Home Depot Targets the Pro

Offering time-saving services to professional customers has helped Home Depot to grow sales in this market of big spenders.

The Pro-exclusive sales counter has a dedicated staff that gets to know the Pro customer and their business.
The Pro-exclusive sales counter has a dedicated staff that gets to know the Pro customer and their business.

In the last eight years, Home Depot has seen the opportunity to grow their Pro market. "It is a very small but very important customer segment," says Renee Swanson, Home Depot regional pro sales manager for the northern plains region. "They only make up 4% of our customer base, but 30% of sales."

In a move to grow their professional customer base, Home Depot has introduced their "First for Pro" program. With the program in place, professional contractors visiting the store get the VIP treatment and enjoy a faster and easier checkout experience. Many of the services they offer could be implemented by independent dealers.

Provide requested services

To learn what services the contractor customers would like to see in the Home Depot stores, customers are continuously surveyed. The "Voice of the Customer" survey has thus far collected roughly 72,000 responses.

Through the surveys, they have learned how they could improve the shopping experience for professional customers and grow Home Depot's reach in the market. Special "First for Pro" services include:

  • Preferred parking spots
  • Pro-exclusive sales counter with dedicated staff
  • Pull-through bay outside Pro counter with overhang for quick loading of purchases
  • Designated lot loader employee reserved to aid Pro customers Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Access to Personal Account Sales Associates between 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  • Tool rental and repair, used tool sales
  • Online ordering with the Buy Online Pick Up in Store program (with two hour lead time)
  • Two credit options that can be integrated with QuickBooks
  • "First Phone" hand-held device that allows employees to check-out customers at any location and get product information
  • Free coffee and water at Pro sales counter

With these special services, contractors can make quick and easy trips to Home Depot without a lot of time lost on the job. Tasks are easily completed by one person with the numerous sales aids available.

Through their surveys and interactions with the customers, they have learned that contractors want someone who knows them and recognizes their business. Having the dedicated Pro staff helps them to build those relationships as well as customer satisfaction.

There are no requirements to receive the Pro treatment. When a customer visits often enough and the team takes notice, they will assist them in scheduling a purchasing plan. This saves them more time in the long run by carefully scheduling visits and purchases. The company is also studying the buying habits of Pro customers and adjusting their product offering accordingly.

Keeping everyone happy

Home Depot is being careful not to alienate their DIY customers in the process of offering the "First for Pro" program. DIY customers that approach the contractor services counter are usually looking for someone who can offer them consultation on a project. The DIY customers are quickly set up with an employee to assist them away from the Pro counter. All of the Home Depot staff is cross trained to answer any question for Pro and DIY customers.

The company realizes it is best not to put all your efforts in one customer segment. When the economy changes you need to be able to easily adapt to who is buying. It is important to provide value to all customers at all times.

"The DIY customer is still important to us," says Swanson. "But we know we can grow our pro market share."