Once the floor is installed, that's it. Or, at lest that's the approach that a lot of installation professionals seem to take.

You’ve been in the house for a day and a half, installing carpet and sheet goods. You’ve established a good rapport with the homeowner, and answered questions on the proper care and maintenance of the newly installed products. Can you extend this short-term relationship into the long term?

You can, with a little ingenuity. The average retail salesperson feels that his or her job is complete when the buyer’s signature hits the dotted line. This leaves a wide opening for the installer. The hard-surface floor will require proper cleaning and care. The carpet may need spot-cleaning or a total cleaning in a short time if spills or other accidents occur, or in a year or so if the household consists of a family with a couple of kids and the odd dog or cat.

During the question-and-answer phase of the relationship, you might discuss vacuuming the carpet every day, or every other day, in high-traffic areas, and once a week in other areas. Include routine sweeping or vacuuming of the hard-surface area floors to help minimize scratching and loss of gloss in the discussion. And remember to mention long-term care to help maintain the floor’s appearance over the expected life of the installation.

Your business may also include carpet cleaning. If not, you may want to team up with a good, reliable carpet-cleaning firm in your area, and work out an arrangement with them for scheduling cleaning programs with your customers.

For hard-surface floors, you can recommend a maintenance schedule and the products required to keep the floor looking like new. Offer your customers a line of products that you can obtain for them from your supply distributor.

Most distributors of sheet goods and resilient tile handle a line of branded care products for the hard-surface products they represent. Many floor covering retailers have racks in their stores, but their customers usually buy over-the-counter goods at the supermarket or local hardware store. In many cases, this results in the purchasing of the wrong product for the floor that was installed.

You can become the customer’s source of the correct products to use on the goods you installed by contacting them every 45 to 60 days to check on their supply. You then take an order, get the products from one of your distributors, and deliver them to your customer for the suggested retail price of the floor covering manufacturer.

If your distributors don’t want to sell branded products through you, they may also handle care products made by specialty-product manufacturing companies. Sometimes these products are under the distributor’s private label. The specialty lines are broad, and cover all types of floor coverings: glossy dressing for no-wax vinyl flooring; wood floor dressings; ammoniated strippers; silicone sealers; ceramic tile cleaners; and grout cleaners, just to mention a few.

As the expert, you will be trusted by the homeowners who you have performed work for. They will trust you to recommend the right products required to maintain the life and appearance of the products you have installed for them, and they will purchase them from you.