How to leverage local business relationships

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According to an article on, more than 30% of homeowners cited their old flooring as the thing they dislike most about their homes. Moreover, the survey—conducted by LightStream, the online lending division of SunTrust Bank—stated that 73% of homeowners were planning some type of improvement project. It’s a safe bet that new floors will be high on many home improvement to-do lists.

Flooring is one of those things sellers often overlook when bogged down with the intricacies of a home sale. In my mind, this represents a valuable opportunity to partner with key realtors in your market. LightStream’s research suggests that realtors are constantly looking at bad floors. However, they might not have in-depth knowledge on flooring. Worse, they may not have good contacts in their ear. That puts many realtors at a loss.

I know many of you work with realtors but perhaps not in a major way. You might say, “They haven’t bought from me, why should I bother?” From my experience, realtors are not the customers—the gold is in their customers.

Following are a few ways you can potentially expand your customer base by fostering closer ties with local realtors.

  • Be proactive. All realtors have ongoing meetings with their staff. Why not call the major ones in your area and offer yourself as the flooring expert to do a monthly presentation on flooring trends, maintenance, installation, etc? You can bring your samples, answer questions and have discount cards for their customers.
  • Utilize social media. Follow local realtors on Facebook and share articles that will be helpful to them. Reposting a flooring article (like one found at would be great and link it back to your store. You can even offer to go out and look at bad floors and offer an estimate.
  • Get creative. Let’s say a realtor has a house that needs full flooring replacement, but the owner doesn’t want to replace it before the sale. The owner might not want to shell out the money or there may not be enough time. You can go through samples with the owner and work up an estimate that the realtor can present to the owner. This can be a credit on the asking price or can be deducted from the sale price. Or the cost of the flooring installation can be put in escrow and paid at the time of closing. This is a win for all the parties involved. Michelle Winters, a colleague of mine, used to own a flooring store in New Braunfels, Texas. She told me she used to hold monthly meetings with realtors in her store and pretty much owned them. She would throw monthly parties and invite brokers, lenders, home inspectors and even the banks.
  • What about holding commercial flooring classes? I had a commercial realtor tell me he wouldn’t look at a retrofit again unless he brought a flooring expert with him. He had a buyer who was planning on purchasing a very old building in a defunct shopping mall and never realized how much repairing the concrete floor was going to cost.
  • Develop a specialty or niche. Here’s an idea: Find an interior designer who is certified as an “Aging in Place” specialist. You can obtain a certification from Age Safe America to market additional services to realtors. This would be a great event to hold in your store with realtors.

Bottom line: Nothing happens overnight but consistence and commitment will turn this into continued business for your store.

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at

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July 31/Aug. 7, 2023

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