Howard Olansky
The responses to my April column, "Live by Price, Die by Price; Live by Fashion, Thrive by Fashion," made it clear that there is a strong desire for the industry to emphasize fashion and de-emphasize price. Each segment of the industry can and must assume responsibilities to put the emphasis on fashion, to take it off of price. Last month, I discussed ways in which manufacturers can help free us from the price shackles. Now let's look at how retailers and contractors can help us achieve that goal.

Yours for the taking is an outstanding opportunity for retailers and contractors to increase sales and profits by getting away from price selling. It's important to recognize that, as an industry, the desire of the majority is to operate successful, profitable businesses that don't stand on the precarious perch of price selling. Some customers are only interested in price for price's sake. However, for most residential and commercial customers, price sits far down the list of reasons why they buy. They really want fashion and quality products installed by skilled installers at prices within their budgets. Value for the money is the key.

So what's the solution, what can retailers and contractors do to enhance the position of their stores and the industry and get out of price selling? To begin with, retailers and contractors must make more of an effort to know, understand and communicate the features and benefits of their products and installation abilities to their customers. They are indeed mind blowing. This is an era when floor coverings deliver quality and style like never before. So why do price worshipers stay with price? Simple question. The answer: they are so blinded to what they really have to offer that they only know price.

The price clingers also have poorly trained and supervised salespeople and installers. Their showrooms don't showcase the products. The salespeople don't have a clue about what they are selling. So all they can sell the customers is price. And do you know what? They lose more sales than they close.

Retailers and contractors have a wealth of help, information and training available from manufacturers, distributors and associations. These must be ongoing training programs held on a regular basis. A high priority must be put on professional, well-trained people in every position.

It's sinful that some are so wound up with price that they stand silently by while customers walk out by either not buying or buying far below what they could have and should have been sold.

Let's dump live by price on the doorstep; life is so sweet on fashion's side of the street. Live by Price, Die by Price; Live by Fashion, Thrive by Fashion. The choice is yours.