As 2017 comes to an end, let’s look into 2018 with hope and promise.
As those of you who know me personally are aware, I’m an eternal optimist. I like helping people. I like believing in our industry’s future. And I like the Patriots.
But, in the December/January issue of Hardwood Floors magazine, there’s something I like even more than Brady’s Bunch, and that’s the NWFA’s first-ever homeowner research study.
This study brings all of us hope and promise. Wood is good, and it’s here to stay.
Let’s start with the worst thing consumers said about our product: it’s expensive. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Consumers should see wood flooring as a luxury design element in their home, not a disposable commodity.
But my favorite part of the study, asked homeowners what kind of flooring they would choose for their dream home. More than 80 percent of consumers who already have wood floors responded with wood. They want more wood. More than 50 percent of consumers who don’t already have wood floors responded with wood. They also want more wood!
All told, 66 percent of respondents would put wood in their dream home. That’s nearly three times the preference than for any other floor covering. Tile in dream homes, 16 percent; carpet, 10 percent; laminate, 6 percent. So, despite all of the look-a-like products in the marketplace, consumers want more wood in their dream homes. And most of them think they can tell the difference.
The question is: What are we all going to do about it as an industry?
We need to protect the consumer’s clear desire for wood above all other flooring types. We all have a responsibility to protect the end users by providing quality products at the manufacturing and distribution levels, and as installers, we need to pay attention to the details and avoid silly callbacks (like cupping because you don’t have a moisture meter to help educate your homeowner, or worse, you do own one, and you ignore the rules anyway). Please, let’s all follow the rules of our industry and help the consumer as well as ourselves.
As we look toward a new year, we have much to be thankful for – we have customer preference. We have an environmentally friendly product. We have more work than we have installers to perform. We have more demand than we have mill workers to produce, or distribution sales experts to meet and grow demand.
In the “dream home” of the wood flooring industry, I see something more than just wood…I also see a wood flooring professional who not only does the install right the first time, but follows up with the consumer on a regular basis for maintenance and repair.
Consumers like to take care of things they spend a lot of money on. Our consumer research shows that homeowners still don’t know how to care for and maintain their floors – and this is a huge problem. You can’t ruin look-a-likes with excess water and vinegar, but you can ruin wood flooring with the wrong products and maintenance. It’s up to you to become the expert your client relies on for advice and service after the initial install.
So what’s in your dream home? Better yet, what’s in your customer’s dream home? Hopefully, the answer will be you and your team in 2018.