Hardware/lifestyle retailing is perhaps one of the most competitive segments in the Canadian retail market.The big players are Canadian Tire, Rona, Home Depot, Lowes, Home Hardware and TSC. I had to the opportunity to visit all but TSC recently, and here’s how their customer service shakes out:
Home Hardware(Arnprior): I’m not even going to try to describe my experience there, but it is the same experience I’ve had every time I’ve visited over the last ten years: Amazing.This store sets the standard that all other retailers should aspire to. Seriously. Wow. Why would anyone shop anywhere else?
Canadian Tire (Kanata): What a sharp contrast from Home Hardware. Interestingly, they are similar ‘Dealer Operated’ corporate models. But customer service isn’t even remotely on Canadian Tire’s radar. Good, competitive pricing, but if you’re looking for service you’ll be disappointed.
Rona(Arnprior): Too small to compete with the selection of a Home Depot or Lowes, and zero service – so they can’t compete with Home Hardware. Really not sure how they stay in business…
Home Depot (Kanata): Better than Canadian Tire. At least in Home Depot, when you can find someone, they are reasonably knowledgeable and skilled in customer service. When you can find someone, that is.
Lowes(Kanata): These are the new kids on the block. Similar format to Home Depot, but the people seem to be a little more proactive. They’re a notch above Home Depot – but not by much.
Why can’t they all be as good as Home Hardware? I can’t say for sure, but I suspect they see customer service training and higher staffing levels as an expense instead of an investment. Home Hardware has lots of good, skilled people on the floor. Sure, their costs might be higher, but I’m willing to bet that their sales per square foot more than makes up for it!
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