As hardwood flooring moves further into the luxury marketplace, the interplay between interior designers and the hardwood flooring industry has increased. Simultaneously, the push for “all things virtual” creates unique opportunities to spread the message about the value and beauty of hardwood.
With virtual tradeshows becoming a temporarily normal way of doing business, Seasonal Living recently launched a Virtual Designer Showcase to educate interior designers about new products, including the latest trends in hardwood flooring supplied by the team at Revel Woods.
“In today’s crowded virtual marketplace, it can be difficult to get people’s attention and really capture the feeling of discovery,” explains John Dupra, co-founder of Revel Woods. “Rather than hold another virtual tradeshow, Seasonal Living decided to render a structure virtually, including furniture and flooring.”
“We were offered the opportunity based on relationships built with interior designers during the last several years. These relationships are something I strongly feel more in our industry should strive to cultivate,” says Dupra. “The fact is that hardwood flooring is becoming very important to what interior designers are doing today.”
Because the house was based on an actual plot of land, Dupra was careful to approach the project like he would a real, physical job.
“The floor I ended up selecting for the virtual project was a 7” engineered wide plank white oak,” says Dupra. “Just like I would on an actual project, I let the designers choose the color, knowing they have unique expertise with what would best work in that space.”
While not every company can participate in a high-profile virtual showcase, Dupra believes more hardwood flooring companies should strive to strengthen their relationship with interior designers, as partnering with them is a win-win for both parties.
“Building relationships is vital, as you never know when opportunities like a Virtual Designer Showcase or a lucrative project will arise that can benefit you,” advises Dupra. “Residential interior designers love hardwood flooring; however, the technical aspects can intimidate them. As such, many are looking for skilled, reliable artisans they can build long-lasting partnerships with. The challenge for us as wood flooring professionals is simply finding ways to interact.”
“Revel Woods certainly can assist with partnering qualified craftspeople with designers. Beyond that, my advice is to look for interior designers in your area and relay that if they have any projects involving hardwood flooring, you’d like to assist. The key is that you offer to solve a problem for them,” explains Dupra. “They can buy the most beautiful floor in the world, but if they do not have a skilled professional installing it, they are going to have a problem. As a hardwood flooring craftsman, you have a tremendous skill that simply cannot be replicated by others. The other good news is that once they find a reliable partner, they don’t like to shop around.”
As for how to approach an interior designer, Dupra stresses the importance of making your initial outreach more about quality than promises of quantity.
“Always remember that presentation matters. When we’re selling hardwood flooring, the onus is on us to really inform why hardwood flooring is superior. Also, remember you can be selling the most beautiful wood flooring in the world. Still, if it is presented to the designer in a way that looks cheap or thrown together, then that’s what you are communicating,” says Dupra. “Spend some time making sure your presentation is good.”
Dupra stresses that you also still have to deliver once you do get your foot in the door with a designer.
“As you begin to develop your relationship with an interior designer, it’s important that you try to take care of them. The key is that you take care of the ones you can work with and then allow them to spread the word about you for you,” says Dupra.
“If you’re skilled, you answer your phone, and you show up on time, you’re going to have success. I know that sounds simple, but that can be very hard for some people. However, these traits are huge and something that you should focus on developing,” explains Dupra. “In my experience, they will feed all their work to someone like you once you can prove your skill and reliability.”