Hardwood Flooring
Hardwood Flooring

Beware of the boutique

Recently our shop was approached by a  “boutique” wholesaler to subcontract installations and sanding. It sounded like an interesting way to grow our business possibly. I had my reservations based on conversations with other remodeling colleagues who previously used this group. Specifically I was concerned that they were unwilling to pay a fair market rate for top notch contracting because of the types of installers they typically use. A brief conversation with the outfit quickly verified that my intuition was correct. The rates that they were willing to pay to installers were about 60% of the going rate for the best full service hardwood flooring contractors in town.

Normally I don’t want to discuss price, but it is valid in this case. I know that quality service requires time and very careful effort. The mathematics of a service business require that to lower price you must lower service unless material costs are lowered.

What I urge consumers to do and always will is to specifically work with reputable small retailers with great experience. Flashy “high-end” boutique retailers pay considerable overhead in rent for facilities and staffing. To stay competitive they must create downward pricing pressure on subcontracted labor, which invariably results in mediocre work.

In these days of the internet research I advise consumers to really investigate service providing retailers before making an “impulse” buy with your hardwood floor. Stay informed with resources such as the NWFA.

Leave a Comment