Installers vs and Retailers

It takes several hands on deck to leave an end user happy and satisfied with their new flooring. From the point of sale to the installation, flooring retailers and installers are working together for the common good and goal—a satisfied customer and a profit. But operating from totally different sides of the business can sometimes leave room for misunderstanding, misrepresentation and miscommunication. In an effort to bridge the gap, CFI brought together a panel of industry professionals representing both sides of the industry, to share what matters to each most. Representing the installation side of the business were David Garden, Installation Services; Roland Thompson, Thompson Flooring Installation and Consultant Services; and Dwayne Pruitt, Pruitt Flooring. On the retail side, Alan Ellis, Alans Carpet & Floors; Don Roberts, Central Alabama Flooring and Mac Mcllvried.

Set Appropriate Expectations

Roberts: “The customer expects whatever they were told by the sales person. And sometimes the sales person has a great way of setting the bar so high, that there isn’t an installer that can exceed those expectations. We make that mistake a lot.” –Roberts

Garden: “What the customer expects more than anything else is to not know there was an installation. As installers, we aren’t there to be rock stars. We are there to ensure that when the customer comes home from work, their house is exactly the way it was when they left for work, with the one expectation being their floors are done.”

Mcllvried: The customer is not always right. Sometimes the customer is a jerk, sometimes the customer tells you things that didn’t actually occur. The person that can walk that line of being a great installer and also leave that customer—even when they aren’t right—feeling like they had a great experience, that’s arguably the single most valuable thing that we can find.”


Pruitt: “Actually listen to the installer. I’ve probably worked for five, six, seven different retailers in Wichita and I’ve got to say, all of them in their own rights are pretty good, but the one’s I really like are the ones that listen to me. I’m definitely not always right, and they make their points and I have to have an open mind. But my perfect retailer is the guy who likes to have a discussion and not tell me how I have to do it.”

Garden: “It’s not all about price. The perfect retailer is the one who opens up and lets me come in their front door, rather than asking me to go through the back door. That perfect retailer is someone that’s asking my opinion.” Dave

Build a Relationship

Mcllvried: “We are extending our company perks over to the installer side of the house. We should have done it a long time ago. One of the downsides of having 40-plus locations and couple thousand installer is, you tend to lose personal contact with them. One of the things we are doing in trying to pull them into the building and into the interpersonal relationships with the folks that work in those markets. We need to do it from a humanistic standpoint, we need to do it from a real standpoint—things that actually benefit installers and make them want to partner with us, because we know the truth is, they don’t have to. Retailers better smarten up and think about how making those relationships more like an employee full-time relationship, while preserving the independence, because that is what’s going to build our long term business. We know where our bread is buttered and our bread is buttered on the installer side of the business.”

Ellis: "The perfect retailer to work with? Someone that makes you feel like family.”

Roberts: “When we celebrate things, are installers are a part of our celebrations. Every company takes care of their sales people, right? But we reward our back office people equally as our sales people, equally as our installers, because we work as a team. We treat people fairly and we treat people well. People don’t leave because of money. They leave because they don’t like who they are working for, they don’t like who they are working with and they don’t like how they are treated.”

Establish Trust

Roberts: “For me it’s trust. Both ways. Do what you say you’re going to do, show up when you say you’re going to. Tell me what you’re going to do and I can work with that. It is all about relationships. Don’t tell me you can do a job if you don’t have the skillset to do it. And treat my customers well. You’re the last impression that a customer sees of our company”

Mcllvried: “We want the installer that wants to show up every day. We know that installers have other businesses or a primary retailer that they go to. But the more consistent days you give us the better. If you tell us two days a week, three days a week, that’s still really valuable to us.”