Al’s column

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by Al Wahnon

PREFERENCE: How often have you heard this mantra: The three most important elements in the real estate business are location-location-location. Well, the three most important elements in the retail business are service-service-service. A recent survey found that 55% of consumers have become a customer of a company because of its reputation for great customer service. And 40% began purchasing a competitive brand simply because of its vaunted treatment of customers. People are willing to pay more for a pleasant shopping experience; 85% said they would pay a premium for good service. The study determined that customer service is the most influential practice a company can perform to increase customer advocacy. Consumers recommend a company because of customer service, 55%; for its products, 49%, and for its price, 42%. Do the math.

IT’S THE LAW: As of Oct.1, the EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule addressing the presence and removal of lead-based paint in target housing and child-occupied facilities reached its date of enforcement. The EPA regulation requires the use of a Certified Renovator and the incorporation of lead-safe work practices in most pre- 1978 residences and child- occupied properties. The EPA estimated 236,000 people required the eight-hour certification class, prior to the rule going into effect, and that 47,000 per year will require training thereafter. Flooring retailers are affected by RRP and must comply. Failure to do so could result in civil penal- ties of up to $37,500 per violation. For more information go to epa.gov/lead or call 1.800.424.LEAD (5323).

LOOKING GOOD: Running from Jan. 15 to 18, 2011 Domotex in Hannover, Germany, will include 1,400 exhibitors of floor coverings from 60 countries. A focal point of the market will be an area devoted to installers, with 200 exhibitors displaying tools, equipment and supplies needed by a professional. Elke and Rolf Arora, FCNews’ European correspondents, will cover the show. They noted that in 2010 total production of broadloom carpet in western Europe reached 550 million square yards, a moderate increase over the previous year. A more optimistic sign is in the first half of this year the production of multi-layer parquet increased 22% and solid wood planks by more than 28%. In the same period, the entire wood category was up more than 18% over the first half of last year.

GOOD DEED: The Mohawk Group, commercial carpeting division of Mohawk Industries, has extended it’s Specify For a Cure program to all of its four brands—Lee, Karastan, Bigelow and Durkan. The program helps spread hope and enables customers to support the fight against breast cancer, a disease that affects one in eight women in their lifetime. All proceeds benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and advocates. To date, The Mohawk Group has contributed more than $3.7 million to the cause on behalf of its customers. The company donates a portion of the proceeds for every yard of carpet specified of select carpet styles from all of its brands. Since its inception more than 25 years ago, Susan G. Komen for the Cure has invested more than $1.5 billion in scientific research and community healthy programs.

GOOD JOB: Shaw Industries has been recognized as one of the 2010 “Best Places To Work” in the state of Georgia. Published by Georgia Trend magazine, of the 10 companies on this year’s list Shaw is the only manufacturer. The editors stressed commitments to work-life balance, community atmospheres and opportunity for employees as qualifications that distinguished the winners, among whom were businesses from the financial, technological, professional services and medical sectors across the state. Kudos to Shaw.

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