For the flooring retailer, there are several ways to boost business, and many are diversifying product offerings in order to sell the entire project. With consumer sentiment around home remodels remaining strong, things are looking up, and many retailers are seeking opportunities in kitchen and bath to better meet the design and one-stop-shop preferences of consumers.

“Consumers want to see their dreams come to fruition—not part of the dream, the entire dream,” said Keith Spano, president of Flooring America/Flooring Canada. “They’re looking for one professional to hold their hand through the process, make it as painless as possible, and in the end, exceed their expectations.”

For the last two years, Flooring America has stressed the importance of selling the entire project in Flooring America/Flooring Canada stores, and as a result, roughly 25% of the buying group’s members have essentially left the commodity market and entered a more custom, personalized experience through their involvement in kitchen and bath. 

“Selling the entire project differentiates you from the competition, decreases shopping and increases revenue,” Spano said.

Flooring America retailer Kathy Smith of Focalpoint Flooring in Otsego, Minn., has been doing the cabinet aspect of the kitchen and bath business for about 10 years and countertops for more than 25 years. Combined, the two categories account for roughly 10% of Focalpoint’s business. According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), cabinets make up 30% of the cost of a kitchen remodel versus flooring, which is a mere 7%. Therefore, retailers like Smith have the ability to capture a larger share of the consumer’s project budget by selling the entire project.

Though kitchen and bath haven’t always been in a flooring retailer’s wheelhouse, Mike Cherico, vice president of Floors and More, says that when backed by a dedicated, educated and committed team, flooring retailers can thrive in the kitchen and bath markets.

“You’ve got to stay with it and understand it,” said Cherico. “There’s different software that you need to use, and it takes the designer idea and the commitment. Instead of an installer you’re going to need more of a general contractor. We’ve had some great programs that have worked really well for our members.”

Through a partnership with KraftMaid, one of the top three kitchen and bath manufactures in the country, members of the Floors and More buying group are broadening their scope and increasing their customer base. Floors and More supports retailers’ effort with a $10,000 credit set to kick start the kitchen and bath business any way they see fit.

“If you’re in floor covering, you have a narrow audience,” Cherico said. “But if you start getting into kitchen and bath, you’ve now just taken your loyal customers who have loved you for years; they trust you, they have loyalty, they know you. Why send them somewhere else when they’re doing a complete project? They’re doing their kitchen, they’re going to want to see you again. And if you have the product, it certainly creates a much higher average ticket.”

Ashley Barnes, Shaw Floors’ tile and stone marketing manager says tile and stone are excellent products for kitchens and bathrooms and can help boost sales for retailers who understand the category and effectively communicate to consumers. “Retailers should be intentional about introducing tile and stone into the conversation. For example, a consumer looking for kitchen flooring may need backsplash to complete their renovation. Discussing how backsplash, countertop and trim products can coordinate with their chosen flooring may help consumers achieve their desired, on-trend look.”

For retailers considering the addition of kitchen and bath to their repertoire and showroom, contrary to popular belief, a large portion of showroom space isn’t needed to house these categories. Those we spoke to recommend having about 800 to 1,000 square feet of showroom space to comfortably showcase vignettes. 

At Focalpoint Flooring, Smith and her team effectively showcase several kitchen and bath options using close to 600 square feet. With supplier-supplied vignettes, Focalpoint displays its complimentary cabinets and countertop products alongside its flooring products.

Shaw Floors’ new displays demonstrate coordination between paint, tile options and popular water-resistant or waterproof flooring selections, for further simplification. “The consumer will love being able to get everything needed for their renovation in one place and appreciate the retailer for streamlining their search; the retailer will love having a happy consumer who tells their friends and neighbors about their fantastic, one-stop tile source,” said Barnes.

For many, the space for these products and vignettes is already there, and Cherico says, it’s just a matter of uncovering it. He urges flooring retailers to do an analysis of the percent of their showroom space that is actually producing sales.  A commonality Cherico has noticed among the thousands of stores he’s visited throughout his career is what he calls dead space—space that is being used to showcase products that simply aren’t selling.

“As they do the analysis, they realize that they could have as much as 200,000 square feet of complete dead space,” he said. “Well, if that’s the case, then why not put another product category there that could help generate business?”