Why doesn't carpet pay anything??

Discussion in 'Carpet Sales and Installations' started by Mark Brown, Sep 15, 2017.

  1. Mark Brown

    Mark Brown On The Surface Flooring I Support TFP

    So, a little background here. I live in the great white north, better known as Mexico North or Canada. I have moved all over this country chasing booms and running from busts. One thing that never seems to change is the under valued installation of Broad Loom carpets. This i cannot make sense of. In my (clearly wrong) opinion successful, professional installation of carpet is one of the harder installations we deal with and yet on a straight yardage comparison it pays the least. At present i am squeezing $6.00 a yard for installs, this price makes me unhappy and let me explain why to you.

    Carpet is not getting easier! With the complete lack of quality control that seems to exist (sorry if i sound salty i really am trying to tone this back) carpet installation has become something of a wunderkind skill, Pattern skew, elongation and shading variations have become something of a norm, people expectations are massive and for the price they pay i cannot blame them. On a good day, in a typical build i can punch down about 70-80 yards of rug on my own, some days less some days more, that is if i completely throw the rules out the window. Own a power stretcher ??? Throw that out! Seam sealer?? Takes too long, ill get out of my year warranty no problem. Stretch pad?? Who stretches pad, you're crazy son! Anyway this is just a small example of what i am getting at.

    Now for some comparison, I was born and raised as a resi carpet guy (no i don't like to openly admit it) I was taught to do it properly and with care and skill. After all are we working for ourselves or our clients? The problem i have is that with the steady decline in the quality and the ever increasing costs of installation materials and supplies I am left with a choice and it is a choice i do not appreciate. Install carpet properly and sleep like a baby, or install carpet on the "industry curve" which is to say tuck bunt and run. Option 2 provides for a better living and rarely do you get caught seeing as a one year labor warranty gives very little time for installation issues to arise but it sure feels sleazy!! Hard surface install pays on average of 14 dollars a yard with install and prep and i can do roughly the same yardage in a day, that is double and some, Hardwood at $2.50 and around 350-400 feet a day, well you do the math.....

    Again sorry if i sound salty and i realize that everything isn't just about money but it is so unbalanced and i have been trying to figure it out for so long.
  2. kylenelson

    kylenelson You'll find me on the floor I Support TFP Senior Member

    I think of this often, why is carpet physically one of the most straining and the least paying? I would gladly give up stretching in carpet if it wouldn't hurt my income. My opinion is that carpet is easier and less daunting to start with as a flooring installer and more people are willing to do it.
  3. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    It's a disposable product. I was looking back for some info and ran across a post in 2009-11 and incognito was talking about the same issue.

    It beats the hell out of your body, and spits you out in the end.

    Here in florida it's @ 3.00$ USD, a yard. I think that's furniture included. Currently at a retailer one carpet crew is a Cuban and a skinny white guy as an installer team.

    What happened at the CFI Installation Crisis meeting or any other non productive meeting, the market sets the price, usually its supply and demand and I myself demand more or I don't install carpet.
  4. Darren Ramey

    Darren Ramey Charter Member

    It's only easier, because it's cheap to get started in. Literally a couple hundred in tools on craigslist and you are in business.

    Think about it, you can watch a YouTube video and DIY your own tile/laminate/wood/vinyl job, but who DIY's carpet? No one. It's half art. It takes more time to become proficient in than any of the other trades. If you cut a piece of tile or wood short, you just grab another and keep on trucking. With carpet you don't have that option.

    I still make the vast majority of my living strictly installing carpet. I will never do it at whatever the "going rate" is again. It's insulting. I understand that most customers only buy it these days because it is the cheaper option, but they can live with the substandard labor that goes along with it. I am done doing premium work for people that don't appreciate it, and by appreciate, I mean monetarily.
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  5. kwfloors

    kwfloors Fuzz on the brain Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    Everybody tries to install carpet once and then never again. You need to set your own prices and stick by that. Only do the jobs that pay. Diversify in knowing how to do multiple products so your always busy. Find quality stores that do better carpet as that pays better.
  6. Mark Brown

    Mark Brown On The Surface Flooring I Support TFP

    I do do everything. ... problem is I do carpet too well. I know this will sound like a puffed up chest kinda statement... but what I mean to say is I do carpet properly and get begged to do it all the time, being a one shop kinda fellow it's gonna happen. My comments aren't so much designed to get out of doing carpet, I just want to get a feel on everyone else thiking it probably doesn't pay well compared to everything else.

    In fact, I did just set my own price list for carpet and since then..... no more carpet jobs so maybe this is working :)
  7. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    How much extra would a customer pay to have a quality installation? For whole house 150-200 yds. 300-500$, How much is the retailer making off that? Will they try to get you more money, no, they will keep it.
  8. SteveG

    SteveG Pro Member

    A lot of our installers only want to do hard surface. Who wouldn't want to click together LVT vs stretch in carpet? I only know one guy who just does carpet and that's all he wants to do. Everyone else will do carpet as part of a larger job, or just because the shop is selling the jobs, collecting, warehousing, even cutting materials and a day of work a $6-7/yd is better than sitting at home. It's all about what the installers are willing to take I guess?

    I'm not saying you're not worth every penny - I just figure the perspective of the store would be a good contribution.

