Bob Dedering, president of CarpetsPlus of America, Manitowoc, Wis., has been through recessions, snowstorms, 9/11 and, now, COVID-19. So, when he asserts, “This is the slowest it has ever been,” he speaks from authority. But, in this case, slow does not mean “shut out.” Dedering is proving resourceful in making money during the crisis.
“The silver lining is we are doing a couple of taverns while they are closed,” he explained. “My apartment business is also continuing, and we are still doing some residential constructions and remodel.”
Dedering is far from unique among flooring dealers. Many of them are continuing to service accounts—mostly on the commercial side—that are currently closed or have slowed considerably.
A case in point is Chris Kemp, owner of Kemp’s Dalton West Flooring in Newnan, Ga. “I would have never believed that business would have been as strong as it has been with everything going on,” he told FCNews. “Much of the business we’re seeing now originated before COVID-19 came about.”
The company has three stores, two ofwhich are currently closed. Kemp’s main location has stayed open for pickups and deliveries, and the office is open from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. for employees. “We have had about one-third of the staff and salespeople working,” he said. “It has amazed me how much business we are able to turn out in these difficult times.”
Some retailers are taking advantage of stay-at-home orders on the residential side. While not every homeowner wants installers in her home during this period of social distancing, retailers are trying to ease any fear she might have by practicing social distancing. “We have had quite a few customers trying to get projects done while they are home,” said Brian McCarver, owner of Brian’s Flooring & Design, Birmingham, Ala. “We make all of our installers sign off daily that they and their household are not having any health issues.
We also call all customers before we go to their homes and ask the same questions.”
Dan Smiddy, co-owner of Smiddy’s CarpetsPlus, Terre Haute, Ind., is a certified paramedic. Before his crews are dispatched to a jobsite he checks their vital signs to make sure everyone is healthy. Smiddy’s has also been reaching out to remediation companies and commercial accounts. “Anyone who has told us that they will do it when they have the time; well, now they have the time,” he said.“For example, we have a localrestaurant that is closed,so we are doing a $6,000 carpet tile re-do of the entire restaurant. We have always done their floors, so they reached out to us. We also have three Subway restaurants whose floors we are re-doing while they are closed.”
Like many others, Montgomery’s CarpetsPlus ColorTile in Venice, Fla., has been reaching out to any and all restaurants/bars and commercial businesses that are not open for inside retail traffic. However, unlike many others, Montgomery’s is providing cleaning/sanitation services during thisslowdown.“We have a long list and are currently working through it,” Mike Montgomery, co-owner, said. “This will not only get us immediate business but also future business, i.e., cleaning and/or replacement of flooring. This is a perfect opportunity to be in the cleaning/sanitation business. Not only is it profitable, but it keeps you in contact with your customers and your community for future business when the economy opens back up.”
In Tulsa, Okla., Johnson Carpet One Floor & Home has also had success reaching out to local businesses that are shuttered for the time being. “It is a great time to complete flooring projects. A surprising number of businesses have welcomed the idea, and we are selling jobs,” said Palmer Johnson, vice president.
RC Willey Home Furnishings, with multiple locations in four Western states, is in the enviable position of selling furnishings and appliances—not just flooring. “Fortunately for us, we have more reasons—with furniture, appliances, mattresses and electronics—for consumers to continue to shop with us, whether it be online or by appointment in one of our showrooms,” said Eric Mondragon, hard surface flooring buyer.“So, even though our traffic count is down, our conversion rate is now at an alltime high.”