No matter what the market conditions you can make your own luck. It is a matter of “opportunity meeting preparedness.” That means knowing what steps to take to create opportunities. That also means research, networking and some creativity. It is knowing how to use your expertise to create a package that is compatible with the client’s long term needs. This is particularly true when you are selling commercial flooring products. Sometimes it all begins with a simple phone call and a question or two.
Consider this turn of events: Your phone rings, and at the other end of the line is Brad Tolley, a property management/ client whom you’ve pursued without much success for over a year. Brad explains, “I need some help. I’ve got a chance to land a new tenant, The Corcoran Group, for my Toliver Building property.” You know the Toliver Building is a Class A property. Brad goes on to say, “They’ll take my prime space with a 10-year lease, but they are really pushing me for ‘extras’ and the last area I have to wow them with is the flooring. Can you put together some products and ideas for me to do a presentation on Friday? I’ll be meeting with their senior vice president and her staff, and she will make the final decision on the lease early next week. Can you help?”
No doubt your first thought is, “Great opportunity, but I only have 48 hours to put this together?” You swallow hard and say, “Brad, I’d love to help.” Then you ask some questions: “How quickly will Corcoran move into the space? Are there any restrictions on products? Have you established an overall budget for flooring? If you like what I put together as a package, and you get Corcoran on a lease, will I get the flooring contract for this project?” Brad replies, “You give me three solid packages, price it right, and we’ll do business if I get the deal. The other thing you need to know is they need to move in within 45 days. There is no particular product restriction, but they will have to pay extra over building standard. Once they make a selection, you have to deliver on time, okay?”
You agree and tell him, “The first thing I’d like to do is visit the building this afternoon. Once I see the space and pick up a set of blueprints, I’ll get a feel for any challenges that we’ll face and I can pick the right product mix. Fair enough?” Brad quickly agrees and arranges for his property manager to meet you later in the day.
The Toliver Building is an older building, but in a prime downtown location. Great traditional architecture, an excellent address, and the type of building you don’t see too often. Terrific selling points for Brad. Also the interior flooring must complement and be consistent with the design scheme of the building. Before going to meet the property manager, you use Google to look up the Corcoran Group. You visit their website and interior and exterior photos of their other locations. You learn that Corcoran specializes in financial, legal, and portfolio management for upscale clients. You notice that the offices have a very traditional, conservative look about them, probably one reason they are attracted to Brad’s building. A profile of their management includes Susan Neuworth, the senior vice president Brad mentioned.
Now that you know something about the client you walk in with the property manager, spot checking the blueprints to make sure they’re accurate. You make notes. First off, the space in question opens into a large elevator lobby, which expands into the entrance of what will be Corcoran’s space. The common area corridors are about 7’ wide, and Brad has just installed new lighting. The Corcoran space will consist of a main lobby and reception area, several executive offices, a number of account management offices, two large conference rooms, employee lounge and kitchen, and a large open area for the financial analysts.
Back at your office, you study the proposed finish schedule and thoroughly review the blueprints showing locations for carpet, resilient, and existing ceramic flooring. To help Brad land this tenant you create three “themes” each using different blends of products, color, and texture choices. Each theme reflects a price point. Theme C-the least expensive option-is included in the base lease cost and is equivalent to the building standard. Theme B is an upgrade and requires an upfront payment by the tenant. Theme A requires a substantial upfront payment. Naturally, the best deal for you and Brad is Theme A.
You are concerned by the 45-day window that precedes the move. Is it enough time to get the products specified? Of greatest concern is carpet and carpet tile since this represents the bulk of the job. You call Lynda, the account rep for Alteon Mills and apprise her of the situation. “Here is what I need to know, Lynda: What products do you have on quick-ship that can get to me within 30 days? Also, I plan to order between 1,800 and 2,500 yards total. What can you do for me on a project price?” Of course, Lynda is pleased to take the call, has a number of items on quick-ship, and quickly registers the Corcoran job for project pricing.
You then enlist the aid of Jennifer, a freelance interior designer who has a great eye for color and design and will put together the themes on design boards for you. She looks at the layout, reviews Corcoran’s website, and then suggests an upscale look for the elevator lobby and common corridor areas, featuring a commercial broadloom cut pile for border colors and a multi-level loop with a subtle pattern for the field carpet. This look will set the tone for the space. After a review of the Alteon Mills quick-ship options, she selects what’s needed and fills in with wood, laminate, and resilient products.
For Theme A, the main lobby for Corcoran will feature a glue-down hardwood in cherry or oak and wool area rugs, 42 oz. commercial broadloom cut pile with cushion for executive offices and conference rooms, 24 oz. carpet tile loop pattern with attached cushion for account management and financial analyst areas, and linoleum flooring with border insets for the employee lounge and kitchen.
For Theme B, the glue down hardwood will be replaced with wood or stone pattern commercial laminate, woven nylon area rugs instead of wool, 20 oz. carpet tile with attached cushion, and rubber flooring.
For Theme C, a 42 oz. commercial cut pile with borders will be used in the main lobby, a 36 oz. commercial cut pile for executive offices and conference rooms, as well as 26 oz. commercial broadloom carpet with attached cushion, and vinyl sheet goods.
You call Brad and tell him you have created the three themes. You suggest that you will be on hand for the presentation “in case there are questions.” Brad agrees and does a quick review of your design boards. He is excited by the concepts presented and believes the price points are realistic. Although it took you only a few keystrokes on Google, he is impressed that you took the time to check out Corcoran. You go on to tell him that you know a little something about Susan Neuworth, the VP making the decision: her job is to assure that the ‘Corcoran look’ is consistent throughout the country. “The available space with Theme A should fit the bill,” you comment.
At the Friday meeting with Corcoran, Brad does an excellent job of presenting his overall concept and your theme packages. You answer several questions about delivery and installation schedules, and assure Corcoran that you can meet the move-in timeline. And Susan Neuworth says, “I like the flooring packages, and for the first time in a long while, someone understands us. I want to go with Theme A if I can afford it…Brad, you’d better sharpen your pencil.”
By Wednesday of the following week, Susan has signed the deal with Brad, although for not quite as much as he would have hoped. On Thursday, Brad asks for your final numbers and hopes you can do “a little better.” You do, and so does Lynda and Alteon Mills. You get the job, delivered on time, and everyone gets paid. See how easy that was? That’s how it’s supposed to be.