. So, you know, that’s, you know. – That –
– We’re real. We, you know. Things happen but they wanna know that you’re gonna stand behind it and that’s another big
thing that we get is, “No matter what, if you go to Bockrath’s, they take care of – they’ll take care of
you, like, you know this. Somethin’ happens, they’re
gonna take care of you, you know.” – Those are the things, the intangibles. – That’s not the – yeah. – Those are the things that
the box tours aren’t doing that they can never and you know what? The more authentic that you are… Listen, everyone knows,
everyone makes mistakes. I don’t care who it is. Apple
computer makes mistakes. – Thank you. Exactly, exactly, yeah.
– Everyone makes mistakes and how you handle it. And how you handle it
if you do that visibly and let people see that,
you’re just letting people in to know, this is a real company. It really takes care if people. They’re not giving the fake
reviews and all those things. – Exactly, correct.
– Of course. It turns into great things. – Yeah. – Well listen, I am so
excited that you’re here. – Awesome, me too.
– Um, I’m glad to hear that things are – have been
steady and doing really well for the last year and I’m
excited to go upstairs and get busy and do some
more stuff and see, uh, maybe we come back here
next year and have a – – Absolutely. – Have another conversation,
and see how you’re doin’. – Yes, yes, yes. – [John] Awesome. – All right.
– Thanks for comin’. – Right, John, thank you. – Yip. (inspirational music) I tried a local company for my website, and then that didnt go so well. Because they didn’t understand flooring. And you just could tell nothing was going forward with it, and I never felt comfortable until I hooked up with you guys. Then I called julie up, and I’m like I gotta go all in

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