Contractors are drawn to the wood flooring industry for a variety of reasons. Maybe it is because they understand it is more than a job; it’s a career and an excellent way to provide for a family. Others might try it out to pay the bills while they are in school, but decide to never leave. And for many, the love of the artistry that comes with installing floors is what piques their interest in being a wood flooring professional.
One of the best parts of wood floor contracting is that you walk in and there is either no wood floor or an old wood floor that is in desperate need of refinishing. After a day or two, you have created something of lasting value, for which you and your customer can be proud. Very few occupations give such awesome and immediate satisfaction for the effort.
Beyond the love of the craft, it’s definitely helpful to have some “business know-how” to sustain and grow one’s career.
I have found that the “soft skills” part of the trade is even more critical for success than your competency as a craftsman. You can be taught to do an acceptable job of installing and refinishing. What is more difficult to acquire is the discipline to conduct your business in a way that instills confidence in your customer. Returning your phone calls the same day, showing up on time for estimates, scheduling work so that you arrive when scheduled, and leaving your customer’s house in the way you would like your own home treated are key to having a successful wood flooring business.
I started my business life out as a painting contractor when I was 15 years old. We would have my brother deliver the equipment to the job site and then ride bicycles to the job until it was completed. I was very motivated to make money, and customer satisfaction seemed to be the best way to grow the business. Here at Installers Warehouse, we work really hard to be efficient and minimize mistakes, but what we really focus on is the customer experience. Playing the long game with our valued customers and meeting their expectations – as opposed to what is most efficient – has been a winning strategy for us.
There are a lot of business books that will instruct you on ways to make your business better. I think sticking to the basics is best. Treat everyone the way you want to be treated, and give respect even when you are not receiving respect. Understand that sometimes people might not be having the best day. Extend grace and do your best to meet your commitments. Invest in yourself and develop your skillset. If you make these basics the foundation of your business, you will be successful in business and in life.
In the ‘Contractor Business Know-How’ article, you’ll find business tips and strategies that have worked for others in the wood flooring industry.
Whether the knowledge comes from discussing best practices with a peer, reading a book, or taking courses on NWFA University, one of the best ways to level up your business is to continue learning.