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Lowe’s SVP Fred Stokes talks pros

Lowe’s readies for the next phase of serving pro customers.

BY Andy Carlo

In the past four quarters, Lowe’s Home Improvement has steadily ramped up its offerings to the professional contractor and remodeler community.

Lowe’s ProServices has extended its services to commercial pros as well.

Fred Stokes, Lowe’s senior vice president of pro sales and services.

Beginning in the fourth quarter of 2018, Lowe’s began to expand its LBM product assortment, keeping larger quantities in stock and on-site. The retailer also got very serious about the service it provides to pros with the addition of pro loaders, Lowe’s ProServices Supervisors, and pro specialists at each store.

Additionally, Lowe’s added more pro events at local stores to its calendar.

HBSDealer recently discussed the company’s pro initiatives with  Lowe’s Senior Vice President of Pro Sales and Services, Fred Stokes. And Stokes gave us his take on what Lowe’s has established in 2019 along with what is on the horizon for the program.

Q: How have pro initiatives introduced in Q4 2018 and Q1 2019 progressed?

The first phase of our journey to winning more pro business was about setting up the proper retail fundamentals. Job lot quantity – having the right amount of product pros demand and having it in stock – along with consistent pricing, key brands pros love and trust, improved services levels, leadership in the field and leadership in the store from a service perspective have been part of our initiatives.

Phase one was critical in establishing roles and responsibilities from a service perspective. And measurement and reporting have been key in holding our teams accountable and delivering results. We’re seeing benefits from our investments to serve the pro customer, with pro growth outpacing DIY and improved pro customer service scores.

In 2019 our job was to run the ball five yards at a time so we can throw the ball in 2020.

 

Q: What is the latest figure for how large pro sales are, percentage-wise, compared to overall sales at Lowe’s?

Pro sales currently account for 20% to 25% of our overall business, and it’s been a catalyst for our U.S. sales growth.

Pro customers are responding very positively to the changes we’ve made. A lot of the conversations I’m having with pros – and pros can be shy about sharing feedback – is they continue to come back to Lowe’s and they continue to comment on the positive changes we’re making.

(Editor’s Note: Last week Lowe’s reported third quarter 2019 sales of $17.388 billion, which roughly translates into third quarter 2019 pro sales of nearly $3.5 billion).

 

What are some of your latest strategies and programs for reaching more pro customers and gaining new contractor customers?

We continue to evolve and improve our program strategy so our associates can deliver great customer service and make shopping at Lowe’s a seamless experience for pro customers.

In phase two of our journey, we’re testing improved job site delivery, pro loyalty programs and tool rental. With our foundation in place, we’re leaning into more pro marketing, focusing on customer acquisition and driving awareness of what’s new and different at Lowe’s.

Just this year, we introduced a number of initiatives and offerings to show pros how important they are to Lowe’s. We host quarterly Pro Bonus Days where pros can stop in, meet their local pro team and take advantage of our product deals.

This month, we have curated shopping experiences just for the pro – Pro Black Friday, 10 Days of Deals, and Pro Sneak Peek – so they can stock up on some of the best deals of the year.

 

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