Retail and wholesale are very different structural approaches to business, and this is as true in the flooring industry as in any other. Flooring retailers are focused on a customer base largely comprised of homeowners looking to remodel or replace flooring in a single room; as such, the bulk of their business volume will be a large number of small sales, made to customers usually lacking in significant background knowledge about flooring materials. This business model encourages flooring retailers to offer a narrower selection, focused around their customers' most common needs, and charge higher prices. Some of that mark-up is, of course, due to the number of middlemen that the stock has passed through on the way to the retailer. A homeowner who only needs a few square yards of carpet for their den won't notice the higher price as much as a contractor or property manager who requires a much larger volume of flooring.
This is where flooring wholesalers come in. Receiving their stock directly from the manufacturer, flooring wholesalers are able to keep their own costs lower and pass those low prices on to their customers. Since wholesale buyers typically need large amounts of material, flooring wholesalers don't feel as pressured to wring every last drop of profit out of every square foot they sell; the profit comes through volume, and repeat business. That's why it's in a wholesaler's best interest to make your buying experience with them as positive as they can, so you'll return to them for your future flooring needs, and pass a good review along to your colleagues.
Finding a Wholesale Supplier
That's exactly where you should begin when you need to find a flooring wholesaler: find out if your friends or colleagues have recommendations of wholesalers that offer great selection, service, and support. If no one in your circle of contacts has suggestions, try the Internet. You can find plenty of customer reviews online, and the Better Business Bureau's website should have any flooring wholesaler's rating and a record of any complaints lodged against the company, including how those complaints were resolved. When you find a company that seems reliable, arrange to visit their warehouse and see for yourself whether their quality and selection is up to your standards.
Because their stock comes directly from the manufacturer, a flooring wholesaler should have a much wider selection than a retail store, but don't take a company's selection for granted. A supplier's selection should have enough variety to meet any decorating and traffic needs you have, and include a number of reliable, well-known national and international brands. These brands provide a standard that allows you to compare prices among different wholesalers, which can't be done with "exclusive brands" carried by only one supplier. The brands they offer should have a reputation for reliability, as it is typically manufacturers, and not flooring wholesalers, that backs the warranty on flooring materials.
A wholesaler needs to be able to answer your questions about their stock and make recommendations based on your needs. They should readily offer advice about the care and maintenance of their flooring, and suggest tips for an easy installation, if they don't provide installation services themselves. If they do offer installation, that service should be reasonably priced and come with a minimum warranty of one year. The wholesaler's website should make ordering online convenient and easy for customers who are familiar with the stock and already know what they need. The supplier should also offer financing options, as this demonstrates that they care about customer relations and want to encourage repeat business.
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Andrew White writes about shopping with flooring wholesalers and other home improvement topics out of Seattle. Always looking for the highest quality materials at the best price he tends to end up shopping at www.prosourcefloors.com more often than not.
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