As the calendar turns into January 2010 following a disappointing 2009, the flooring industry is looking for a prosperous New Year. The economy will be challenging and business will ebb and flow similar to the icepack thawing in the spring.

It is time to prepare for success. Make sure your operation is ready for the pent-up demand for flooring with a tidy showroom and up-to-date samples. A children’s area would allow for time to learn about your customer’s flooring needs and give your sales team/designer time to present the various options available. Don’t be lazy and let your customer fall in love with a product no longer available and should have been removed from the display floor.

Your installers should be trained to complete your residential and commercial jobs using the latest methods and timesaving techniques. Discuss your training needs with your manufacturer/distributor representative as they can assist in enhancing your installation crew’s skills. Happy, satisfied customers will bring you referrals during times when store traffic has slowed or stopped.

Be proactive in your business building efforts. Join the local chamber of commerce, service clubs and networking groups.

Some segments are down, while others are up. Geographically, business is different in all parts of the country. Big or small, dealers are doing well in small towns or big cities, while others are having a difficult time.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), in October 2009 existing home sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.10 million, with a monthly increase of 10.1%. For 2009, sales were up 23.5% over October 2008’s 4.94 million-units.

October 2009 sales were up in all four regions: Northeast by 11.6 percent; the Midwest by 14.4 percent; the South by 12.7 percent; and the West, 1.6 percent. Home prices are still dropping, but at a slower pace, according to NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. He added that more foreclosures would hit the market in the next six to 12 months.

New housing starts have not hit bottom yet, according to Yun. A good signal for the flooring industry that things are about to turn around is that existing home sales, comprising 90 percent of the market, have bottomed and that pricing has almost hit bottom, he added. 

Beginning on page 19 of this month’s issue is our 2010 Industry Outlook story, featuring the thoughts and ideas from 12 participating companies. I am sure you will find their responses enlightening and insightful.

Our Carpet and Area Rug Market Study starts on page 32. Fifty-four percent of survey respondents expect residential carpet sales to increase in 2010, while just 12 percent expect a decrease. In the commercial sector, 35 percent project an increase in carpet sales in 2010, compared to 23 percent expecting a drop in commercial carpet sales.

Success and prosperity do not come easy. Work hard each day to meet your goals and dreams in 2010.