WOFB: Novice to full-fledged store owner

Home Column WOFB: Novice to full-fledged store owner

flooring businessBy Jenn Wooding—It’s true that once you get into the flooring business you never get out.

My career in the industry started when I was just 24 years old and I married a flooring installer. Being the entrepreneur that I am, I knew I wanted to have a flooring retail business. At the time, I knew nothing about flooring but knew I could begin with marketing and sales. To get started, I read the back of the samples to create content. Back then, when it came to product, hard surface was only about 20% of the marketplace while the rest was carpet. However, the hard surface market was beginning to grow and intriguing new products were being launched by top suppliers. While I didn’t want to dive into the hard surface category—and even dreaded selling hardwood—I knew I had to learn. A job at a flooring retail store in Raleigh, N.C., would serve as my introduction to the world of hard surface. From then on, I was an avid learner.

After tackling the initial challenges, I fell in love with LVT so much so that I began selling vinyl plank out of the back of my car. I soon created my own retail business working from home. I built my customer base in parking lots and inside the living spaces of people’s homes. I eventually built up such a great customer base that there was no need for me to open a brick-and-mortar retail location at the time.

I posted pictures of materials my suppliers had in stock on social media, and eventually people started to message me to ask if I could provide installation as well. My reps helped me—they connected me with the installers that I needed to deliver the full package. I value those relationships above anything else because that’s what took me to the next level.

I sold everything I owned and saved up to get a brick-and-mortar retail space—sometimes the cost of future success means personal sacrifice today.

Over the last 20 years, a lot has changed. I still do estimates in the client’s home—I find it is more personable and that bringing the samples to the customer helps them in the purchasing process more than having them drive all over town looking at samples. But the industry continues to evolve. I think that is what I love about this business the most. Every day is different. Every job is different. I still get excited when I sell jobs and I can’t wait to see the transformations.

Flooring is a rewarding career and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Jenn Wooding has been a flooring retailer for 24 years. She began as a mobile showroom operation in 1998 and subsequently opened Peoples Flooring Solutions in Raleigh, N.C., in 2005.

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Feb. 21/28, 2022

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