Go along to get along

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by Warren Tyler

My feeling has always been to listen to criticism, try to accept it and change for the better.

Anytime I find something I think that will make the industry more efficient, I write or speak about it. For instance, while I believe that our manufacturers make beautiful and practical flooring, I do see issues.

One issue that has always been a bone of contention is in the area of retail marketing. Basically, suppliers tend to use people from the manufacturing side to create programs for retailers instead of hiring retail experts.

Another concern is that instead of making the terrific products we are capable of, the industry bows to the wishes of the uninformed, hence high soft yarn. And lastly, with no regard to the ultimate consumer, we sell outlets that either don’t have the capability to make sure our products fit the application (Internet sellers) or simply don’t know (home centers), all of which conspire to give us a shaky reputation.

Manufacturers do an incredible job of just ignoring me rather than retaliating. I believe this is because they wholeheartedly believe in what they are doing.

I can’t go along just to get along. It is not in my nature. Everyone knows that we have a huge installation problem. With all the passion and expertise that people like Jim Walker of the CFI invest in this area, he, like all of us, knows he reaches only a small, although growing, portion of retailers and installers. When the problem is referred to, he doesn’t attack, but just tries harder to do even more.

My passion, of course, is sales training and service and if I live to be 200 years old, I know I can never reach more than a small portion of retailers and salespeople in this industry. I can only try harder.

This all being said, I always thought that whether we were suppliers, retailers, educators or service personnel, this was all one industry.

For instance, it seems the wet cleaning industry thinks of itself as a separate industry. My criticism of the wet cleaners is only meant to improve the reputation of the entire industry. I truly believe that a well-trained, caring operator can do a decent and safe job of cleaning carpet.

My observation is the same for sales training and installation—most people in these positions are not as competent as they should be. The cleaners, of all people, should welcome these comments because it’s the untrained operators who hurt the professionals most of all. For all the effort the IICRC puts into training, it can only reach a small portion of the tens of thousands of people who portray themselves as professional cleaners.

This is a similar situation that we all face. The problem surfaces when carpets are improperly cleaned and after failing to reach a resolution with the cleaner, the next step is to complain to the retailer who sold the job. As a retailer for 27 years, I can tell you, as thousands of other dealers can, this is one of the more common complaints.

I would think that instead of shooting the messenger, professional cleaners would use this information to better inform prospective customers and use my information to improve their sales skills. There is nothing I say that cleaners can disagree with: Operators can ruin reputations. The vast majority of cleaners aren’t trained and the method is highly operator- sensitive, which is why you run your schools.

The answer is not to separate cleaning from our industry, but to keep fighting the battle together as we all do to reach as many people as possible.

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