Hardwood floors and countertops are among the most apparent product categories when it comes to opportunities to glean profits through options and upgrades. How about carpet upgrades? Uh, not exactly a sexy option for sales people to push. But have design centers been overlooking some easy money in all but ignoring the product?
Apparently. New home design center sales of Stainmaster, a durability upgrade available for all carpet brands, are up approximately 29 percent. That's in sheer volume (yards sold), and not just revenue. “The design centers that have embraced quality have seen an increase in sales, says Jaimi Julian Thompson, president of Artisan Design Group, who has done design center trainings on selling carpet upgrades. (Thompson says that such trainings are rare because of a longstanding lack of interest in emphasizing carpet sales.)
Not only is carpet an opportunity for more revenue, it has an upside on the customer service end. Home buyers, Thompson says, often end up being frustrated down the road with the quality of the standard carpets that builders provide.
“It's usually good for the builders in terms of customer service,” says Steve Griffith, vice president of residential interiors at Invista, which produces Stainmaster for carpet manufacturers. Stainmaster, he says, costs the home buyer about $60 more for a typical 15 foot-by-15 foot room. “In a typical five- or six-room house, you're talking about $300. So for $300, you can have a better satisfied consumer,” he says.
After receiving training on selling Stainmaster, Kelly Litton, a design center manager at D.R. Horton's Cambridge Homes in Chicago, says that the Stainmaster upgrade is an easy sell. Her sales people, in fact, call it the “no-brainer.”
“It's probably the last thing on [builders'] list to sell,” she says. “But to home buyers, it's probably the most important because it's the one thing they touch everyday.”