Updated: May 2, 2021
How To Save Money When Shopping For Flooring
Not all sales people are equal. There is a specific strategy to use when shopping for floor covering. Never just walk in to a store without a plan. In order to get the best price, customers need to do the proper research, and follow guidelines set forth in our buying strategy.
The Big Floor Covering Sales Scam
We have all heard those advertisements on the radio and television:
"It's BOGO time!"
"Free Installation Weekend..."
"Free Furniture Moving..."
"We Will Haul Away Your Old Carpet For Free!
"Buy 50 Square Feet, Get 50 Square Feet For Free..."
Maybe you received a special invitation letter in the mail. This letter gives you the exclusive right to visit a floor covering store during a special sale, to get special pricing, that is not available to the general public.
Do you have that one store in your town that always has some special sale going on? That one store that you can't turn on the radio or television without hearing their advertisement. Most towns have that one store, that just runs non-stop promotions.
Let's get something crystal clear: retail floor covering stores are in business to make money. No store is going to give something away for free. The idea that a store is so generous, that they are running special sales, just to lose money, is simply not the case, it is is not going to happen. All of these sales have one goal: to get customers in to their store.
If a store gets people in to their store, they will make money. The sales promotion is set-up to look like a great deal, but in reality, it is not. All of these sales make the retail store a ton of money.
So, you might be asking, "if these store sales are not good deals, then how do you get a good price?" A very good question. We'll get to that in a second...
The Problem With Walking In To A Floor Covering Store, Without A Plan...
Most retail floor covering sales people work on commission. This means, the more they sell, the more money they make. Busy retail stores also have their sales force work on a rotation system. They take turns on waiting on new customers. Once a customer gets introduced to a sales representative, that customer will be registered as that sales person customer. The problem is: not all sales people are equal.
Some sales representatives have more experience. Some sales representatives understand their products better. Some sales representatives have more flexibility on price. Sales people are not equal. If a customer gets stuck with the wrong sales person, they will get the wrong price.
The trick is: how do you get associated with the sales person that will give you the best deal? We'll get to that in a second...
Let's Take At Some Of These Special Sale Deals...
It's BOGO (buy one, get one free) time! This is a very popular type of promotion. The customer is told whatever they buy, they will get the same quantity free. Many customers love this promotion, as they can get 2 rooms of new flooring for the price of one.
Let's say the customer wants to buy a vinyl plank product that costs $5 a square foot. If they buy 400 square feet at $5 a square foot, they'll get 400 square feet for free! What a great deal!!!! But, is it really a good deal? Let's take a closer look:
That $5 a square foot vinyl plank product might cost the retail store $1 a square foot to purchase. The store is making $4 a square foot profit. At $4 a square foot profit, a store can offer a customer "free" whatever they want. Plus, in most cases, the promotion does not include labor. The retail store will also make full profit on the labor.
How about the free installation sale. This is a good one. All the retail store is doing is taking the installation price, and adding it to the price of the material. If a store has a carpet they buy for $1 a square foot, and they turn around and sell it for $10 a square foot, they can offer customers free installation all day long. They still end up making a ton of money.
Also, in most cases, this free installation sale does not include the carpet pad. You can bet the store will charge the customer the full retail price on all of their carpet pad ordered.
Let's take a look at one more: it's the no payments for 6 months sale. Most stores will use a third party finance company to handle all of their financing deals. Depending on the promotion, these finance companies charge the store a percentage fee for taking on the risk of fronting the money to the customer. Do you think the store just absorbs that fee? Of course not. The store passes this fee on to the customer. For example, if a finance company charges a store 3% of the purchase price on a 6 month finance promotion, the store will turn around an add that 3% in to the price of the material. The customers pays for it.
How To Save Money When Shopping For Flooring (The Process)
Retail flooring sales people work at a gross profit margin of around 35% to 45%. This means they will take the cost of a material, and mark it up 35% to 45% before selling it to the customer. In fact, many sales people get paid on gross profit margin. The higher the margin, the more money they earn.
What most people don't realize, there is another category of sales people. We're talking about the sales people that work on commercial jobs (school projects, apartment buildings, realtor work, new home construction). The commercial market is completely different than retail sales. In the commercial world, gross profit margins are around 15% to 25%.
Guess what? These commercial sales people work on commission too. They more they sell, the more money they earn. So, what would happen to your home floor covering project, if your material costs are only being marked up 25%,instead of 45%? Correct! Your price would go way, way down.
The trick becomes: how do you get associated with that sales person that works on commercial projects?
Before you start your shopping process, call your local store. Ask them who works on commercial projects. This is not top secret information. Stores will gladly tell you. If you know a realtor in town, call them and ask for a floor covering referral. The goal at this point in the process is to set-up an appointment in the store. If you just walk in to a store without an appointment, you will get stuck with a retail person, that will mark-up your project 45%.
But, if you walk in to a store with an appointment, you will bypass the retail person, and now you're associated with the person that can work on much lower margins.
Credit: The Sales Floor
Setting Up The Home Measurement (The Next Step)
Most stores will offer customers a free home measurement. The next step in the buying process is to take advantage of this opportunity. The sales person will need to know what the project is all about, before they can quote a price. How much material needed, as well as the installation requirements is very important information in the process.
So, now you are set-up with the right sales person, you have scheduled a free home measurement. Now you are ready to shop.
Determine Your Budget
Begin with the end in mind. Know exactly how much money you are willing to spend. Take advantage of your sales person. Inform the sales person what your budget is, and let them come up with some options for you. With the home measurement completed, the sales person can take the installation information, and match up products that are within your budget.
Now, instead of just wondering around a store, looking at products, you have given marching orders to your sales person, and you are only looking at products that you can afford.
The "Maybe" Pile...
Start creating a maybe pile in the store. These are samples of products that might look good in your home. Once you get 4 or 5 samples picked, take them home. The lighting in a store is much different than in your home. You need to see colors in your space. After a few days, if one product sticks out, you have a winner. If none of them work return the samples and start the process allover again.
It's also a good idea, to ask the sales person to pick a few samples that are well below your budget, as well as a few products that would be considered above your budget. this way, you can evaluate the quality of products.
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Conclusion - How To Save Money When Shopping For Flooring
The most important thing to remember when shopping for flooring is, to begin with the end in mind. Know what the goal of your project is, and know how much money you are willing to spend.
Get aligned with the right store sales person. Remember, not all sales people are equal, If you get stuck with the wrong person, you will end up paying more money.
The more time you can allow yourself to research the products, the better price you will get. Stores are in business to make money. Those weekend special sales, don't save you money. They are just gimmicks stores use to get you to visit them.
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