    $3/yd I'd start wondering about quality with something like that. Kinda like Home Depot is doing "free install, free pad, free take up, free everything" on $8/yd carpet. We do some warehousing for them and their installers are......err... yeah.
  9. Mark Brown

    Mark Brown On The Surface Flooring I Support TFP

    Home Depot is installing at a loss trying to drive the rest of us out of the market and it is working. This is the issue. Almost everyone I talk to in industry on the manufacturing/distribution side of things are crying for more qualified, reliable and responsible installations and most of what I see is the opposite.
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  10. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    True, they make profit from everything else. Even fools dumping money into the business for their stock.
  11. SteveG

    SteveG Pro Member

    Absolutely - we are constantly scrambling for installers - but our list is extremely short. I can't afford to let some yahoo ruin my good name. I should type up the story of the worst install ever some time. It's worth a laugh, though at the time it was not funny.
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  12. Chris 45

    Chris 45 Director of P.R. on some deserted island. I Support TFP

    When they are charging 9 bucks a yard for pad, they aren't losing a single penny.

    In the end I don't think it is so much that carpet doesn't pay squat as much as it is people crying about a skilled labor shortage and yet they just plain ol refuse to pay more. That's what really pisses me off.
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  13. Incognito

    Incognito No more Mr. Nice Guy! I Support TFP Senior Member

    When I stretch carpet for a day or two it beats the hell out of me. I'm huffing and puffing and grunting and sweating all day long. When I install sheet vinyl, rubber, VCT and such........to be honest I can install near as quick as anyone I know and I really don't even breathe heavy, let alone break a sweat.

    But we sure do go home dirty. Have to raise a shitstorm of dust and debris to prep for resilient/glue down wood and such as opposed to rug.

    We can't "sweep it under the rug" so to speak so it's a lot of sanding, scraping, grinding and concrete prep.
    All day eating dust. There's also the RISK of failing to layout and prep correctly with hard surface that isn't completely comparable to carpet install. Many a shitty carpet install can be fairly easily rectified by opening up a few door seams, restretching and doctoring up some of the sloppy workmanship----

    WHEREAS with ceramic tile, wood, lino, vinyl, LVT ------GLUE DOWN stuff you're tearing up shitty installs and throwing them in the dumpster.

    SO, it makes sense for retail store owners to cut their own throats, the installers throats and the customers throats by finding the cheapest scab installer on God's Green Earth.

    Don't ever forget that it's 90% on the customer to demand quality over price. THEY demand the low price. Good luck with that. I only have a glimmer of pity for someone who hires cheap, dirty labor when they are somehow tricked into it by sleazy salesman and charged top dollar or at least a fair price---------not FREE INSTALLATION, that's for sure. You want FREE? HA!
  14. Nate Hall

    Nate Hall Types With toes Senior Member Published

    I am currently training at DC 16 in CA. The union seems to take the carpet installation training seriously. NFIC (Natural Fiber Installation Certification) shows how to PROPERLY install woven goods and I charge more for that. There are a lot of extras in carpet that most guys don't charge for. (Dumb)
    For example, pick up and delivery, the truck needs to earn its keep.
    Tack strip does not show up magically in the truck, so I charge to install tack strip. I call it floor prep and I get $75.00/hr for that.
    Take up is another area where guys are losing money. I charge for take up of carpet but some clients want to re-use the old cushion so I charge extra to take up that and inspect floor and tackless strips. Then I charge again for loading it in my truck and hauling it along with a modest fee for proper disposal. (total $5.00/yd)
    One can get money out of carpet installation if one is a savvy businessman.
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  15. kwfloors

    kwfloors Fuzz on the brain Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    I keep it simple. Pullup and replace...$10 yard.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. Chris 45

    Chris 45 Director of P.R. on some deserted island. I Support TFP

    I'd dust off my irons for that price
  17. kylenelson

    kylenelson You'll find me on the floor I Support TFP Senior Member

    We're about $1.00 per sq ft with tear out and install.
  18. Don Monfils

    Don Monfils PRO CARPET Charter Member

    IMG_8967.PNG "One can get money out of carpet installation if one is a savvy businessman."

    Not so easy to do if you sub from a retailer that not willing to budge.
    They can sell $40-$50 carpet all day long. Cushion ... $8-$9.00 , binding $2.50/ ft. Metal transition strips. $4.99/ ln.ft. No problem !
    But they can't seem to sell a top of the line , quality carpet installation to save there lives .
    Then the installer pays for tack strip, pad staples, duct tape ( pad seams),tacker staples , seam tape,
    Pad adhesive, carpet adhesive, aluminum drives/ masonary bits.
    ( to name a few items)
    That's why I say "carpet sucks"

    I'm heading out now to install 489 sq.ft. of core-tec by myself. Install the flooring and move 2 appliances only.
    The job pays $900 and the only supplies
    That will come out of my pocket is a jig saw blade that cost me $1.35 and a couple of utility blades.
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  19. Mark Brown

    Mark Brown On The Surface Flooring I Support TFP

    This is exactly my point!!

    Last year I trundled off to install some Godfrey Hurst wool, retail 138.00 a yard not even making this up. Project was 128 yards... you do the math. installed and on the floor I think I made 1200 dollars....took me three days and 3 rides on a ferry to get to an island!

    Retailers can rape and pillage all day long on their carpet margins, which in some cases I have seen well in excess of 300% and the poor fitter gets paid the same sad pittance as usual. Not that I mind a retailer making whatever margin they can but come on now.
  20. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    Truly independent carpet installers that don't get paid anything fail to realize it's because they don't charge anything. They let their customer tell them what they will get paid. And if you are this carpet installer that can't get paid anything and you think your customer is the end user, then you still don't get it.

    I've been hearing about this so-called dilemma since I stumbled upon my first flooring forum in the 90s. The story never seems to change. I fell into that trap for a short period of my 35 year career. But it didn't take me long to get fed up with someone telling me what to put on my invoices.

    Business classes helped me. I didn't just attend classes, I got into them. I still made plenty of mistakes as a businessman, but I never let someone tell me what to charge again.
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