How to start a flooring business in 14 steps
The flooring industry took a bit of a hit in 2020, but the industry overall is trending upward. This makes starting a flooring company a stable, reliable business idea. If you’ve been wondering how to start a flooring business, you’ve come to the right place. We’re about to break down the essential steps you need to know to open a successful floor installation business.
But first, let’s get one burning question out of the way.
Can I start a flooring business with no experience?
If you’ve never installed any sort of flooring, you’ll want some experience before you open your own business. This may need to be months or years of experience, depending on the type of work you intend to do.
You may also need to secure a general contractor’s license depending on where you live. This process can include proof of experience, so be prepared to show that this isn’t your first time laying down some carpet.
However, once you have the experience necessary to provide great service and you’ve set your mind to a new business venture, you’re ready to take the rest of the steps in this guide and open your own flooring installation business. Now, let’s dive in.
1) Business plan
To start, you’ll need a written business plan. Think of this as a blueprint for your business. It will help both you and potential lenders or investors understand how your business stands to profit in the marketplace.
Your business plan can grow and evolve, but to begin, it should contain at least the following sections.
- Executive Summary: Give a high-level overview of each section of your business plan. Explain your vision for the business, why it’s needed in your city, and why you’re the person to run it.
- Industry Analysis: Go over your market research. What did you discover about the market in terms of size, trends, gaps, and level of opportunity?
- Competitive Analysis: Name your competitors, their strengths and weaknesses, and what makes you different.
- Marketing Plan: Who are your ideal clients, and how will you reach them? What is your vision for your brand?
- Management: How will you run your projects? Will you hire employees? How will you structure your business?
- Operations: What systems will you put in place to ensure that your day-to-day operations are effective? What sort of installation services will you offer, and how will you execute those services?
- Financial Plan: How will you generate cash flow in your business? What are your estimated startup costs? Detail your financial goals and projections for each of your first five years in business.
2) Business structure
You will need to select from the available business structures for your flooring business. These are:
- Sole proprietorship
- Limited liability Company (LLC)
Review each of these as well as their sub-categories. Which type of business entity will allow you to pursue your business objectives the best? Choose the right option for you and register your business.
3) Business name
Your business name will appear on your business cards, website, and any other marketing materials you create. A great business name is:
- Simple and easy to say, spell, and remember
- Descriptive of your type of business (for example, you could include the word “flooring” in your business name)
- Aligned with your brand
4) Ideal clients
Defining a target market will help you streamline your marketing strategies and define your brand. To help you clarify your ideal client type, consider these questions:
- Are they residential or commercial clients?
- What is their annual income or revenue?
- What do they do for a living? If they’re commercial, what sort of building do they have?
- Are they homeowners? Do they value home building or home improvement?
- If they’re residential, how do they feel about the DIY approach? Do they understand, value, and appreciate the hard work of a skilled tradesman?
- Are they married? Single? In a relationship?
- Do they have children?
- What sort of style do they like in their home?
- What social media platforms do they use? Where else do they hang out online and in the world?
- What is most important to them? What are their values?
- Are they likely to use you for a multitude of projects? What sort?
You don’t need to have every aspect of your ideal client figured out right away, but an idea of who you most want to serve will help you.
5) Niche, unique value proposition, and branding
A niche allows you to become an authority in one specific portion of the industry. For example, you can specialize in carpeting, laminate flooring, hardwood flooring, or linoleum.
Your market research may show you that choosing a niche will be profitable for you. However, if you don't see a clear reason to niche down, you can find differentiation in the marketplace through your unique value proposition and your branding instead.
Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
Your UVP will set you apart from your competition. Think of your UVP as the best thing anyone could say about you to someone else. Maybe it’s that you have better customer service than anyone in your industry or that your pricing is incredible because of your vendor relations. Perhaps your UVP is your ability to source and install particularly rare or difficult types of flooring. Whatever your UVP turns out to be, make sure you highlight it in your marketing materials.
Solid branding makes you identifiable and memorable. When you think about your brand, consider the following:
- Color palette
- Design aesthetic
- Mission statement
- Managing style
- Target clients
Let your research into the market, your ideal clients, and your competitors inform your branding decisions. Then, keep it consistent across all marketing materials.
Floor installation is perhaps the most widely recognized service a flooring company will offer. However, there are other services you can provide your clients as well, such as:
- Hardwood floor refinishing
- Floor matching
- Emergency flooring services
When it comes to pricing, the most popular choice for flooring professionals is to charge by the square foot for installs. Averages vary by material and difficulty level, but in general, expect to charge at least $6 per square foot.
Will you operate your business out of a brick and mortar? Do you require a showroom? If so, you’ll want to locate your offices near to your target market. Work with a real estate agent to help you find the perfect location.
Here are some basic tools and equipment you’ll need to work with an array of materials in your flooring business.
