Home Depot Informative - You Need To Understand
ATLANTA, GEORGIA -- EDIT(3/11/08): after having this article posted for 3 days a letter showed up in our break room addressing confidentiality and reminding all of us that we signed a paper when we started working there saying we wouldn't give out any confidential information, or details as to how the store runs in an outside environment. I found that kind of funny.
I work for Home Depot, and all morning I've been reading these complaints. There's so many people that think all the associates there are bad people, or just suck at their jobs in general, or that we're out to get you ??? YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND %90 of the time the reason for our bad customer service is related to lack of people on the floor. The way home depot works, as well as hundreds of other large corporations I'm sure, is off of graphs... That's right, your customer service depends on graphs. Depending on the sales from previous dates, months, weeks, last year, etc. a computer makes a decision as to what the customer flow will be on this week. The district managers sends out sales plans to all the managers in his/her districts, and the managers take those daily/weekly plans and divvies the dollars up between departments to form something called a Forecast. then the scheduler has a graph on his computer that is representative of how many hours we can schedule due to the amount of dollars we are supposed to make.
what this amounts to is about 15 departments(including pro desk, service desk, receiving, and cashiers) that are only being covered by anywhere from 4 to 7 people, plus an Assistant Manager or some sort of key carrier(this person isn't there to take care of customers though). There is NEVER EVER EVER 1 person per department, or nearly enough people to make sure that you will get the service you need.
the fact of the matter is, Home Depot is putting itself into a self-cyclical down spiral. they're not putting enough people on the floor to service customers, so therefore we don't make as much money as we need to. then we schedule even less people because we're making even less money, and the cycle goes on and on. At some point the higher-ups are going to have to make that investment to fill the stores with associates so that even if theres only 1 person in the store, that person will get taken care of.
I love working at home depot when it is fully staffed, and I LOVE providing great customer service to people when they come into the store I work at, but I cannot help but be frustrated, and sometimes even give attitude to customers. For example, when we are ridiculously understaffed, and I'm trying to do my job, but have customers coming up to me asking me to order windows for them at 6:10 in the morning. So I would kindly say "well I'm not experienced with ordering windows, but I'm sure someone at our Millwork desk can take care of you" (I HAVE NO CLUE HOW TO ORDER WINDOWS AS ITS NOT MY JOB AND I DONT EVEN WORK IN THAT DEPARTMENT) so I would walk them over to the millwork desk. but guess what, no one is scheduled in millwork for 3 hrs, so im out of luck. So I would say to the customer "I apologize, there's no one here now, maybe somebody up at the Pro Desk can help you". Then I would walk them up to the Pro Desk. But wait, we don't have anyone at our Pro Desks until 7 or 8 in the morning. So guess what? Theres actually nobody in the store that has the knowledge, or EVEN the access to the computer program that allows you to sit down with somebody, ask them about their specific house and practice the trained skill of being able to sell windows to them. So then after I realize I can't help this customer I would probably say something like "Again, I apologize, this is really ridiculous that we have no one here to help you, I'm sorry about that, if you come back later our Millwork associate will be here and I'm sure he can help you" This is where customers get ticked, AND RIGHTFULLY SO!! I know I would be ticked off if I had to deal with this type of crap, but the thing is there's nothing as associates that we can do about it, but we're the ones who then get flipped out on by the customer. And let me tell you, I've had some absolutely brutal customers, that take all their anger from home, work, and whatever else is going on in their lives and just open the flood gates on you. I'm a grown man and I've been talked down to by people to the point where I almost want to cry, or start a fight with them(and obviously never have or would because its really unprofessional) I can joke about it after, but it sucks at the time it happens. And the thing is, once you have to deal with someone like that so early in the morning, you get aggravated, and it ruins your day, and sometimes effects the way you act to your peers and other customers.
At Home Depot, I'm an inventory Manager, you know those several associates that walk around with the mobile cart workstations in the early hours. My job is to make the shelves full by creating lists for the departments to work and get things down stocked. I also order merchandise (TO AN EXTENT) and also do all the price tagging for my specific departments, which are "kitchens and bath" and "plumbing". This brings me to my next point.
