Being a window coverings magazine, this column is taking a bit of a 180 because instead of looking up, I am going to ask you to look down—at your client’s flooring. If you would like to expand your business, you should be aware that there’s literally an untapped market awaiting you in blanketing your clients’ flooring in beautiful, purposeful flooring.
The first truth about flooring is that most consumers are quite
bewildered by the whole selection process, and thus end up covering
their floors with carpet or resilient—and not necessarily the
right type, either. Or, they march to the nearest electronics store
and buy themselves a new flat screen television so they can forget
about their frustration with the thousands of 12 by 12 squares of
wood samples, or the zillions of small pads of carpet assailing
them in the middle of a brightly lit carpet-mega store.
The sad truth about flooring is that it typically stays down longer
than it should—usually, until someone gets so tired of looking
at it that they grab at the nearest frayed edge and begin to pull.
Think of flooring in this way: you have just bought yourself a fine
Armani suit, but the only thing you have to wear on your feet are
your badly scuffed sneakers. It follows that no matter how pretty
your interior is, it is only as good as the floor looks. Because
people do look down.
In flooring, it’s not just carpet, vinyl sheet, ceramic and
wood. There are leather floors, and acid-washed concrete. There’s
linoleum and laminate. There’s cork, rubber and stone. There
are floor cloths and metal floors. And within each category—the
possibilities are amazing! Consider wood flooring: There’s
not just newly harvested wood, but recovered wood, too, and engineered
for that matter. No wonder people throw up their hands and buy themselves
a new television set instead!
So how might you become an expert in this interiors category? Your
first step should be to attend Surfaces in Las Vegas, NV, at the
end of this month. Hundreds of flooring professionals will be presenting
seminars on how to understand and sell flooring and will also be
offering up information on the many products being marketed today.
I guarantee it will be an eye-opener. Plus, you have the added bonus
of the Window Coverings Pavilion, a new feature to Surfaces this
year. You can upgrade your window treatments knowledge and learn
about flooring—all in the same week.
You also can bone up on the subject through the variety of interesting
Web sites (such as www.wfca.org, also known as the World Floor Covering
Association), or by picking up a thorough book on the subject (see
Below are some questions to ask yourself, or your client, the next
time you specify flooring:
• What don’t you like about your existing floor?
• Where is this floor located?
• What is currently on the floor? Do you think it could be
• What are the approximate measurements of your space?
• Is there an adjacent stairway?
• Have you given any thought to your budget?
• Do you have any idea whether the subfloor is structurally
• Is this a heavily trafficked area or a seldom-used room?
Assess the room’s level of activity and assign it as one of:
light use, moderate use or heavy use.
• Do you need a sound buffer?
• Who lives in your home? Children, pets, adults, elderly?
• What types of furniture will you have in the room? The rolling
wheels of a desk chair? A heavy armoire?
• Are you interested in heating your floor?
• How long do you expect to keep the new flooring in place?
• Does it need to be moisture resistant?
• What types of safety issues do you have?
• Are you interested in championing “green” design?
(As in, do you want to select a floor covering constructed with
environmentally responsible practices employed?)
• Does anyone in your home suffer from allergies?
• How quickly do you want to have your floor installed?
• Would you be able to vacate the area of the home your flooring
is being installed for a period of one day? Three days? Five days?
Finishes, Colors, Patterns
• Consider texture. How does a rough-hewn plank floor compare
to a highly glossed laminate, to an exotic Oriental rug?
• How do you feel about decorative flooring patterns?
• What kinds of colors do you like best?
• What type of stain/soil protection are you interested in?
• How often do you truly feel you will clean this floor? Daily?
Surfaces 2005 is expected to attract more than 40,000 attendees
and close to 1,000 exhibitors from around the world, representing
all facets of the floor covering industry. Over 500,000 net square
feet of exhibits offer variety, selection, and business-building
opportunities in an end-of-January event poised to kick-start a
most successful year ever.
Don’t wait—the truth is, you should register now and experience
a new chapter in the growth of your business by adding flooring
to your repertoire.
Kathleen Stoehr is president of Chemistry Creative, based in
Minneapolis, MN. She has more than 10 years of' experience covering
trends, window treatments and interior fashions, is a former editor-in-chief
of Window Fashions magazine and is the author of the recently
published Dream Floors, Hundreds of Ideas for Every Type of
Floor. Stoehr can be contacted for comments, queries and trend
information at firstname.lastname@example.org.