Why you need a flooring partner who thinks like an owner

A person sorts through carpet samples.

We all have people to please. Whether you’re a facility manager, a general contractor or a subcontractor, you want empathetic trade partners who understand your objectives and the pressure you’re under to achieve them. You know the good ones by the confidence you feel when you work with them and how they help you go from a promise made to a promise kept. 

It’s easy for trade partners to advertise this approach by leaning on buzzy corporate phrases like “leveraging subject matter expertise in our commitment to customer service.”

But our definition is more straightforward: It’s thinking like an owner.

And sure, this is no revolutionary concept.

And it’s not prevalent in the flooring installation industry, either. So here’s how we do it — and why you need a flooring partner who operates under this mindset.

  • Radical transparency fosters trust — Clear, consistent and proactive communication means no surprises, no excessive emails and fewer headaches.
  • Embracing uncomfortable conversations — We’d never make mistakes in an ideal world. But when they happen, you need space to address those concerns.
  • Curveballs? We see them coming — We’ve been in the business long enough to know that responding to crises only as they arise just doesn’t cut it for clients.

Ownership thinking requires seeing the big picture

Whether you’re building your client’s 10th luxury hotel or managing a facility that houses multiple corporate offices, you already have a full set of big-picture issues to address: preparing for upcoming city inspections, keeping up with ongoing facility responsibilities, maintaining positive rapport with your client and growing your business.

But being in the dark about your flooring subcontractor’s progress or bonding capacities invites the domino effects that can threaten a project. And that threat will rattle your confidence. That’s why clear communication is so important.

Clear communication produces your dream outcome

We recently updated the Geico Corporate Center in Lakeland, Florida. They wanted to replace 130,000 square feet of carpet tile across two floors full of cubicles, desks and sensitive computer equipment—without disrupting the daily operations of 3,400 call center employees. It was a huge job… that we completed in just six weeks — far ahead of schedule.

It was a perfect execution. But how did we pull it off?

This job required a Vertical Installation Technology (VIT) system to speed up the installation. Instead of tearing down cubicles, we lifted them piece by piece to avoid the displacement of furniture or communication cables below. From start to finish, our team updated Geico staffers about oncoming construction phases, preventing delays by giving employees time to secure loose items like personal knick-knacks and computers. This communication strategy was so successful that office operations continued without any disruption throughout the entire installation.

The way we see it, the success of this project wouldn’t have been possible without such clear communication between the flooring contractor and the client. The Project Management Institute (PMI) agrees. In fact, poor communication is one of the main reasons projects fail.

Having complete visibility over a project requires transparent communication from every subcontractor. It should start with a thorough and detailed explanation of cost and last at least until the project closes — if not throughout the lifecycle of your flooring.

By the end of a Spectra project, most of our clients enjoy a first-name basis relationship with their in-house point of contact. Many loyal customers often invite us to talk directly with their own clients. Our team understands how to facilitate conversations about trends in commercial flooring, sustainable flooring options and installation logistics. For someone in your position, that’s the perfect blend of expertise and the ownership mindset.

“We’re so sorry about the bathroom tile. Let’s make it right.”

Nobody’s perfect, and neither is your flooring subcontractor. But when the worst happens, our philosophy is simple: No finger-pointing and no blame games.

When one of our customers won a $435 million bid to expand the Choctaw Casino and Resort in Durant, Oklahoma, we were invited to bid on the flooring job. We won based on price but also promised the best value proposition for capabilities and competence.

The project seemed straightforward, especially since the customer had already purchased and staged all the materials. Our job was to install it. But we didn’t meet the general contractor’s standards on the first pass. That’s not the kind of feedback any subcontractor likes hearing. Instead of getting defensive, making excuses or leaving the site, we doubled down on our commitment to radical transparency.

“A big problem in our industry is that few people will take responsibility or accountability when issues arise. That’s why Spectra is successful — because we do take accountability. We’ll say, ‘Oh yeah, we could’ve done that better and we’re going to fix it.” — Joshua Hansard, Spectra’s account manager

We met with the project managers and installation managers, and then removed and reinstalled the flooring without a single complaint. That attitude surprised our customer, who’d seen more than his share of arrogant subcontractors. But instead of poisoning the relationship, it reinforced his trust in us.

“People need to know that there are stand-up subcontractors like Spectra that do flooring, do it right and get the job done on time.”— Zachary Clay, general contractor

Proactive strategies make unexpected problems easier to solve

With 400,000+ installations in our portfolio, we’ve learned a thing or two about reactive versus proactive approaches. Reactive agility in the face of a crisis has its strengths, but what you need on a flooring job is peace of mind. And that only comes with airtight planning and foresight.

It starts with the bids

Good flooring contractors don’t just settle for writing bids based on paper scopes. In fact, it’s a disadvantage to ignore issues absent from your original scope.

Your flooring subcontractor should take the time to familiarize themselves with your project. This doesn’t just help explore opportunities for adding value, but also flags any special considerations about performance requirements, product availability, compatibility, staging, waste disposal and even minute details like the varying thicknesses of adjacent flooring materials. 

The point isn’t to pack your bid with unnecessary add-ons but to give you a chance to see everything you’ll likely need — avoiding any surprise added costs halfway through the project.

Related reading: Scheduling conflicts and five other problems general contractors shouldn’t have 

Turnkey flooring scopes to simplify scheduling

If you’ve ever had to manage multiple subcontractors at once, you know how difficult and time-consuming it can be coordinating schedules, choreographing work and keeping everyone out of each other’s way.

Most big commercial jobs have diverse flooring needs. It’s far simpler to rely on a single flooring contractor who can juggle multiple flooring installations. That means no piecemeal hires for polished concrete, tile, carpet and vinyl.

Best of all? That sole flooring subcontractor remains accountable for downline supervision, freeing you from the headaches of micromanagement.

Related reading: Honoring place and heritage through flooring for the Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority.

Cherokee Indian Hospital flooring

Securing a qualified labor force

When your name is on the line for a high-stakes project, the last thing you need is to find your site short-staffed.

A subcontractor who thinks like an owner doesn’t just hire any old Joe off the street and hand them a tool belt. Many quality flooring material manufacturers won’t even sell certain products if a team can’t prove their credentials. If your design vision requires specialty products, your subcontractor must be able to deliver. Flooring companies with strong manufacturer relationships are often provided with a direct labor list that makes hiring seamless.

Sourcing quality labor is one thing. Retaining it is another.

This is where ironclad financial backing becomes the blue-ribbon credential you need. As a Diverzify company, we have the bonding capabilities to guarantee regular payment for every laborer on the ground.

Hire a subcontractor who wants to help you succeed on your next flooring project

Thinking like an owner helps everyone win. But how do you know if your subcontractor is up to the challenge? See how they respond to these questions:

  • How do you plan to communicate with me?
  • Can you describe the steps for what happens if I’m unhappy with the work?
  • What are your strategies for mitigating risks throughout the project?

If their answers don’t align with what you’d want your own clients to hear, it’s probably time for a new flooring subcontractor.

When you’re ready to discuss your next project, give us a call.