Stephenwfoster's Blog

October Newsletter

Posted on: October 1, 2010


Welcome to The Flooring Group – commercial contracts division.

We pride ourselves in promoting branded products from the industry top names in manufacturing. Working closely with suppliers to ensure expectations are met you can be assured of a complete professional installation.

Based at our established head office business in Islington our commercial contracts division is pro active in developing meaningful contacts within the construction industry. Our confidence in the experience, knowledge and technical support we achieve will guarantee a job second to none.

Our aim is to become a good source of knowledge to the community. You can rely on us to offer the best advice from within the industry. Our information is sourced from leading suppliers and organisations connected to the flooring trade.

The division is now becoming established within the local community. We are now members of the Islington Chamber of Commerce. I have committed the company to working towards achieving ISO9001 and ISO14001 mainly for the reason of tendering for public sector works but also to offer credentials to any of our private customers. The expansion of our fitting team’s, now includes the skills of a specialist public sector floor layer.

What type of problems can I expect to find when I lift my floor covering?

If you have ever experienced problems with your sub floor when you have your old floor covering lifted you are not alone. Most floors have some associated problem when exposed. The types of problem you can expect to encounter are crumbling floor screed, pot holes, uneven surface, loose floor boards, wood blocks and mosaics, broken floor tiles, damp, mildew, mould,

The objective being to ensure the subfloor is sound, smooth, clean and dry before laying commences.

Problems arise for all sorts of reasons. The most common is when uplifting a product previously stuck down to the sub floor. If on a concrete substrate it is common for some of the screed to be lifted. The only solution to this is a new screed. Don’t patch, it will let you down. When the construction is floor boards, depending upon condition, it will most likely have been laid onto a Plywood/hardboard. This will need to be lifted with the floor covering. Again new ply or hardboard is the answer. If on a chipboard base then the product should lift relatively cleanly. Here a wash over screed will suffice. When wood blocks or mosaics are found in all cases a plywood should be over pinned. When a new Plywood base is used it is important that a feather screed is applied to ensure a smooth flat moisture free clean surface is achieved.

Broken floor tiles need to be taken up, it is best to remove all old floor tiles and prepare a new sub floor but if most are sound then a new screed can be applied over these. Similarly uneven floors will require a smoothing compound.

If necessary, repairs to damaged floors should be carried out using products such as STOPGAP 400 REPAIR compound prior to applying smoothing compounds

When you discover a damp problem, a new floor can not be laid on any surface with a reading of 75RH or above. This can easily be tested for using a ‘protimeter’ damp tester. The readings immediately reveal the moisture content in the sub floor. If the indicator shows ‘Red’ then, a damp proof membrane will be required. This is applied to the surface of the subfloor and then a new floor screed can be laid in preparation. If the reading is inconclusive, then it is wise to employ a hygrometer moisture reader. This is an instrument placed in situation and left overnight. This enables a more accurate reading on moisture content.

Research source: F Ball & Co. NICF


I was invited to a breakfast meeting last month and being keen to promote my company I duly went along. Not ever attending one of these events before I was not sure what to expect. I had one thing in mind, Networking. As a guest I paid the meeting contribution and they welcomed me to the fold and took my breakfast order.

The meeting content was lively and informative. Everybody had a say and sales leads were passed to individual members. This is obviously how it works, I thought. You give someone a positive sales lead and in return you get one back. Not so, qualified leads only. Still, should work, I am thinking.

I can offer lots of leads to the group having been in the business for some time. How often do we meet? I wondered, once a month? once a quarter? These people are really keen, every week. Well, at a push I can do that most weeks.

Then, the newcomer to the group bit. Stand up. Tell them who you are what you can offer, what you would like in an ideal referral and most importantly what did I think of the meeting. Well the first thing that crossed my mind was where’s my breakfast? Everybody else seems to have had one, why haven’t I? Good grief. I had been up since 4.00am and on the road by 5.00am to get into London for the meet. Hungry, I was starvin’. Other than that “I was happy with the content and quality, I think I can fit in well with the group thanks for inviting me”.

I was then supplied an application pack and was asked to bring it in next week with my subscription.

It seems to me that everyone can help, at a price.

Site Surveys

The use of a ‘protimeter’ is a fast and accurate method to test for damp. It can be carried out to identify any problems that need addressing before the installation of new floor covering.

In the short time of its introduction to the contracts division our site survey equipment has detected problems within a half a dozen areas. This has enabled us to quickly resolve the issues with least anxiety to the customer.

If you would like a free site survey on the condition of your subfloor please telephone the contract division 020 7609 1234

Fitter News

We have introduced Mike Warner an independent floor layer to our team of experienced fitters. Mike has excellent credentials and brings new talent to the company. I have personally known mike for 10 years and worked with him of numerous installations. His background includes working with, Kier and Carillion on many public sector installations including SOCA. Mike also works with many schools and colleges. Some of his notable national contract projects include The Edinburgh Woollen Mills.


