improve my flooring business, advice please

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by ptf, Aug 30, 2009.

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  1. ptf

    ptf UKBF Newcomer

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    Hi all, I am looking for advice etc on how to expand my business and what i need to do. I run a small supply and installation flooring company, of which I do fitting aswell, but I advertise the fact I am a mobile carpet shop. Most of my work comes from recommedations, but as with most trades etc things are still quiet, and I am ticking over as they say but i am fed up of waiting for things to pick up at there own pace, I had ideas of a fully racked out van/showroom, or a lockup/showroom with a mobile unit, but the rescession put pay to that, have tried adverts but a waste of money, i always keep my existing customers informed of offers by direct letters etc which seems to pay off and am just about to send out a new idea of a refferal voucher ie, if my existing customers refer me to friends family etc they recieve a voucher of some discription. having worked for someone for most of my working life as a fitter i have been on my own for about 18 months, it is the best thing i have done and I have all the experience I need in flooring both fitting and selling and keeping books up to date etc, and i have the determination but I seem to be lacking something and my current business is plodding with no view of improving. I have no business debts etc so am a little wary of looking for finance of any sort. Someone give us a kick to get the ball rolling. thanks in advance
     
    Posted: Aug 30, 2009 By: ptf Member since: Mar 14, 2009
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  2. davezzr

    davezzr UKBF Enthusiast

    609 75
    Hi and i would say that i clearly understand what your going through,slow sales and no responce to advertising.
    May i ask how you are advertising is it just a classified box at the back of the local paper?
    A while ago i had a small carpet cleaning business that i ran on my own,it did ok money wise.my biggest problem was getting customers i tried the newspapers with very little responce and this was a quarter page ad in the first few pages and not a small box in the classifieds.I turned to the leaflet drop method and work really purked up,its more direct and a leaflet will always be read even if it goes into the bin.But most times ive found that a leaflet is kept for future ref: and would get calls months after from a single drop in that area.
    You mention offering a referal carrot,you need to be very clear as to the incentive your giving as this can be a mine field and vouchers are a no go if your offering one for a discount on something your selling.Better to offer a cash carrott of a nominal sum on completion of a fereral order. ie refer a friend for a tenner sort of thing
     
    Posted: Aug 30, 2009 By: davezzr Member since: Jan 24, 2007
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  3. ptf

    ptf UKBF Newcomer

    41 4
    Hi, I advertise only in the proffessional section at the back of a local paper, its cheap and does bring a little work in, but what i am after is not only improving income but expanding the business in the way i intended before everyone stopped spending. With regards to the mobile unit, I got the racked van idea, full of samples etc when I was doing research, but I would need to buy another van to do this with obvious costs involved, as my current van is set up for fitting etc, so at the moment i have to ,load samples on and off when required, which is ok, but not the route I wanted, fitting is getting harder with age (knees/back ), but I could set it all up and then have the same amount of work as I do know. My main problem is the local carpet right offering stupid 70% upwards discounts. but when it comes down to final all in price I am usually a little cheaper, but getting potential customers to know this is hard.
    I have tried leaflets but only a small way and I made them myself, advice on numbers etc would be good.
    thanks
     
    Posted: Aug 30, 2009 By: ptf Member since: Mar 14, 2009
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  4. Beachcomber

    Beachcomber UKBF Legend

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    Try visiting all of the letting agents in your area - My cousin is a carpet fitter / flooring installer and gets the majority of his work through letting agents. I also get a huge amount of work through them.

    As for advertising - really depends on what methods you have been using. Yellow pages / national papers are useless as you are paying to advertise to the whole UK when you only cover a relitively small geographical location. Try targeted leaflet drops with a well designed and properly printed (not home printer!) flyer.

    If you are having problems with competing with the likes of Carpet Right then add some price comparisons to your flyers. Detail a few types of carpet / flooring you both offer and show the relative prices. So long as you make sure your info as advertised is 100% accurate there is nothing wrong with this. Just make sure you keep up with their promotions so you know your comparisons are always accurate.

    Alternatively, you can offer to beat any quote by 5 / 10 / 15% - just ask customers to provide a written quote from a competitor.

    A refferal system is an excellent idea - these work really well, specially if you offer a choice of voucher (Your own business / M&S / HMV / iTunes etc)

    If your plans to expend depend of buying a new van you could look at leasing a van rather than buying if cashflow is tight?

    Also, never be afraid to chat to a business advisor like Business link - free professional advice shouldn't be ignored!
     
