How to start a timber flooring business

Build a successful business using your timber flooring installation skills.

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Setting up your own business is a great way to turn your experience in floor installation into a profitable venture and meet the growing demand for timber floors. From picking your expertise to getting your legal documents in order, we break down the key steps for starting up your new venture.

What is a timber flooring business?

A timber flooring business works on new builds and renovation projects, and specialises in installing solid hardwood, floating and parquetry timber floors. They also remove old floors, lay down subfloors, and do maintenance and repair work for their customers.

How to start a timber flooring business

Here are some of the essential steps involved in starting your own timber flooring venture:

  1. Pick your expertise. The first step is deciding what services your business is going to offer and your target customer base. You can provide your services to individual customers doing small renovation projects, or focus on working with large construction companies.
  2. Develop a business plan. Write a business plan that sets out your expenses for purchasing materials and equipment, a price list for your services, a marketing plan and financial goals. You may also want to consider a small business loan to help with upfront costs.
  3. Create a brand name. Choose a business name that is trustworthy, easy to remember and reflects the services you provide. Check on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) website to make sure the business name is available. You will need to register the business name, unless you're using your own legal name.
  4. Find a suitable location for your showroom. There are pros and cons of running your timber flooring business from a showroom. A physical showroom will allow customers to come in and feel the different types of products before engaging your services. However, it will mean you have higher overheads including rent, utility bills and staff. Running the business online will be a much cheaper option, but you will need to invest more in marketing to attract customers.
  5. Choose the right structure for your business. Many small businesses are run as a Sole Trader or Partnership because it is easy to set up and it doesn't require high administrative costs. However, if there are external investors involved or if you want to better protect your personal assets, there are advantages in using a Company structure. We explain the differences in more detail below.
  6. Consider legal requirements. As a timber flooring business owner, you will be dealing with customers, suppliers and building contractors on a regular basis. It's important to get your legal documents, such as a Service Agreement and Cancellation Policy, right to make sure you're protected when you have issues.
  7. Market your business. Build a website that shows descriptions and photos of the different flooring services you offer, customer reviews, and before and after pictures of recent work you have completed. Many flooring businesses also offer free measure and quote services for residential and commercial projects.

timber floor installation

Skills needed to start a timber flooring business

You don't necessarily need any formal education to open up a timber flooring business, but it's helpful to have prior work experience in the industry and related fields such as construction, flooring or floor maintenance. Most tradespeople decide to open up their own business after working in the field for five years or more. This way, they have already gained the technical skills and knowledge to navigate the industry at a higher level.

Before you open for business, make sure you have a business plan to stick to, a carefully thought out pricing plan and all of the equipment you'll need to deliver a quality job for your customers. You'll also need to understand how to market your business to increase brand awareness and broaden your customer base. As a small business owner, you will need to manage invoicing, payments and payroll if you have employees.

Courses and qualifications

Qualifications and certifications

Many timber floor installers hold a Certificate III in Flooring Technology and have completed work experience of some kind in the industry. This certificate will teach you how to install different types of floors, and how to do maintenance and repair work.

The Certificate III in Flooring Technology costs around $3,220 if you're eligible for government subsidy.

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    Licences

    Generally speaking, timber flooring is considered to be a non-structural element of a house and doesn't need to be fitted by a licensed professional. However, the licence requirements vary from state to state. For example, in New South Wales you don't need a licence to do non-structural flooring work, but you will need an appropriate carpentry licence for installing load-bearing timber floors.

    Check out these links to find the licensing rules in your state:

    Equipment and software needed to start a timber flooring business

    As a flooring installer, you will be travelling to and from projects carrying equipment and materials. Many businesses in the industry own a van or a truck that can be used to transport tools and materials easily.

    A few essential tools you'll need include:

    • Pneumatic flooring nailer
    • Air compressor
    • Nail set
    • Drill
    • Electric saw
    • Hand saw
    • Dustpan and brush
    • Moisture meter
    • Chalk line or pencil
    • Hardwood flooring nails
    • Safety gear
    • Straight edge
    • Filler stick
    • Utility knife
    • Sandpaper

    You may also need an accounting software for invoicing and bookkeeping. There are many online options available to help you automate accounting tasks.

    How to structure your timber flooring business

    There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to structuring your company. After all, you need to choose the structure that is right for you and your business model. The following are typical business models that you may choose for your timber flooring business:

    Sole Trader

    It's common to register your business as a Sole Trader if you're the only person running and managing the business. As the owner, you will be solely responsible for every aspect of the business including its debts and losses. You can still employ others to work for you under this structure.

