Ace Hardware Tops in Making DIY Customers Happy

Discussion
Jun 01, 2007

By George Anderson

J.D. Power and Associates asked 16,239 consumers who bought a home improvement product or service within the past year to rate the retailer where they made the purchase and Ace Hardware was the winner.

Ace received a score of 812 on a scale of 1,000. Menards (801), Lowe’s (798), Costco (784) and True Value (776) were next. Home Depot, Target, Sears, Wal-Mart and Kmart were also included in the survey but did not make the top five.

The study measured customer satisfaction relative to a store’s staff, merchandise and services, facility, pricing, promotions and checkout. Consumers who participated reported spending an average of $2,138 on home improvement products on an annual basis.

“Home improvement retail stores typically have a wide array of product offerings, which could be overwhelming to shoppers, especially those seeking support for do-it-yourself projects,” said Jim Howland, senior director of the real estate and construction practice at J.D. Power and Associates, in a press release. “Many of these retailers tout the quality of their customer service in slogans and advertising, but the study tells us that those companies that truly ‘walk the talk’ differentiate themselves and demonstrate notably higher customer satisfaction.”

Discussion Question: What is your analysis of J.D. Power’s findings relative to retailers selling home improvement products and services?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

7 Comments on "Ace Hardware Tops in Making DIY Customers Happy"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
14 years 11 months ago

D-I-Yers frequently want comfortable advice about their project. Apparently Ace, Menards, Lowe’s, Costco and True Value give the most comfortable advice to their customers. Personally I’m inclined to buy the results of the Power’s survey. I have always found my Ace store to be extremely helpful and customer-oriented with higher-price points but their courtesy more than balances any price differentials. Menard’s is both low-priced and helpful. Lowe’s is helpful but I have had both good and poor advice there. I believe J.D. Power’s findings are sound and proving, at least to me, that everyone likes to be made comfortable when needing assistance and be treated with dignity in a store. Congratulations, ACE.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

If Home Depot franchised its stores like Ace, would its customer satisfaction and profitability improve? The buying power, systems, logistics, and supply chain advantages could remain, and true customer loyalty might increase. Would it be worth piloting this in an isolated geography?

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

The genuine short answer is “it depends.”

Ace is great when I’m not sure what I need, or when I’m in a hurry. The large DIYs are good if I’m buying something “big.”

Sometimes Ace is close to price competitive. Other times (like before a hurricane) the local stores seem to raise prices. That’s the tricky part of the franchise model…overall you can keep track of the franchisees, but in extraordinary times, it’s hard to monitor them.

Customer service is important, but price has to be within bounds….

Art Williams
Guest
Art Williams
14 years 11 months ago

My opinions are mixed on this subject. I miss being able to find knowledgeable help at the Home Depot and to a lesser degree at Menards, but haven’t had very good luck at Ace Hardware either. The people at Ace are very nice and try to be helpful but don’t usually have the expertise that I am looking for. Another problem that I have had at Ace and True Value is that they have a more limited selection of everything and then they are higher priced if they do have it. The last two times that I went to them, they didn’t have what I needed. And the person didn’t even know what it was or where to find it. They are good for general everyday items but not more specialized electrical items, for example.

Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

If I’m starting a new project I need help determining what is the best material and/or tool to use, what is the best way to approach it, and which are the best materials and/or tools to purchase. Of course, Costco would not be in the top five. I would go there if I already knew what I was doing, what I needed, and what I wanted to purchase. Otherwise, I need a store where the personnel are knowledgeable, free enough to help me without having to wait forever, and friendly. I’m not surprised that Home Depot did not make the top five. A few months ago I was there and needed help putting something in my car–the clerk at the register called for someone, no one came, I said I would go to Lowe’s to buy it, the clerk apologized that no one was free and said that was fine with her! Why isn’t Home Depot in the top five?

Ben Ball
Guest
14 years 11 months ago
There are several factors at play here. One of the biggest is consumers with an incorrect self-assessment of their prowess as a handyman. Home Depot is for people who already know what they are doing. The advantage is a broader array of contractor grade products and lower prices. Ace is the place (ok, ok!) for consumers to buy stuff for the house, lawn and garage. Lowe’s has done the best job of playing the middle ground on this scale. Another factor is the franchisee model. Anyone who has ever dealt with it will tell you is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is the motivation of individual owners to serve customers–and the curse is the lack of motivation of individual owners to serve customers. It all depends on the franchisee and once you have a bad one they are hard to manage and even harder to get rid of. Ace seems to do better than most in managing this issue. Last is the price/service value trade-off. Recently my bride informed me that it… Read more »
David Livingston
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

Many Ace stores are independent retailers. The one near me is an independent and competes with a Menards across the street. They can’t compete on price but their service is excellent. Since I’m not a very good handyman, I go to Ace and they help walk me through projects, whereas the pimple faced teenagers at the big chain stores don’t have a clue. The high rating at Ace does not surprise me.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

Is there a direct correlation between customer satisfaction and success in the home improvement business or does the success of those getting low grades suggest other factors such as price or location are the primary factors that determine retailing success?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...