    Posted: Aug 30, 2009 By: Beachcomber Member since: Apr 29, 2009
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  5. Paul Kelly ICHYB

    Paul Kelly ICHYB Moderator
    Verified Business ✔️

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    A good direct mail offering is one of the best ideas, however, increase whatever area you cover now by 20-50% (assuming you are not marketing to a whole city!!).

    Make sure the leaflet has a call to action and is a good design - pay someone to do it, if necessary.

    Get your customers email addresses - move to emailing them, rather than mailshots, as this will improve costs.

    Look at a significant promotion - spend over £x and get a free TV (well, that sort of thing!).

    Sell your service, as well as price.

    As for the van, if you have the funds, now might be the best time to do it, as there must be a few deals about on what you need!

    Finaly, make sure you have a nice website! All leaflets and emails should refer to this.
     
    Posted: Aug 30, 2009 By: Paul Kelly ICHYB Member since: Jan 21, 2008
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  6. Chris34

    Chris34 UKBF Ace

    526 143
    I do a little bit of leaflet distribution. The business is in it's early stages but to give you an idea of prices it's going to cost you about £50 per thousand to have your leaflets/postcards (postcards are much better) printed and delivered (that's door to door delivered).

    If I was in your position I would get some leaflets/postcards printed and then use 3 different leaflet distributors to distribute your leaflets. Give them 1000 each and have them delivering them for 4 weeks obviously in different towns and make sure you tell them the type of houses you want them delivered to. Make it clear that you want street maps of the area's they have covered when they have completed the drop.

    The main problem with leaflet distribution is trust, are they going to actually deliver them? If you use 3 different distributors then after 4 weeks you can evaluate how well all 3 are performing and maybe drop 1 and use the remaining 2. That's what I would do if I was in your position.

    By the way everyone I have dropped leaflets for so far has had some sales from them, some are more successful than others but generally it is worth doing because you should get enough to at least cover the costs of it.



    Chris.
     
    Posted: Aug 30, 2009 By: Chris34 Member since: Feb 3, 2009
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  7. davezzr

    davezzr UKBF Enthusiast

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    there are a huge number of letterbox delivery companies out there with very diffrent price structures.you should aim at around 5000 leaflets per drop.the leaflets should be on gloss paper 130g 2 colour or 4 colour if you can stretch to the buget. price for 2 colour around 100 quid and then there is the distribution.you can pay from 250 upwards for 5000 leaflets or you could walk them out yourself,but even a good walker couldnt get that many out in a week.
    the alternative is to advertise in the front of your local paper 1/4 page can cost as little as the same cost of leaflets and are delivered.look at the distrubution of your paper not the readership these are diffrent figures but most are around 5000 homes
    timing is everything and hard to define,it is trial and error
    leaflet the same areas every six weeks or run your paper ad every 2 weeks,you get a better deal if you book 26 weeks and spread this over the year
     
    Posted: Aug 30, 2009 By: davezzr Member since: Jan 24, 2007
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  8. Kett

    Kett UKBF Contributor

    113 11
    I guess most people look for carpets when moving house.

    I don't know how but if you could market either by email or adversing on houses for sale sites there may be some mileage there?
     
    Posted: Aug 30, 2009 By: Kett Member since: Jan 29, 2009
    #8
  9. davezzr

    davezzr UKBF Enthusiast

    609 75
    thats an idea kett,get off round to the local estate agents and have a word with the reps. this kind of thing is a bit underhand but if you offer a small drink for every lead and a bigger one once you sold you could be onto a winner after all who wants to walk around on someone elses old carpets if you just bought the house.you do carpets and flooring,
    I WOULD CURTAINLY DO THIS MYSELF
     
    Posted: Aug 30, 2009 By: davezzr Member since: Jan 24, 2007
    #9
  10. ptf

    ptf UKBF Newcomer

    41 4
    Thanks for all the ideas, I will look at a proffessional leaflet drop and design, The small ad on the front of any of our local papers is so expensive, £250 plus per week and i dont think I would recoup this. Trouble with flooring is that most people would only go to the sheds to buy flooring, unlike other trades.
    I ask the question, if you were looking for carpet/vinyl/laminate where would your first point of call be.:|
    I have contacted all the letting and estate agents although a while ago,and have one regular now, but what or how could I offer any incentive to the agents or the property buyers.
     
