Now, I’m not naïve. I know there’s tension (to put it mildly) between these two groups. At shows and training events, I’ve heard retailers calling installers a necessary evil, and I’ve heard installers calling retailers a bunch of know-nothings when it comes to the technical aspects of flooring. Okay. Fine. No one is going to see eye to eye all the time.
But now it’s gone from venting at trade shows and workrooms to something much more sinister. I haven’t taken a formal poll so I don’t know how widespread this practice is, but I was told that there are stores out there with signs in big bold letters that say: “INSTALLERS NOT ALLOWED ON SHOWROOM FLOOR.”
Let’s stop and think about the message that is sending. First, it tells the salespeople that management has no problem treating installers like second-class citizens, and they should feel no fear of reprisal in treating them the same way. Second, it tells installers that they’re not truly a part of the team. Finally – and this is arguably the worst transgression of all – it tells any consumer that walks into the store, “I don’t trust my installers as far as I can throw them. Do you really want them to come into your house and install your floor? If so, lock up your jewelry and hide the silver.”
This needs to end, immediately. If you don’t like the installers you’ve hired – if they’re unprofessional, surly or unresponsive to instructions and training – then you should probably find better ones. Installers who simply operate out of the back of a beat-up pickup truck with oily, greasy tools and no idea what they’re doing are a dime a dozen.
But if you want a top-notch team, you need to acknowledge and train the hardworking, skilled technicians who are quite literally breaking down their bodies for you so the customer will not only be satisfied, but so satisfied she can barely wait to tell all of her friends. If you can’t bother to interact with your installers and give them approval and validation, then you are missing a key component of your business. However, if you choose to make every member of your team feel respected and important, you are going to be busy, your staff is going to be happy, and the repeat and referral business will speak for itself.
Michael Chmielecki has been writing about the floor covering industry for BNP Media since 2002. As editor of FCI, he is always seeking ways to better connect and inform the installation community.