One of the challenges we all face as commercial flooring contractors is the extra material we generate from our projects. Extra flooring materials mean there’s more inventory to track, and more inventory means more space is taken up in our warehouses. As I have traveled around the country visiting our network members, in every case I see warehouses that have loads of extra material left over from projects that have been long completed. We fondly refer to this extra inventory as overstock.
In the normal course of business, as we bid jobs, we wind up with leftover materials. How does this happen? There is always a certain amount of waste on a project first off due to room sizes and job layout, and the fact that materials must be cut and sized to fit the project. Additionally, flooring contractors order extra materials due to box sizes in hard surface, such as LVT and VCT, and roll sizes, which are found in carpet and sheet vinyl goods. When it comes to broadloom, pattern repeats must be figured into the order, whereas additional material is required so that the pattern is not compromised during installation. Lastly, many products are made to order, therefore we are required to purchase 5% overage (or more) as part of the manufacturer’s requirements.
Over time, these products can wind up taking a lot of warehouse space that would normally be used for new products for new projects. In talking to our members, many try to find a home for overstock by trying to offer it for other jobs or simply donating it to charity (which is a great option, too). There has never been a simple vehicle that can aid the contractor in selling these types of goods. If one of the company’s salespeople were looking for some material for a client, it would mean that he or she would have to go into the warehouse, grab a sample of the material and take it to the client.
As a network, Fuse took on the challenge of helping to move this inventory. In 2016 we expanded our Experius Distribution program by creating and adding an overstock program centered on this additional inventory. Experius, an internal website, was created more than eight years ago so that network members could purchase Fuse private label and manufacturer branded adhesives below market price. Since then, Experius has flourished and we have added additional products such as moisture meters, hard woods, ESD tile and more. With the Experius platform already in place and successful, it was only natural to expand the program to include a steady stream of overstock flooring materials. Today, our network has access to overstock inventory— from our entire network—through a dedicated site on Experius, which is called Experius Overstock. This is a win-win for our member network and ultimately, our end use customers. Since our members had already paid for the product, any additional sales of the material would result in 100% profit, even at our overstock reduced sales price.
More than nine months later after the official launch of our Experius Overstock Program, we continue to see a steady stream of sales as well as growing interest among our members. As a result, we created an external site, which can be accessed, viewed and purchased by the public. Because the savings on overstock flooring materials are so significant, it seemed to be a “no brainer” to offer it to anyone looking for an excellent value in flooring. In fact, Fuse network member GP Flooring Solutions uses the overstock program to bring in top-quality carpet tile in large enough quantities in order to sell direct to commercial customers. GP Flooring Solutions keeps this material in inventory so that they can offer customers options that are immediately available, and at a discounted price. To help customers make product decisions, they provide each of their salespeople with 1 x 1-inch carpet tile samples along with photo galleries, which can be used at project site meetings. According to GP Flooring Solutions, design, quantity, price and performance are the main drivers for when they make an overstock purchase. Abby Reinhard, president of GP Flooring Solutions, told us “One of the main drivers for using overstock materials is the opportunity for improved margins. By purchasing the materials at a discount, we can pass along excellent savings to our customers while still making a bigger margin on the sale. We typically do not bring in the materials for a specific project. We only buy lots that are over 100 square yards.”
Dave Vernon, president of Resource 4 Floors added, “Experius Overstock could not be easier and a more effective way to move inventory. Why everyone in the network wouldn’t use it is beyond me.” As it pertains to warehouse space and workflow, Dave Vernon added, “Leveraging the program has allowed us to clean up the warehouse, determine what can and can’t be sold, donate product, discard unwanted items, free up much needed warehouse space, and establish procedures for what will stay and be sold on overstock in the future. The online experience is so streamlined and easy to use that it also keeps salespeople and project managers out of the warehouse because they can just look at the website. At our company the sales dollars generated are given directly to installation support personnel, with 20% going to charity. Soon we will be adding pre-owned products as well. Experius Overstock is a tool that differentiates our business and helps me creatively compensate my team.”
Our long-term goal for Experius Overstock is to help our members lower the amount of warehouse inventory and make money to boot. We’ve created an easy-to-use program with an efficient process – for our members and for our customers. Our public website is Experius.biz and products can be purchased by simply using a credit card.