Dan Walker, vice president of sales for Illinois-based Flooring America/The Flooring Store, recently wrote in to share his idea on how to get more professional and qualified installers involved in the industry. He has more than 30 years of experience in the industry and has used both employee installers and subcontractors on projects.
He stated: “Much has been done and attempted to resolve [the industry’s] installation issues. Buying groups have breakout sessions with owners on how to better manage installations; the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) does the same during convention. We have and are developing training programs throughout the industry.
“The one missing component to all these great programs is the installer. The majority of installers throughout the Unites States have no idea we have a problem. They are not informed, because we as an industry do not reach out to them.
“The installers who want to learn to be better mechanics find the International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association (CFI) and training programs themselves. A minority of dealers recruits and informs these installers. But mostly, the industry reaches out to fellow dealers—not to installers.
“I believe informing installers of the issues we face as an industry will compel them to be more professional and improve their quality of work. Inform them how they can demand better wages by dressing and communicating professionally, following industry standard practices, receive advanced training and invest in themselves. We as an industry do not share our concerns with the actual individuals having a direct impact to our livelihood and our customer’s ultimate satisfaction and referral.”
He then proposed the following plan:
“Create a central communications center for strictly installation-related issues.
“Create a website that will make available industry standard practices, guidelines and respective manufacturers’ installation instructions.
“Have all technical phone numbers and contact information available for installers.
“Have available training podcasts organized by flooring type and manufacturer.
“Build a database of flooring installers, with information supplied by dealers, WFCA, CFI, etc.
“From this database, create a newsletter that is e-mailed and/or mailed to every installer on a regular basis, direct them to the website, educate them on the issues our industry faces, and educate them on how to make more money and be better professionals.
“Finally, create a problem resolution page of typical problems experienced by dealers/manufacturers due to installation errors so installers can better understand how their work impacts the flooring performance.”
While some of Walker’s ideas mirror similar ideas hashed out at the Installation Summit last year, it’s heartening to see retailers taking a more active role in solving this. What do you think?