Tuft Talk - May 2013

Tuft Talk From May 2013

By Frank Hurd

 

The economy is getting better. Housing is starting a slow recovery, and that has been good news for flooring, in general, and for carpet, specifically. As is reported in this month’s Annual Report on carpet, the category took a slightly larger share of the flooring market in 2012. Here, two flooring retailers talk about their current carpet sales, including who is choosing carpet, why they are making this choice and what types of carpet they are choosing.

Cathy Buchanan is the operations manager of Independent Carpet One Floor & Home in Westland, Michigan. According to Buchanan, the majority of Independent’s carpet customers are in their 50s, and they are choosing to upgrade their floorcovering because their current flooring is out of style, not because it has worn out or uglied out. These buyers are looking to upgrade to a quality product, and many are attracted to the feel of the new ultra-soft carpets on the market.

Buchanan’s customers don’t come into her store seeking a specific manufacturer’s product. What they are looking for is a product that fits their needs in terms of aesthetics, quality, ease of cleaning and stain resistance. When a shopper visits Independent, Buchanan has found that it is important for her staff to determine the customer’s needs, as opposed to their wants, and to work with them to get the best product based on these needs; this process results in the highest degree of customer satisfaction.

The average purchase at Independent is larger than it was previously, which indicates that homeowners are doing more than just replacing flooring in one room. With these larger purchases, the ability to offer financing is key to closing sales for the customers at Independent. She specifically highlighted mill-financing programs as great assets to closing sales.

In an effort to maintain customer satisfaction after the purchase, Independent sends a notice to the buyer on the one year anniversary of their purchase, reminding them know it is time to have their carpet cleaned in order to maintain their warranty. With this “birthday card,” they include a coupon for a discount with a cleaning partner that their store recommends. 

At Johnston Paint and Decorating in Columbia, Missouri, which has been in business for 88 years, the focus is on the company’s design and decorating business. The company employs seven degreed designers to assist their customers.

Johnston Paint and Decorating’s core customer base tends to be older; the store frequently sees customers in their 70s. However, it also serves a large number of generation Y customers, who are concerned about the environmental profile of the products they are purchasing. 

Many of Johnston Paint and Decorating’s carpet buyers have purchased spec homes that came outfitted with inexpensive polyester frieze carpet; after three to seven years, when this carpet reaches a point of lifelessness, the customers comes in search of new carpet. But the company sees style clients as well, those shopping to replace old product that is wearing well but has no personality. Nylon accounts for the bulk of Johnston Paint and Decorating’s carpet sales, and the company reports that ultra-soft carpet is resonating with the consumer. Carpet orders in Columbia, like those in Westland, are usually for multiple rooms.

Melissa Murphy, who serves as design center manager of Johnston Paint and Decorating, believes that success comes when the sales associate listens to the shopper before going into the “selling mode,” especially because creating a good customer experience and relationship is so important in light of all the comparison shopping that goes on today, both online and in competing retail locations. 

The challenge for retailers is to make sure that they identify the customer’s needs and marry them to the appropriate product. Regarding ease of cleaning, durability and stain resistance, customers want to have their cake and eat it too. As Murphy says, “It is just like finding that perfect pair of boots at Nordstrom...the ideal thing would be that they were made of rubber, so there wasn’t any maintenance, right? But they look and feel so much better if they are Italian leather!” 

In order to prevent a claims nightmare in coming years, Murphy believes that the mills need to shoulder the responsibility to make sure the RSAs have the pros and cons of style versus durability and stain resistance embedded in their heads.

Now that demand for carpet is on the rise, RSAs need to understand the customer’s needs in order to help them find a product that will bring them long-term satisfaction and have them coming back to the retailer for their future carpet needs.

Copyright 2013 Floor Focus 




Other Archived Articles

Atllanta Home Sales, Prices Dip in July   Full Article
Atlanta, GA, Aug. 18, 2014 -- Home sales and prices in the Atlanta Metro area fell slightly from June, the Atlanta Board of Realtors saiid Monday.

Multilayer Association Gets Three New Members   Full Article
Bielefeld, Germany, Aug. 18, 2014 -- The Multilayer Modular Flooring Association said it has three new members.

Bamboo Hardwoods Signs Midwest Distributor   Full Article
Seattle, WA, Aug. 18, 2014 -- Bamboo Hardwoods said it has entered into a distribution agreement with Bishop Distributing.

Builder Confidence at Seven-Month High   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 18, 2014 -- Homebuilder confidence rose in August to the highest level in seven months, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

New York Manufacturing Improves at Slower Pace   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 15, 2014 -- The Empire State manufacturing survey fell back to 14.7 in August after hitting a four-year high of 25.6 in July.

Consumer Sentiment Falls in Early August   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 15, 2014 -- The preliminary August reading on the University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters consumer-sentiment index fell to 79.2 from a final July result of 81.8.

Investors Wondering About Firm's Stake in Armstrong   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 15, 2014 -- Flooring industry analyst Stifel Nicolaus says talk is heating among its clients up that Armstrong World Industries could be broken into separate entities.

Office Environments Acquires Flooring Firm   Full Article
Charlotte, NC, Aug. 15, 2014 -- Office Environments, a Charlotte based commercial furniture dealer, said it has acquired Modular Designs, a flooring firm also based in Charlotte.

FCICA Continuing Diamond Member Club   Full Article
West Bloomfield, MI, Aug. 15, 2014 -- FCICA, the Flooring Contractors Association, said it will continue its Diamond Club member program for the 2014-2015 membership year.

Housing Affordability Declines in Second Quarter   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 15, 2014 -- Nationwide housing affordability dipped in the second quarter as several markets saw a firming of home prices, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Georgia Unemployment Grows but Dalton Layoffs Fall   Full Article
Atlanta, GA, Aug. 14, 2014 -- Unemployment in Georgia in July rose to the highest rate since last October, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

Initial Jobless Claims Rise Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 14, 2014 -- Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose 21,000 to 311,000 in the week the ended Aug. 9, according to the Labor Department.

Higher Downpayments Hitting First-Time Home Buyers   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 14, 2014 -- Growing requirements for downpayments are shutting many first time buyers out of the housing market, Bloomberg News reports.

Tarkett Contest Features Commercial Flooring   Full Article
Chagrin Falls, OH, Aug. 14, 2014 -- Tarkett has launched a WeLikeItNatural Creative Contest featuring its commercial vinyl flooring.

Retail Sales Flat in July   Full Article
Retail Sales were flat in July as car demand slowed and consumers remained cautious in their spending. This is the weakest performance in six months.

Mortgage Application Volume Down Last Week   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 13, 2014 -- Mortgage application volume fell last week as both purchase and refinancing applications declined, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Valinge Awarded Another U.S. Patent   Full Article
Viken, Sweden, Aug. 13, 2014 -- Valinge said it has been awarded a U.S. patents regarding mechanical locking of LVT/resilient floorboards.

Another Investment Firm Discloses Armstrong Position   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 13, 2014 -- Another investment firm has disclosed a large position in the shares of Armstrong World Industries.

Home Price Increases Continue To Moderate   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 12, 2014 -- Home-price growth continued to moderate in many metropolitan areas in the second quarter, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Domotex Turkey 2015 Set for May   Full Article
Hannover, Germany, Aug. 12, 2014 -- The dates for Domotex Turkey 2015 are May 25-28 at the Turkish carpet trading capital, Gaziantep.