But how do you find good ones? When interviewing an applicant, how can you tell if he is likely to be competent and reliable? What trade-offs do you have to make to ensure good installation for your customers?
What to Look For
1. A good installer should be familiar with the CRI-104 and CRI-105 guidelines, the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) standards for installation of residential and commercial floor coverings.
2. The candidate should demonstrate a basic ability to use the standard tools of floor coverings installation and a basic knowledge of the various floor covering materials involved. Ask him what would happen to certain materials under specific problematic conditions typical in floor covering installation situations.
3. A potentially good installer may not know all the answers, but he will demonstrate an interest in learning new or better ways to do the job.
4. An applicant should present a well-groomed appearance and professional manner that will reflect positively on your business.
What Are the Trade-offs?
5. Ask not how cheap and fast he will work. Ask if he is qualified to work with the products you sell. A well-trained installer who has pride in his work almost always costs more to use on a job, initially, than one who is not trained and has no history of professional pride. However, the risk of call-backs, loss of business, even lawsuits often negates any savings made by hiring inadequate installers.
6. Retailers and other members of the floor coverings industry have to educate consumers that consistently good installation comes only from using professionally trained, responsible individuals who expect to earn a reasonable wage and government-mandated benefits.
7. Retailers have to start placing a visible value on good installation. When a retailer advertises "free pad and installation," he is perpetuating a fallacy that has hobbled the industry for years. He is implying that any worker who walks on the job can install floor coverings, that installation quality is unimportant and that it is inexpensive.
Where to Find Good Installers
8. If you want to be reasonably sure of getting a professional installer, contact the Floor Covering Installation Board and ask for names of credentialed craftsmen in your area who have passed the board's rigorous testing process.
9. If there are none nearby, advertise for installers who have completed industry-sanctioned training courses in periodic workshop sessions or in vocational trade school programs. These applicants have spent time, and possibly their own money, to upgrade their skills.
10. Look for members of industry associations such as Certified Floorcovering Installers (CFI); they are likely to have access to and take advantage of ongoing training opportunities and educational materials.
This article is reprinted by permission from 3M, Minneapolis, MN. It originally appeared
in the summer 1995 issue of 3M Retailer Review.