By Ken Ryan
While the LVT category and its SPC/rigid core subsegments continue to dominate the flooring market at the expense of other products, flooring retailers would be remiss to abandon carpet, laminate and sheet vinyl as viable revenue opportunities. That’s the opinion of several flooring executives who have provided valuable tips and talking points for retailers on selling and positioning these respective categories.
Jamie Welborn, VP of product management, Mohawk
- Carpet gets a bum reputation for being unhealthy, especially compared to hard surfaces. If properly maintained and cleaned, this is simply not true; the true advantage is your home will have less allergens and dust in the air.
- There is no better flooring for warmth and comfort. Just think about your everyday life and living on your flooring—nothing beats it. This is especially true for young children and senior adults.
- Carpet is still the best value of all flooring surfaces when you look at the benefits and cost to replace carpet with hardwood and other hard surfaces.
Mike Sanderson, VP of marketing, Engineered Floors
- Consumers are now more educated than ever when making a flooring or home improvement purchase; it’s our responsibility to provide RSAs with all the neces- sary information to effectively convey the benefits and attributes of soft surface products and assure customers they are making the right decision.
- Minimize your showroom. Consumers can easily feel overwhelmed in a sea of carpet displays, signage and samples. By keeping the product assortment simple and comprehensive, consumers will feel more at ease, thus further gaining confidence, comfort and, ultimately, trust with their RSA.
Teresa Tran, VP, Shaw Floors retail channel
- Be the expert. Whether it’s digital or in-house expertise, retailers need to provide the tools that make consumers feel confident about using carpet to express their personality.
- Due to COVID-19, prolonged (or, in some cases, permanently) working/learning from home has opened up new opportunities for dealers to leverage the inherent acoustical benefits of carpet. Remind consumers of all the simple benefits of carpet—soft, warm and quiet—especially now when the home has become a haven for offices, classrooms and reimagining family time.
- Form a connection. RSAs need to be familiar with current design trends in order to have a conversation with the consumer. They should be able to tell the story behind each product.
Derek Welbourn, CEO, Inhaus
- Sell laminate based on performance. Laminate is one of the most durable floors in terms of wear, scratch and even water resistance, and it is perfectly suited for busy households and people with pets. There are few flooring categories where you can keep some extra boxes in your attic and install them a decade later, and they will match perfectly to the previously installed floors.
- Let the laminate visuals sell themselves. With all of the advancements in printing, texture and gloss it has a wide range of desirable looks. Ensure you have large sample boards or a display floor.
- Ease of installation. The forgiving nature of laminate during installation appeals to pro installers and DIYers.
Travis Bass, EVP of sales, Swiss Krono USA
- Did you know that laminate flooring is made from a sustainable, renewable resource? The environmental story of laminate is by far the most impressive of any floor covering.
- Laminate offers a high-end look and feel at budget prices, making it very affordable for home projects.
- Laminate is now a water-resistant flooring choice and is also extremely durable and low maintenance.
Barron Frith, CFL North America president
- Point out the styles and designs.
- Emphasize performance: superior scratch and stain resistance compared to LVT, SPC and WPC.
- Stress water resistance: Today’s laminate matches the water-resistant attributes of LVT, making it practical for any home for routine topical moisture/maintenance.
Frank Hargadon, Regional sales manager, Beauflor
- Laminate is known for its durability, so RSAs should highlight this to customers who are looking for flooring that performs well in high-traffic areas.
- Promote the great visuals and textures. Laminate is a great alternative for customers who want a hardwood look without the price tag.
Andrew Bennett, commercial sales manager, FlexiFlor
- Promote the minimal maintenance sheet rubber requires over other flooring options, thus saving time, money and the environment (no chemicals in the waterways).
- Promote the extremely long lifespan of sheet rubber (moving away from a throwaway mentality to that of long-term sustainability). The only competitor in regard to lifespan is concrete/terrazzo.
- Promote the hygienic aspects of resilient floors. Resilient sheet flooring with its dimensional stability and virtually seamless installation gives germs less of a place to hide/accumulate. This helps in the lowering of infection rates and improves the health of all occupants.
Joe Cavanaugh, VP residential distribution, Tarkett
- Fiberglass sheet vinyl is the original waterproof floor. Once we understand that, and open our minds to the advantages of sheet vinyl, retailers can take advantage of the profit opportunities sheet vinyl represents.
- Sell the design. Sheet vinyl has some of the most amazing patterns and colors for a consumer looking for high fashion.
- Sell the ability to change the floor easily. Floating installation of sheet vinyl gives the consumer the ability to dramatically change a room for very little money. Once you have set up a customer on a floating installation, you can easily remove the floor and replace it with a new one. This offers the consumer the ability to show her artistic side.
Bill Furman, senior channel marketing manager, Armstrong Flooring
- Highlight the design advantage. While sheet can offer realistic wood and stone looks, decorative patterns and overall visuals offer something other categories cannot.
- Highlight the value. Vinyl sheet offers all of the same benefits around water resistance and wear performance as other resilient products, but at a fraction of the cost.
- Highlight the comfort. Cushioning underfoot and sound transmission are frequently promoted innovations in locking products, but cushioned vinyl sheet products solved that problem decades ago.