Merchandising combines the creativity of design with the technicalities of trend prediction, the analysis of customer response and the gratification of serving others. It is this fusion of responsibilities that energizes Neil Daley, director of merchandising at Floor Coverings International, a Norcross, Ga.-based flooring design, sales, and installation company with franchises across the United States and Canada.
“Finding the best solution for a consumer has always been a challenge and a thrill,” he says. “I truly love serving people, and helping clients to get the best possible product is a way of fulfilling that purpose.”
Since joining Floor Coverings International five years ago, Neil and his team have doubled both the company’s annual number of customers served and volume of sales. It is not the first time Neil has led a high-performing team. After concluding his military service in 1993, he answered a help-wanted ad for a salesperson at a carpet company and quickly rose through the ranks to become the company’s national sales manager and sales trainer.
Since then, he has worked in various roles including management and corporate operations – continuously propelled by the desire to serve his customers better. As director of merchandising at Floor Coverings International, Neil is responsible for all product selection, vendor relations, product training and development, sample design and the company’s overall merchandising strategy to ensure clients have access to the right products at the right price.
His approach is driven by data, competition review and first-hand client observations. At 8 a.m. each morning, he meets with his team to discuss daily sales statistics and key deliverables before diving into his own tasks. About once a week, this includes going into the field to observe how customers react when presented with different offerings.
A fulsome understanding of client wants and needs are key to Neil’s success in the field, and he credits his career mentors for helping him to hone this skill.
“I learned early on that I shouldn’t be afraid to show my clients the solution I think is best for them,” he explains. “It might not be what they were looking for at first, but by asking lots of questions and understanding what their needs are on a deeper level, we can really help people to love their new floors.
“It’s a luxury we have in the client’s home to seek this deeper level of understanding. Not only do we get to hear about their home, but we also get to see how their lifestyle has impacted their floors.”
Beyond the sale
Neil takes pride in ensuring customers are satisfied with their flooring, but his acts of service extend far beyond the client experience to reach organizations in need. His team supports Ronald McDonald House and Habitat for Humanity by donating proceeds of sales, sponsorship dollars and materials to locations across the country.
This corporate responsibility is core to both Neil’s personal beliefs and that of his employer company. Thanks to company growth, which sees many new franchisees added each year, his team is able to provide a greater impact in more areas of the country.
“Being in the position to give back is a blessing,” he says. “We try to empower our franchisees to do these types of activities, and we have many fantastic vendors that donate materials for different projects.”
A space to strategize
Neil will be one of the thousands of industry leaders attending the DOMOTEX USA Show Feb. 28 – March 2, 2019 in Atlanta to build relationships with new vendors and network with colleagues across the industry.
“I am really looking forward to the fashion-forward perspectives from international vendors. I hope to gain exposure to new vendors, products, technologies and design trends that are ahead of the U.S. market.”
Neil adds that attending DOMOTEX USA is a great way to force him out of his day-to-day mindset to focus on planning and strategy for the next phase of growth.
“Getting out of the office to spend time on strategy is invaluable. The opportunity to hear from my colleagues across the country about what is working and what is not, and considering how these factors impact our customers, is one of the greatest outcomes of any event.”
Join Neil at DOMOTEX USA – America’s Home for Flooring Feb. 28 – March 2, 2019! #whyidomotex #domotexusa2019