Do You Really Know What’s Going on in the Retail Flooring Industry?

The Secret Shopper Research

The Secret Shopper Research

Have you read the “Secret Shopper Research, the In-store Evaluation?” It’s in the September/October, 2015 issue of the Premier Flooring Retailer, published by the World Floor Covering Association. (This is the first of the reports, the new one isn’t yet posted.)If you haven’t, I suggest you do. It is definitely thought provoking.  I know the sampling isn’t thousands, but it’s enough to make you question what you’re doing. The survey is being conducted by David Romano, Founder and Owner, Benchmarkinc.

I have not read part one, only the second part; How Consumers View Independent Flooring Retailers & Big-Box Stores.”  Frankly, the statistics and information have not made me feel warm and fuzzy about the flooring  industry in general.

The most troubling of the statistics is that “Only 3% of the shoppers for both Independents and Big-Box stores felt they were properly qualified and only 13% of independents and 19% of Big-Box stores offered financing.”

This seems a bit dismal to me. Maybe we all need to step up our game and pay attention to improving profits in our industry.   Do we forget to train about qualifying the customers or how and why to offer financing? It seems unlikely.

Both statistics are connected to selling at higher prices and getting better margins.  The financing partners have spent considerable money on training and offering special packages to retailers, what are we missing?

Everyone talks about the value of selling at higher prices and improving their bottom line but this survey clearly points out that it didn’t happen with this group.

Why wouldn’t a store want to sell at higher prices? Over the years I’ve heard many excuses for not selling better products. Are we still afraid that showing better merchandise will scare a customer into not buying? Is the 2008 recession still in our heads?

Do we think we’re insulting the customer if they can’t afford it?  If we’re not doing a good job “qualifying,” how do we know whether or not they can afford it?

(I don’t know but I always feel better when I’m shown the better merchandise, it gives me something new to think about. If I like the merchandise, I also rethink my budget.) Does your sales staff feel the same way about showing better merchandise?

How are you paying your sales staff a good wage? Do you have enough traffic for them to go for the higher tickets or do they have to sell every customer no matter what the cost?

How are you mining your leads and your sold customers? Are you so busy with everything except selling that no one has time to call past customers?   In a June report from RSR Research, 41% said that employees aren’t spending enough time on selling and customer service, and 46% said staff is spending too much time on paperwork. Are salespeople just too busy with everything except selling?


Being unable to qualify the customer is the prelude to “leaving money on the table.” Selling cheap customers almost guarantees cheap referrals. Do you have the mindset that any sale is better than no sale? Could you be selling better?

I know if I were l in the retail business, I would be reviewing the “Secret Shopper Research” with my sales staff and working on training for the New Year. What does the article mean to them?

Even if your business is doing well it can always strive to be better. The independent retailers claim to be the experts in the business but are we really?  It’s tough to think that the Big Boxes are gaining on our territory. Maybe it’s time to rethink what we’re doing and  go back to basics.

I would love to know your thoughts about the survey.


Lisbeth Calandrino is the Associate Publisher and Director of Social Media, Fabulous Floors Magazine. To find out more about Lisbeth, reach her at