    Posted: Aug 30, 2009 By: ptf Member since: Mar 14, 2009
    #10
  11. davezzr

    davezzr UKBF Enthusiast

    609 75
    250 quid seems a bit rich,my local rag charges 120 quid but thats for 26 inserts over the year.A one off ad would have been about 150.Offer the estate agents something like 25 quid a lead and 100 on a sale just add 125 onto the final bill.
    where do most people go first for laminate,let me think.ummmmm B&Q?
     
    Posted: Aug 30, 2009 By: davezzr Member since: Jan 24, 2007
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  12. ptf

    ptf UKBF Newcomer

    41 4
    exactly, laminate ( not very good) b and q carpet from carpet right
     
    Posted: Aug 30, 2009 By: ptf Member since: Mar 14, 2009
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  13. Matt1959

    Matt1959 UKBF Legend

    6,295 1,226
    without a doubt - Carpetright. Big bright stores, large ranges, off the roll stock that you can take away there and then, cheap prices, good parking, back up by a major retailer if anything goes wrong. I dont know what an independant would have to do to compete with this when it comes to selling to private consumers.....
     
    Posted: Aug 30, 2009 By: Matt1959 Member since: Sep 8, 2006
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  14. Beachcomber

    Beachcomber UKBF Legend

    6,723 3,012
    Should be able to compete pretty well - B&Q's cheapest laminate is at least £5.98 per square metre - I get the same stuff trade at £2.99 per square metre.

    Thats close to £50 less for the average room. Add to that the fact that the clients don't have to fit the stuff themselves and get the job done so much faster and your on a pretty good standing.

    I've actually picked up alot of work while browsing about in B&Q :D
     
    Posted: Aug 30, 2009 By: Beachcomber Member since: Apr 29, 2009
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  15. crossdaz

    crossdaz Guest

    0 0
    Carpetright went bust so pretty easy to compete with really?
     
    Posted: Aug 30, 2009 By: crossdaz Member since: Jan 1, 1970
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  16. Matt1959

    Matt1959 UKBF Legend

    6,295 1,226
    hmmm, really?!
     
    Posted: Aug 30, 2009 By: Matt1959 Member since: Sep 8, 2006
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  17. crossdaz

    crossdaz Guest

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    Posted: Aug 30, 2009 By: crossdaz Member since: Jan 1, 1970
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  18. patientlady

    patientlady UKBF Legend

    1,451 284
    I have noticed recently a couple new estate agents opening in our area. Maybe they are opening in the hope that things are picking up. Also if you went round the agents before and picked up some work from one, it might be an idea to call back on them all again! Someone might have let them down in the mean time. Leave a business card, leaflets can be thrown away, but business cards get squirelled. It works for me anyway...
     
    Posted: Aug 30, 2009 By: patientlady Member since: Aug 25, 2009
    #18
  19. ptf

    ptf UKBF Newcomer

    41 4
    Thats what most people think, yes they have roll stock,and cheap prices on some ordered but most is given the impression its cheap with a 70% discount, example I have a colleague fits for them and carpet was supposedly original price of £38 sq mt marked down 50% to £19 then plus another 20% discount and this worked out to the same price it sells in most indepenant shops and I supplied it cheaper. The carpet was a cheap man made twist and never worth £38,but they have the means of marketing the products in this way. If any thing goes wrong I have heard horror stories, they do not care, and as you pay the fitter direct the contract is with them and if there is a problemwith the fitting they pass the buck and as the customer has no knowledge of who the fitter was end of story. They also make the fitters pay the store a supply of work charge to avoid any tax/employment regulations. the fitters are paid so much less the going rate that many just slash and dash. They charge highly inflated prices for underlay and gripper that the customer feels they must buy as its is needed,then they charge £35 to deliver it which is not passed onto the fitter who has to bring it with him anyway to install it. The only good thing is that you can buy cheap carpet of the roll but dont waste money on the rest get it from your local fitter who will supply it at half or less.
     
    Posted: Aug 30, 2009 By: ptf Member since: Mar 14, 2009
    #19
  20. crossdaz

    crossdaz Guest

    0 0
    Although you are right, for a mass market product, it's often a case of initial perception rather than actual reality. It's a bit like the buy 2 bags of apples for a bit more than one costs. It seems like a bargain but really you just end up throwing away the second bag and, in reality, you'd have been better off just buying one bag.

    It's a powerful trick which is hard to beat when you think about it? The low per metre cost and hidden add-ons works the same way. Once they have committed to buying the carpet they are hooked.

    On a positive note, there are still a number of people who wouldn't be seen dead in a carpetright and it's these people you need to find.
     
    Posted: Aug 30, 2009 By: crossdaz Member since: Jan 1, 1970
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