Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Human Resource factor – Renovating Home Depot

Yet another great interview (“Renovating Home Depot”) by Geoff Colvin in Fortune Magazine, this time with Carol Tome, Home Depot’s CFO.

On how the company responded to the tough economic outlook caused by a multi-year contraction in the housing market.

“First we wanted to make sure that we kept our associates, the men and women on the floor of the store, totally engaged. In an environment where a lot of companies were cutting back, we said no. We are going to invest in those associates. We're going to pay merit increases, pay bonuses, make contributions into the 401(k) plan. We're going to be singularly focused on them so they can take care of the customers.

We introduced something we call power hours inside our stores. In the hours when traffic is heaviest we stop all activity that is not customer facing -- pack-down activities, say -- and spend 100% of our time taking care of customers.”

On the possibility of unionization of its 300.000 non-union employees:

“We will do the right thing for our stores. When we talked to our store associates and said, Why would you want to join a union, you know what we learned? It is really not because of our pay. It is because of the relationship they have with their boss.”

On the differentiation to competitors:

“From a merchandising perspective, I will tell you that if you go to our hand-tools or power-tools aisle, we've got a broader assortment than anyone in town. We have great prices, and we should always win on product. But what is the stickiness? The stickiness has got to be about the human experience.”

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