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

Unemployment Falls but August Job Gains Muted   Full Article
Washington, DC, Sept. 5, 2014 -- Employers in the U.S. added 142,000 jobs in August, the lowest monthly total of the year, according to the Labor Department.

Horizon Floors Signs Denver Hardwoods   Full Article
New York, NY, Sept. 5, 2014 -- Horizon Floors has a distribution agreement with Denver Hardwoods.

Invista Surfaces Makes Executive Promotions   Full Article
Kennesaw, GA, Sept. 5, 2014 -- Invista Surfaces has promoted Maggie Bidlingmaier to vice president of its residential business.

Gerflor Becomes Starnet Approved Vendor   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Sept. 5, 2014 -- Resilient flooring firm Gerflor said it has attained approved vendor status in Starnet.

USG Signs Private Label Agreement With Powerhold   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Sept. 5, 2014 -- USG Corporation said it has entered a private-label agreement with Powerhold, the largest flooring accessories distributor network in the country.

Shaw Ranked Fourth on E-learning List   Full Article
Dalton, GA. Sept. 5, 2014 -- Shaw Industries ranked fourth on E-learning! magazine’s Learning! 100.

H.B. Fuller Acquires ProSpec Construction Products   Full Article
St. Paul, MN, Sept. 4, 2014 -- H.B. Fuller Company said it has acquired ProSpec Construction Products, a provider of tile and stone installation products.

Builder Hovnanian Says Income Doubled   Full Article
Red Bank, NJ, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Homebuilder Hovnanian Enterprises reported third quarter net income of $17.1 million, or $0.11 a share, up from $8.5 million, or $0.06 a share, a year earlier.

Services Sector Expands at Faster Pace in August   Full Article
Tempe, AZ, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Growth in the services sector of the economy accelerated in August to the highest level since 2005, according to the Institute for Supply Management.

Initial Jobless Claims Still Near Eight-Year Low   Full Article
Washington, DC, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Initial claims for unemployment benefits last week ticked up although claims remain near an eight-year bottom.

Private Sector Job Growth Remains Steady   Full Article
Roseland, NJ, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Private sector employment increased by 204,000 jobs from July to August, according to the August ADP National Employment Report.

CRI's Mendez Named SGAC Board President   Full Article
Dalton, GA, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Carpet and Rug Institute vice president for government relations Jennifer Mendez was named president of the board of directors of the State Government Affairs Council.

Royal Adhesives Acquires Toronto-Based Chemque   Full Article
South Bend, IN, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Royal Adhesives & Sealants said that its subsidiary Royal Adhesives & Sealants Canada will acquire polyurethane foams and adhesives maker Chemque.

Domotex Bringing Back Innovations Event   Full Article
Hannover, Germany, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Domotex is bringing back its Innovations@Domotex for a second season next year.

Factory Orders Increase by Record Amount   Full Article
Washington, DC, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Factory orders rose by a record amount in July, mostly on the strength of commercial aircraft.

Shaw Moves Up on Selling Power List   Full Article
Dalton, GA, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Shaw Industries said it has been ranked no. 13 and is the only flooring manufacturer on the latest Selling Power 50 Best Companies to Sell For list.

Floor Focus Plans to Honor Young Professionals   Full Article
Chattanooga, TN, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Floor Focus Magazine plans to recognize young professionals in the flooring industry who are under 40 years old.

Bona AB Wins Swedish Export Award   Full Article
Aurora, CO, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Bona AB said it has received the Export Hermes 2014 Award.

Rug Market Schedules Set Through 2018   Full Article
Atlanta, GA, Sept. 3, 2014 -- AmericasMart has set the dates for its January and July markets, including its rug markets, through 2018.

Toll Brothers' Profit, Revenue Surge   Full Article
Horsham, PA, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers Inc. reported third quarter net income of $97.7 million, or $0.53 a share, up from $46.6 million, or $0.26 a share, a year ago.