BGC Helps Garland Floor Orchestrate its Sales and Marketing

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Two violins, a viola, and a cello. Solo, each instrument produces a unique and lovely sound, but their true power is to create together the exquisite music of a string quartet--provided, of course, they play the same song and in the same key! Although his company, Garland Floor, is a nationally recognized leader in the floor manufacturing and coating industry, President Jon Wise knew something was out of tune. The company had been investing heavily in sales and marketing but with mixed results. "We had a hard time measuring the effectiveness of our program," noted Wise. "Everyone was working hard, but no one knew what was working and what wasn't working. We were just spending a lot of money." Without a guiding hand, the marketing department resembled a pick-up band more than a sophisticated group in command of the stage.

Over the past 45 years, The Garland Floor Company has covered more than 100 million square feet of floors in the commercial and industrial market, including those of small manufacturers and Fortune 500 companies. Originally the company manufactured and installed its own product, but over the past ten years Garland has transferred the installation process to a network of trained and certified contractors working closely with the Garland sales staff. Sales representatives inspect a building on-site before making recommendations to solve the unique flooring needs of a customer. As an industry leader, Garland Floor anticipates the needs of its present and future customers through a heavy emphasis on research and development. Currently the company offers more than 75 products, including resurfacings and coatings, decorative floorings, and the industry's only complete and multiple-patented line of ESD coatings for floors, walls, and ceilings to prevent damage from static electricity in buildings where electronic components or volatile chemicals are handled. Aerospace manufacturers, automobile plants, bakeries, breweries, candy makers, chemical plants, and correctional institutions are just some examples of organizations that have been floored by Garland since 1959. According to Nicole Koharik, marketing specialist, Garland "has a good name and a good network of contractors," but the company wasn't capitalizing enough on either one. Marketing efforts were getting leads on a hit-or-miss basis, and thus didn't contribute fully to the firm's success.

Acting on a referral, Jon Wise hired Andy Birol to evaluate the company's marketing efforts. Andy quickly pointed out a wider problem: a lack of connection between marketing and sales. Over the course of several months, Andy worked extensively with Wise, Koharik, and other members of the marketing and sales teams, helping to design and implement solutions in the following areas:

  • Prospecting. At their first meeting in his comfortable home office, Andy asked the team, "What does Garland Floor do?" Koharik thought it was an odd but simple question--until she and her colleagues tried to answer it. "Andy got us to really think about our Best and Highest Use right from the start," she recalls, "and we realized that we had been trying to be everything for everybody." By continuing the mass-market approach suggested by an agency the company no longer employed, Garland was spending a lot to send materials to unqualified prospects who showed little potential to become customers. Andy worked closely with the marketing staff to identify the company's best customers, study their behavior, and narrow in on a target audience of qualified prospects by focusing on branding and positioning over lead generation.
  • Building Relationships. Garland Floor had fallen into the habit of treating each sale as an isolated transaction. Despite the company's excellent products and services, Andy's research discovered that Garland was losing repeat sales simply by being "out of sight/out of mind" with past customers. "We weren't marketing our client list well enough," Jon Wise realized. Andy recommended changes in strategy and tactics to foster a relationship-based approach to marketing and sales. To strengthen ties with customers, Garland Floor has instituted a newsletter and regular sales follow-ups. "Now that our sales force knows what marketing is doing," noted Wise, "its activities are consistent with our overall strategy."
  • Coordinating Sales and Marketing. After making calls with the sales force, Andy reported very little integration between sales and marketing. "We would advertise into target markets," said Jon Wise, "and next time do a direct mail piece . . . but there was no reinforcement from sales." Similarly, Wise noted that when the sales force followed leads, there was little support from marketing. With Andy's help, the company is in the process of evaluating and reengineering its CRM software and systems to create stronger ties between corporate marketing and field sales. Andy also recommended developing an inside sales support organization to enhance the efforts of outside sales.

According to Jon Wise, working with Andy has given his company the challenge it needed. "Andy is very intense, and he's very good at marketing," said Wise. "He's not afraid to tell you what he sees and what you need to hear, whether you like it or not. And we appreciate that."

Upon implementing Andy's strategies, the company has enjoyed an increase in qualified leads. During the first month of the "iceberg" campaign Andy developed to identify long-term opportunities, Garland Floor qualified 1500 potential accounts for ongoing marketing efforts. The company also has signed new customers targeted with Andy's tactics. Furthermore, Andy's relationship with the company has grown. He remains a coach and advisor to Jon Wise; the two have developed clear corporate tactics and directions for achieving record sales in the upcoming months. Andy was a keynote speaker at the company's annual sales convention, where he led breakout sessions to instill the new marketing strategy among employees. When it came to renewing Andy, the company realized it couldn't afford not to do so. "Andy had accomplished so much with our people, and they in turn had done such a good job in moving forward on our strategy," said Jon Wise, "that we have been able to use his resources efficiently and to a lesser extent, saving us money and time."

Perhaps the most important result is the new sense of focus and excitement you find at Garland Floor. "Andy did a great job of involving and engaging our people in the solution," said Wise. "He really brought them along so that they felt like they were going to own the project and the assignment. Instead of delivering a three-inch report and leaving, Andy developed a sense of motivation and urgency amongst my people." In turn, Andy has praise for Wise and his employees. "Garland Floor is a terrific, highly successful, and well run company," he commented. "I am honored to be there to fine tune what they were already doing to make it better."

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