Honey, I Forgot the Sanding Sponge!

By Jerry Rabushka,

  Filed under: Feature


Keep Abrasives in Their Faces


“Let’s go get some sandpaper!” You wouldn’t think that people say that often, but it happens more than you might think—just that they’re not that excited about it. Usually it’s because someone at home forgot, or worse, the store forgot to ask about it; but a trip dedicated to sandpaper alone is often not in the original plans. “I would say this happens more often than not,” said Mike Bush, director of product marketing at Festool. “

Abrasives don’t really come to mind when people are shopping for and picking up other painting supplies like brushes, rollers, and of course, paint.” Could be they just didn’t realize they needed it until they got started, but you can imagine how much fun painting becomes when they have to make a trip back to the store—and who says they’ll come back to their same paint dealer?Roland Kolilias, president at Blue Dolphin Sundries, agrees that a lot of folks only pick up their abrasives on the second go-round. “The user makes the purchase of paint and applicators, then as the project unfolds the need for additional products arises,” he’s seen time and time again. “To complete the project correctly they frequently travel back to the store for additional supplies: sandpaper, scrapers, drop cloths, and others.”Bush had an idea to pass on to your pro contractors—have someone keep track. “The best practice here is to be organized, know what they use, and if they have a crew, create a reporting system to monitor consumables like abrasives so they never run out of what they need,” he said.


Sanding Claus is Coming to Town

This certainly speaks well to having that checklist of sundries posted where you, your staff, and your customers can see it. It’ll save you from chasing your clients in the parking lot shouting “wait, you forgot the abrasives, and they’re even new and improved!” After you make the list, check it twice—it would be really naughty and not very nice if you didn’t have the items you’re encouraging customers to purchase. Plus if they already made a trip back, they’re going to shout, they’re going to cry, and we just told you why.

Your job? Make it easy for them to find what they need. “In today’s fast-paced world, with many options, the consumer is best served when their needs can be met with the least hassle,” said Bush. “Nothing quite beats instant when it comes to having the most commonly used abrasives in stock at all times. Having a wide variety of abrasive types to tackle all of the jobsite’s needs helps to differentiate any retail location, especially those that have greater control over what they stock.”

Treating your abrasives and their habitat with respect can make you a sandpaper destination for years to come! “The paint retailer needs to have trained sales clerks that will ask questions in regards to the project,” Kolilias advised; this is particularly important for customers who want to pass over steps 1-150 and go right to the final step of painting. “Most people want to do the painting but forget about the additional supplies that are needed. They become frustrated when they need to return to the store for supplies to complete the project correctly,” he said. You can keep them happy by asking them if they need this on their first trip, plus keep your abrasives area clean and well stocked, so it’s easy to navigate. “Place it facing the counter so the clerk behind it can point out exactly what is needed,” said Roland.


Paper Reputation

“Look, here’s a cheap one, we’re already spent enough money so let’s get it and get out of here!” Well, OK but…that just means they’ll spend a lot more time in rough-handed sanding, not a great afternoon for either a marriage or painting crew. If someone hasn’t opened a pack of sandpaper in 10 years, they’ll be pleasantly surprised if you can show them the significant improvements and new types and shapes of abrasives. “Experienced contractors know the benefits of higher quality abrasives and normally purchase higher end products,” said Kolilias. “The DIY buyer will usually opt for the cheaper products, so the manufacturer and the dealer need to offer them a reason to purchase higher quality products. Point of sale and better labels can assist in this area.”

Bush agreed: Professionals know a good product, and the DIY crowd might not. Why do they have to find out the hard way? “The message here, for any retailer, is to have the best options for the best results and you’ll never have to apologize for a job gone awry.”


The Dusty Road Ahead

There are some phone calls you don’t like to make; one is to tell your anxious supplier that their products are clinging to your shelves like scared puppies and won’t go out the door. Bush suggests discussing expectations for your abrasives program before you dive in. Then, if your display isn’t meeting those expectations, you can discuss with your supplier why that might be. It could even be because the product…works! “A product may not move as quickly as another similar product, but it may yield higher customer satisfaction (due to factors such as longer life) and it may yield higher margins and overall profit,” he said. “It is possible something may not turn as quickly, but it be more profitable for the retailer and more effective for the end user. There are other questions to ask to gauge the situation, such as merchandising, product placement, and understanding the value proposition. Your manufacturer’s representative should be equipped to help on all of those matters to ensure a successful program that meets expectations and is profitable.”

If your abrasive display is dustier than your copy of The Catcher in the Rye, you might need to spruce up your display a bit, or even relocate it for a more in your face approach. “Is the product merchandised properly, is the area neat and clean, is the area front and center for customers to see?” asks Roland Kolilias. “Abrasives are the often-forgotten supply in any painting project and they need to be readily visible and available.”


They’ll Take it for Granat

While Festool is a pioneer in powered equipment for dust free sanding, it has recently been busy cheering up a line of hand sanding products as well. Bush noted that Festool’s Granat line of abrasives can help your customers choose quickly and correctly. “Festool has simplified the sanding process for painters by offering one main abrasive name for all the applications; what we call Granat,” he said. “Granat paper is available for Festool power sanders, but also available in sheet, sponge, and other types of media. It is designed to prevent some of the issues that are common to abrasives not designed for use with coatings, such as loading, clogging, or premature dulling. Granat is optimized to provide fast removal with minimal wear and when coupled with our sanders and dust extraction system, a clean removal process.”

Also, remember that one grit does not fit all. “A good ‘best practice’ for sanding is to use good grit progression; i.e., to follow the sequence of grits from coarse to fine without skipping over grits. This helps to provide a consistent smooth surface,” said Bush.



A specialty from Blue Dolphin is its Anti-Clogging/No Load Series features P-Graded Aluminum Oxide and the company’s unique open coat anti-clog technology. Resin bonded to heavy duty C-weight backing, this series is durable, easy-to-use and yields excellent results on multiple surfaces. For power sanding, Hook & Loop Anti-Clogging/No Load discs are available in a wide variety of grits. Features and benefits on this line include:
• Durable, sharp, longer lasting aluminum oxide.
• Unique open-coat technology prevents clogging.
• Resin bonded to flexible high quality C-wt paper for superior workability .

• Available in sheets and discs in a wide variety of grits. Blue Dolphin’s Dust Hugger, pictures above, helps minimize dust on the job by placing a sanding sponge inside

As much as you love your customers, they’ll love you most if you fill their bag with the right stuff on the first trip. DolphinSundries.com; Festool.com