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

Starnet Closing in on Carpet Recycling Goal   Full Article
Darien, CT, April 4, 2014 -- Starnet said its commercial carpet reclamation program said that as of the end of March its members had recycled more than 44.6 million pounds of carpet.

Greenbuild Set for Los Angeles in 2016   Full Article
Washington, DC, April 4, 2014 -- The Greenbuild trade show will move from San Diego to Los Angeles in 2016.

Economy Adds 192,000 Jobs in March   Full Article
Washington, DC, April 4, 2014 -- U.S. employers added 192,000 jobs in March, according to the Labor Department.

Mannington Producing Click LVT Domestically   Full Article
Calhoun, GA, April 4, 2014 -- Mannington Commercial said it has become the only manufacturer to produce click installation system commercial LVT in the U.S.

Builder Beazer Says Sales, Orders Fall   Full Article
Atlanta, GA, April 4, 2014 -- Beazer Homes said severe weather contributed to a decline in completed home sales and new orders in the first quarter.

J+J Flooring Partners With Health Design Center   Full Article
Dalton, GA, April 4, 2014 -- J+J Flooring Group said it has become the exclusive industry partner for The Center for Health Design’s Research Coalition.

Growth in Services Sector Picks Up in March   Full Article
Tempe, AZ, April 3, 2014 -- Growth in the U.S. services sector accelerated in March, according to the Institute for Supply Management.

Jobless Claims Tick Higher Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, April 3, 2014 -- Initial claims for unemployment benefits edged higher unexpectly last week, according to the Labor Department.

Zillow To Help Chinese Invest in U.S. Real Estate   Full Article
New York, NY, April 3, 2014 -- Zillow said it would begin providing real-estate listings for Chinese real-estate portal Beijing Yisheng Leju Information Services.

Planned Job Cuts Plunge in March   Full Article
Chicago, IL, April 3, 2014 -- Planned job cuts fell to 34,399 in March, which was down 30% from a year ago and 18% from the previous month, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Finkell Forming New Hardwood Company   Full Article
Only, TN, April 3, 2014 -- Don Finkell, former head of hardwood maker Anderson, is getting back into business with a wood flooring startup called OEM Wood Floors.

Unilin's Winters Named NALFA Member of Year   Full Article
Dallas, TX, April 3, 2014 -- Unilin’s Jane Winters recently won the flooring industry’s "NALFA Member Of The Year” award.

J+J Flooring Names Metzger Director of Design   Full Article
Dalton, GA, April 3, 2014 -- J+J Flooring Group has named industry veteran Daniel Metzger as director of design.

Surya Names Curtin Vice President Sales   Full Article
Calhoun, GA, April 3, 2014 -- Rug company Surya said it has named Jim Curtin as vice president of sales, national accounts.

Factory Orders Rise More Than Expected   Full Article
Washington, DC, April 2, 2014 -- Factory orders rose 1.6 % in February, the U.S. Commerce Department said Wednesday

Jobs Growth Picks Up in March   Full Article
Roseland, NJ, April 2, 2014 -- Private firms grew their payrolls in March by the most in three months, according to the ADP Employment Report.

Mortgage Application Volume Declines   Full Article
Washington, DC, April 2, 2014 -- Mortgage application volume fell last week on lower refinancing demand, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Analyst Lowering Mohawk Estimates Due to Weather   Full Article
New York, NY, April 2, 2014 -- Flooring industry analyst Stifel Nicolaus said it is lowering its first quarter estimates for Mohawk due to weather issues but is maintaining a "buy" rating on the stock.

Mohawk a Finalist for Atlanta Environmental Award   Full Article
Calhoun, GA, April 2, 2014 -- Mohawk said it is a finalist in the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s E3 environmental awards for Atlanta area businesses.

Haines Vice President of Operations Dies   Full Article
Glen Burnie, MD, April 1, 2014 -- Distributor Haines said its vice president of operations, Mark Blakely, died March 27 from health complications.