    Partnerships

    If you're opening up your timber flooring business with a friend or family member, you may choose to register it as a Partnership. This means that both you and your partner have joint responsibility for the business including its debts and losses. To safeguard all parties involved, you may want to consider using a Partnership Agreement.

    Company

    Generally, if you structure your business as a Company, you will have to pay higher set-up and operating costs, and you will need to also pay a fee to have the company reviewed by the corporate regulator annually. However, a Company structure will give you better protection for your personal assets if things go wrong.

    To protect yourself and your business, it's important to make sure that you have all of the necessary legal documents in place.

    For a timber flooring business, here are a few essential documents you may need:

    • You'll need to have a Services Agreement in place with every customer you deal with. This will help to outline the responsibilities of both parties involved, such as the service you'll be providing and the amount the customer will be paying.
    • The Service Agreement should also include a Cancellation Policy, so you are protected in the event of last-minute cancellations.
    • If you need any extra hands to help in the business, you'll need to write up an Employment Agreement.
    • When you set up your company's website, a website disclaimer will limit your liability to any claims that users could make.

    If you don't have the documents already, we have legal templates available to help you draft them.

    Get access to legal services and documents online

    Name Product What's offered? Starting price to become a member Annual Fee from Free legal documents available?
    Lawpath
    Legal documents and templates, Access to lawyers, Legal guides, Legal advice
    $79 per month
    Essentials: $288, legal advice: $828
    You can view samples for free and you can create your first document for free.
    Choose an annual plan from just $288 and get unlimited revisions to your legal or business documents. Plus, unlock exclusive partner offers.
    LawDepot
    Legal documents and templates, Legal guides
    $4.99 per month
    $59.88
    Free one week trial available which gives access to hundreds of documents.
    Customise and download legal documents in as little as five minutes. Plus, LawDepot offers peace of mind with two service guarantees.
    Legal123
    Legal documents and templates, Legal guides
    Varies per template
    N/A
    No
    Legal123 offers a range of individual templates or document packages for consultants, app developers, personal trainers and more.
    LegalVision
    Legal documents and templates, Legal guides, Legal advice
    $49 + GST per week
    $2,548 + GST
    No
    Your business can take advantage of unlimited lawyer consultations, fast turnaround times and free legal templates with LegalVision.
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    How to find customers

    For a timber flooring business, it's a good idea to set up a website that showcases your services and the different timber floors online, photos of completed flooring jobs and testimonials from customers. For this, you'll need to choose a web host and a domain name before designing your website.

    Many timber flooring businesses offer free measure and quote services so you can meet potential customers in person and explain your services and pricing in more detail. You can also work with local flooring stores, interior designers and renovators to promote your services.

    Online marketplaces allow you to proactively respond to job requests from customers. Some of the top platforms include:

    • hipages. Get quality leads from customers in your local area who are looking for a specific trade.
    • Airtasker. Post your specialised skill and find people who are keen to outsource a task.
    • Oneflare. This Australian marketplace matches consumers with experts, specifically within the home improvement and services market.

    You can download the app offered by each marketplace you compare. A site like Airtasker, for example, lets you post tasks as well as browse existing job postings. This can be useful for your research, as you can check out some of the local competition for your service as well as the prices being discussed.

    Elsewhere, you might want to sign up for business directories to help get your name out further. Popular ones include White Pages and True Local.

    How much should I charge my customers?

    To keep up with the other timber flooring companies in your area, you'll need to price your services competitively. To price your job, you need to take into account the cost of the materials as well as the cost of the labour. Some hidden factors that may affect your pricing include:

    • Your company's reputation.
    • The cost of living in the area you're working.
    • The size of the job.

    Most flooring professionals choose to charge per square metre, which changes depending on the quality of the materials being laid. According to current market prices for hardwood timber, you might think of charging:

    • $50 per square metre for low-grade timber
    • $55-$80 per square metre for mid-grade timber
    • $100-$150+ per square metre for high-grade timber
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    Frequently asked questions

    Is a flooring business profitable?

    A flooring business can be profitable. According to the Australian Timber Flooring Association, timber floors currently make up a quarter of the flooring market and the demand for timber floors is increasing. According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), a small flooring business with two tradespeople can have turnover between $100,000 and $600,000 a year.

    How can I grow my flooring business?

    Naturally, your flooring business will grow by providing a great service for customers. Effective marketing is also a must, especially when you're just starting out and need to get your name out there. Offering customers free measure and quote services is a great way to meet potential customers in person and explain your services in greater detail.

    How many jobs/projects do timber installing businesses complete a year?

    According to the ATO, a two-person business will complete 55 jobs per year, with each job taking an average of 4 days.

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