Everywhere you look, there is more bad news about the economy–rising fuel costs, increasing unemployment, falling new home sales. It’s clear that the dreaded “R” word, recession, has arrived, and it will likely be some time before the economy fully recovers. With all these challenges, what’s an installer to do? This was the question I recently posed to veteran FCI columnist and installation guru Jon Namba. He replied that, despite these conditions, many installers continue to not only survive, but thrive. Our conversation eventually led to an article, “Tough Times, or Time to Get Tough?” In the article, which is included in this issue, Jon answers this question, and in his inimitable style, offers installers no-nonsense tips on how to survive during tough economic times.

In short, the key concepts here are professionalism and up-to-date skills. When it comes to professionalism, even the smallest details, such as grooming, attire and manners, can make all the difference to consumers. That housewife who greets you when you show up for the installation probably won’t notice if you are making your seams correctly, but you can be certain she notices your disheveled appearance and rusted-out van, and those impressions could doom your chances of referral business. In today’s economy, can you really afford to take that chance?

In terms of your skills, you owe it to yourself to honestly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Ask yourself, “Am I up to speed on all the latest products and installation techniques?” If not, it may be time to take an installation training or certification class. While this may require an investment of time and money, both of which may be in short supply, the benefits to your business far outweigh the costs. If you are confident in your skills in your given area of expertise, perhaps you could consider learning a new skill; for example, if you usually install carpet, consider learning to install wood or ceramic, which generally offer higher pay. These are just a few of the ways that you can become more competitive and increase your bottom line.

We hope that you enjoy this and all the others articles in this issue of Floor Covering Installer. It is our goal to help you, the installer, to improve your skills and increase your knowledge, which will help you to thrive during these challenging times. If there are any other questions you would like answered, or subjects you wish to see addressed in FCI articles, please send me an e-mail with your comments and suggestions.