In Memoriam: Capitol Carpet & Tile’s Loretta Giannazzo
Last month, the flooring industry lost an important member of the retail community. While her name may not be widely known to the thousands of floor dealers across the country, she nevertheless played a valuable role to one of those dealers and the countless customers she touched.
Loretta Giannazzo joined Capitol Carpet & Tile, which has multiple locations in Florida, more than 20 years ago, serving as a goodwill ambassador. Prior to joining the company, Giannazzo was a certified alcohol counselor and social worker for many years. She was a very observant woman and had the gift of helping people overcome their addictions and change their lives. Those who knew her said she had an incredible ability to interact with people from all walks of life in a very personal way and often helped them with their personal problems.
It was these qualities that brought her to Capitol Carpet & Tile – qualities that profoundly influenced its success. Giannazzo’s primary role at the company was to call all of the company’s customers once their projects were completed to discuss their experiences. “Since we opened – 1986 – we called every customer after every sale, and the salespeople would do it themselves,” recalls Lou Morano, president/owner of Capitol Carpet and Giannazzo’s son. “But then we realized that we had to have someone do it who hadn’t had any contact with the customer at all, so that the customer would feel free to speak to them transparently. I thought my mom would be the perfect person, not just because she’s the owner’s mom – which I think means a lot to a consumer – but also because she was very empathetic. She was a consultant for many, many years helping people with their problems.”
Giannazzo would bring that part of herself to work every day. “Sometimes there were people she called with their own personal problems,” Morano said. “The client would say, ‘Oh, it’s been so hard.’ And my mother would look into that. She would actually guide them and advise them by phone. That happened quite often. It was a very personal touch, not just a phone call.”
According to Morano, the referral business grew exponentially as the store tackled Giannazzo and its unique customer service. “After we started doing that for a while, it really struck a chord with our customers,” he explains. “They were very pleasantly surprised that we were so closely involved, which was of great value to them. And then we had customers who came into the store because they had been referred by someone who had received such a call. Even if it was a disgruntled customer, they would come in and say, ‘I never would have come back to your store if the owner’s mother hadn’t called. It really meant a lot, so we’re going to give you another chance.’”
After that, the company decided it was time to strengthen Giannazzo’s presence within the company. So the decision was made to feature her in the company’s TV commercials. “She pointed to the camera and said, ‘We care about you. I’ll call you to make sure you’re happy.’ And when we started that, she became a local celebrity.”
For Capitol Carpet & Tile, Giannazzo’s presence not only provided a touch of customer service that is so rare in retail today, but it also helped grow the business. “When she started calling, we had exponentially more referrals,” he explained. “When she did the commercials and advertised what we were doing, we had exponentially more referrals again. She was a bright spot in the office.”
Giannazzo died on August 31. However, she left a lasting impression on the company and a strong legacy in her community that will not soon be forgotten.