Home Depot’s Army Mentality

Home Depot Logo

Back in March Home Depot unleashed what could only be called a PR offensive [ed: pun intended]. There was this great BusinessWeek cover story, a couple of other minor articles and mentions, and then a Harvard Business Review piece, all about how Bob Nardelli was wonderful. Heck, the BusinessWeek article was even titled:

Renovating Home Depot? Skip the touchy-feely stuff. The big-box store is thriving under CEP Bob Nardelli’s military-style rule.

But the problem is, it’s a PR crock. By any measure Home Depot is not thriving, the people there hate it, and it shows — all the way through to the check-out line.

Sure the article(s) talk all big about ex-marines, and “tough under fire”, and all that junk. But the point of fact is the retailer is not the military, people don’t like being treated like that, and the stuff doesn’t work.

Walked into a Home Depot lately? It’s a nightmare.

Walked into a Home Depot lately? Tried to find help? Tried to find someone who cared? Tried to find something you went in wanting to buy? It’s a nightmare.

Just for fun, pull an orange apron aside and ask them what they think of the place. But only if you have an hour to spare. They will rant all over you, and endlessly — like they have nothing better to do. Ouch. And the BW article even alludes to this: “Some describe a demoralized staff and say a “culture of fear” is causing customer service to wane.” Executive turnover is rampant. And Bob’s pay package can’t help (see this entry).

Customers see it too:

The University of Michigan’s annual American Customer Satisfaction Index, released on Feb. 21, shows Home Depot slipped to dead last among major U.S. retailers. With a score of 67, down from 73 in 2004, Home Depot scored 11 points behind Lowe’s and three points lower than much-maligned Kmart.

And perhaps just as importantly, it doesn’t work in the market, either. HD’s results are pitiful: Since the day before Nardelli’s arrival on Dec. 14, 2000, Lowe’s split-adjusted share price has soared 210%. Home Depot’s is down 7%

So, tell me again how great this military stuff is, Bob?