These days, it seems that the main topic of discussion when two or more people involved in the floor covering installation business have a conversation is always “How can we reduce or minimize complaints?”

I’d like to report that I have the solution to that problem, but unfortunately I do not. What I do have is a suggestion to make your jobs go smoother in the long run – keep a journal of day-to-day problems and the solutions to them.

What’s a journal? It is a personal record of job experiences and reflections on them. What did you do when something went wrong? What did you do to solve the problem? Jot it down in your journal so you know what you did if and when you come across the problem again.

You can index your journal by brands. Jot down any problems associated with a particular brand and refer to them before starting an installation to make sure they do not slow you down. For example, suppose Company X has three or four different backings for their carpet. The job that you are installing has backing number three. Check your journal for any problems you have experienced while working with that backing before, review them and proceed with the installation.

You can also insert directions and bulletins that you receive from the manufacturer and distributor on proper use and installation procedures for their products, as well as tips picked up from various events or contractor nights, in the section reserved for that manufacturer. You are then able to easily review them before beginning a job.

In addition to organizing your journal by brands, sections may be set up by complaints: moisture problems; substrates; seaming; installing on cold days, hot days, humid days; porous substrates; non-porous substrates, etc. You should also set up sections for adhesives, hot-melt tapes, underlayments and tackless strip you regularly work with so you can refer to them if you encounter problems on the job, as well as for those you do not usually work with to familiarize yourself with them if they are specified for the job you are about to begin.

You may also want to keep a section of solutions that you have developed for complaints you have encountered in various areas, including:

  • Moisture
  • Surface preparation
  • Installation procedures
  • Adhesive open time
  • Seaming
  • Traffic (was it kept off the floor for the appropriate amount of time?)
  • Ventilation (was it properly provided?)

    If you journal regularly, or keep a file on the subjects covered in this article and refer to them before going on a job, especially in the case of unfamiliar products, you should be able to minimize complaints. You should also be able to use this information to bid a job, because you will come to the table knowing what products are easy for you to install and what products cause you the most problems.