The flooring industry has come a long way since I started in the business in the late 1970s. Back then, there were more than 300 domestic carpet mills, and soft flooring accounted for most flooring sales both residentially and commercially. Fast forward to 2021, and hard surface now plays a very dominant role in sales in both business segments.
In the commercial world, carpet tile now accounts for the largest piece of the pie when it comes to soft surface. Approximately 70 percent of all carpet installations are carpet tile. Broadloom continues to decline year after year. With that said, there is now a strong argument for the manufacturers to move all pricing to square foot instead of square yard. After all, most carpet tile is 2’x2’ yet we still quote it by the square yard. We continue to see invoices from manufacturers with LVT, VCT and other tile products quoted in square feet, while carpet tile and broadloom are priced by the square yard. Sheet vinyl is also priced by the square yard and for sake of continuity should be changed to square foot.
If you look at the residential side of the business, you will note that it has transitioned to square foot very successfully, and there is no reason why commercial wouldn’t be the same.
Earlier in my career when I was vice president of sales and marketing for Designweave Commercial Carpet, we attempted to change to square foot pricing sometime in the early 1990s. We were met with tremendous resistance from our customers and eventually reverted to square yard pricing. In the 1990s, however, commercial carpet was king, and because of its dominant market share, most projects were quoted by the square yard.
This is not the case today. Projects now have complicated flooring schemes that rely on multiple product types such as ceramic tile, LVT, rubber tile etc. that are all sold by the square foot. When commercial jobs are budgeted, the general contractor figures everything by the square foot as well.
We believe the commercial marketplace is now ready for universal square foot pricing. Another added benefit of square foot pricing is it better positions carpet as a value alternative to many hard surface products. Twenty-seven dollars per yard for carpet sounds a lot more expensive than $3 per square foot. The end user, designer and architect would better appreciate how carpet fits into their budgets than ever before.
Lastly, as a contractor we can now receive one invoice from the manufacturer for multiple products that are ordered for the same job. Because of square yard and square foot pricing many suppliers must generate two separate invoices.
What are the advantages then of making the move to square foot?
- We are in sync with our customers (general contractors, designers, end users) who budget and build jobs by the square foot making our takeoffs consistent with theirs and easier to understand.
- It better positions soft surface in many cases as a value alternative to a hard surface product.
- It simplifies invoicing from our suppliers. Times have changed, products have changed and it’s time to change the way we price in the commercial world.