We have been in the flooring business for over 20 years and have been selling floors on the Internet for many years now. We deal with hundreds of thousands of consumers, but there are still some out there that are apprehensive when it comes to buying their flooring over the Internet. This article was written for those people. Hopefully all of your questions will be answered here.
The flooring business can be tough and sometimes quite boring. Even if a retail store is considered a busy one, they may only see a handful of shoppers a day. What do they do with the rest of the time? In speaking with the manufacturer and distributor reps over the years, I can tell you that they don't do much. Read the newspaper, watch some TV, maybe talk with some friends on the phone. This can transform a lot of small flooring business owners and flooring salesman into people who don't have the greatest attitude or willingness to spend time with the consumer. On top of that, you have to take into account that they have to deal with installers and the entire installation circus. Of course let's not leave out the occasional shopper looking for a 10' x 10' room of carpet that wants a specific purple color, wants it for $100. installed, and will most likely spend 3 hours of your time. All of this combined can be a drain on anyone. Trust me, I know first hand.
We have visited retail stores in different parts of the country, and spoken to many customers about their experiences with retail stores. All of the experiences were similar. The most common complaints were; 1) The consumer felt that the salesman was not knowledgeable regarding the products they were interested in, 2) The consumer felt they were being pushed into buying one or two brands or products and the salesman portrayed everything else as being substandard, 3) The selection was somewhat limited compared to everything that is actually available on the market. Let's briefly discuss these points. First, the salesman did not seem to be knowledgeable. Let's face it, most salesman in general aren't interested in the product, they're only interested in which product will net them the biggest commission. That also explains the reason for them pushing consumers into one or two types or brands of flooring. As far as selection is concerned, there are only so many display racks and brands a store can carry. Unless of course the store is huge or a "mega giant" store. Unfortunately most of those don't last very long because their overhead is way too high.
Dealing with our company online is an entirely different experience. First let's discuss our people, which I feel is the most important part of the company. All of our people have years of experience in the flooring industry, they're friendly, and they don't mind spending quality time with consumers assessing their needs. We know that the customer will probably never meet our sales staff face to face, so we train them to be extra helpful. We actually think that you are better off dealing over the phone or by e-mail. We know that most consumers dread the thought of having to deal with a "salesman". Doing business this way provides a comfortable distance between you and the sales staff, but also allows you to get all of the information you need, and when you need it, even if you want to read your e-mail at 2:00 in the morning. There are no commissions or high pressure tactics. As far as selection is concerned, since our showroom is a virtual one, our space is unlimited. As long as the product is a good quality, and the pricing is in line, you will see it listed on our site.
Since we have already established that the average retail flooring store doesn't deal with a whole lot of people each week, what do you think they need to do when someone does walk in? Make a big profit, that's what, because they don't know when the next consumer will walk in the door! The average profit margin for a retail flooring store ranges from 40% to 80%. That's outrageous! Additionally, if they are not doing a large volume, which most aren't, then they are most likely not buying the products at the best price. All of this leads you to one unfortunate conclusion. You are paying too much for your new flooring if you by it from a retail store!
At FastFloors.com we sell approximately 15 to 20 times the amount of flooring that the average retail flooring store does. Obviously we have a bit of an advantage when making product purchases. Additionally, our profit margins are less than half that of the retail stores. The combination of high volume purchasing, and lower profit margins insures you get the lowest price. We guarantee it!
Have you ever bought something, had a problem with it, and then tried to contact the salesman for help? Scary, isn't it? We know that we will never meet you. We also know how powerful the Internet is when it comes to "spreading the word". One bad customer on the Internet can translate into thousands of people hearing about it in a very short time. We will do everything in our power to make sure you get the flooring you want. We will sell you that flooring, and we will be there whenever you need us afterwards. If one of our Flooring Specialists is not available, the acting manager will take the call or return the call personally. Whether it's a technical question, installation problem, whatever, we will be there for you.
If you have ever had a problem with a flooring product and/or installation you purchased from a local flooring store, I feel for you. If you haven't, I would suggest you do your best to avoid it. I am not going to tell you that all flooring stores are a nightmare when it comes to defective product claims, but a large percentage of them are. One of the main problems is that the distributors and manufacturers usually require that a representative (salesman) at the flooring store first go out and inspect the problem, and report back. If they think there is a real problem, the distributor or manufacturer will then send out one of their people. The first problem is that the person from the retail store, if you can get them to come out in a timely manner, is not usually happy about taking the time to come out to your house, making no money for the inspection, and having to lose time away from other sales. Second, since there are two or three parties involved, you are waiting for the person at the store, and then another representative. This all takes time, usually a lot of time. We've seen some reps take up to three months just to come out and look at the problem.
With our company, if any material is damaged during shipping, we will always replace that material at no cost to the customer, providing the customer followed the simple Delivery Checklist we sent them when they made the purchase. The Delivery Checklist we send you lists in detail how to inspect your order when it arrives. This is a very simple procedure that anyone can do, or get someone to do. The main thing we ask is that when you inspect the order, if there is any damage, you note it on the delivery ticket the driver asks you to sign. This insures that we will be able to get credit for the replacement material we would have to send you. I would like to add that we use some of the largest carriers in the United States and Canada. Their damage and claim ratio is less than 1%! The chances of your order being damaged in transit are slim. Even when there is damage, it is usually minor and we have rectified it immediately.
If you suspected you have a manufacturer defect, you would need to contact us and we would explain how to proceed. Usually, the floor will have to be inspected by a certified inspector, who can usually come out to your home within a week. If the problem turns out to be a valid claim, the floor would be replaced and you would be compensated for the installation if applicable. Every manufacturer has different policies regarding their warranties. If you have specific warranty related questions, contact our office and we will put you in touch with the appropriate manufacturer.