Underlayment: Proven tips to trading up to better cushion

In that same vein, David Jackson, technical services manager, Sika Corp., suggested pointing out the major, easy-to-understand benefits such as acoustical abatement, moisture control and thermal protection. “Educating consumers on the added value of flooring underlayment is crucial to a retailer’s ability to sell and cross-promote systems, improving their bottom line exponentially,” he said.

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TIP #3: Sell the whole system

One of the more effective ways to promote padding—especially higher-end products—is to demonstrate how the product works in conjunction with the flooring material. In other words, sell the system. “While the individual sale of an underlayment is not to be discounted, the most worthwhile approach for retailers is to integrate their underlayments into solution-based, multi-tier system product offerings from single-source suppliers,” Sika’s Jackson explained. When installed properly, Jackson said complete systems can offer the highest degree of overall value that provide the consumer with a warm, dry and desirable solid-sounding floor—something that can easily appeal to the customer.

Experts say upgraded cushion and underlayments give the retailer the full selling experience while providing the best buying experience for the consumer. Hence the importance of packaging the installation to simplify the purchasing process for the shopper. “If the retailers are not offering all the aspects of the installation, then they are forcing the end user to shop other places or competitors,” said Marcus Guy, vice president and general manager of pad and cushion, Mohawk. “This could risk them the whole job pack.”

TIP #4: Start at the top

Whether they’re buying a new flooring product or a brand new car, customers generally don’t like surprises—especially after they have been given a quote. That’s why experts recommend leading with your best cushion versus starting low and then trying to work your way up from there to higher-priced padding. “Never start off with offering to sell a lower-quality underlayment that has inferior qualities than the premium underlayments,” advised Jim Wink, vice president of sales and marketing, Foam Products.

What’s more, Wink stressed the importance of doing right by the customer and educating them on all the benefits of the premium underlayment options. “The customer will share this better experience with their friends, so you as the retailer will get new business,” he said.

TIP #5: Avoid late add-ons

The most successful sales reps quote customers for the entire job when providing estimates. While this approach might, at first, increase the likelihood of “sticker shock,” it avoids the messy situation of having to come back to the customer with a higher estimate than what was originally proposed.

“Always include the flooring underlayment in the itemized estimate and explain why it’s needed,” Wink explained. “The customer does not know, so they will respect your expertise and honest explanation.”

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