Hardware Retailing

NOV 2018

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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HARDWARE RETAILING | November 2018 60 How to Maintain Relationships Tools break. Given the daily abuse power tools are subjected to in a professional environment, even the highest-quality tool will eventually succumb to time and stress. Retailers can assist their professional customers in multiple ways in this area. Most power tool manufacturers offer robust warranty options for their tools. While these programs often allow customers to go directly to the manufacturer, a retailer who takes on some of the stress and confusion can garner positive feelings from customers. Gemmen's Home & Hardware as well as Branneky True Value Hardware have systems in place to assist customers with submitting power tools to manufacturer warranty programs. Knowledgeable staff members help customers figure out what the issue might be, and should it need to be submitted for service, the assistance can make a stressful situation much easier. "It allows us to add value to what is already a high-ticket item. Customers can come to us, and we take care of the shipping and paperwork," Gemmen says. "It's one less thing on our customer's plate and adds a lot of goodwill on our part." PaulB Hardware has built its service department to offer in-house repair with certified service employees through several vendors' warranty programs. Instead of sending the tool to the vendor for service, repairs can be done in-house. "We're seeing several manufacturers who won't offer warranties for items bought online. When we have this conversation with customers, we're saying that if this tool breaks, you're dealing with us and not sending it back to Amazon," Groff says. "They're willing to come here and buy here because they're talking to the person who will work on their tools." Another way to add value to purchases is hosting events that cater to their needs. PaulB Hardware conducts an annual May Tool Day where vendors set up booths for a small fee and interact with professionals who attend the event. It allows the kind of face-to-face interactions with knowledgeable manufacturer reps that contractors appreciate. While contractors and tradespeople are often looking at the nuts and bolts of pricing, product selection and convenience, the building and maintaining of a relationship can't be overlooked. Once a professional knows a retailer can be relied on for the right tools for the job, the retailer now becomes an option for a purchase. If that purchase is followed up by strong customer service and enjoyable interactions, a retailer can become the only option that pro will want to patronize. "It's about building goodwill and knowing the kinds of problems the professional customer is dealing with," Branneky says. "If they know you are in the best position to help them accomplish their job and not add stress to it, then the relationship goes beyond just selling tools." Events that attract vendor representatives as well as professional contractors can help boost a store's reputation for power tools.

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