We are very serious about marketing the company to best effect. Enquiries are still being created through the advertising routes traditionally taken like Yell. The emphasis has changed in recent times with the advent of social media. The company has opted to work the new media by posting links to the web site from personnel profiles on linkedin. This option enables the use of a blog and this becomes the vehicle for the monthly newsletter and this is coupled with the use of Twitter to draw interest.

Traditional mail shots play an important part as does direct mail and drop shots. This is a regular activity with our company and a must to generate new enquiries. Our aim is to achieve word of mouth recommendation and this is the most successful by far.

The tried and tested ‘pick up the phone and speak to a prospect’, is still successfully used. Although, cold calling can be very frustrating, as business managers are fielding calls and unwilling to take calls from unknowns. Nothing new here but it has got more difficult. The key is devote some time to it.

The newly created contract division web site, a site within the existing group site, has presented new challenges. It seems that Google does not recognise the new pages until people start landing on the site. Catch 22, how do you get people to look at your site if they don’t know its there? It seems spending a princely sum every month will buy you a shortcut to media exposure but in reality the links you make through your social media and suppliers have a spidering effect. The down side is it takes time.

Networking is a very effective way to get known. I have recently joined the local Chamber of Commerce and attend a breakfast club. Not only is this enjoyable but also introduces new contacts to the business. This is a two-way street, become actively interested in other local businesses and this will create the trust needed.

Product and Installation Focus

Safety floor

There are many manufacturers of safety floor and they all have lots to choose from.

As a buyer where do you start? The predominant factor has to be, why do you need a new floor covering? Where do you want your new flooring to be installed? What traffic volume is expected? Who will maintain the floor? When are you requiring the new floor to be installed?

Your selection will come from a variety of sources trade magazines, journals, web sites usually if you approach a flooring contractor they will point you toward a product that they know works well or they have a vested interest in. Be sure that the product suggested meets your requirement. Will it do what it says it will do?

Be aware that a product can claim to be slip resistant, but may not be thoroughly tested to support that claim. Help in accessing compliance can be obtained through HSE slips and trips information bulletin

When it comes to your survey make sure you know why the surveyor is there. He must be able to give advice on any problem whether present or not.

Sooner or later it comes to cost. Ensure when you get quotations that every one is pricing for the same items. Many of times I have supplied a project price together with any breakdown costs required only to compete against someone that has only part quoted and treated subsequent parts as extras.

Once a product has been installed it is important to have a full support service. I have never known a client not want his supplier to show interest and concern post installation. At the Flooring Group we pride ourselves upon the after sales service we provide. It is this that sets us apart from our competitors.

Kenmont Primary School Hall

The contract division has successfully completed the installation of a new floor covering to the first floor hall of the school.

The client chose school colours for the carpet Emerald Green.

The sub floor preparation was key to a trouble free installation. The uplift of the existing flooring including damaged hardboard was cleared away and disposed of then new sub floor latex screed was applied to ensure the finished product reflected a smooth flat surface. Once fully dried the new carpet was fitted on time and within budget. The client is highly delighted with the result and welcomed our interest in publishing the installation.


The brief : Existing carpet had to be lifted and removed from site and a new sub floor prepared ready for a new floor covering to be installed within a limited period prior to the new term.

Completion: A high performance latex screed was installed on the surface of the concrete sub floor. Then a new carpet was installed well within the time allowed.

Committed to and working towards ISO 9001, ISO 14001

I have committed the company to working towards achieving the standards of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.

Following initial meetings with local business advisor Del Wright it has been decided that the company needs to pursue these credentials. On the back of the newly formed contract division, part of the strategy is to achieve work from public sector. The demands are high and increasingly becoming more so. Not only does a company need to register to apply to tender but it also has to be ‘fit to supply’. This means that any potential user of your services, be it public or private sector, can to be assured of your capability to supply goods/service on time and in budget. The awards are the credentials required to succeed in successful tendering.

The company has the four policies in place, a business continuity plan and has been accepted as ‘fit to supply’ by local authorities. Our goal is to work within the standards of Quality management and Environmental management systems.

New Member of the Islington Chamber of Commerce

Having recently become a member of the Chamber of Commerce I would personally recommend getting yourself involved in your local Chamber.

I decided a couple of months ago to begin attending my local Chamber breakfast club

The goal is to become an active participant within the local community. In the short time I have been a member, my company has benefited by becoming well known with local business and local authority. Not only are the meetings enjoyable but extremely interesting. The best is the support and friendly advice offered and provided.

The advice and help offered are proving invaluable to me and also grounds you when the work load becomes too high. The breakfast club networking event has introduced me to London Borough of Camden and registration with iCAM2. This in turn has led to free instruction on achieving ISO certification made available through iCAM2.

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