HD gets rid of Kitchen Designers in store!
We're hosting a NKBA chapter meeting at our store next month, so I've been hitting some of the design shops to issue personal invitations. I also know several box store designers, so they were next on my list this week.
I went into one of the HD stores in the Memphis market only to find the KD there working in the adjacent department and no one at all in the kitchen department. I don't want to be too specific here in the identity, because I don't want to cost this person their job for giving me this information.
I know the person fairly well, so we got to talking. I was told that if the designer were to do a design for a customer, "they'd fire me." Well, call me flummoxed! I was pretty shocked, because they used to be all about getting their KD's certified to earn customer trust, and this one earned a certification.
Seems like this was a test market, and now they're rolling this out nationwide.
If you want to buy kitchen cabinets from HD, you'll have to do that online and through the phone with a remote designer in Atlanta. They're shoving the entire responsibility of customer interaction off onto the "home services" outside salesmen (with NO design training) and the local installers.
I know there have been instances where people have worked with remote designers and things have gone well. Equally, there have been reports on here (some recent) where it went poorly indeed. I just can't imagine the average person feeling comfortable dealing with a salesperson with no clue about kitchens and then basically receiving a design by email with almost no interaction between the person that designs and the client being designed for.
How do you all feel about a setup like that? Do you think that you'd be OK in not even talking to a designer at all? I'm picturing all kinds of disasters happening. Even for very self sufficient customers who have their layout 95% worked out, it's that extra 5% that can make or break a design. That's where we check for correct moldings, clearances, and the right kind of finished sides, as well as give tips on how to get the project in inside their budget by doing something a less expensive way. I get that this will save them millions in staff salaries, but I only see it costing them equally in customer goodwill and mistakes that they'll eat.
In other box store news, having associates assigned to departments where they know and understand the products to be able to help customers is also going away. Except for a few specialty employees, employees will be no longer be assigned to departments and will have to learn the whole store and help customers storewide. It's another cost saving move to lessen staffing requirements. But, they only training that they will receive for the cross departments is computer based and barely skims the surface. And I bet they don't up the $8 an hour salary just because someone learns the whole store either.
Is it any wonder that they jettisoned the "You can do it, we can help" slogan in favor of "More saving, more doing.".
Can Lowes be far behind? They already eliminated commission for the designers and gone to non design "helpers" in many of their departments. Warm bodies that really don't know anything. With online business now making up almost 1/3 of a store's sales, how long will they even keep just the warm bodies?