Taylor Flooring of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia marks its thirtieth anniversary next year. The secret to the company’s success—beyond providing excellent products and services—is simple: put the customer first and “stay on the cutting edge,” of trends, technology, and designs says Sales Manager Patrick Wood.
The company found its niche early and stuck to it. “We put ourselves in what I call the mid-to-higher-end [market]. I didn’t want to be the most expensive; I didn’t want to be the cheapest. We have offerings at every price point,” states company founder Robert Taylor.
The company specializes in flooring finishes, including all manner of carpets, hardwood, tiles, luxury vinyl, laminate, vinyl, and waterproof flooring. Laminate and luxury vinyl are the company’s top-selling product categories, with tile remaining a popular choice. Water-resistant laminate is rapidly becoming a burgeoning sub-category.
Customers can choose from an enormous range of products, in person or online. In addition to the Dartmouth headquarters, the company has branches in Sydney, Bridgewater, and Halifax, Nova Scotia.
For clients who cannot visit a branch in person, the Taylor Flooring website offers an extensive look at the company’s wares. In the carpet category alone, the company carries a huge array of colours, brands, and fibre types from major manufacturers. It also offers advice on décor to help customers make selections.
The company has more than flooring and household products, however. The team can also provide professional installation, and in addition to flooring, can install cabinets, lighting, custom showers, custom area rugs, and staircases. Installation duties are performed by company staff and trusted subcontractors. Clients can request estimates for installation services through the Taylor Flooring website.
“Lighting and cabinets are new for us. Those are areas we’re just starting to get our feet wet with. Our longstanding services would be full-home flooring renovations, new home builds, and then custom showers, backsplashes, and area rugs,” Patrick says.
Full-home renovation is “probably the biggest,” revenue-generating service at present, he adds, noting, “That’s really where we focus.”
While private homeowners make up a substantial portion of the company’s client base, Taylor Flooring also provides products and services for multi-unit apartments, hospitals, offices, and retail outlets.
Robert Taylor launched the company that bears his name in the early 1990s. “It was incorporated in ’92, and we opened the doors in February of ’93,” he recalls, chuckling at the company slogan with its deliberate play on spelling: “Need a floorist? Call a Taylor.”
Then, as now, a strong emphasis was placed on providing superlative customer service. “It’s been pretty much the same concept right from day one,” he says. “I’ve had thousands of letters from customers over the years with compliments but not one of them ever said, ‘Thank you very much for the great price.’ It was always, ‘Thank you very much for the great service—the install was professional.’ This tells me our customer service was doing its job.”
He sold the business in 2012 and today, it operates under the auspices of Creative Flooring Solutions Inc. (CFSI). This parent company also owns a roster of other flooring-related businesses. After completing the sale, Robert left the company for a time. He returned in March of this year and currently manages the Taylor Flooring retail segment.
The company employs roughly thirty people across all its branches, up from approximately twenty-two at this point last year. This total only covers Taylor Flooring; when the company first started, it had a separate division devoted to commercial work. Currently the majority of the commercial segment now operates under “the CFSI label, not Taylor Flooring,” explains Robert. However, some branches of Taylor Flooring still perform their own commercial work because of location or relationships with contractors.
When it comes to hiring new staff, there is a preference for workers who are outgoing, self-motivated, team players who are able to absorb information quickly. “There’s a lot to learn in flooring: products, measuring, installation,” notes Robert, adding that the company wants “somebody who can use a measuring tape, as silly as it sounds.
The company also likes new hires who show a “high attention to detail,” adds Patrick.
Clearly, the public likes what the company is doing. It has won consecutive Consumer Choice Awards for Halifax for over a decade. These annual wins are evidence of the company’s excellent customer service and ability to “keep the Taylor brand fresh in the minds of the people out there,” says Patrick.
When it comes to vendors, Taylor Floor likes to establish long-term relationships with suppliers of high-quality goods. That does not, however, mean that the company is content to rest on its laurels. An effort is made to keep up with new trends, designs, and technology, says Patrick, pointing to recent “innovations in porcelain and ceramic tile. We push our installers to up their game and gain new skills by working with different products. This helps keep us at the forefront,” he adds.
Quality is further maintained through staff training and customer care. As with any construction-related service, problems can sometimes arise during an installation. In such cases, Taylor Flooring works hard to identify the root cause of the problem, satisfy the client, and determine ways to avoid repeating the error.
“When you go out and do a job and it goes off without a hitch, [the client] will tell a couple people. But if you went out and did that same job and something went wrong and you go and fix it right away, they’re ecstatic. They’re going to tell twenty people,” Robert says, noting that the company’s mission “has always been to make sure we don’t let the customer down.”
This supportive ethos is also demonstrated by the company’s commitment to the communities it serves. Among other initiatives, Taylor Flooring sponsors kids’ hockey teams around the province.
Like all North American businesses, it has had to cope with the COVID crisis. The company was deemed an essential service and allowed to remain open. Installation crews were equipped with face masks and hand sanitizer.
“That was a complete re-work for us. We had to learn how to be in a space and keep our clients and workers safe. We had to find new ways of working. A lot of the [practises] that we used then, we continue to use because they are better practices and make us a little bit sharper,” recalls Patrick.
While pandemic lockdowns stifled some business activity, “We have a lot of new home construction [in Nova Scotia] which really helped to keep the economy going. [Taylor Flooring] survived a little better than some did, because we were able to keep going, although on limited staffing… but we had the same impacts as a company as anybody else,” he adds.
These impacts include COVID-related supply disruptions and price increases.
“Ten, twelve years ago, to bring a trailer load of product from Asia would be $3,000 to $5,000 a container. Back a year ago, it was anywhere from $20,000 to $25,000 for the same container. So, pricing has become a huge issue,” says Robert.
Some companies switched to European-made products, only to find supply chains in that part of the world thrown into disarray because of the brutal war in Ukraine, he continues.
The supply chain for many flooring companies “has shifted back to Asia a little bit, and the pricing has come down but I don’t think we’ll ever see it where it used to be… Supply is definitely an issue and pricing but that’s not unique to this industry,” he adds.
Manpower has also become a challenge, in part due to the company’s success. A rising volume of work means it takes longer to carry out installations. It is an ironic problem to be facing, but further proof of Taylor Flooring’s growing popularity. Still, the company would like to shorten the lead time for installation work, in keeping with its customer-first focus.
On top of COVID, Nova Scotia also recently endured the wrath of Hurricane Fiona. Taylor Flooring worked with insurance companies and contractors to deal with some of the fallout from this massive windstorm.
Moving forward, Patrick says “lighting and cabinetry” are “the new services we’re really trying to focus on.” For the future, the general aim is to “get to a place where we’re really that one-stop shop, to be able to meet flooring, lighting, and cabinet needs all in one place, so we can service our customers with more features and make the whole experience a good one from start to finish.”