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How to Start a Floor Covering Store
Floor covering stores are a $17 billion business as of 2013, according to IBIS World, a marketing research firm. A floor covering store that operates primarily by showing customers samples in their own homes doesn't require a large showroom; the salesperson takes the samples with her. On the other hand, a store that differentiates itself by having the greatest selection of floor coverings will require a bigger location and quite a few more samples and sales staff. Once the business plan is completed, it's time to start the process of opening the store.
Create a Pre-Opening Budget
Creating a budget is crucial. To do so, total the costs of everything you're going to need before you open. Fees for a business license, sales tax license, insurances, as well as bonding for the workers who install the flooring are necessary. Your store needs samples of different floorings. First and last lease payments for the building as well as security deposits for utilities are required. Other pre-opening costs include trucks, installation materials and tools.
Prepare an Operating Budget
Project the first 12 months of operations including revenues and expenses by month. For example, the first few orders you'll have to pay the vendor before the customer fully pays for the order. Additionally workers, the sales staff and a store manager need to be paid, sometimes with benefits. Monthly lease payments and utility payments (other than the first and last month's mentioned above) must also be entered. Any shortfall or cash deficit requires financing.
The pre-opening budget plus any cash deficit from the operating budget has to be funded either with your own assets or with funds provided by a lender or investor. Add in a 10-percent contingency fund for those unexpected expenses. Your personal credit will be evaluated in granting a loan, so clean up any mistakes in your credit report. Start the paperwork for the loan well ahead of the store's projected launch date.
Scout Out The Competition
Other floor covering stores are your competition, but so are home improvement stores. Some furniture stores offer floor coverings as well. Include online floor covering websites. Note what the competition offers, prices and how they market their stores. Make a list of how your store provides a better solution for your customer's floor covering needs.
Differentiate Your Store
Focus on the advantages of your store over the competition to set your store apart in the customer's mind. For example, your store may offer a greater variety of wood flooring or green alternatives from renewable sources, such as bamboo. Other ways to differentiate your floor covering store are offering the most value for the dollar, the greatest selection, assisting do-it-yourself homeowners to lay their own flooring, or providing top-of-the-line tile, marble, hardwood and wool carpeting.
Set up accounts with various wholesalers of floor coverings, such as ceramic tile, laminated flooring, engineered wood, hardwood, stone and carpeting. Look for vendors who offer the quality you desire with the best prices, delivery times and costs.
Strategies for Marketing
Create marketing strategies with clear action plans and assigned tasks to let potential customers know about your new store. For example, make a list of home and garden shows in your area. Register to exhibit at shows you believe will be the most productive. Assign staff to attend the shows with specific goals of setting a certain number of new customer appointments. Other strategies include creating an online presence through a website, blog and social media accounts. Develop a publicity program with the goal of distributing a press release once a month. Topics for the release could include "green" floor coverings; the difference between ceramic and stone tile flooring; tips for keeping carpeting clean; and how to remove common household stains from wood flooring.
Brian Hill is the author of four popular business and finance books: "The Making of a Bestseller," "Inside Secrets to Venture Capital," "Attracting Capital from Angels" and his latest book, published in 2013, "The Pocket Small Business Owner's Guide to Business Plans."