Why Floor & Decor continues to be one of America’s favorite DIY stops

Tile. Wood. Stone. Accessories. When it comes to flooring, whatever today’s professional contractors and homeowners are looking for, Floor & Decor delivers. For the past 20-plus years, the leading specialty hard surface flooring retailer has been the go-to place. Maybe that’s why the retailer has been recognized as one of Fortune’s 100 fastest growing companies.

The key to Floor & Decor model rests in its extensive selection of in-stock products, which enable its customers to get what they need, when they want it. Sourcing directly from myriad manufacturers and quarries around the world, the Floor & Decor team is able to keep its “everyday low price” strategy well below its competitors.

We sat down with Director, Construction Design & Entitlements Julie Starzynski to see where the Floor & Decor brand is heading.

Give us a snapshot of the Floor and Decor brand?
Floor & Decor is your one-stop shopping for any tile, wood or stone products to products to elevate your brand new build or remodel your home. We help you start a project and make sure you have everything in order to finish the project. We pride ourselves with being able to supply all the materials for your new build or remodel at our store.

What type of consumers are you targeting?
We target contractors, do it yourselfers and homeowners.

How does the overall design of your stores cater to what today’s consumers are looking for?
Our store design is very simple for a customer to navigate. We have large displays showing multiple products. Our store is broken up into areas for the type of finish you’re looking for so a customer can see the multiple options they can choose from. We have large quantities for in-stock products for the customers to purchase and leave with the job quantity they require. There also is a design gallery to help inspire our customers with ideas and consult with an in-store designer.

What kind of adjustments have you made over the past year?
When the pandemic hit, we offered curbside pickup, which was touchless. I actually used this to pick up tile for a project I was working on. We also offered virtual and in-store design appointments. Our website also was revamped to help customers look online and purchase products for pick up.

What’s the best piece of advice you can offer on how to deal with what’s happening now?
I think all retailers have to be flexible and really think outside the box to make sure their customers feel safe while shopping and also have non-traditional ways to shop your stores. Being creative right now is the only way retailers will be able to navigate the pandemic.

Is there a location that shows how your stores interact with the community and customers?
All of our stores show how we interact with the community and customers. In the Atlanta area, Kirkwood is one of our newer locations that shows the current prototype. I love walking into that store and seeing where we are right now. And even though our I-85 store (Atlanta, right off Interstate 85) is not the current prototype, it shows how far Floor & Decor has come. This was the first store in our chain.

Walk us through how and why your locations are designed the way they are?
We always design for the the customer in mind. We look for locations that are easily accessible for our customers and in locations they might frequently visit. In regards to our layouts, we make sure the layout is designed for an easy in and out experience for the customer. Our layouts also lend to an ease of finding products. We always strive for a great customer experience.

Take us through your construction and design strategy.
Our construction and design strategy is always fast to market. We look at what needs to be done for our stores and figure out the best path for us to open a store in a quick and cost-effective fashion. It’s a team effort with a lot of thinking outside the box, and figuring out what the best path is for our stores and company.

What’s the biggest issue today related to the construction side of the business?
As most people know in the business, obtaining steel and concrete has been a struggle across the board. The other struggle is getting any type of hand sanitizer dispensers. Building in a pandemic has been challenging in general because of the availability of product and the safety plan in place to have a safe working environment.

Talk about sustainability. What are you doing?
We are constantly looking at ways to improve upon sustainability. We have started a recycling program across all our stores. We are always looking to incorporate whatever we can with our products and construction, as well as sell to our customers. In construction, we also use energy saving devices for multiple items in our store, i.e., electric forklifts versus internal combustion.

What type of opportunities do you see moving ahead?
With our company being fairly young, the opportunities are numerous. We easily could venture into numerous arenas that we are not currently in. For example international, purchase of a smaller company to incorporate into Floor & Decor, etc.

What trends are you seeing/expecting?
The immediate future is definitely more and more customers renovating rooms for an office or home gym. The pandemic and amount of time spent at home has really opened customers eyes into what needs renovating at their homes. Knowing more time is spent at home, customers want their homes to be more their style and functional for their needs.

What’s the secret to creating a “must visit” location in today’s competitive landscape?
Customer experience hands down. You must have the right customer service, the right atmosphere, and the right products to make sure your customer wants to experience and shop your store. Without a strong and good customer experience, the drive to shop your store is lost.

What’s today’s consumer looking for?
Value. Customers want a great product for the right price. It is especially true today with the current climate that all of us are experiencing. Customers are spending large amounts of time at home and some still are not fully back to work. They want a product that looks great, but also is cost effective in the climate of this pandemic.

What’s the biggest item on your to-do list right now?
Work wise, opening stores. Personal wise, revamping my new house to fit my needs. In all seriousness, my biggest item on my to-do list is to make sure we’re making the best decisions for products that are cost effective and time-wise the best decision for the construction of our stores.

With the current climate during the pandemic, many companies did not survive so the market is hungry to get the business. With that being said, I need to relook at my products/services and make sure I’m choosing the best for my company in costs and timing.

Tell us what makes your brand so unique?
Our brand is unique in that we offer a large selection of products that can be bought on the spot. We sell everything you need to complete a project. We also are unique in that we offer free design consultations if you’re unsure how or what you want to do for your space.

One-on-One with…
Julie Starzynski, Director, Construction Design & Entitlements at Floor & Decor

Describe a typical day.
Crazy busy. I’m a morning person so I’m typically at the gym or working out early, and then at my home office desk between 7 a.m.-7:30 a.m. Because of the pandemic, my work day has shifted from water cooler conversations to a lot of scheduled meetings. Most days, I’m in meetings from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. After that, it is catching up on emails. Add travel days in and it just extends the day that much more.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing a finished store. I love being able to see the project at concept level for a Floor & Decor and then seeing the doors open and customers shopping. It’s especially rewarding when you take a building that is less than desirable and turn it into a bright and shiny new Floor & Decor.

What was the best advice you ever received?
This is tough. I have received a lot of great advice, but I think one of the biggest pieces of advice I have received is to never stop learning. I’m always trying to read books, articles, etc., to make sure I’m still learning about my field. I ask questions just to learn and to keep my skills at top notch.

What’s the best thing a client ever said to you?
I absolutely love when a customer or client tells me how amazing our stores are and how they didn’t know how great our stores were. I love when I see and hear the excitement in their voice after they have just been in our store or shopped at our store. It shows me that our hard work of creating a great customer experience is working.

How do you like to spend your down time?
I love traveling and playing sports. I have been to 45 of the 50 states and lived/been overseas as well. For sports, you can see me pretty much doing anything, but most likely running a half marathon (and soon to be marathon), softball, volleyball or hiking. I love being outside as much as possible whether at a beach, a lake, the mountains, etc. I also love spending time with my rescue Pitbull/boxer, Roxy. And as of late, I am loving renovating/updating my newly purchased home.

Story by Michael J. Pallerino, editor of Commercial Construction & Renovation magazine. Over the past 30-plus years, he has won numerous awards, including the “Jesse H. Neal Editorial Achievement Award,” recognized as the Pulitzer Prize for business-to-business magazines. He can be reached at mikep@ccr-mag.com.

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