Howard Olansky
The good news is that the industry is talking more and more about getting out of the selling-price mindset and moving more toward increasing the sale of quality products by focusing on fashion. The bad news is that some continue to miss the mark. They fail to ensure that no customers buy floors below the quality that they can afford. Sure, they might sell quality, but are they selling the best quality for their customers' needs and pocketbooks?

"Undersellingitis," inexcusable at any time, is even more of a sin in today's world with the home kingpin. People focus more on their homes than ever, on updating their looks, or replacing/upgrading their floors. Existing home and new home sales continue to skyrocket. The commercial market is strong and growing. These three markets alone are bursting with opportunity for our industry to sell quality floors.

There is no reason for any retailer or contractor to suffer from undersellingitis. What protects retailers/contactors from undersellingitis? The answer is easy: professional salespeople, professional owners/managers, professional installers, and professional office and administrative personnel.

On a recent visit to retailers, I shopped a department store of a national chain. In the carpet department there were two waterfalls, side by side. One was marked $6.95 a square yard, the other $8.95 a square yard. I asked the "salesperson" about the difference between the two. The answer: "Two dollars a yard." A professional he wasn't. He wasn't even smart enough to get someone in the act who knew the products. You can bet your bippy that this store has a case of undersellingitis.

Then there was a "discount" building products type of store. There was a display with cartons of tile, clearly marked 12-by-12 inch size, 12 tiles to the carton. I asked how many square feet in the carton. The answer: "I don't know." A sure bet that this store suffers from undersellingitis. I ran into similar situations in some floor covering specialty stores.

I'm sure regular readers of my column recognize where I'm headed. Where else but to the fact that the floor covering specialty store has the strongest weapons of all to making profitable sales, sales that match quality to customer pocketbooks. It's found in a single word: professionalism. Stores staffed with professionals and ongoing educational programs ensure sales that match customers' quality and pocketbooks.

We have an unlimited number of excellent floor coverings that truly meet every decorating and functional requirement. Too, we have a wide range of quality products that meet every customer budget. The goal: make sure that the store is staffed by professionals who dedicate themselves to making sure customers buy the very best quality floors they can afford.

That's the cure for undersellingitis.

Howard welcomes your comments. He can be reached via e-mail at, or you can write him in care of NFT.