If you are passionate about home decor, and you firmly believe that the way to design a beautiful home is from the floor up, then a flooring business may be perfect for you.
Flooring, after taking a hit during the Great Recession, is trending up in the market as more and more homes, apartments, and businesses are being constructed or redesigned due to the growing economy. If you have the desire to make beautiful floors, this business may be perfect for you.
Flooring installation businesses can be tailored to service only new construction with homes and apartments, or it can maintain and redo the flooring in homes, apartments and businesses. Flooring businesses work to install flooring, remove old flooring, and maintain the flooring for their customers. You may specialize in a particular type of flooring, such as using reclaimed wood flooring in houses and businesses, but it is best to be able to give your customers a variety of choices such as carpet, linoleum, hardwood, tile and laminate.
The point is, if people are walking on it in a home or business, a flooring company needs to be able to install it and repair it if necessary, if you want to reach the widest audience.
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In order to begin a flooring business and be successful, you need to have a background in construction, flooring, or flooring maintenance. If you have had previous experience in floor installation through contract work, this may be a great business for you to begin. Other business owners may have technical installation experience, or experience with the overall maintenance of a house or office. Sometimes, electricians, carpenters, or other journeymen familiar with building construction leave that side of the business to start flooring businesses.
If you are not sure if you have all of the technical skills you need to begin a business, it may be best to go talk to people with experience in flooring and ask them how they began their businesses--what knowledge did they have about flooring when they set up shop?
In addition to the technical skills, flooring business owners must have business owner skills, as they will be overseeing all aspects of the business. You have to be able to manage both customers and workers effectively. You need to have business, financial and marketing skills in order to effectively market your company. Customer service skills are a must in a customer-service field. You also will need to be computer savvy to manage your business, and be able to handle multiple projects at one time without dropping the ball.
Business owners must juggle many hats during the day, depending on the size of the business. However, if you are just starting out, you are going to have to juggle many different things on a typical day in the flooring business. First, business owners in flooring take new customer orders and figure out when the installation can begin, give estimates and quotes for new potential customers. You may oversee or conduct installations yourself, again depending on the size of your business.
Flooring businesses typically also offer other types of flooring services besides installation, such as hardwood floor refinishing, emergency flooring maintenance calls, floor matching, and installing different types of barriers, like a vapor barrier to keep moisture out.
Business owners also have to manage payroll, invoicing and payments, finances for the business, customer marketing in order to find new customers and keep well-established customers coming back, employee relations, and researching new flooring material options to stay a step ahead of your competitors.
While your business can begin small and work from house to house, either in new construction or redoing old floors, you need to think bigger. The most successful businesses in flooring form partnerships with housing development and construction companies in order to be as successful as possible. If you can prove to a housing development company or an apartment management company that you can complete the job on time and on budget, you may have all the business you can handle. Also, if you do good work for companies, such as apartment management companies, you may get other contacts in order to continue to grow your business.
Other avenues for targeting customers may include home designers who are redoing an entire home for a client. While they may have a list of things to do for their clients, they may not think about flooring options.
Flooring businesses make money through installation of hardwood, carpet, and tile floorings. The repair of flooring, or trimming, staining and redoing floors is also important, but the profit margin is in the installation of new flooring. As stated earlier, the more houses or properties you can do, the more people you can hire and the more business you can take on.
There is a lot of potential for growth in flooring, especially if you do good work and can come in on budget. People like to work with other people who are competent, and keep their word. As with most businesses, good, constant work with lots of customer approval doesn’t go unnoticed. You need to realize though that there is a lot of competition in the flooring business, which makes it even more important that you offer the best services at the best price.
There are lots of skills and experiences you need to make sure you have before you begin a flooring business, as it is a technical field that requires upfront knowledge. You need to know a lot about tile, laminate, hardwood flooring and carpet installation. Most flooring business owners worked as contractors themselves and had at least five years of experience as a contractor prior to starting their companies. This makes them well-versed in repairing, redoing and installing flooring, as well as the different types of flooring available to an industry.
In addition to technical skills, management skills are critical. If you plan on being a sole proprietor, and hiring no other employees besides yourself, then you don’t have to have nearly as many management skills as you do when your business begins to grow, and you have to manage employees, vendors and clients. As your business grows, you most likely will be installing less and less flooring, and spending your time managing employees and the day-to-day aspects of the company. Once that happens, you will need to figure out what you want for your business. What is your mission and vision? What goals do you have for the business? You need to figure this out, in order to make sure that all of your employees understand quality from the top down.
One way to make sure that you understand the quality within your own business is to have an understanding of your competition. What makes them different? How are they placed in the business in terms of their originality, quality, versatility and professionalism? Your business, to be competitive, needs to be as well-versed in flooring and craftsmanship as they are.
These steps will help you make sure that you have everything you need completed before you open your doors. While this sounds like a lot of work, doing all of this ahead of time will save you time and money in the long run.
You need a business plan in order to be successful.
In addition to your goals, mission and vision discussed above, you also need to think about startup costs such as rent for a building and flooring contractor insurance costs. Also, think about the target market of customers you want to aim for, and price points to charge.
You need to take care of the legal stuff as well.
You should establish an LLC, in order to protect your own assets in case your business should get sued by a client or an employee. Also, you need to find out your state and local licensing guidelines, so that you can get business licenses taken care of. You also need to register with federal, state and local governments so that you can begin to charge taxes for your services. Be sure you have a certificate of occupancy for the building you are renting as well.
You will also need to open a business bank account.
A lot of people think they can keep track and keep their money separated once they open a small business--you can’t. Keep your business and personal finances separate. This will be a lot easier if you find and subscribe to a business accounting software program,in order to help you keep track of expenses and invoices. While this might sound daunting, it is actually easy if you find the right business accounting software.
Now you are ready to begin to market your business!
Figure out what your company brand needs to be, because it is a representation of the core beliefs and values of your business. Think of ways you can stand out from your competition. Make sure you have this set up prior to marketing your company for the first time.
You will need a business website, which you could develop yourself if you are good with a computer, as a lot of companies offer free website building tools to help. You will also need a social media presence: open a Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter account for your business, as these will help you get your message out to prospective clients.
Take advantage of local contacts and clubs.
If you already belong to business networking clubs, such as Rotary, use them to help you get the word out about your business. Go to trade shows where flooring contractors and home interior/construction people hang out and get to know them. They may be able to give you contacts to help you get started. Because floor installation businesses are not as common as other home businesses, you may also want to connect with furniture stores, home decor stores, decorators, carpet shops and local hardware stores. Offer them a cross-marketing opportunity with your store, and you all may be able to reap the benefits.
Be sure you have a service agreement that spells out expectations for you and for the client.
Your payment terms should be enclosed, as well as intellectual property ownership, and how to settle a dispute. Many websites have service agreements you can fill out and make your own for a minimum fee.
Although the floor installation industry overall brings in $23 billion annually – that’s not all coming to you. The top industry providers, the largest flooring companies, bring in about 10% of this figure. Just starting out, your flooring business can turn a nice profit within a few years, and you could make more than $75,000 as a business owner, which is not bad. As your business grows, you hire additional people, and you continue to make customers happy. This could allow you to grow as a business to a half-million dollars in profit, which is a nice number, especially when you are your own boss.
Also, before you get too far ahead of yourself, you also need to consider expenses: transportation, materials, business rental and fees,advertising and marketing costs, utilities, and insurance. All of these costs, with the additional costs of labor and taxes as your business grows, have to be taken care of before you begin to take a profit.
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