What business are they really in?

In an effort to continue the saga of the Home Despot – aka Home Depot – another observation was made over the last week. This is our 3rd article in this series and HOME DEPOT has yet to respond to any of our attempts to address these ongoing issues. This last week, While we in a conversation with another person (a frequent shopper of the local box store world) we made the following observations and related to the information and experiences that this person made:

  • The total LACK of customer service by even the LOCAL store management.
  • The severe lack of merchandise / product being actually on the shelf where it can be purchased.
  • The Lack of actual product knowledge, and the real quick “we don’t have it” mentality.
  • The LACK of physical staff present to help customers.

As you can see there is a pattern in all of the above statements. Its NOT the customer friendly, product knowledgeable, product on hand company that it is portraying to its investors, and customers alike. So, I thought we would take this weeks edition of the HOME DESPOT SAGA and dive into these above issues, how they effect all parties involved, and what it means from our perspective.

First, let’s talk about the TOTAL LACK OF CUSTOMER SERVICE:

How we have come to this conclusion. The facts behind why we have come to the conclusion that HOME DEPOT is NO LONGER in the Business of CUSTOMER SERVICE. As well as what we believe happened to it.

For most small businesses and even large companies, customer service is the very core of building the business, and keeping those customers coming back. Before the blatant attack on small business engaged in by Home Depot and the other large box stores, small Ma and Pop hardware stores dotted the landscape. Along with the small construction and home repair companies, these businesses bent over backwards to help and work with the end customer, the local home owner. As the big box environments pushed the Ma and Pop, family owned stores out, many of those that worked in those stores went to work for the box stores just to earn a  pay check. Now, these box stores don’t value these very people as actual humans, they are just a number, a cog in the wheel of big business.  The total lack of care that these corporate giants like HOME DEPOT engage in where everything is about the “bottom line” – never mind the human toll that it takes on the staff, the customers (through extensive frustration), and the community as the small business economic engine is killed. The money no longer stays local – it goes to the corporate offices, the big wig bureaucrats, and the share holders… NOT those actually doing the back breaking labor to earn that money.  Once that money leaves the community, very little ever makes it way back. essentially starving out the very community where these corporate giants employees and customers live and work.  Home Depot has not only done this to the retail landscape, (much like the corporate thug WALMART) they have set their sites on the actual business of installing those very products that the small business contractors rely on to feed their families.

Now, let us imagine that you, yourself worked for a group of people who express zero care for you, your family, your needs, your community, the environment in which you work, and only care about their bottom line.  How? and I mean how in the world can you be expected to provide exceptional actual customer service and be only thought of as just a number?  When the Department Managers are treated like sub human, taxed with getting an ever growing level of work done, while cutting the labor costs. All the Way through the store management, and even the district management… The total lack of care for the employees trickles down to the customers.

This mentality, of disrespect, and disregard for the the employee and customer alike is a very shortsighted and destructive approach.  Cutting your communities that you opperate in throat in the name of the almighty dollar is not a model for long term growth, and good corporate social steward ship. Just like the disrespect for those with disabilities we talked about in previous article.

Second, we have the issue of the LACK of Merchandise:

Now, where I come from in business that if your business model is one of selling merchandise, you have to have those slots filled on the shelves. Now since the new guard management has taken over in the Pennsylvania Region, the instances of empty boxes and open slot for merchandise has become an epidemic. I sturggle with why they would bother to even have a store, let alone shelves when common items are always out of stock. The person we were discussing the total falling apart of the local home depot and its change of management had observed that very day multiple common plumbing products out of stock. So much so that they had to go to HAJOCA Supply house to get parts, even though they were already at Home Depot for other aspects of their project. The fact that when you ask the staff and even the management whats going on with all of the empty shelves. Their standard response is that they can order it. Now, most of you know that if your customer is without water, and you need those parts to make that water work again, they are not waiting for you to order the materials. The other standard response is that items are ordered by folks in Atlanta, Georgia at the Home Depot Head Quarters.  Now, I dont know about you, but if I was in charge of the stores, and I was trying to actually make money from them. It would seem that keeping the products in stock so that you can sell them would be an important aspect of this concept. The fact that they simply don’t care and don’t respect the customers time enough to carry the items they say they do – says a lot.  It all goes back to a culture that is short cited and is not thinking long term. When a customer can’t get what they need over and over again, they are going to start going somewhere else first, as going to Home Depot is simply a lesson in frustration and wasting time.

Or just maybe HOME DEPOT cannot afford the product to put on the shelves to sell. If that is the case, that is nothing but a death spiral for the company. If I owned stock in Home Depot this would be a HUGE RED FLAG. Just look at the recent Likes of KMart and Sears, or maybe Toys R Us for examples of LARGE corporate retailers that forgot about basic retail sense and the ultimately the customer.

Now on to the blatant LACK OF KNOWLEDGE that the Home Depot Staff exhibit:

Home Depot for a lot of years has used the slogan “you can do it – we can help”. Today, based on the blatant “I don’t care attitude” that the staff, management, district management, and even the arrogant call center staff exhibit, we believe a more fitting slogan would be “you can do it – We CAN’T HELP”. They treat those with skills and knowledge in the many trades with horrible disdain and disrespect. They mock the years that many have paid in the trades with below average pay, and a refusal to let them be full time so they are eligible for benefits. This is nothing but a slap in the face to the blue collar tradesmen of the community. So, after Home Depot has ran these tradesmen out of their own business, by doing the remodeling, windows, siding, and what not below actual costs, they slap those with the skills in the face by not paying wages and full time benefit eligible work.  Then when a customer has a question or is looking for a specific product, the standard answer by the uneducated staff is “we don’t have it”. These types of actions and behavior only serve to frustrate the customer, and destroy the community.  Again, Not a way to grow a business long term.

And Last, but for sure not least we have the SEVER LACK OF STAFFING:

Throughout the above discussion we have covered many examples of this, and why they are doing this short cited and destructive behavior. Now, when you ask the management what the deal is they will tell you not enough qualified people are availible for the jobs. But, in fact they don’t want to schedule those people as they don’t want to go past the “part -time” threshold, and under no way will they pay overtime.  These types of actions frustrate the customer, decrease employee moral, and increase the strain that their actions cause the community as a whole.

So, In closing for this weeks edition of the HOME DESPOT Cronicals. I would encourage each of you to vote with your wallet and let these poor corporate citizens know you don’t support this type of short cited hostile to the community as a whole business model.  And if you are unlucky enough to own stock in these kinda disrespectful thugs, you might want to reconsider your investment. Especially in light of the very evident struggles of so many in the large box retailer segment of late. I believe the above evidence is only a testament to their sort cited and greedy mentally.  They are only one storm from possibly being the next massive retail bankruptcy… think about it. Leaving destroyed communities in their wake.