- Various sanders
- Various saws
- Floor scraper
- Floor roller
- Chalk line
- Tape measure
- Rubber mallet
- Tapping block
- Utility knife
- Floor cutter
- Protective clothing, footwear, and eyewear
- Truck or van
- Accounting and invoicing software
Startup costs for flooring businesses are unique to each business but expect to have at least $5,000-$10,000 available to help you get started. The following options can help you fund or finance your business.
- Bank business loans
- Private investors or lenders
- Friends and family
- Personal savings
Remember that you will likely need specific types of insurance coverage to qualify for some financing options, such as a bank loan. Bring your business plan to show how you intend to generate consistent, reliable revenue in the long term.
As a new business owner, you will need certain small business insurance policies to cover your business appropriately. In fact, you may need to get all of the following policies as part of your comprehensive flooring business insurance coverage.
- Workers' Compensation: Workers’ comp covers you if one of your employees becomes sick or injured while on the job. It used to be a long process to get workers’ compensation, but now you can purchase it online. Get a quick estimate of your workers’ comp premium with Huckleberry’s 60-second workers' compensation calculator.
- General Liability Insurance: This policy covers your business if you are sued for injury or property damage
- Business Property Insurance: Specifically covers your flooring business's equipment
- Business Interruption: If you have to cease business operations for any reason, business interruption insurance will help supplement your lost income
- Business Owner's Policy: A Business Owner’s Policy bundles several insurance policies together. Your Business Owner’s Policy may include general liability, business property insurance, and business interruption coverage.
Want to know what you’re likely to spend on your small business insurance? Get a fast and free quote for your flooring business from Huckleberry.
11) Paperwork, licenses, permits, and accounts
You’re getting closer to making your flooring business dream a reality, but we still have some important business to take care of before your official opening.
- Register your business name: Check out the Small Business Association (SBA) for guidance on how to register your business name.
- Get your Employer Identification Number (EIN): Your EIN is like a Social Security Number (SSN) for your business. It provides you with multiple benefits, so get yours right away.
- Get your business license: Check with your state for the right way to secure your business license
- Achieve Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliance: Review OSHA’s specific training requirements and ensure that you meet them. This will help you to stay in compliance with this important administration.
- Open a business credit card and business bank account: Keep your personal and professional finances separate with a business bank account and business credit card. A credit card can also provide you with additional capital if you choose to use it.
Check with your state's government for any other specific licensing requirements you must fulfill.
As soon as you choose to hire an employee, whether full-time, part-time, or as a contractor, you’ll need to know where to find the proper paperwork. Luckily, you can easily download necessary hiring forms such as a W-4 and W-9 online. Whether they're skilled tradesmen or stars of all things administrative and financial, your employees will affect the quality of your business. Hire wisely to ensure that their impact is a positive one.
13) Marketing strategy
Your marketing strategy will help you land new customers and keep your old clients returning to you with more work. Here are a few powerful avenues you can use as part of your strategy to help get the word out about your business.
Potential clients will visit your website to learn more about you, your quality of work, what services you offer, and how they can contact you or find your brick and mortar. Ensure that your website reflects your brand and is optimized for search engines.
As this is one of the most powerful marketing assets you have, hiring professionals to help you is a good idea. The upfront cost for a professionally designed website can be significant, but the long-term payoff is well worth the initial investment.
Email marketing reaches your potential customers right in their email inboxes. It is still one of the highest converting marketing methods. Grow your email list through a signup form on your website. Then, create automated email campaigns that deliver high-value content to your list regularly. This will help keep you in mind when your potential clients are in the market for new flooring.
Social Media Marketing
Social media is another powerful tool, albeit an often overwhelming one. You can hire a social media manager to help you with your accounts, or you can take it slow and start with one platform on your own. As you master that platform, add another if it makes sense within the context of your strategy. Some social media platforms you can use include:
Google My Business helps you to get found on local search. This means when people in your area need a flooring professional, they’re far more likely to find you than if you’re not on My Business. All you need to do here is register for a free account and upload your business profile. Easy as that!
Word-of-mouth and referrals
Encourage repeat business and new business at the same time with a savvy referral program. Offer a discount or some sort of perk for both the original client and the new client. You can also give a price break to customers who come back to you for multiple projects.
In addition, word-of-mouth marketing such as testimonials goes a long way. Gather this positive feedback from satisfied customers and share their words in your marketing materials to boost potential customers' confidence in your company.
14) Additional resources
As you continue toward becoming a flooring business owner, keep the following resources in a bookmarked folder. They’ll help you stay focused, grounded, and moving forward whenever the process of starting a business begins to feel a little stressful.
- Small Business Monthly Checklist
- International Certified Flooring Installers
- Flooring Contractors Association Training Resources
You did it! You made it through the 14 steps you need to start a flooring business. Congratulations, and keep going. You’re on your way to an exciting new venture!
Cross “get insurance” off your flooring business to-do list with Huckleberry small business insurance
At Huckleberry, our mission is to help you get quality flooring business insurance faster than it takes to glue down a square foot of carpet. Snag a quick workers’ comp quote or see how you can get insured online in minutes.