Virtual Visits and Visualizations

New ways of connecting with customers and clients are becoming more commonplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. To address concerns of those who may be at-risk or are proceeding with caution, many in the hardwood flooring industry are using online tools to help them facilitate communication and minimize their time spent inside of would-be customers’ homes.

These tools can be as simple as creatively using your smartphone to visualize an installation, all the way up to using purpose-built online room visualizers and measuring software that can assist with order estimates.

“Face-to-face contact is one of the nicest parts of my job, but we have to think differently now that we have customers that are worried about contagions,” explains Lenny Hall of Endurance Floor. “I recently had a call come in from a customer I worked with before who had just purchased a new home, and she and I did a walkthrough of the home using FaceTime on our phones. It worked out great for the estimate.”

While online software like FaceTime can work for remote estimates, getting more precise measurements still can be a challenge. One company looking to take the guesswork out of these remote interactions is Measure Square Corp.

The company offers its software to hardwood flooring retailers and contractors, specifically for the purpose of measure estimating. To use, a consumer positions his or her smartphone camera toward the floor and walks around the area they want to replace. Once the room is shaped, a complete floor plan can be sent back to the flooring retailer.

The online measuring tool allows consumers to easily calculate their flooring quantity needs for different types of flooring categories. Once calculated, the results are displayed on the website and shared with the retailer. Depending on the retailer’s preference, they can follow-up with a quote or enable the consumer to complete the purchase online.

Beyond estimates and measurements, customers who seek to avoid unnecessary in-person interactions still want a way to visualize what their new hardwood floors might look like. This is possible due to visualization tools that recently have become popular in the last several months. As an example, a new online tool for Bruce, Hartco, and Robbins floors can assist buyers as they choose the type of hardwood floor they would like in their home. Using the new online room visualizer, not only can consumers see how a color or style will look in a variety of different rooms, but they can upload their own photos to see how their selections will look once they are installed.

With visualization technology, retailers have a wealth of inspiration to work remotely or in the showroom with consumers. Dealers can help customers to see immediately what the floor will look like, and follow-up with actual samples. Salespeople can use home computers, Zoom, iPads, or tablet solutions to show elements that are not on the showroom floor.

“In this scenario, they can demonstrate not only what’s available, but also what it will look like in the customer’s home,” said Wendy Booker, Vice President of Marketing and Product Development for AHF Products.

While these tools cannot entirely replace face-to-face meetings or going hands-on with wood flooring, at least for the time being, they offer a way to accommodate the wishes of certain customers. And, there’s a good chance these sorts of technological innovations will have a useful place in the wood flooring industry for the future.

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