Buying a house means a gazillion trips to a home improvement store. If you live in a urban setting like we do, you’ll be surrounded by several big box stores. I know many of you probably go out of your way to avoid them intentionally giving your business to a local hardware store. That’s commendable. I have done that too. But the diverse categories of a big box store is supposed to be an advantage, right?
I was trying to think of the advantages. One stop shopping? Bigger selection? Lots of in-store help? Delivery and installation? 24/7 help line? Internet presence?
I suppose any one of those things or others might be an advantage. But none of them have reduced the number of trips we’ve taken to buy stuff. In fact, most of those things have created more trips. Ah, that’s their secret marketing scheme! Everyone in retail knows that increasing the number of in-store visits, grows the customers’ spending, and our economy is 70% driven by consumer spending. The more times you visit, the more you realize you want to add something else to the shopping list. Or you buy something that wasn’t on the list.
And the DIY mentality makes you think you’re somehow saving money. I haven’t signed up for any of the classes being offered in these stores because I know that’s just one more trip that will add something else to our list.
We have several big box options in our corner of the city: Lowe’s, Menard’s, Home Depot, and Fleet Farm. Two of those are national chains, the other two are regional.
Summer has driven us to add to our list for the new house. We gave our old patio furniture to the buyer of our old town home. When you buy a new house, you realize that it’s an occasion to replace a lot of things and seasonal items are one of those big categories. We’ve also picked up several seasonal and non-seasonal items outside the 4 stores mentioned e.g. at Target.
Here are some other items that have driven us to these stores: storm door, garden items/planters and floor care products and window treatments. Garden is the only seasonal item here, although most of you will recognize how much money it takes to just plant flowers and herbs.
The one variable that has had the biggest impact on where we spend our money has been the in-store people working the floor. Here are the characteristics of the people who have helped us spend our money:
- They know which aisle something is in AND they take you there (they don’t just tell you and walk away.)
- If surrounded by several customers, they acknowledge everyone who’s waiting and will call another worker over if they can’t get to everyone in a timely manner.
- They don’t pressure us into making a decision but suggest options we didn’t think about.
- They engage us in a friendly, natural way.
- They look up inventory that isn’t on the floor and are familiar with processes to locate hard to find items.
- They know their pricing policies and have the authority to match competitors without having to “call a manager.”
- If they’re assigned to a particular area in the store, they know their product.
- They don’t make you feel dumb because you don’t know the product.
- If you’re not sure you can fit something in your vehicle, they come out to the parking lot with you and measure the space.
- They load your vehicle for you.
Have you noticed these same characteristics of the in-store person helps you spend more money? Are there other attributes that you can think of that make you want to return to a particular store? Please comment as we’d love to hear what you have to say.