Easy to see
Formed in 2007, C and C Flooring has grown from a three-man operation to a major player in the UK commercial floorcoverings market, focusing on quality and work-ethic over chasing the lowest prices possible.
Roo Williams, director of C and C Flooring, founded the business along with two colleagues. All three had been working for a contractor who Roo ‘could see was going the wrong way’, and so they decided to take the intrepid step of setting up a new company.
‘We spent the first three years in the mind set of our old employer, but then I brought my wife in who was from the care sector, and she was all about infrastructure and care. We sat down over a small period of time and came up with a whole new business plan. How we wanted to approach customers, how we were going to manage the transactions, etc. And from there, we just progressed year-on-year.’
Now, demonstrating the scope of C and C’s growth, the company has won contracts at Heathrow Airport, and it has just taken on a major contract installing flooring in all of the buildings of a major car manufacturer. In addition, the company has grown considerably in staff. C and C is a team of 20 including two directors, with all its fitters being permanently employed. ‘People come to us because we employ our lads, and we look after them. That’s what wins us a lot of work.’
C and C fits a lot of safety flooring, primarily Polyflor and Altro. It also fits carpet tiles and bespoke carpets for hotels. The entire education sector from primary to tertiary is covered, and what Roo describes as office dilapidation work, ‘When people have to get big commercial buildings to the landlord back in the state they first received it!
C and C also fits floors in industrial contexts, utilising products like Altro Whiterock, in addition to resin and safety flooring.
‘That’s a side of ours that’s growing rapidly to be honest. The food industry is going through a bit of a boom at the moment’
‘We do a lot of work for the NHS, so our biggest sector at the moment is the care sector. We work in hospitality and education as well. We’ve done some really weird places to be honest!’
People come to C and C, Roo says, because it’s not just an average flooring contractor, it’s what he likes to call a ‘hassle-free problem solver’.
‘So, people come to us and want to pay that little bit more because they want peace of mind that, whatever we specify is going to work, and if something was to go wrong (not that it does), we would be there to put it right.
‘If you go back to the recession, people were all about price, but even though price is still important, people want peace of mind now.’
Roo suggests when given the choice between a cheaper option with an unknown quantity, or a more expensive option in C and C, the company’s reputation convinces end users to pay higher for the confidence it provides.
One unusual advantage C and C holds over its competitors is the breadth of its services. Not only does the company fit soft commercial floorcoverings such as carpet tiles and LVT, but it also offers resin and even occasionally fits ceramics and stone floors.
‘We do have different fitters for different kinds of floorcoverings. The resin guys we have just purely do resin, and then our other fitters do a few different things from carpets to tiles, Altro, LVT.’
This wide-ranging approach allows C and C to offer a wide basket of options to clients in order to suit their premises.
‘If we limited ourselves to, safety flooring and carpet tiles, it would limit our growth. Conversely, because we’re able to provide a one-stop-shop for flooring, we get recommended by worldwide suppliers like Altro, Polyflor, Interface and Karndean.’
At the moment, a huge proportion of C and C’s work is specified by the company itself. Roo avoids working with main contractors, apart from a couple that he vets.
‘When we do a 100 grand job for a main contractor, at the end there are just so many difficulties getting payment, so now all of our marketing through Google brings us to the end user directly.
‘We’re in control of the job, we’re in control of the price, we’re in control of the whole structure directly. For us it really works, and in turn brings us a much better profit.’
While it fits a wide range of materials, C and C maintains a specific focus for its base of clients, avoiding the domestic market completely.
‘There’s a more regular spend in commercial, and the spend itself is bigger. For us, it’s just a better type of client.’
‘The closest we get to domestic fitting is a client of ours who builds retirement villages, which have 200 apartments each. They’re £50m buildings, so we just take over for the flooring at the end of that process.’
Demonstrated by the wide variety of projects and locations Roo considers C and C’s core work to include, the company is open to most types of commercial job, ‘And we try and instil that in our staff as well’ Roo says. ‘Yes we try to get the nicest work possible, but we’re not going to rule any part of the market out, because if one day things go quiet, that will be the part we need.’
Roo makes one concession that C and C no longer undertakes council kitchens and bathroom work, on the admission that it simply isn’t commercially viable!
As with many quality flooring contractors, training is a key part of ensuring C and C’s success.
‘The mentality we’ve instilled in a lot of our team, is very different to what you’d find with a subcontractor.’
C and C ensures all of its fitters have their NVQs, but also administers its in-house training as well. ‘It’s working really really well for us. We’ve got lads who have been with us for 2 years now and they’re almost fitters in their own right. We’re sending them out to specific projects and they’re doing really well.’
While Roo oversees the training, it’s carried out by two of the company’s project managers.
A lot of the time when someone joins the flooring industry they’re very inexperienced, and may be able to fit very small jobs but nothing beyond, Roo says. ‘So that’s why we do all of our training in house, because we’re full on all the time, so they know what to expect from day 1.’
From Roo’s point of view, on-the-job training is invaluable. ‘We’ve got pods that we use that are a couple of meters by a couple of meters that the lads can train on, but there’s nothing like being onsite itself’.
More than simply ensuring they’re trained and work hard, C and C looks after its employees. ‘We do quarterly team events, anything from go-karting to paintballing, but then annually, if we hit target as a group, we take out the whole team abroad.’ The team recently came back from New York on one such trip! ‘It really works for us though, because it keeps the lads sharp, and loyal. Our staff retention is really high, rather than suffering from them-and-us syndrome.’
Like all flooring contractors, C and C has to deal with cowboys, but from Roo’s point of view, it can afford to be very black and white with customers. ‘After the first meeting with us, they know what to expect, we’re very specialist. We’re not just average guys who have been down to the distributor, decorating last week and trying our hands at flooring today.’ The company operates under a specific marketing plan, meeting and dealing with clients in a very particular way. With such meticulous planning and execution, it’s easy to see how C and C has found such success in the flooring industry.