By Nicole Murray
With big-box stores continuing to leverage their size, scale and value-driven product offerings, specialty flooring retailers are looking for ways to differentiate themselves and compete on factors other than price per square foot.
Following are proven tips retailers have employed in boosting their laminate sales.
Tip #1: Emphasize laminate’s performance advantages. Thanks to innovations in coreboard technology, the latest batch of laminate floors are touting moisture resistance—specifically against common occurrences such as spills, pet accidents, etc. More importantly, these advanced products translate into step-up products that offer higher margins over entry-level floors.
Jon Dauenhauer, co-owner of Carpet World, Bismarck, N.D., emphasizes the product’s performance by conducting water-resistant demonstrations near his laminate displays. “We have a demo board set-up that proves the product is impermeable to moisture. It is an easy segue into assuring her that she does not have to worry about the dropped ice cube or dog dish spilling.”
Tip #2: Merchandise accordingly. Position step-up products prominently in the showroom while deemphasizing entry-level options. That’s the advice from successful retailers like Jeff Firkus, account manager of Contract Interiors, St. Paul, Minn. “You want the customer to experience the products on your showroom floor but have to seek out the cheaper options tucked away in a book,” he explained. “She may fall in love with a more expensive option that you can prove has the visuals comparable to the real products because it is directly in front of her.”
Tip #3: Keep sales staff informed. The importance of continuously educating and training your staff cannot be overstated. Sales teams must have knowledge of the various laminate products, so they can effectively communicate the attributes and advantages.
“I am always encouraging my staff to learn as much as possible, because there is always going to be a new collection to learn about,” said Tammy Whitley, owner of World of Floors, Grayling, Mich. “I want them speaking with the reps, reading the magazines and attending the seminars.”
Tip #4: Promote your best sellers. Aligning your store with trusted, reputable laminate brands goes a long way in establishing credibility with the consumer, experts say. “I only put quality on my floor so well-known names are my go-to products,” said Matt Fuhr, owner of Carpets Plus Outlet, Kenosha, Wis. “If you can’t trust what you put on your own floor, why should consumers?”
Tip #5: Listen for cues from the customer. Before recommending a product, find out more about how she plans to utilize the space. For example, does she have pets in the home? Or maybe she plans on installing the floor in a high-traffic area.
“Laminate is a cost-effective product that requires low maintenance but can handle a lot of abuse,” Fuhr explained. “This product can be confidently suggested for many situations involving high-risk factors such as pets and kids. With laminates, she will know her family is receiving the best option.”
Tip #6: Look for add-on opportunities. When going out to the job site to take measurements, it’s a good opportunity to scout out adjoining rooms that might need flooring. This is helpful in homes that feature open floor plans as they allow a particular pattern or design to continue seamlessly without the use of transition strips or moldings.
“You want to avoid a consumer even considering the use of transitions by offering them an alternative solution,” Firkus said.