Secret to Success - Get the customer involved in the installation process
As soon as we arrive to install the flooring I show the owner the character wood in the truck. As we unload the planks, I ask what types of character features they like or don't like. I encourage them to help pick the boards, help nail them down, help run the sander, do whatever they seem interested in. They can often do these simple jobs and be helpful. Some people prefer to step back and just let us do our job.
When I go to the auto repair center, the sign on the wall gives the labor rates:
Labor - $60/hour
Labor - if you watch - $75/hour
Labor - if you help - $100/hour
I like to teach and see people get involved. It is always rewarding for all of us to work together. Some people really get into it and feel a great sense of satisfaction. My business is more successful due to my spending this extra time with the homeowner. Luckily, a floor usually takes a few days to a week, and we are gone before there is time for impatience, personal conflicts, or misunderstandings to develop. One couple has hired me for many floors. The woman started to help out on the first job and is an excellent worker. Now I give them a discounted price with the understanding that she will be there as an experienced helper.
The first key to installing is to pick the best straight line to start on. This is unique to each room. There are many tricks you learn to speed this process and avoid complications at the end of the room. Once you get your first couple of rows fastened down, it is pretty simple to nail down rows of flooring. You can be as creative as you want when 'putting the puzzle together'. Plastic felling wedges from our logging tool box are priceless gear when we are fitting the edges of a row and squeezing together the last few rows next to the wall.
Transitions to other floors, doorways, stairways, fireplaces etc. are all custom made using your 3-D skills. One person on the crew needs the basic skills to make these specially fitted pieces.
Sanding the floor is another relaxing job for me. The hard work is past, I put on some nice tunes in my headphones, dance back and forth to the music, and enjoy life knowing that I'm now making the highest dollar per hour wage of the whole process so far. The sound of the sanding machine is money in the bank to me!
Sanding starts out kind of rough. It is just a lot of rubbing and more rubbing. As the floor gradually gets smooth, the natural beauty shows more and more. For a while, the character marks in the floor actually look worse in contrast to the smooth wood surrounding it. Then the character polishes down also so that the unique features stand out in their glory.