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First for Pro :: the Home Depot

For Part 1of this series >> The Home Depot FIRST for Pro Program … Part 1.

First Things FIRST

The Home Depot, First for Pro program was first rolled out about a year ago and as Bill Krum put it: “We keep building on it as we go.”Bill’s official title is Pro Account Representative. He called FIRST For Pro a “dramatic step” in the evolution of how The Home Depot handles business with the various professional building trades.

The word “First” was adopted by The Home Depot to communicate a company philosophy to its employees. Through “First” training, associates learn that customers are their first priority. (FIRST is an acronym which stands for: FIND, INQUIRE, RESPECT, SUGGEST and THANK.) About a year ago, the FIRST concept was extended to the Pro Desk and the program was dubbed FIRST for Pro.

FIRST for Pro includes a number of special considerations and services geared toward making a professional’s shopping experience more fluid. Pros are a large portion of their clientele. And for these folks, “getting in and getting out fast” is a top priority.

Getting Pros In & Out Faster

Bill went on to say that: “The major goal is to, get you in/get you out, with what you need, as quickly as possible (and) at the best price we can possibly give it to you for”. To facilitate this, The Home Depot stores have created specially marked Pro parking spots that are close to the Pro desk entrance. Some stores, which have the room, have actually done this right under the lumber canopy.

– Pro Loaders

Dedicated parking lot loaders have also been added. They work specific hours, Monday through Friday during the peak time of pro customer flow. These folks wear orange vests with the words “Pro Loader” written across the back. Bill told me that, over the last several years, they have noticed a decline in “Runners”. He described them as that person whose job it is to be out on the road picking up, and delivering materials to different job sites. More, now, they are seeing the owner of a small company fulfilling that position themselves.

The Home Depot Pro Loader position is an extra pair of hands, out in the lot. They get the pro customer loaded and back to his or her job faster.

The pro end of the building now, also has dedicated cashiers. These folks are a touchstone of familiarity for the contractors. Their ongoing presence is a testament to the companies recognition that the professional trades are a relationship based business.

Ed Wade, who is the Store Manager at my local store, added that dedicated cashiers also really get to know the products on the pro end of the building, from the various moldings to lumber and masonry etc. “This helps get the contractors through, that much faster.”

The First Phone

At this point, Bill asked Ed if he was carrying a “First Phone” … which he was. The First Phone looks a bit like a Palm-style PDA. It has a qwerty keyboard, a screen and an attached stylus. The First Phone serves a variety of functions from inventory control to communication device. It also has something called “line buster” which allows the “First Phone” holder to step in when long lines are forming and to perform a pre-checkout of items.

The tally of goods is then recorded on a card which can be handed to the cashier. This allows a customer to move immediately to the payment phase once they have reached the register. The First Phone can also be equipped with a special attachment that allows for card based payment and will print a receipt.

Home Depot First Phone

Every door greeter at The Home Depot has a “First Phone” as well. So when you enter the store, if you are not sure where an item is, or even if they stock it, you can ask the greeter. They will immediately look it up on their “First Phone”. They will then tell you exactly where the item is and how many they have in stock.

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At this point in our meeting, we were joined by Don McCourt who is the Regional Manager of The Home Depot for the Delmarva Peninsula (Delaware, Maryland & Virginia) and the conversation took on a wider focus. In Part Three, we will continue to learn more about the First for Pro Program and we’ll talk with Bill, Ed and Don more about The Home Depot at large.

Let us know in the comments if you have noticed any of the changes listed so far at your local Home Depot.

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More on This Series

This post is part of series focusing on The Home Depot‘s FIRST for Pro program. With it, Barry got a behind the scenes look at their suite of pro services. These posts track a recent visit to his local Home Depot in Lewes, Delaware.

The Home Depot‘s FIRST for Pro services program addresses pro contractors’ biggest needs. Understanding what they do, getting them in and out quickly and giving them the best possible price.

Highlights of the program include:

  • FIRST for Pro Power Hours featuring extra staff on the floor during the morning rush, including dedicated loaders, to get Pro customers in and out fast.
  • To make Pro shopping even quicker, the program offers two-hour pickup – call in an order and The Home Depot will have it ready to go within two hours.
  • If you can’t make it to the store, the FIRST for Pro program can arrange free on-site delivery for paint and appliance shipments via Pro Direct, or even help coordinate large shipments directly from the vendor.
  • Where permitted, The Home Depot offers FIRST for Pro dedicated parking areas close to the store.
  • Dedicated Pro associates at The Home Depot deliver outstanding customer service.

To find out more, check back for future posts in the series or visit Homedepot.com/Pro – The Place for Pros~jb

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Disclosure Statement

The Home Depot partnered with bloggers such as me to help promote their FIRST for Pro program. As part of this promotion, I received compensation. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about products. The Home Depot believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. The Home Depot’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.