By K.J. Quinn—Retailers face stiff competition daily from big boxes, especially on commodity items, where profit margins are tight. But one category that remains a haven for dealers is accessory products—a segment that provides product differentiation while enabling customers to add a finishing touch to their flooring installation.
“Perfect Vents can be very profitable for retailers,” said Joe Kennedy, president, Perfect Vents. “This is not an item that is available through box stores, allowing retailers to set themselves apart while adding profits to their bottom lines.”
There are many reasons for dealers to diversify into accessories. Three of the biggest are that these products complement flooring, carry high profit margins and create multiple sales with floor coverings.
Among the most common accessories (decorative and functional) are trims, moldings and vents. Some products, such as transitions, are a necessary component for any hardwood or laminate flooring installation. To gain Accessory pieces like stair nosing and treads can be positioned as an upsell as well as a standalone solution. These products typically command gross margins of 50% to 70% or more—margins that are significantly higher than most floors. Profitability, however, is often based on various factors. “Some choose to sell at their cost to get the needed margins from the installation portion of the job,” noted Bill Treiber, technical education and sales manager, Artistic Finishes. “Others sell accessories at a nice mark-up and leave the install to the end user. Either way, they have profited because it’s difficult to sell a job without all the components required for completion.”
There are plenty of variations in designs and product qualities from which to choose. For instance, some low-end wood accessories are not made to stand the test of time and, depending on the product, may be smaller in size. “Many low-end accessories are also three-in-one profiles or multipurpose in function,” Treiber pointed out. “Depending on the application for the job at hand, they may be the best solution.”
One of Artistic Finishes’ newest accessories is Enduracor, a digitally printed stair tread and riser. Utilizing high-definition scanning and digital print technology, it can create a near-perfect match with the flooring. “These will become increasingly more popular as we set up more flooring lines with the digital print,” Treiber said. “At a fraction of the cost of solid wood treads and risers, this near-perfect match to the vinyl floor world offers a huge upside for taking your next flooring job up the steps.”
It’s been said seeing is believing, and the same principle applies to higher-end accessories. Special finishing such as hand scraping and wire brushing can help an accessory emulate the look of the floor.
Like any flooring, aesthetics is a major selling point, especially for products such as transitions where consumers are looking for a color blend. Case in point: Framerica-wrapped moldings provide an exact match, with a digital print formed from foil, vinyl or paper. “We also offer vents that coordinate or match,” Damrell explained.
Perfect Vents offers matching flush mount vents and drains for floating luxury vinyl flooring. “We can also make vents out of laminate and floating engineered hardwood,” Kennedy noted. “By using the floor itself, we can guarantee an exact match of color, thickness and texture.” insight on each option, shopping the competition allows you to understand price points, product offering and availability of the molding, experts say. “A retailer should be able to sell manufacturers’ moldings for a premium,” said John Damrell, president, Damrell Group, which represents Precision Flooring Products wood moldings and Framerica wrapped transitions. “The consumer is paying hundreds of dollars, maybe thousands, for a floor. Having the right matching or coordinating molding is a given.”
All in the presentation
Retail salespeople play a big role in presenting accessories as a complementary option to customers. “A big mistake that a lot of salespeople make is thinking the customer knows how much something should cost,” Kennedy said. “Most don’t have any idea and if the product is presented ‘benefits first’ rather than (sold on) price, most are willing to pay extra for the accessory.”
All of which makes it imperative for salespeople to be well versed in the terminology and purpose of accessories, plus required installation methods, so they can help customers make informed purchasing decisions.
When it comes to the sale itself, Perfect Vents’ Kennedy warned against positioning accessories or trims as “add-on” items. “Put them right in the initial quote,” he explained. “If you need to take them out to get the price down, that’s fine, but it’s really difficult to raise the price to include extras.”
Showing off creative ways accessories are utilized to enhance the look of the floor can encourage customers to step up and buy while boosting the value of the ticket. Suppliers suggest providing displays, samples or even offering various room scenes to show and explain the use of a particular trim or molding to a consumer, which would assist the RSA with the sale.
Accessory systems can also be merchandised in a wide variety of ways to show customers how they match and coordinate with the floor. “They need to know the composition of the profiles,” Artistic Finishes’ Treiber said. “They need to know the finishing material and capabilities to include density, taber and sheen level adjustments.”
But perhaps the most effective sales aid is the product demo. For instance, explaining to the customer (using actual samples) how trims, moldings and vents can add the perfect touch to their flooring installation. “When it comes to stairs, select the plank that meets the nosing,” Damrell advised. “On wrapped moldings, a simple explanation of the exact match may help close the deal.”
Mohawk accessories competition highlights installation creativity
Las Vegas—Mohawk recently kicked off its “Now That’s Perfect” video contest during a dedicated installation area at The International Surface Event here. In partnership with the Certified Flooring Installers Association (CFI), contestants filmed videos showcasing how products from Mohawk’s Performance Accessories line are easy to install.
“Installers are the backbone of the flooring industry, and no job is complete without them,” said David Moore, senior director of accessories, Mohawk. “Performance Accessories help make installation easier. Our products are engineered to fit right the first time, eliminate steps and reduce the tools needed during install.”
Instead of hiring professional actors to install the products for its promotional videos, Mohawk opted to use real-life installers and retail associates to record themselves installing the accessories. The exercise proved to be eye-opening.
“Having a third party talk about your product—why they like the features and benefits—really adds a lot of authenticity to our program vs. just Mohawk saying, ‘Hi. We invented this and we think you should buy it,’” Moore explained. “Internally, we can always think about the way these products are designed to go down, how we would do it, etc., but that’s not real world. The feedback we get from installers in the field is you might think you know how the accessories are going to work, but in the real world this is how they do it. That has been really helpful for us as we design the products for installers.”
Case in point: Mohawk shot a video of its multifunctional molding for the RevWood product line. The 5-in-1 molding, which is designed to be reconfigured into several different shapes, has a dual function: it minimizes the number of molding SKUs the retailer needs to warehouse while simplifying life for the floor layer. “When the installer goes to the jobsite, he doesn’t have to remember to bring a reducer or T-mold, etc.,” Moore explained. “As long as he knows what the total transition needs are for a given job—be it stair pieces or transitions from room to room or surface to surface—he can use our 5-in-1 system.”
The “Now That’s Perfect” video contest runs through Sept. 1, 2021. Installers are encouraged to submit videos of themselves installing Mohawk’s Performance Accessories. A total of 10 installers will each win a $500 CFI scholarship, and participating Mohawk Edge retailers can earn 12,500 bonus points. Visit http://go.mohawkflooring.com/now-thats-perfect to participate.