I was thinking about it the other day and realized Ralph's has over 500 years of hardwood floor experience. 500 years is a lot of time. The more I considered it though, the more I realized that "lots" isn't the most effective measure. You see not all experience is equal. A big box with hundreds of employees may also have a lot of experience.
Years of experience isn't good or bad, it's just, well...experience. I mean sometimes experience is measured by the amount of time someone has spent doing something but not everyone learns from their experience and not everyone knows how to share their experience to build "depth of experience". That only comes when you take what you have done, combine it with training and good people and use it to deliver at a higher level.
I have learned that in the hardwood floor business, and not always the easy way, that experience is really not worth much at all without the ability to transfer that experience into successful actions. This means not just learning from our mistakes but sharing and combining our different experiences to continuously improve our people and processes.
So I can say "We have over 500 years of experience" but what does that really mean?
It is our whole team, each and every one of us. It doesn't matter if it is an installer who started yesterday because we all bring experiences and the ability to share them with our team and contribute to our depth.
It includes my late father and founder who set the foundation for our entire culture. I tell stories about Ralph often because his stories remind us what works, how to deal with customers and how to solve challenges. Our collective experience combined with the legacy my father created makes up our experience and gives meaning to our 500 years of experience.
If you find yourself considering a hardwood flooring project, here are some good experience questions to consider.
What is the company's experience with similar projects?
What can they tell you about other projects like yours that people might not ask?
What is the project team’s experience? Not the most veteran group in the company but the actual project team who will work in your home. Who are they? Do they have similar project references that you can talk to about their work habits, customer service and expertise?
Do you also have architects and designers that have partnered with you that I can call? Many renovations require collaboration with architects, interior designers and builders. Speaking to those professionals can reveal a lot.
Ask about the business. How many projects are completed in a year? Do they have an office and warehouse? How long have they been in business? How many employees are there?
The Bottom Line
Experience is important when it comes to selecting a hardwood floor partner but depth of experience means a lot more.
Photo courtesy of Cian Byrne