Posted on

Installments: The amateur and the pro

Volume 28/Number 6; September 1/8, 2014

By David Stafford

Stafford,-DavecolorThere is a difference between the amateur and the pro, whether it’s selling or installing flooring. You get what you pay for and will pay for what you get, one way or the other.

The sales pro will listen and then offer multiple solutions to fix problems; the amateur will always have a solution, but it may not address the client’s needs (or her pocketbook).

There is often great frustration for the client when the amateur has his own agenda and is not listening. “We cannot use your in-stock color beige; I don’t care how quickly you can deliver or how good the pricing.” A pro will invest the time to ask a litany of questions, find out what is really important, and then offer suggestions. “What is your move-in date? What if I could offer a multi-level surface texture or something in a soft gray?” The smaller change can often make a huge difference in client perception.

The one area where you can count on the amateur for problems and mistakes is in jobsite analysis. This does not mean a cursory walk-through that an amateur would complete, just taking measurements. Rather, you should be looking for building access points for loading and unloading, obstacles to be avoided, debris on site, type of take up and disposal alternatives, substrate condition, moisture testing, method of installation specified or preferred, and furniture movement and replacement.

What is outlined (and priced) as a one-day job can turn into a three-day nightmare. By the time a troublesome job is done, the client, salesperson and the installer never want to see each other again and the client may short-pay the invoice because of the disruption. All can be avoided with a realistic site inspection.

Once an order is placed, shipped, received and admitted into inventory, it should be promptly and carefully inspected. Have you ever had blue carpet show up to be installed when brown had been specified? Or worse, were there streaks or tufting defects throughout the carpet roll? Even a new product that is off shade is subject to rejection, let alone glaring defects whether visual or technical. The pro knows skipping any steps in inspection after receiving can result in big problems. The amateur tries to deal with this at the client’s location and make amends; the pro handles it beforehand and the client may never know there even was a problem.

With flooring, most products must be delivered and installed to receive full value. You may visualize the amateur with a roll of carpet tied down to the top of his car or pickup truck versus the pro, who shows up with an extended cab van. And it’s not just delivery, but also the prep work on the site itself. Floors are patched, repaired, sanded down and swept/vacuumed before adhesive or padding is applied. When presented with a suspicious lump in the middle of a living room full of carpet, the amateur fixes it with a hammer. To get a tight stretch on carpet over pad, the amateur “kicks harder” while the pro uses a power stretcher. Several years ago, when having a house of carpet installed for a relative, I stopped the job because a power stretcher was not being used. You would have thought I suggested burning the Holy Bible!

It’s worth it for everyone involved to spend a few extra bucks and go pro.