I have seen so many good installers leave this trade, it’s scary. The No. 1 reason why they are leaving? Money — or lack of it! I know two carpet installers with about 40 years of combined experience who have not installed a piece of carpet for about a year. Why? Because when you get $2.85 per square foot to install laminate floors (or about $26.25 a square yard), why on Earth would you install carpet for $4.50 a square yard?
Let me explain this another way. Let’s say that an installer can install a 12’ x 15’ (180 square feet) room of laminate, at $2.85 per square foot, for $513. That job would take the installer about 4 hours to complete.
But at $4.50 per square yard, the same installer would have to lay 114 yards of carpet to make the same $513. If that installer installed 10 yards of carpet an hour, it would take him 11.5 hours to earn the same amount of money as the far smaller laminate installation. This is easy, no-brainer math!
Here’s another example. Recently, an installer called me and told me he had grossed $132,000 last year. After he paid all the expenses of running his three crews, he netted for himself a whopping $19,500. In New Jersey, you can pour coffee at a well-known doughnut franchise for $21,000 a year plus benefits.
Now, let’s assume that the average residential installer is laying 100 yards of carpet daily at a cost of $10 per square yard for a low-end residential carpet. Then, add to this $2 per square yard for the cost of cushion. If that installer works six days a week, 50 weeks out of the year (allowing two weeks off annually for vacation and/or holidays — ha-ha), then he is responsible for finishing $360,000 worth of material a year.
Now, consider a scenario in which the same installer works with better-quality products that cost $22 per square yard and $3 per square yard for cushion. That installer is responsible for $700,000 worth of valuable material annually. And this figure does not take into account the retailer’s profit. When you add the retailer’s profit to this equation, this average installer is responsible for finishing more than $1 million worth of product a year.
And this industry wants to pay him how much??
There aren’t many professions that I can think of in which a skilled tradesman is responsible for finishing even $500,000 worth of material at the wages that the average carpet installer earns. You’d have to pour an awful lot of coffee before you poured $500,000 worth of inventory!
Until this industry as a whole starts to treat professional carpet installers like professionals — and this includes paying them like professionals — the crisis will remain alive and well.
If you feel like you’ve tried everything else, but you have never tried investing in quality carpet installers, what do you have to lose? Ultimately, if you don’t respond personally and financially to the installation crisis, your answer to that question could be “everything.”