By KJ Quinn-RRetailers face intense competition from big boxes on a daily basis, especially on basic items, where profit margins are tight. But one category that remains a haven for dealers is accessory products – a segment that offers product differentiation and allows customers to add a finishing touch to their flooring installation.
“Perfect Vents can be very profitable for retailers,” said Joe Kennedy, president of Perfect Vents. “This is not an item available through box stores, which will allow retailers to differentiate themselves while making a profit.”
There are many reasons for dealers to diversify into accessories. Three of the biggest are that these products complement floors, have high profit margins, and generate multiple sales with floor coverings.
Among the most common accessories (decorative and functional) are moldings, moldings and vents. Some products, such as transitions, are a necessary component for installing hardwood or laminate floors. Accessory pieces such as stair nosing and steps can be positioned as both an upsell and standalone solution. These products typically have gross margins of 50% to 70% or more – margins that are significantly higher than most floors. However, profitability is often based on several factors. “Some choose to sell at their expense to get the necessary margins from the installation portion of the job,” said Bill Treiber, technical education and sales manager at Artistic Finishes. “Others sell accessories at a good price and leave the installation to the end user. Either way, they’ve benefited because it’s hard to sell a job without all the parts needed for completion.”
There are plenty of variations in designs and product qualities to choose from. For example, some inexpensive wooden accessories are not made to stand the test of time and may be smaller depending on the product. “Many low-end accessories are also three-in-one profiles or multifunctional in function,” Treiber noted. “Depending on the application for the job at hand, they may be the best solution.”
One of Artistic Finishes’ newest accessories is Enduracor, a digitally printed stair tread and riser. By using high-definition scanning and digital printing technology, it can create an almost perfect match with the floor. “These will become more and more popular as we build more floor lines with the digital print,” Treiber said. “For a fraction of the cost of solid wood steps and risers, this near-perfect match to the world of vinyl flooring offers a huge advantage to taking your next floor job up the stairs.”
It is said that seeing is believing, and the same principle applies to more expensive accessories. Special finishes, such as hand scraping and wire brushing, can help an accessory mimic the look of the floor.
Like any floor, aesthetics is a key selling point, especially for products like transitions where consumers are looking for a color mix. Example: Framerica-wrapped frames ensure an exact match, with a digital print formed from foil, vinyl or paper. “We also offer vents that are matched or matched,” explains Damrell.
Perfect Vents offers matching recessed vents and drains for floating luxury vinyl floors. “We can also make vents from laminate and floating engineered hardwoods,” Kennedy noted. “By using the floor itself, we can guarantee an exact match of colour, thickness and texture.” Understanding every option, shopping at the competition allows you to understand price points, product offerings and molding availability, experts say. “A retailer should be able to sell manufacturers’ moldings for a premium,” said John Damrell, president of Damrell Group, which represents Precision Flooring Products wood moldings and Framerica wrapped transitions. “The consumer pays hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars for a floor. Having the right matching or coordinating mold is a given.”
Everything in the presentation
Retail salespeople play a big role in presenting accessories as an additional option to customers. “A big mistake many salespeople make is thinking the customer knows how much something should cost,” Kennedy said. “Most have no idea and if the product is presented ‘benefits first’ rather than the (sold) price, most are willing to pay extra for the accessory.”
All of this makes it imperative that sellers are well-versed in the terminology and purpose of accessories, plus the required installation methods, so they can help customers make informed purchasing decisions.
When it comes to the sale itself, Kennedy of Perfect Vents warned against listing accessories or embellishments as “add-on” items. “Put them right in the first quote,” he explained. “If you have to take them out to lower the price, that’s fine, but it’s really hard to raise the price with extras.”
By showing creative ways in which accessories are used to enhance the look of the floor, customers can be encouraged to step up and purchase, while increasing the value of the ticket. Vendors suggest offering displays, samples, or even different room scenes to show and explain the use of a particular decoration or frame to a consumer, which would help the RSA in sales.
Accessory systems can also be sold in a wide variety of ways to show customers how they match and match the floor. “They need to know the composition of the profiles,” says Treiber of Artistic Finishes. “They need to know the finishing material and the capabilities to include density, taber and gloss level adjustments.”
But perhaps the most effective sales tool is the product demo. For example, by explaining to the customer (using real samples) how mouldings, moldings and ventilation openings can give the perfect touch to their floor installation. “When it comes to stairs, choose the plank that fits the nose,” Damrell advised. “With wrapped moldings, a simple explanation of the exact match can help close the deal.”
Mohawk Accessories Contest Highlights Installation Creativity
Las Vegas—Mohawk recently kicked off its “Now That’s Perfect” video contest at a special installation space at The International Surface Event here. In collaboration with the Certified Flooring Installers Association (CFI), participants filmed videos showing how easy to install products from Mohawk’s Performance Accessories line.
“Installers are the backbone of the flooring industry, and no job is complete without them,” said David Moore, senior director of accessories at Mohawk. “Performance accessories make installation easier. Our products are designed to fit right the first time, eliminating steps and reducing the amount of tools required during installation.”
Rather than hire professional actors to install the products for its promotional videos, Mohawk chose to use real installers and store employees to record themselves installing the accessories. The exercise turned out to be an eye-opener.
“Having a third party talk about your product — why they appreciate its features and benefits — really adds a lot of authenticity to our program versus just Mohawk saying, ‘Hello. We invented this and we think you should buy it,” Moore explained. “Internally, we can always think about the way these products are designed to go down, how we’d do it, etc., but that’s not the real world. The feedback we get from installers in the field is that you may think you know how the accessories are going to work, but in the real world this is how they do it. That has been very helpful to us when designing the products for installers.”
Example: Mohawk made a video of its multipurpose list for the RevWood product line. Designed to be reconfigured into different shapes, the 5-in-1 moulding has a dual function: it minimizes the number of molding SKUs the retailer needs to keep and simplifies life for the floor installer. “When the installer goes to the construction site, he doesn’t have to think about bringing a reducer or T-shape, etc.,” explains Moore. “As long as he knows the overall transition needs for a given task — whether it’s stairs or room-to-room or surface-to-surface transitions — he can use our 5-in-1 system.”
The “Now That’s Perfect” video contest will run through September 1, 2021. Installers are encouraged to submit videos of installing Mohawk’s Performance Accessories. A total of 10 installers will win a $500 CFI grant each, and participating Mohawk Edge retailers can earn 12,500 bonus points. Visit http://go.mohawkflooring.com/now-thats-perfect to participate.