This issue of Floor Trendsputs the emphasis on quality, professional installation and its overall importance to satisfying the end user.
While I can see the retail owner, manager and salesperson rolling his eyes and wondering why a magazine devoted to dealers and contractors is concentrating an issue around the topic of installation, the fact is, this is a subject that too often is ignored in the general trades and, to me, a key reason why there is such a disconnect between those who sell the products and those who install them.
I get it the end user—be it Mr. and Mrs. homeowner, the general contractor or facility manager—is seeking the most value, i.e., lowest price, they can get. And since the recession, this has become even more evident considering how many people lost their jobs only to have them replaced by ones that pay considerably less than they did pre-recession.
Nonetheless, when it comes to flooring, installation has been and continues to be the most important piece of the entire selling process. This is true for a number of reasons, but the main two are, the installer is the last person on the job—whether a home or commercial setting—so the impression this person or team makes to the end user is what they remember the most. But even more important, an untrained or improperly trained mechanic can ruin all the time, effort and hard work put in by everyone in the selling chain by not installing the product correctly the first time.
Other than moisture, which is something that will always be around, since I began covering the industry nearly 21 years ago, just about everyone has said installation is the No. 1 problem. There are numerous groups and organizations designed to train and educate installers from the novice to the expert on every type of flooring material and technique. So, it makes me wonder why then is installation still thought of as flooring’s No. 1 problem?
The excuse, “If I train them they will go someplace else or start their own business,” just doesn’t cut it anymore—especially since the recession which not only forced many flooring establishments to shutter their doors, it’s made it very difficult for someone with no experience operating a retail store to go out and start one up on their own.
Point is, it’s time for the quality retailer and contractor to step up and start promoting what is one of their most valuable assets: Professional installers. One of the best ways is to explain to your customers why you don’t offer “free” installations. Start by telling them you value the people who work for you and make sure they are properly trained and paid, which is why you can guarantee their work. Meanwhile those who are offering so-called free installation not only don’t care who they hire they are lying to their customers because nothing, especially labor, is “free.”
You can go on to explain these companies are obviously hiding the price of their “free” installation in other things, such as delivery charges, product acclimation surcharges, furniture moving, etc.
Just ask to see the estimate they were given by one of these establishments and a good retailer will be able to show where and how the installation fees are hidden. Then show them how you do not hide any of your expenses and how in the end even if you cost a little bit more, you are guaranteeing them peace of mind for what is, essentially, a life-changing project.