Labor, cybercrime, immigration, climate change, inflation, geo-political unrest, taxes, supply chain interruptions, price hikes, soaring interest rates, installation, COVID-19, etc. The list of concerning issues goes on and on—enough angst to keep a flooring retailer tossing and turning at night.
With so much at stake, what’s a flooring retailer to do? Some only worry about the issues they can control; others focus on the here and now. Then there are those who prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Any way you slice it, 2023 will be a challenging year for the flooring retailer—then again, these entrepreneurs know a thing or two about weathering storms.
With that in mind, FCNews asked retailers to address the issues that concern them the most.
“I’m most concerned about economic conditions in the months ahead. Hard landing? Soft
landing? No one really knows. So, I’m feeling more uncertainty than I’ve felt since the start of COVID-19. As a retailer, I try to make sound business decisions based on the outlook for the months/year ahead. It’s hard to do that at the moment.”
— Adam Joss, The Vertical Connection Carpet One, Columbia, Md.
“I’d say inflation and the interest rate hikes that follow is our largest current concern regarding business. Not only is our builder business greatly affected by this, but as rates go up home values should drop, which gives our residential customers less confidence in investing in their homes. We’re very hopeful this recession only lasts a few quarters and we get back on track. The cybercrime topic is also of concern; we just purchased additional insurance to protect our company in the event of an attack.”
— Tom Heffner, About All Floors, Douglassville, Pa.
“The funny thing about this industry is what we worry about the most has nothing to do with anything you’ll find in the news. We need more carpet installers. It’s the constant struggle in the business.”
— Matt Wien, Marshall Carpet One & Rug Gallery, Mayfield Heights, Ohio.
“Immigration and climate change aren’t pressing issues, but higher interest rates and inflation are. Housing sales will slow down with higher rates while inflation keeps our customers—and our employees—from spending on larger-ticket items. It’s hard to increase pay when revenues slow. It’s a double-edged sword. All things said, we are aggressive with our marketing and will continue doing so as it is still a good time to get more market share. Paying attention to your business and doing what you can to make it grow should be top of mind for any business owner.”
— Steve Weisber, Crest Flooring, Allentown, Pa.
“My biggest concern is the approach taken by vendors in the face of inflation. If vendors keep bumping prices up to maintain their margins, we will end up pricing our product out of the market. We just don’t compete against other dealers; we also compete against other discretionary purchases. It is time to do the patriotic thing and limit the increases to your actual increases in cost rather than adding margin to it. This is the only way we are going to slow inflation as a country. In the face of record profits, corporate America needs to start looking at the big picture.”
— Joel Schreier, Home Carpet One, Chicago
Cost of business
“I worry about general economic pressures. Rates, fuel, shipping is a big deal, employee salaries and the cost of benefits. I believe part of this may be offset by the cost of materials going down in 2023. Wholesale inventories are rising as well.”
— Darrin Johnson, Ultimate Flooring, Cape Girardeau, Mo.
“I am most concerned about the issues we can control. There is not much we can do about interest rates, political climate, taxes, etc., but we can work on the things that do concern us as an organization. Labor would fit into that category. It is concerning that installers are getting older and younger people are not getting into the business. However, there are ways to attack this through CFI and WFCA training. Other concerns are keeping the attitudes of our associates positive. There is always flooring being sold; we have to find a way to get our share.”
— Doug Bertrand, Carpetland USA, Davenport, Iowa
“I think the issue most at hand and the one that I feel we can make a difference with is training our staff. In other words: people. Having a trained and qualified sales and installation staff should help you stand out among your competition. The struggle to train and retain good people is ongoing. Employers from all areas are competing for the best people. We have to make our industry inviting to entice the best people—and retain them. The lack of qualified installers is a problem, and we need to support any efforts to train people and keep them.”
— Doug Peeples, Myers Flooring, Nashville