FCNews asks: How are you adapting to the supply chain slowdown?
The global supply chain slowdown has led to unprecedented delays and shortages of all flooring products and prevented retailers from achieving even greater prosperity in 2021. Perhaps most frustrating is there is no single reason for the shortages but rather a combination of factors. So, what’s a retailer to do? In the words of Tim Schoolfield, president of Countryside Carpets, O’Fallon, Mo., “You just deal with it.” to that end, FCNews asked retailers how they are adapting to the crisis.
CRAIG pHILLIPS, BARRINGTON CARPET aKRONohhio
Supply chain issues have proven to be much more difficult to maneuver than the pandemic ever was. We have seen record written business and now have the biggest backlog of business we have ever experienced. The issues in some cases show no sign of improving. Every bucket of our business is affected. Our project managers on the commercial side work very closely with our general contractors to get projects under contract and to purchase materials in some cases well ahead of the install to try to mitigate price increases and shortages. Some of our projects let us bill for stored materials. We have custom builders that have us order and store their materials as much as six to eight months ahead of the flooring install. They pay us for the materials to help us manage our cash flow. On the multi-family side of our business, we have arranged with our biggest customers to get alternate selections for them. Our retail customers have also been affected and have had to make reselections because of extended back orders and delayed ship dates.
mIKE mONTGOMERY, mONTGOMERY‘s CARPETSpLOOP COLORtile vENICEFLA.
Honestly, we tried to stock up on as many vinyl planks and carpet styles that we could. We also started to call and confirm availability of the product that each customer is looking at while they are here before they even take samples home. This way they can reselect a choice that would be available in the time frame they are working with. It has helped alleviate a lot of issues with customers selecting their product only to be let down when we call to order and it is back ordered for six to eight weeks.
pHIL mEYER, CARPET ONE fLOOR & HUNCLE CONCORDCALIF.
I have been adapting by being proactive on determining the stock position for materials. Color and style is so important to the customer and some are willing to wait for the materials. I have found, in most cases, the customer understands the issues with material supply. The issues that plague me have been availability of install crews. Getting helpers for carpet installers has been difficult. We call customers once the materials arrive to set up the installation. I have found customers don’t want to wait for install once the materials arrive. Labor shortages are just as difficult to address as material shortages.
JEREMY WIRGES, 3 KINGS fLOORING fORT WAYNEIND.
It’s been really tough. A lot of our vendors have online portals that we can get on and check live inventory. Our COREtec rep has even rearranged our displays with products available starting on one end and—as you move down the display—it goes into products that are back ordered. We have pulled product samples off the showroom floor if we know they are not available. We have also started stocking more products that are available, just so we have something to sell. We even offer our new construction customers the option to purchase months in advance and we will store the product if it is available at that time. These are very strange times. Even with all the price increases and product back orders it is amazing people are still walking in and buying. We have made it a point to set the customers’ expectations up front [on the delays]and most are understanding.
tYPHANNIE WATSON, CARPETING BY mIKE sOMERSETWIS.
We are adapting the best we can with communication. We have found communicating with our customers that their product is on back order and may or may not change does help. If it does change, notifying them a week or two in advance also helps lower any anxiety or frustration they may have toward us. Scheduling through the changes can be a challenge but, luckily, we work with manufacturers that notify us in advance—which allows us time to shuffle things around and make things work for the ever-changing back orders and supply chain challenges.
sAM OKRENT, OKRENT fLOORS sAN aNTONIO
This delay/shortage in receiving materials is truly a lesson in communication from the manufacturer to the consumer. Proper communication answers all questions and solves all problems. Our RSAs now set expectations early in the shopping process. We discuss product availability. We ask the customer to make second and third alternative choices. We inform our customers that their installation will not be scheduled until the material is physically in our warehouse. Everyone is more understandable of any situation if we continue to communicate with them throughout the process.