In San Antonio, remembering the customer
SAN ANTONIO — Two things jump out to a first-time visitor of Home Depot store No. 6544 in San Antonio on a Friday. One is the heat coming off the parking lot. The other is the number of cars parked there.
Selling through a triple-digit heat wave, the store in the Alamo Heights neighborhood, a stone’s throw from the city’s international airport, is described as heavy on the contractor business, and that means busy Friday afternoons.
“At this particular store, contractors come in, and they want to get the job done or get their supplies before the weekend,” said store manager DeAndre Frowner. “Tomorrow, this store will be a little quieter.”
It’s difficult to point to a distinguishing feature of the 11-year-old Alamo Heights store—one of 19 Home Depots in San Antonio. But in Frowner’s mind, the differentiator is clearly its emphasis on customer service. While it’s not unusual for a store manger of any chain to suggest such a commitment, Frowner brings his own background and own approach to the concept, and he points to market-leading scores in its online voice of customer surveys.
The economic downturn is no excuse to let up, he told a visitor from Home Channel News.
“We realize that people still are going to need to repair their homes,” he said. “People are still building. And folks have a choice, and we need to make sure they know that we’re the one-stop shop here. We back our product—this is The Home Depot. The recession is the recession; we’re not going to let that faze us at all. We’re going to take care of our customers.”
While being interviewed, Frowner was approached by a customer who expressed surprise that the man helping him in the lumber aisle a few days ago was, in fact, the store manager. “I like to be out there with the associates and working with them,” he said.
For Frowner, a background in the military and law enforcement led to the pursuit of a job in retail loss prevention. Instead, he got his foot in the door by helping people load up in the parking lot at an El Paso store.
“When they eventually moved me into the store, I said I didn’t know anything about selling,” Frowner recalled. “They said, ‘We’ll teach you.’ And that’s the thing about The Home Depot. They teach you.”
Every store is different. For instance, in El Paso, there were a lot of customers buying in mass quantities, presumably coming across the border from Mexico. In Alamo Heights, the story is more about customer service and a strong pro clientele.
After a drought hurt sales considerably in 2009, live goods has been a bright area for Alamo Heights in 2010. The key, Frowner said: “Keep them in stock, and keep them watered. It’s 100 degrees out there.” And that’s no excuse.
Inside the home
Consumer research from The NPD Group connects the dots of appliance ownership in its most recent report, “Inside the Home: Appliances We Own & Use.”
According to the report, ownership in the major appliance category over-indexes among those who also own their home. However, homeownership does not fully predict who owns these products, nor who has recently purchased them. While one in four homeowners indicate having purchased a major appliance in the past 12 months, one in five renters have as well.
Here are some of the key findings:
• Small kitchen electrics: The most owned and purchased products are often considered traditional countertop appliances, such as toasters, coffee makers, electric can openers and toaster ovens.
• Home environment appliances: The products used most often are those within the water filtration category, followed by upright vacuums. Close to half of upright vacuum owners are using their product once a week or more often.
• Hair appliances: Hair straightener owners are most likely to own other hair care appliances. Three-quarters of hair straighteners owners also own a curling iron or brush. The likelihood of a curling iron/brush owner to own a straightener is far less likely at 46%, however, a significant figure. • Americans who have a refrigeration filtration system are least likely to own a pitcher, pour-through water filtration, or a faucet-mount device — just 18% and 15%, respectively.
True Temper sale completed
“Our five-year plan for Ames True Temper Inc. was to expand the business, increase market share in the U.S., create international exposure and broaden product lines for distribution through our pipeline. We have done that and are pleased with the results. We wish the company continued success as part of the Griffon family,” said Castle Harlan co-president William Pruellage.