School’s back in session and with it comes the Fall Floor Covering Selling Season. Is your operation ready to do business? Consider the following areas to determine your readiness: curb appeal; store displays and traffic flow; salesperson training/education; and product pricing.

Curb appeal. Make sure your store is inviting to the consumer. Your window displays should be changed or rotated regularly to bring the consumer into your store. Work with your manufacturer/distributor partners to feature their products. They may have created display vignettes, complete with accessories, just for this purpose. Check into the potential availability of free or discounted display floor programs.

Outside, keep your landscaping neat and clean. Change out your seasonal flowers for additional color. Check the paint on the building, and touch up as necessary. The consumer wants to see style, flair and fashion in your store. The first impression you make begins before they cross the threshold of your store. Make sure they get into your store so you have an opportunity to make the sale.

Store displays and traffic flow. Floor covering competes for the consumer’s discretionary purchase dollars, so your displays should be appealing and well lighted. Your store should be clean and stocked with samples and literature. Make sure to rotate your displays throughout the store, and promote your seasonal and add-on sale products.

Salesperson training/education. Training of your salespeople should be an ongoing effort, not a one-time session. Tap into the resources available through your manufacturer and distributor partners for important web-based, videotaped, in-print, and live selling programs. Many national associations -- such as the Carpet Cushion Council, Carpet & Rug Institute, Ceramic Tile Distributors of America, Ceramic Tile Education Foundation, National Wood Flooring Association, North American Laminate Flooring Association, and World Floor Covering Association -- also offer sales training programs and product knowledge literature. In addition, the WFCA offers three certification programs, through which you can earn the Certified Flooring Executive, Certified Flooring Professional and Certified Flooring Salesperson designations, to set yourself apart from the competition.

Product pricing. Make sure you are current on your retail pricing. Price increases are being announced at a fast pace and must be passed through to the consumer. Shortages in lumber and increased oil prices have pushed pricing in domestic wood products higher, along with those of resilient, carpet and installation products.

Make this 2003 Fall Selling Season your most successful and rewarding yet for your business.