If you have read FCIfor any amount of time, you probably know that we beat the drum pretty heavily around here about the importance of proper training and certification for any type of flooring installation. Why? New products and technologies enter our market constantly, with competing information about the best ways to install them. We believe that rather than becoming confused by conflicting information or deciding to just “wing it,” a classroom setting with trained and knowledgeable instructors will almost never steer you wrong. Additionally, earning certification will give you a leg up on your competition and increase the value of your business and your brand.

One of our readers, long-time installer Brad Lenox, recently wrote in with an alternate stance. Frustrated by all the bottom-of-the-barrel bids he sees out in the field, Lenox noted: “These discussions about installer training are great, but nothing ever transpires from them. Training costs travel, room, board and course expenses. Who wants to travel the U.S. spending money to become certified, when Joe ‘Handyman’ undercuts your bid by half to do the job, because he’s done a couple laminate, wood, tile jobs, etc., and it’s ‘easy’?”

He added: “My recommendation for the industry would be to offer incentives for training programs and train the salespeople who know very little about the installation process, always oversell and have no clue what transitions or even expansion gaps are. The pay has decreased for us since 2007 when it should have doubled by now, and with this economy the lowest bid wins. I see it constantly and wonder at times why do I spend more to do a better job when it costs me work since I can’t bid as competitively? It’s just a complete mess of an industry that relies on installers, yet treats them like second-class citizens.”

He also sees the increasing competition from big-box stores devaluing installation in the minds of consumers. “When these places continually advertise low and/or free installation, consumers actually begin to believe them. For some reason these people don’t realize the labor cost is hidden in the high-end carpet mark up, pad or all the extras the customer will be billed for. I’ve lost quite a few jobs where I’ve been told, ‘Well, since Home Depot offers free installation, I’ll go with them.’ It is highly frustrating what this trade demands and the responsibilities of its professional installers, especially considering our pay grade.”

Do you agree with his points? Disagree? We’d love to hear from you. Write directly to the editor, Mike Chmielecki, at chmieleckim@bnpmedia.com, or click the Discuss tab at the top of the FCIhomepage to leave a comment on our LinkedIn page.