As you read this, the holiday season is over, markets and conventions are around the corner and then shortly thereafter the long winter months. Now is when business slows enough to allow people to catch their breath and make their strategies for the year.
But don’t be lulled in by crackling fire and the leftover eggnog there is still plenty of work to do, especially if you want to maintain the upward motion business saw last year. No, it hasn’t been spectacular, but considering where things have been 2013 was a far better year than most have experienced in the last handful, especially based on the conversations I’ve had with people at every show, market, convention and meeting I’ve been to—and I’ve been to a lot over the course of the year.
Unlike previous years following the economic collapse, 2013 started off good and, whether residential or commercial, business continued to come through the doors as opposed to coming to a halt by the summer. Sure there are still rough spots ahead but, in general, business is getting better. Plus, let’s face it, even during the best of times, there were businesses shutting their doors and certain cities having their own issues.
The point is 2013 was one of the best years the industry has had in a while and based on all indications 2014 will be an even better year and things will continue to improve into the foreseeable future.
I, and others, have spoken about all the investments being made by manufacturers and they wouldn’t be doing this if they thought business was going to go back down or remain stagnant. Rather they see the writing on the wall—from new home construction and existing home sales to increasingly large corporate profits and an expanding healthcare market, to name a few.
Here’s the best part: During the recession, the industry did not stop innovating and investing in new technologies to create an amazing array of products. Today, both residential and commercial end users have more from which to choose than ever before—and when the correct product is selected and installed correctly it will not only last for many years, it will make that customer happy.
In today’s world of instant communication, there is nothing better than a happy customer.
Think about it, there are still the traditional, tried and true floor coverings but there is a growing abundance of products that either did not exist prior to the recession or have been so improved they are nothing like their predecessors. Just look at the visuals as well as the quality of laminate for the later, and like the automobile industry, think of all the hybrid combinations—cork and bamboo, cork and rubber, rubber and vinyl, hardwood and cork or rubber. Even with carpet, there are all the new soft fibers, which can be wonderful so long as end users are told how to properly maintain them. And on the commercial side, the advances being made in modular carpet, for example, continue to be spectacular.
Nowadays, there literally is something for everyone, but it’s your job to help them find the correct product.
So, with market season upon us, now, more than ever make sure your people are properly trained on the products you’re selling; clean up your stores, trucks and uniforms; get informed on the latest marketing and social media trends, and most of all, be prepared to keep the positive momentum going in 2014.