When Is The Best Time Of Year To Buy Floor Covering?
Contrary to what you might read on the internet, they is no best time of the year to buy floor covering. Retail floor covering sales are gimmicks to get customers to visit their store. Special sales during holiday weekends or during slow months will not offer you a better price. The way to get the best price is to understand your project, know your budget and learn how to evaluate products.
Are Those Special Sales Giving You Good Pricing?
We all hear the television and radio advertisements that promote those weekend sales:
"Free furniture moving"
"Free carpet pad."
"Buy one square foot, get a second square foot free"
"No interest for 12 months"
Do you think these are good deals? A floor covering store is in business to make money. Why would they give things away for "free?" Out of the kindness of their heart? Maybe that particular store is simply community and civic minded, and they are willing to lose money, just to help out their friends and neighbors? Maybe the owner of that store, stopped for gas one day, and while paying for his/her gas, purchased a lottery ticket...and won! The owner is in such a good mood, they decided to give stuff away for free, just for the heck of it.
Of course not. Stores are in business to make money. Lots of money. The only reason a store will run a special weekend sale, is to attract customers. Stores use marketing wizards to make these weekend promotions look like the best thing since the invention of the wheel. Unfortunately, that is hardly the case.
These special weekend sales are set-up to take advantage of the poor customer. The customer gets no special deal. The customer might think they got a great price, but in reality, they mostly likely over-payed, or they received an inferior product, or a product that will soon be a drop.
You're probably thinking, but, if a customer received free installation, how is that a bad deal? If a customer received free carpet pad, how could they have over-paid? What about the buy one, get one free? How is that a bad deal? In the back of your mind, we know you're thinking, "what we're saying simply can't be true. Of course these sales save the customer money." WRONG. These sales promotions make stores tons of money, or they simply would not keep doing them. Do you have that one store in your town, that constantly has "special weekend sales? That one store that you can't turn on your radio, without hearing some sort of advertisement? We bet you do. Do you really think that store would continue to pay money for advertisements, and continue to have these special weekend sales, if it cost them money? Of course not. Stores promote these sales, because it makes them money.
Meanwhile, the poor customer goes home thinking they made a killer deal, when in fact, they most likely over-paid for inferior products.
Let's Take A Look At Some Of Those Special Sale Promotions
The first one on the list, is the "free installation" promotion. Most retail stores will use sub-contractors as their installers. This means, the installers that show up at your house are not actually store employees. They are sub-contractors hired by the store to do their installation work. These sub-contractors have negotiated pricing on how they charge for their services. Stores will take this price, mark it up, and then give the marked up price to the customer.
A small percentage of stores will use installers that are employees of the store. In this case, these installers are usually hourly employees.
Using the sub-contractor scenario, let's say an installer charges a store $0.50 a square foot for carpet installation. The store will take that price and might mark it up to $0.75 a square foot. This $0.75 would be what the customer would usually pay for carpet installation.
Now, fast forward to the "free installation" sale. If a specific carpet would normally cost $1.00 a square foot. For the "free installation" sale, that same carpet will cost $1.75 a square foot. Do you see what has happened? The store does not charge you for the installation has a separate line item. Instead, they lump the installation price in with the carpet. As a customer, you are paying the same money! In many cases, the store will lump together more of a margin, and as a customer, you will pay more!
But, they gave me free carpet pad during this special sale. Did they? Retail stores usually have about 3-5 carpet pads they offer customers. They start with a cheap promotional pad, and move up to their nice thick pad version.
While stores do pay more from suppliers for better pad, stores use carpet pad as a huge money maker. The mark-up on carpet pad is crazy high. The better the pad, the more a customer will pay.
The standard sales gimmick is to use the starter pad as the free carpet pad product. Stores will line up the pad options for customers, and have them stand on them for comparison purposes. Once they stand on the promotional pad, and then stand on one of the upgrades, in almost every case, the customer will pick the upgrade. At which point....the store makes money, and the customer is now paying more money. If the customer uses the promotional pad, guess what? That pad price has already been added to the carpet price. Either way, the store makes money.
Let's do one more. what about that special no interest for 12 months deal? As a customer, you don't have to come up with a large amount of cash to do your project. That's a great deal, right? Our answer would be, maybe.
Retail stores use third party finance companies to work these types of promotions. The longer the period of time, the more the finance company will charge. For example, 12 months with no interest might cost a store 1.5% of the total amount financed. 24 months might cost a store 4%, and so on... Stores don't absorb this expense. Stores pass this expense on to the customer.
So, keep in mind, as a customer, if you're willing to pay extra on your order, in order to make small monthly payments, then financing is a good deal. but, don't ever assume it's a free service, because it is not.
When it comes to sale promotions, hopefully these examples will show you that stores are making money from these special sales. Special weekend and holiday promotions are not the way to go to get the best floor covering price.
How Do You Get The Best Floor Covering Price?
Customers should first understand, that not every floor covering sales person have equal abilities. Some sales people are better and more experienced than others, and some sales people have more flexibility in setting up competitive pricing. But guess what, the vast majority of al sales people work on commission. The more they sell, the more money they earn.
Most retail store personnel work on what's called an "up system." This means they have a rotation on who calls on new customers. Most of the time, once you enter a store as a new customer, you get associated with whatever sales person greets you at the door.
Retail stores usually have at least one person that works with commercial accounts. Commercial accounts (in this case) would be defined as: apartment buildings, working with realtors, new homes, or small office buildings.
Retail sales people work on a margin of around 35%. Commercial sales people work on a margin of around 20%. So, who do you think will get you the best price? The sales person that marks up your quote 35%, or the sales person that marks up your quote 20%?
The real question becomes: how do you get associated with the commercial person? The trick is to do some research and call ahead. If you know a realtor, call them and ask who they use for floor covering. If you can't get a realtor referral, call your local store, and ask the receptionist who in the store works their commercial accounts.
Once you get a few names, call one of these folks up and ask for an appointment. Now, when you walk in to the store, you will be going there with an appointment, and you won't get stuck with the wrong retail sales person.
The Shopping Process
When you first set-up an appointment, most stores will do free home measurements. Set that up. In order to get a quote, you need to know how much material to buy, and the store will need to know what is involved with your installation (in order to quote you a price).
Next, you need to sit down and figure out your budget. How much money are you willing to spend, as well as, where are you going to get this money from? Are you paying in cash? Are you financing? Etc...
Now, when walking in to the store (to meet with your commercial sales person), you will be armed with your budget, as well as the information from the free home measurement.
It's time to start getting the sales person involved. Explain your project. Are you seeking carpet? Maybe you want hardwood flooring? Maybe you're re-modeling a kitchen, and want a new backsplash. Whatever the case, explain your situation to the sales person.
Ask your sales person to make product recommendations, based on your material need and your budget. Start developing a "maybe" pile. This is a pile of products you like, that just might work for your project.
Get a group of about 4-5 samples, and take them home. They lighting in a store is much different than in your home. You need to see products in your light. In your room. After a day or so, if you still love one of these samples, you have a winner. If none of them work, start the process all over again.
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