Carpet and Rug Institute's James Beach shares carpet cleaning and maintenance advice with upbeat retailers at recent flooring shows.
I thought my colleague Jeff Carrier did a fabulous job of capturing the general attitude that permeated Surfaces last week. There is guarded optimism that flooring sales have turned the corner, or at least hit the bottom and have bounced. Having read that most experts feel that the recovery will start to kick into at least low gear once spring arrives (which depending on what part of the snow-covered country you are reading this from might still seem like a LONG way away!), there is a general sense of relief sighing going around in the industry.
Surfaces was actually the final of a three-week trek across the country in which I found myself face-to-face with flooring retailers. Prior to the big show in Las Vegas, I attended two Shaw Aligned Dealer Shows, one in Toronto and one in Portland, and had a pretty good lay of the land coming into the nation’s top flooring event. You can hear all you want to hear from so-called experts and even industry insiders, but if you want to know what is really going on, then retailers are where the rubber meets the road.
At all three shows, you could feel a sense of sanguinity, and that the people walking the floor with their hands in their pockets weren’t doing so as much to protect the money inside them, but rather to dig in and start to spend a little. I am personally going through a major remodel at my house in Tennessee and, quite honestly, haven’t been this excited about it since we built it originally almost 13 years ago.
And shopping around for carpet with my wife was certainly a positive experience as the warm fuzzy stuff of today is leaps and bounds ahead of the choices we had when we built our domicile way back when. The colors, the stain resist properties, the styles, the sustainability aspects of today’s carpets were all important factors we figured into our purchase and, I have to tell you, it made me proud being able to share such knowledge with my wife in a purchase that ordinarily would be all hers.
I can certainly understand why retailers have reasons to be excited if for no other reason than the product they have available to sell to the consumer.
At all three of the shows I attended, the main selling point I had for retailers through CRI was the wealth of knowledge we have accumulated in the arena of cleaning and maintaining carpet. With our recently released second edition of the Carpet Cleaning Tips for Dummies books out now, it is a wonderful mechanism for retailers to have at their disposal because it has all the basic information in it, especially regarding the Seal of Approval program, and it directs them to our website (carpet-rug.org) for all the other info a new buyer could need. The booklet has always been popular and worthy of a good conversation starter, so it doesn’t surprise me in the least that I have handed out over 1,000 of them individually in three weeks time.
What I try to stress with the retailers is that we offer these booklets to them as hand outs to give away with every new carpet purchase. It introduces the consumer to the proper way to maintain their carpets, and ultimately, that retailer will be the one benefitting from a consumer who is more satisfied with their purchase. And trust me, a happy customer is a customer who will return to your store for their next purchase when that day comes.
And the best deal about our Carpet Cleaning Tips for Dummies books is the price: they are free to retailers. All it costs is the time to go to our website and visit the publications section. Shipping and handling will get you a case of 300 of them.
Since we reprinted the book we have given away over 100,000 of them, so it is obviously something that has a demand. If the residential replacement and remodeling market for our industry does start to boom as so many are suggesting, well, it just makes sense to teach folks the proper way to care for their new purchase.
What do you think?
Photo credit: CRI's James Beach and Frank Hurd take a breather to compare notes at recent Surfaces 2010. Photo courtesy of C.B. Whittemore.