Store Front - April 2006

By Sonna Calandrino

With all the recent discussion about the new luxe customer, the challenge for today’s flooring retailer is how to approach this market with a keen eye on planning and profitability. By spending the next ten minutes reading this column, you’ll learn ways to spiff up your brand and discover ten “now” profitmakers.

Look at Your Logo

Let’s begin with a question that became an obvious issue among the retailers who attended the seminar I gave at Surfaces 06: When was the last time you updated your logo? Your logo is your logo, right? 

Wrong. Times change, and your customers (retail and commercial) know you’re keeping up to date when you change your logo. (And we’re not just talking about updating your typeface!)

Are you still known as “Smith’s Carpet,” yet you sell wood, laminate, ceramic tile, area rugs, window treatments? How can your customers know if you don’t tell them?

The most powerful way to redefine your new brand without changing the image you’ve worked so hard to establish is to begin by adding slogans that speak to the customer. For example, in your advertising, merchandising, promotional material (or any other point of contact with the consumer) try adding “Design it with wood”—or exotic wood, laminate, ceramic and porcelain tile, area rugs, window treatments, lighting, custom stairs, floor grates, cork, moldings.... 

What else does your logo say? Does its color show that you’re up to date with fashion? There’s a reason why familiar logos get new colors every few years. An up to date color on your logo shows everyone that you’re on top of the latest fashions, and consumers know they can get the latest looks at your store. 

Look to your logo and image in other ways, too, such as in your newsletters, brochure, ad flyers, radio and TV commercials, in-store posters, website, thank you and follow-up notes, too. Be consistent with your new, updated look and make sure everything tells your story—your business, your products and your services.

What’s Next

After your brand update, it’s a perfect time to focus on high margin luxe profitmakers—keeping in mind that each will need to be part of our new “Design it with...” slogan campaign!

While the market is increasingly toward luxe, not every consumer is of the Rolls Royce, custom granite floor variety. Consumers have more to spend, and they want the goods and services that bring them luxury as they personally define it. For some, that may be their first hardwood floor. Or, it may be their first cork floor, or another distinctive category of flooring. 

In just about every case, though, “luxe” spells the extras that turn the floor and, in fact, the entire room into something unique and personal.

 The “Ten Now Profit Makers” we’ve listed below are things the luxe customer wants and is willing to pay for:

  • Custom moldings: matching/coordinating moldings, trim, transitions or accessory pieces. Check your manufacturer for what’s available in each wood, laminate and ceramic collection. Show the possibilities of mixing carpet with a wood or ceramic trim.

  • Floor grates: More than functional, they’re available in a variety of beautiful wood and metallic finishes.

  • Custom stair rods: They create sophisticated looks and also provide an opportunity to sell more. Often, it’s the accessories that really show off your decorative skills! 

  • Window treatments: The perfect time to offer window treatments is when a new floor goes in. Explain how the two can work together for a total design look that’s unique to your customer. Consider private label. If you’re out measuring floors, ask to measure windows, too, and vice versa.

  • Cushion: Show your best carpet and make your best cushion a given. Only sell the best! Top quality cushion is a fashionable and functional partner for that new carpet. Run-of-the-mill padding may void a warranty. Call it by its most valuable name...cushion!

  • Medallions and inserts: Dress up floors, walls and fireplaces, too. Combine medallions with moldings for a custom effect. Sell them as art for the walls that matches the floors. 

  • Custom area rugs: If, as statistics show, an area rug goes down a couple of weeks after that new wood, ceramic or laminate floor goes in, get that sale yourself. Introduce it now. If you can’t afford an area rug department, many manufacturers and distributors offer custom rug programs at all price ranges. It’s a way to offer a custom product at a price point specific to your market. 

  • Cleaning products: Don’t let your customer go to the grocery store for cleaning supplies. Carry and promote cleaners specifically formulated for all of today’s floors. Those products will bring customers back into your store again and again, as well as new ones. And don’t forget—most complaints are maintenance-related.

These next two ideas don’t sell product, but they are proven “profit-making” events.

  • In-store consumer design clinics: Inviting your customers to a series of design clinics on the latest in window treatments, kitchen and bath ideas, new product introductions and/or the latest in color establishes you as the expert and builds a life-long relationship. 

  • Professional clinics: Designers, architects and builders need you as much as you need them. Your professional clinics can be an opportunity to introduce high end, high profit products, as well as your other services which support them. 

Retailers can now author their own special “luxe” advertorials in their local newspapers. See the ad in the April issue of Floor Focus. For more information, you can contact Sonna at Peachtree Communications, Inc. 518 828 3200 or email her at

This article is excerpted from a special seminar by Sonna Calandrino at Surfaces 2006.


Copyright 2006 Floor Focus Inc