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Wheeler adds value

7/23/2012

Originally posted in Floor Covering Weekly, July 2-16, 2012

By Mallory Cruise
[Orlando] There is a reason why J.J. Haines and its Wheeler division are the industry’s leading distributor. For this group, it’s all about creating programs that boost their Loyalty Member’s bottom line.

Haines Connect, a revamped website launching in September 2012 for its Loyalty Club members, was one of the big pushes at this year’s Wheeler Loyalty Club Summit meeting held here June 25. Acquired in 2007 by J.J. Haines, the Wheeler Loyalty Club has grown to 95 members.

Another key message at the meeting was increasing the value of the programs. The focus, in fact, was on members — website initiatives, such as Haines Connect, strengthening the G.E. financial program as well as educational programs.

As part of Haines’ Customer Efficiency Project, which was launched in 2011, the company created a new website, logo and company image. The Customer Efficiency Project is a multi-year effort, according to Haines, and is an internet enterprise portal to make it efficient and easy to do business with Haines and Wheeler.

“With Haines Connect, we want the customer to use it a lot to run their business better,” according to Bruce Zwicker, president and CEO. “Today, some log on but don’t use it enough, some don’t use it at all. We encourage our customers to fully use all the elements of the Loyalty Club program.”

With the new Haines Connect, members can review inventory, place orders, make their payments online and receive e-invoices. Additionally, one of the most notable features of Haines Connect is Loyalty Club members can view transaction details, as well as file mill claims, attach photos and check the status of the claims.

The Mystery Shopper program is also new to Haines Loyalty Club and Wheeler Loyalty Club members this year, and is designed to help customers grow their business. Store owners can hire a shopper to act like a consumer and shop their store or a competitor’s store, fill out a report and rate areas such as customer service, store appearance, sales skills and product knowledge.

Rosana Chaidez, vice president of sales, marketing and procurement, said the distributor made some changes from last year’s show in response to customer requests. The results are more education and technical training with 40-minute long product seminars. “Our passion is to help customers leave energized, to leave with ideas and the ‘know how.’ The Loyalty Club members want to know which products are successful in various markets and we want to help them diversify their business.”

Mike Hill, owner of US Design Source, Orlando, Fla. said his relationship with the company is what he appreciates most when he attends the Wheeler Summit meeting. “The show’s been wonderful. The integrity of the group is the strongest in the business.”

One of the most exciting moments of the Wheeler Loyalty Club Summit meeting was the naming of the 2011 Retailer of the Year. This year’s recipient, Michael Domingue of Michael’s Floor Depot of Clearwater, Fla., increased sales with Wheeler by 66 percent from 2010-2011. Domingue, who is a proud member of the Loyalty Club, displays 90 percent of Wheeler’s portfolio, maintains a user-friendly showroom, participates in the four yearly sales events and utilizes the Loyalty Club member website.

“We were very surprised to win Retailer of the Year. We have been with Wheeler for several years but our sales didn’t increase as much until we became a member of the Loyalty Club. The helpfulness of Wheeler and its customer service helps us propel our business,” said Domingue.

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Scott Roy, Bruce Zwicker, Michael Domingue, Rosana Chaidez, Fred Reitz and John Coakley