or years the term value has been bandied about throughout the flooring industry, but when it comes to excellent installation where is the value?
Until recently the real value associated with installation of flooring products has only received lip-service from retailers trying to close a sale by consoling customers who’ve previously felt the sting of poorly installed products.
“Will it wrinkle, bubble . . . what happens if it starts to come up?” These are only some of the questions asked by concerned customers at the point of sale. Generally, the salesperson will answer, “Oh, our installers are the best and we provide full warranty.” However, being the best is not always reflected in an installer’s pay. Moreover, why would a salesperson say their installers are the best then go on to undo that thought by mentioning full warranty in the same sentence?
(Despite the general lack of respect and disdain held by most installers for salespeople it should be remembered that selling, when conducted correctly, is an art unto itself.)
Despite the general lack of respect and disdain held by most installers for salespeople it should be remembered that selling, when conducted correctly, is an art unto itself.
n a 1990s study of the flooring industry it was noted that customers found no value in the flooring they had purchased until it was installed in a professional manner, that the pad, carpet, hardwood or ceramic simply meant nothing to the customer until it looked as good on their floor as it did in the brochures they had chosen it from. This seemingly innocuous fact caused alert retailers to pay attention to the installation process and those who supplied that service.
The real value found in professional installation is not only found in doing a superlative installation, it is also found in other areas such as professionalism. For instance, an installer named Gary (last name and place of business withheld to spare fullest humiliation) was slated to install flooring in a Catholic institution where nuns were housed. Across his shirt was a contraceptive (with a happy face) bearing the reminder, “Wrap that rascal!” Needless to say his message was lost (or should have been) on such an audience. As a professional one cannot lose sight of the fact that they are representing a collective of sorts, other flooring professionals and an industry—not to mention the store who sent them.
Increasingly customers are understanding that professional installation will protect and enhance the value of their (in many cases) lavish and inordinately expensive purchases. Too, retailers are understanding that a real pro is needed to protect their profits by averting replacement resulting from putting a less talented installer on the job.
nce again, however, where is the value? When you submit a price list, do you just give prices for various tasks? Do you show why you charge what you do? Your price list should read like a menu, is everything ala carte` or does the retailer get something more for their dollar? For instance, does your price list indicate that all seams will be sealed, all carpet power-stretched, and all door frames will receive a 5-piece tackless installation? How much floor preparation is built into your price? Are you offering value, or just a price list? What makes you better than the next guy? How many installation clinics do you attend a year? Have you shown that on your price list? Are you selling yourself, or are you only offering pricing?
The questions just posed are mentioned to cause installers to think about how they are marketing themselves. On many boards across the net installers and hacks alike are willing to duke it out regarding their feelings on installation but seem reticent when asked to show where they differentiate in marketing themselves, where their real value quotient lays. If there truly is value in what you offer it is then incumbent on you to show where that value lays and how you differ from the me-too crowd and the also-rans.
If there truly is value in what you offer it is then incumbent on you to show where that value lays and how you differ from the me-too crowd and the also-rans.
was once approached by a wily old installer from the south. He was a grizzled and work-hardened chap who asked me a question about custom installation at a flooring show. At that time I was an exceptional installer but had difficulty telling people because I felt as though I was bragging. I started to answer his question with reserve, holding back on information because I didn’t want to be thought of as bragging. The old installer grabbed my wrist with a grip rivaling that of the village blacksmith. “Son,” he said in a voice commanding attention, not to mention the crushing grip he had on my wrist, “if you’ve done, done it, it ain’t braggin’.” I can still see his steely stare to this day. I went on to answer the installer’s question without regard for the feeling I might be bragging. He thanked me for my candid reply and instruction.
Have you, “Done, done it?” Have you told others? Have you shown and shared your value?
After taking his words to heart I decided to tell (then show) potential customers how I differed from my competitors. Today I make a year’s wages within a month – 150K after expenses. Is this braggin’? No, I’ve “done, done it,” and continue to do it. In following articles over the coming months I will show you exactly how you can do it too, guaranteed.
In the mean time I will work on self-esteem issues that cause me to feel I’m bragging when sharing information.
This article was originally published on August 10, 2006. If you would like to discuss this article, or any of the others you have found here at TheFloorPro.com, please join us in the Articles Discussion Forum. If you are not yet a member of The Floor Pro Community, we invite you to register now, it’s free and gives you the opportunity to enjoy all the features of the site.
Lea MacDonald has over 30 years experience as a floor covering installer. Lea also worked for Orcon Corporation as their Manager of Applications Development. Currently Lea is a columnist and his writings continue to be published in several papers, and have been published in the series of books Chicken Soup for the Soul and God Allows U-Turns. The Floor Pro Community is proud to have him as a contributor. Lea still installs and continues to consult on difficult installations and products.