DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

Here are the latest J.D. Power winners

BY HBSDealer Staff

J.D. Power has released its customer satisfaction rankings once more, and it has a short list of home improvement winners.

The category as a whole has seen movement in customer satisfaction. According to the J.D. Power 2017 Home Improvement Retailer Satisfaction Study, overall customer satisfaction increased to 816, up from 795 in 2016 (on a 1,000-point scale).

“Even in a large market like home improvement, it’s the attention to detail that can affect customer satisfaction,” said Greg Truex, senior director of the at-home practice at J.D. Power. “Home improvement retailers understand that customers with higher levels of satisfaction are more likely to repurchase and more likely to recommend to their friends and family.”

And for the 11th consecutive year, Ace Hardware took home 1st place in the category, with a score of 835.

Menards came in close second at 824, and Lowe's was in third at 817.

"We are truly honored and humbled to receive this prestigious award for the eleventh consecutive year," said John Venhuizen, President and CEO, Ace Hardware Corporation. "We could have never done it without the loyalty of our neighbors, the entrepreneurialism of our local owners and servant hearts of the 100,000 red-vested heroes upon whose back these awards stand."

The rankings were determined by a number of factors, most notably: number of times received sale/promotional flyers/brochures (received more than once in past 12 months); quality of merchandise (above expected); and length of time waited for greeting (waited less than 5 minutes).

The study is based on responses from 2,751 customers who purchased home improvement-related products from a home improvement retailer within the previous 12 months, and was fielded in February-March 2017.

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Marketing Mantra: Make more customers

BY Ken Clark

True Value’s Facebook page recently displayed a collection of more than 100 happy customer selfies taken at True Value stores across the country — the result of a $1,000 gift card giveaway contest.

At last count, more than 8,600 people pressed the like button. But more importantly, the post reflected some of the big ideas of the co-op’s new SVP of marketing, David Elliott, who took on his role on April 10. Among those ideas are understanding the strengths and weaknesses of various media, adapting to changes in medium and message as audiences change, and embracing the value of the independent.

“The business of marketing,” he told HBSDealer, “is to make more customers, and to do it cost effectively.”

Take Facebook. Gone are the days, Elliott said, when small businesses could view this social media staple as an effective, free tool to broadcast information to followers. He pointed to stats showing a basic post will be seen organically by an average of 3% of a business’s Facebook audience. So, a post on Monday to a group of 100 followers will probably reach 3 of them.

Facebook’s free advertising angle shifted about a year ago, he said, with a Facebook move to encourage users to “boost” posts at a price. Elliott estimated it would take $15,000 or more to effectively reach audiences through Facebook with messaging. That can be effective on a national level, he said, but the name of the Facebook game now is engagement. And you can expect to see more interaction — such as customer selfies — on True Value’s pages.

Elliott came to the Chicago-based co-op from New Zealand’s Mitre 10 home improvement chain, the same company where True Value CEO John Hartmann worked as CEO. At Mitre 10, Elliott oversaw an advertising shift over the past couple of years to more than 50% in the digital realm.

“That’s not to say we’re going to stop everything we’re doing in a traditional sense, but we just have to be reflective of what customers are doing,” he said. “We have to look at the cost-effective ways of reaching our customers and adapt ourselves to move in that direction.”

One enduring message in Chicago is the value of the independent. Elliott said he was encouraged by the “overwhelming” community support for the local hardware store in recent social media posts. And he describes the mission of supporting the local business as a high calling.

“There is a real future in local hardware,” Elliott said. “Right across the country, customers put their trust in local staff and local people. That’s what consumers value — smaller local hardware stores. And you can’t make that point enough.”

Elliott said there haven’t been many surprises in his first two months on the job, and that there are surprisingly similar dynamics in home improvement around the world.

“Quite often when new marketing people come in, they change things. And it’s often just to buy themselves some time,” he said. “But I don’t really care about that. It’s more a matter of referencing how we’re traveling, referencing what customers are doing and how they’re changing, and adapting our business to that.”

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On Ace Hardware’s board, a Few changes

BY HBSDealer Staff

Oak Brook, Illinois-based Ace Hardware Corp., made some changes to its Board of Directors. The co-op said goodbye to two members whose terms expired, and welcomed Karen May, from Kraft Foods, as a new non-member director.

The moves were cemented at the co-op’s June 6 annual meeting.

May is executive VP and chief human resources officer of Mondelēz International, Inc. (formerly Kraft Foods, Inc.). Prior to joining Kraft Foods, she held a variety of executive leadership positions, including chief human resources officer of Baxter International and a number of executive finance and accounting positions. She also gained experience in corporate audit during her 10 years at Price Waterhouse (now PWC).

May will serve as Chair of the Ace Hardware Audit committee and as a member of the Compensation and Human Resources committee.

“We are pleased to welcome Karen May to the Ace Hardware Board of Directors,” said James Ackroyd, chairman of the board, Ace Hardware Corporation. “Karen’s diverse business background and depth of financial accounting acumen make her an ideal addition to our Board. We look forward to learning from her expertise.”

In addition to the appointment of new non-member director Karen May, Ace Hardware shareholders re-elected Chairman James Ackroyd, member director David Karsten and member director Mark Schulein to the Ace Hardware Board of Directors.

Ackroyd has served the Ace Hardware Board of Directors as Chairman of the Board since 2014, he also sits on the Audit and Retail Supply Chain committees. He is the CEO of Vision Ace Hardware LLC, a 14-store chain in Southwest Florida.

Karsten serves the Ace Hardware Board of Directors as Chairman of the Finance committee and sits on the Compensation and Human Resources committee, as well as the Nominating and Governance committee. He is president and CEO of Karsten’s Ace Hardware, a four-store chain in Arizona.

Mark Schulein sits on the Audit and Retail Supply Chain Committees. He is president of Crown Ace Hardware, a 16-store chain in Southern California and Arizona.

After serving the maximum term on the board, Gina Schaefer and Jeffrey Girard stepped down as directors.

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