The Bristol Hospital uses colorful floor patterns to liven up waiting areas.

Retailers consistently use the floor to highlight varying segments of their stores, and so should you!
When you work in the flooring industry, you’re somewhat jaded in believing that the floor, or fifth wall, is the most important surface in the room. And I’m here to agree! The floor has become the most important surface, especially when designing interiors. So why not carry that idea into your showroom when you design the floor there?

The headline of my column last month was Using Merchandising Imagination to Supercharge Your Hardwood Floor Sales. In this article, I’ll expand on some of those concepts and apply them to the rest of the floor covering products you sell.

Today’s customers come into a floor covering store looking for ideas. You can try to sell them what you think they need but, until you’ve solved the floor covering dilemma they have, you aren’t going to sell them anything. So, start off on the right foot by showing them all varieties of dazzling floors!

Years ago, the healthcare industry began using borders in their floors as a way-finding device to help visitors at healthcare facilities find their way around the mammoth buildings. Today, the concept has evolved to include very sophisticated graphic designs on the floor in healthcare environments, food stores and other retail outlets, schools, and many residential settings. As a result, the floor has literally exploded with design options.

Take a discriminating look at the photos accompanying this story. Does your store look like these photos? Or are you just showing vast installations of boring floor covering products?

Even a simple insert can make a beautiful statement in a room or vignette setting.
The photo of the hospital hallway and waiting area demonstrates the way-finding technique in a subtle and unique way. The circular pattern actually starts in the hallway and comes full circle (pun intended) as you walk into the waiting area. The colors are bright and cheerful, helping to take the anxiousness that sometimes accompanies a hospital visit off the minds of visitors.

If your showroom is large and divided by walls, couldn’t you use this idea to create a way-finding technique to lead your customers to a receptionist, customer service area or whatever is important for them to find? You’ll be exhibiting your products in a unique and exciting way while actually helping clients find important areas of your store. If colors in a certain product are discontinued, they can be replaced without overhauling the whole floor.

Take another page out of the retail merchandising handbook and take full advantage of stairs. Most buildings tend to forget that staircases are ideal for an interesting installation.
The retailing industry often uses way-finding in subtle ways that the customer might never notice. In the photo of the bookstore, the technique is used to show the importance of the checkout area. Isn’t it interesting that they chose green for this area? Also notice how each department is highlighted by a different-colored floor to make it easy for the customer to find the particular section she seeks. It also makes it easy for staff to direct customers to specific areas.

Stairs are an area where most designers install carpet or tile and just forget about it. In the photo of the staircase, notice how a soccer motif was used to draw attention to the stairs. The design starts at the base and continues up the stairs. Is there any doubt in your mind that soccer equipment can be found on the second floor?

Do you have a second floor in your showroom? What’s up there and how do you entice customers to go and look? Do you rely on signage? I suggest you try a spiffy floor design to attract the customer’s attention.

The simple addition of a small accent can change the look of the floor. Try leaving the dots changeable (not permanently installed) for a true working display. Allow customers the fun of trying different inserts to see how they can change the look of the floor.
Not all areas have to be so bold and obvious. Subtle border patterns may be all that’s needed. But don’t just stick to the usual stock patterns. Exhibit your ability to create the unexpected. Look at the border in the small home-office photo. Small stripes of an accent color were installed as a border. They may come pre-cut, or they may be a creative use of shorts. Either way, the look is interesting and distinctive. It may be just the ticket for the customer that prefers a subtle approach to decorating.

The ceramic industry offers the option of creating special, custom looks without the labor intensity that other products can demand. That’s because the product is made in a variety of shapes and sizes. Designers only had to put together the jigsaw puzzle to create something personal for each customer.

Don’t forget simple techniques like the dot insert. In reality, the dot is grouted in with the rest of the floor. Why not turn customers loose on your showroom floor with a basket of other dots to choose from situated nearby. Let the customer get an idea of what a bold color may look like instead of the usual black ones. They’ll have the fun of creating their own personal floor pattern and get to see what it will look like before installation. And it’s much more personal than a computer drawing.

The magic of selling is in the tools that you use. Create a showroom to help you sell up to the unique and different. Now is the time to design your showroom floors so that they WOW the customer into buying new floor covering. Be bold and daring. What you present in your floors may not be what they ultimately purchase, but you have to seize their attention before they will buy!