There’s a saying that I learned in my college marketing courses, “If they can see it, you can sell it” which means that, even if you’re dealing with an intangible item- life insurance, health insurance, or an idea-an illustration or visual effect will help you to be understood and project an image in the mind of the person you are speaking to. Simply put, it means if you show them something, they can understand what you’re talking about, or, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Now what in the world does this have to do with carpet problems? Well if you walk into a job and you can see that something is on the carpet that shouldn’t be or that wasn’t “seen” before or that wasn’t noticed until they started using it or until it was vacuumed or until we came home from vacation or until it was pointed out to us… At this point, whatever is being complained about becomes obvious. It very well may have been obvious to someone at the time of installation and either they didn’t want to say anything about it or they just didn’t care or they said, “It’s not my problem.”
Let’s look at some examples. Within the last week, I went to look at a residential installation. The consumer was complaining that the carpet she purchased and had installed was not like the sample. She said that she noticed it before it was brought into her home and that she pointed it out to the installers. She also called the dealer to inform him that he sent the wrong carpet. After checking his records, he said no, it’s the right one, let them install it, which they did. When Mr. Consumer got home, walked on the carpet, felt it, and also said, “This isn’t the same as the sample, that carpet was heavier.”
Well, nobody could quite figure it out but when the sample was compared with the installed piece, after it was inspected, there was indeed a distinct difference in the feel. These two pieces of carpet were not the same. It was obvious by comparing the sample to what was put in, that these carpets were not alike, but now we’ve got a problem. The carpet is in, there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not what the consumers picked out or wanted.
Don’t think I’m leaving you hanging because we’ll come back to this and tie it all together.
Another inspection took me out of town to examine several hundred yards of carpet that was showing shading problems. Just a small section of a very large job. When it was looked at, it stood out like a sore thumb. Everyone asked why? It was obvious something was drastically wrong. When this piece was checked, it was found to be going in the opposite direction of the panels adjacent to it. It didn’t match in the most obvious place in the installation. When tested for direction, it was clearly obvious it had been turned 180 degrees or end to end. We’ll tie this together later too.
Now, I’m off to look at a 1,300-yd. Installation that had loose yarns. Upon walking on it, it was obvious that this level loop carpet, glued directly to a concrete floor is zippering- rows of tufts have pulled out. Looking carefully, letting the carpet talk, and analyzing the situation, I zeroed in on the problem. Measuring the distance widthwise from each zipper, I found that they fall just under 12 ft. apart. Aha! They’re seams! It’s obvious they are equidistant from each other and there must be a problem with them or this condition wouldn’t exist. Stopping short again, let’s go on.
And lastly, because I know you must be getting frustrated with me for leaving you hanging, we’re going to look at a nice, gray-toned, frosted, Tak-dyed, sculptured, nylon carpet installed in a home, about a 100 yards, that is matting and packing. With pad and labor, that’s about $1,600 worth of goods, installed in April 1987 and it began looking bad within three months. It is, indeed matted down and sculpturing is obscured to the point of being unrecognizable in the open traffic areas.
The question we must answer on all of these is, why? Why does it feel different? Why doesn’t this piece match? Why are tufts pulling around the edges and why is it this nice gray carpet looks like it was installed directly from an expressway? The answers my friends, are obvious. So obvious that common sense will tell you the answers. So obvious that you are oblivious to the problems.
In the case of the off-shade piece, it was obvious the piece didn’t match and a few simple tests that are unfailing, proved that it was turned. But why was it left this way?
How is it that such a thing could happen when after talking with the installer, he admitted that the crew noticed it when they put it in.
Further conversation revealed that this area, the main focal point of a multi-hundred yard installation, was done last. It should have been done first so all the large drops would match and those less likely to match could have been installed in more obscure areas. Granted, this can’t always be done, but in this case it could have. Even when it’s more difficult, pre-planning and common sense thinking will eliminate problems.
How about the lady who said the carpet installed in her home wasn’t the same as the sample? She was right, it wasn’t. How much experience do you think she’s had working with this product? If she knew it wasn’t the same, then your people who handle it every day should be geniuses. You could see and feel that it was different because it was different.
The problem has cropped up twice in the last seven days. Why do these jobs get put it? Are you afraid you’ll lose the sale? Handle it right, and you won’t. It could have been an honest mistake, a mis-marked order at the mill, or a mess up at the shipping department. Retailers, distributors, or manufacturers should respond responsibly in these matters. Apologize for the error and correct it. Don’t just put the carpet in and worry about it later. That’s when people really get upset. When you keep coming in and upsetting their home or business, it tends to grate on their nerves.
How about the 1,300-yd. product glued directly to the floor, zippers all over and they are all at the seams? Now, shouldn’t the dealer first think he had a problem with the seams? Obviously yes. But again, we have a party that is oblivious to the obvious and he calls it a carpet problem. After all, his installers are the best.
The seams were zippering because they weren’t sealed. They’d stay for a while, but in time, they’re destined to fail. If you do it right the first time, you won’t have problems. If each job is pre-planned, explained, and sold properly, the installer can get a fair price for his work and not have to worry about trying to break land speed records for putting in carpet. Everybody stays happy, everybody makes money, and the consumer is satisfied.
Now let’s go back to the expressway carpet. This thing was a real mess. When inspected, the sculptured pattern was almost non-existent in the traffic areas. I was greeted at the door by three dogs, the cat was asleep on the sofa, the lady of the house is home all day, her mother-in-law lives with them and she’s home all day, and they have three school-age kids. Do you think this carpet gets some traffic? Shouldn’t it be obvious to you that with this kind of use on a lower-end piece of goods in a house with unalterable traffic patterns and a carpet that is filthy, that it’s not a manufacturing defect?
QUALIFY END USE
Why make trouble for yourself? Qualify the end use and user and find out where the goods will be installed. Even if they’ve got a tight budget you can find something that you know will work in their situation.
Sometimes when I look at these things I wonder if we’re all doing business in the same world. You may think I’m crazy, but I’m out there in the trenches with these problems everyday and I’m sure the industry isn’t creating all of them just so I’ve got something to write about. It only benefits you and whatever segment of the industry you’re in to be aware of the obvious.
Don’t be paranoid about dealing with these matters. Don’t worry about the competition, worry about the consumer and yourself, and I guarantee you’ll have fewer problems and make a lot more money in the process. You aren’t going to stop claims losses completely but don’t be oblivious to the obvious fact that if you start to close the drain on your profits, you’re not going to give away so much of what you work so hard to keep.
This applies to retailers, distributors, and manufacturers.