by Thomas Ricciardelli
Does any other part of a retail outlet, restaurant, or hotel warrant more attention than the floor? You might be thinking there are plenty of other things. Yet if you really thought about it, how many times does somebody say, “Look at that display” compared to “Watch your step”? And does anything make a room stop more abruptly than when a waiter drops a tray of dishes on the, you guessed it, floor?
Okay, those may be extreme examples, but people, specifically customers, do notice and care about floors. Generally, they care about it more when something is wrong with it. That’s why many retail outlets will delay replacing wornout flooring rather than deal with a costly replacement that may require a lengthy and messy installation. Simply put, “Pardon our appearance” signs are never good for business.
Well, times are changing and so is flooring. There are new flooring technologies out there — interlocking tiles, specifically — that make installing a new floor or parts of a floor possible without any disruption or down time. These tiles, made from recycled materials, can be placed over existing tiles. So, installation time is dramatically reduced because there’s no need to remove the old floor — that eliminates messy and environmentally unfriendly adhesives and excessive dust.
The interlocking technology also opens up the potential for numerous marketing opportunities. Having your store’s logo and branding on the floor becomes a matter of simply putting it on the tiles. The same holds true with special promotions. You can literally change the flooring in different parts of your store or venue to suit your marketing needs.
Of course, the true beauty of the interlocking tiles comes into play should a tile wear down or begin to fade. Then, you simply replace the tile instead of the entire area. This kind of convenience becomes even more practical if you own multiple locations.
With installation impacts minimized, the benefits of these newer technologies abound. As these tiles are mostly made from recycled products and are 100% recyclable, you have a green floor. Being greener is something that makes everybody — customers, staff, vendors, etc. — feel better about your business.
Aside from that, the newer floors, through use of a seam sealer, are virtually seamless. This eliminates moisture build-up within floor seams, which can harbor dirt and provide a breeding area for bacteria. Nothing can impact a restaurant or food store more than somebody getting sick from eating something that came out of your operation. This kind of green technology makes it much easier to keep your restaurant, hotel, or store cleaner and safer.
In addition to being better environmentally, greener flooring tends to have more of a cushion and is more comfortable to stand on for long periods of time. This is an obvious benefit for customers and guests who might stay or browse longer. More comfortable flooring can also reduce workers comp claims and sick days for staff, as the softer surface is not as problematic for feet, legs, and backs. It also mitigates injuries on falls that do occur (e.g., a fall on the green floor results in a bruise where a fall on the harder, older floor may have broken a bone or caused a sprain).
Beyond day-to-day maintenance, this newer technology is built to last. For example, the commercial grade flooring that our company sells has a 10-year commercial grade warranty. Even if one area wears out before another, repair is simply a matter of replacing a tile, not an entire floor. Again, that’s with zero down time. So you never need to compromise the look of your floor because of a few wornout spots.
In the retail and hospitality industries, presentation is everything. Your floor can either be part of the overall presentation or a distraction to it. By taking advantage of the newer technologies out there, you have a ground floor opportunity to make your floor a thing customers and guests remember for the right reasons.
Thomas Ricciardelli is the president of SelecTech, Inc. of Avon, Mass.