How can Vermont Plank Flooring price under its competition by 25% - 50%, while still leading in quality with national acclaim from customers like Frank Gehry Architects and the Clark Art Institute?
Is Vermont Plank Flooring’s pricing really lower than the competition? In a word, yes.
To begin with, it’s important to understand who that competition is. In the world of hardwood flooring, we need to make a distinction between mass-produced, off-the-shelf products you would find in big box stores or national discount chains versus crafted, made-to-order products offered by companies like Vermont Plank Flooring and a small handful of competitors.
Mass-Production vs. Handcrafted
Mass-produced products are generally milled from lower-quality trees, often harvested without attention to sustainability practices, tree health, or maturity. The milling process has a low bar for quality control, plank lengths are generally variable and of relatively short stature (between 2 and 7 feet), with widths in the 2- to 6-inch range, resulting in a jigsaw puzzle of seams, and the quality and application of finishes is variable.
By comparison, hand-crafted, made-to-order products, such as those produced by Vermont Plank Flooring and its competitors, are milled following the strictest sustainability guidelines from fully mature, healthy trees. The high-grade planks that come from these trees are dramatically longer and wider than mass-produced products—with Vermont Plank Flooring’s products often the tops in the industry (up to 10–16 feet long and 12–19 inches wide, depending on the species). Quality control is higher, with defects and imperfections eliminated, and finishes are selected in consultation with the customer and applied with the highest standards.
Costs Compared with the Competition
As with any product, you get what you pay for. A plastic lawn chair made on an assembly line in China will certainly be cheaper than a wrought-iron counterpart welded by hand in a workshop in America, but which do you suppose will be more aesthetically pleasing and last longer? So, too, with flooring. Handcrafted products will undoubtedly cost more than low-quality mass-produced products. The question is, how much more?
Most craft flooring producers charge four to five times what you would pay in a big box store for commodity products. But Vermont Plank Flooring produces as good, if not better, wood flooring than our craft flooring competitors, and manages to beat their prices by as much as 25-to-50 percent. Here’s how we do it.
Vermont Plank Flooring offers mill-direct pricing, meaning our products go from our mill facility directly to you, with no middlemen or retailers taking a cut and pushing up the price. Though some of our craft flooring competitors are also mill-direct, others are seeing their product prices marked up by dealers. Additionally, our competition employs sizable marketing teams and branding consultants to trumpet their products, and operate and staff sales showrooms in major metropolitan areas.
By contrast, Vermont Plank Flooring operates a lean ship. We have a small showroom at our mill in Brattleboro, Vermont (definitely stop by if you are in the area), but our primary marketing tool is the floor samples we mail to potential customers. Our minimalist marketing and branding approach cuts costs and allows us to keep focused on what we do best—making outstanding wide-plank hardwood flooring. And with our decidedly low overhead, we are able to keep our margins small and pass on the savings to our customers.
Additionally, you may find some of our competitors offer a full-service experience, providing in-house shipping and installation. There is a giant premium associated with these services. We ship with regional and national shipping companies, and you pay our cost for that service with no mark up. And we let you use your own installer, who provides his or her services at rates that are the norm for your area.
Belief in Affordability
Some of our competitors are owned by larger companies and corporations whose main concern is satisfying shareholders. Vermont Plank Flooring is a family business that believes in affordability for its customers. We give the same price to our residential customers that we provide to architects and builders. And with our low overhead, the bulk of that pricing is dictated by the cost of the raw material (the price of the lumber) rather than on the advertising budget or the rent on a swanky showroom.
If you are looking for the highest quality wide-plank flooring, but not the highest price, Vermont Plank Flooring offers a product on par or superior to anyone in the industry, but at a cost far lower than its competitors.