WE AREN'T trying to rip you off by having the wrong prices on things, or by not giving you coupons, or rebates, or informing you of specials. Also we don't just NOT order things and leave the shelves empty on purpose, or because we're lazy.
As far as price tags go, every day when I get on my machine it says if I have price changes to do or ads that are starting or ending. So I will walk the isles and change the prices. As I put through these changes they are updated at the registers so everything is in sync. The thing is, there are many mornings where the ads or price changes that come up are "Overdue". when a price change is overdue that means the company or vendor of that product wanted/needed the price changed so badly that they had our people in Atlanta change the price in our system before we got to change the price on the shelf, or it CAN mean someone was lazy and didn't do the price change by the date it was supposed to be done. An example would be, Kohler realizes their sales have been down all year and want to spend the last 3 weeks of the year making up for it.. Therefore to make up in the loss of sales they send a price change to the stores immediately to up the price on every toilet we sell by 13 cents or whatever they need to make up for that loss of sales. we try to get these price changes done before the store opens or at least in the very early morning hours but mistakes happen or sometimes there are just MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO(safety checklists, cleaning the store, doing whatever the heck the manager on duty wants you to do before I can do things I need to do). it causes problems for the customers who technically ARE being lied to, but also problems for us because we ARENT the ones lying. Now as far as coupons and things of that nature, half the time associates aren't even fully aware of events or specials or advertisements being promoted on the radio or television. Why? you ask, because it usually just isn't made aware by anyone... Yes I know when we're having major clearance events or if EVERY appliance is 10 percent off, but when theres small things like rebates or whatever, no one ever comes up to me and says, "oh just for your information, Honeywell Thermostat Model# YCBJ8Y has a $25 mail in rebate" It just doesn't happen like that. and as far as telling customers about these things, WE DO NOT PRACTICE HIDING ANY TYPE OF DISCOUNTS OR COUPONS ON PRODUCTS because that just wouldn't make sense. If there is something big going on having to do with a discount, it is gone over at the morning meeting and we are highly encouraged to help our customers save money as a tool to heighten sales. never are we told to try to hide rebates or coupons. Now as far as Out of stocks in the stores. people are always complaining we're out of stock on this, out of stock on that. in most cases there's nothing we can do to get a product in any quicker than its' scheduled and many times don't even order the products ourselves. theres 2 types of ordering essentially. 1 is "regular", where any time I can pull up a vendor order for any product sold by that vendor in my department, and order what I want. but the majority of things ordered, especially high dollars things, are controlled by the buying office and are under an order type known as CAR -Circulatory Auto Replenish. I have no control, my store manager doesn't have much control(he can speak with a District manager if he has issues with certain products being out of stock for long periods) but besides that, it's a waiting game. Some people come in EVERY day asking if the product they want came in, even though we said it wouldn't be here for 10 days. People think that because we're such a big company, we order things and they are there the next day and its so far from the truth. the thing is sometimes I go out of stock on something and the company that makes it doesn't manufacture it fast enough to replenish all our stores... so as the product is made the buying office and buying captains team up and distribute this stuff to where they think it will sell the best, resulting in not having some products for 15-60 days, and I've seen longer.
There's many other things I'd love to explain, but I can't think of them all at once. I guess my point is please don't think all of the people who work at these stores are lazy or always in a bad mood, we're actually thrown into really crappy situations a lot of times with already angry customers and don't have the tools we need to solve the problems. i understand some people spend tens of thousands of dollars at home depot and in return they get a ridiculously low grade job or product in return and that is just plain wrong and i have nothing to defend it. Also, so many people come to these sites to complain about things with our company, which is understandable because it is a third party company, but there is a service provided by home depot to leave your opinions and suggestions about. its homedepotopinions.com ....every single week we get pages and pages of the comments customers have from excellent to absolutely poor terrible service. these are placed right on our break room tables for everyone to read. people are written up if there are bad things said about them and the store manager does his best to change what he can. the manager will even call people and try to resolve issues if he has the power to.