There are only three ways we can be outbid on a job.
One – Inferior Materials
Our franchise company has been in business for 24 years and has relationships with many of the largest and best manufacturers in the flooring industry.
Because it has more than 100 franchisees across the United States and Canada, the franchise negotiates great prices from these flooring makers. However, we only sell good quality merchandise. The luxury vinyl tiles and planks, for example, are all low in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). That means they don’t give off harmful fumes.
So even though we offer great products at good price points, there are a lot of cheaply made imported products that are sold for less. However, many times these foreign-made cheap products are not just shoddy, but dangerous to human health.
The great majority of our products are made in the USA. We prefer buying these products in-country because our country has a very good regulatory infrastructure. The latest scandal involving a big flooring retailer in the United States illustrates the danger of buying products from third-world nations.
The incident involved Chinese-made laminate that contained high levels of formaldehyde, even though the product box declared the product met California’ stringent standards for formaldehyde content. Despite the printing on the box, the product could be potentially dangerous to your health.
Two – Underpriced Labor
We look for the best installers we can find because we know that the success of a flooring project depends on the installer. It’s the installer the homeowner sees every day, and it’s the installer who works the most with the product.
In Cincinnati, as elsewhere, there are pretty well-established rates for installing different products, and everyone in the business knows what those rates are.
However, a guy in a truck might offer really low rates. But is this a good deal? Can the guy, working for peanuts, afford to keep up with the training needed to install new products. Can he afford liability insurance? This is a big deal that many homeowners are unaware of. If the guy falls and breaks his leg and is uninsured, he may be forced to sue the homeowner in order to pay medical bills.
We carry liability insurance and our installers carry liability insurance; we keep the insurance certificates in our office files.
In a recent study, the Better Business Bureau found the home services industry had the most complaints of any category. However, 80 percent of consumers who had trouble getting their project completed satisfactorily were those who picked the lowest-priced provider.
Three – Razor Thin Operating Margins
Businesses have to make enough money to pay their bills, make payroll, and reinvest in the business.
One of the costs of doing business is honoring one’s service warranties. This is a warranty separate from the product warranties offered by manufacturers. A service warranty guarantees that the product installation will be free from defects for a certain period after the product is installed. We warrant our installations for two years.
So, a business that stands behind its work needs to take the cost of doing that into their operating margins. Not all businesses do this.
The consumer needs to consider this factor when comparing prices because the operating margin determines whether a business will continue operating.
So there are only three ways to outbid us: inferior products, inferior installers, or unsustainable operating margins. A new floor is an investment made right where you live. Is it really a good idea to find the cheapest product and hire the lowest-priced person or company?
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Jim Fitzgerald is an officer for Floor Coverings International, Cincinnati East, located in Cincinnati, Ohio
If you live in the Cincinnati, metro area and are looking for expert, unbiased help in choosing the type of flooring that is best for you, please call our 24-hour appointment desk at 513-729-7499.
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