The flooring installation industry is a proud industry, but it’s also an embattled one. On one side you have the seasoned professionals, those who have seen it all
but are still out there honing their skills and perfecting their techniques. On the other side you have the unskilled laborers toiling away with no real direction or instruction. Does that mean all unskilled laborers are bad? Not necessarily – some of them might have enough of an interest and a spark to wantto become educated and informed. With enough determination, training and practice, they may even eventually cross the divide into the seasoned professionals category.
Unfortunately, no matter on which side of the divide you fall, you probably aren’t being paid enough. Unskilled laborers are essentially making pennies, driving the cost of installation down even more. Some seasoned professionals are being paid at least close to what they’re worth, but not enough of them. Time and again you hear the horror stories of guys who are phenomenal with their hand skills, but can’t seem to scrape together a business plan that will keep them afloat. Many more have left the industry entirely, fed up with not being able to make enough money doing what they love and what they do best.
Part of the problem, of course, is retailers who package installation as an afterthought. How can you compete or ever hope to make a living when every other flier stuffed into your mailbox advertises this week’s deals on floor covering but not the skill that goes into ensuring the floor is perfectly and professionally installed? Even more of an insult, when installation is discussed in an ad, it’s undervalued with nonsense like “Hardwood installed $1.59 a sq./ft.!” Is that even worth gassing up the truck?
Would you recommend your son or daughter join the trade? If you answered no, then you understand the problems this industry is facing. How can we attract the next generation of installers if we can’t promise them a decent wage for all the time they put in? Whenever I go to an installation convention, I see a lot of pride, a lot of experience and a lot of gray hair. Conversely, whenever I travel to a distributor or manufacturer event, I see a healthy mix of both young and old.
As an installer, are you passing on the torch to someone in your family? Or are you dreading the day your son or daughter comes up to you and says, “I want to do what my dad does” and you have to shake your head no?