Hardware Retailing

MAY 2018

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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HARDWARE RETAILING | May 2018 146 In order to stay at the top of their game, Ballard says he and his team continually keep an eye on the industry, striving to have the best products and technology available to their customers. For example, a few years ago when their only retail store was the Austin location, Ballard saw connected home technology starting to make advancements. He was determined to get those types of tech products in the store. TreeHouse executives did whatever they could to get the attention of Nest Labs, a home automation company. Their goal was to bring Nest smart thermostats and other products to TreeHouse. "At the time, we were a one-store operation in Austin trying to work with companies like Nest and Tesla, leaders in the transition to sustainable energy," Ballard says. "Just setting up a meeting with these companies was difficult. But we were persistent, and I think from our meetings they could see we genuinely were passionate about what TreeHouse is all about. For those reasons, I believe they both made the decision to work with us, which was a big deal for a business of our size." To sell the many great brands and products in the store, however, Ballard says having the right people on staff has been vital to the success of TreeHouse. "I know we have a very smart team," he says. "When a customer comes to our store, they are talking to design professionals. We have a licensed architect working in our stores, former building energy auditors; we have experts who really know what they're talking about." Not only does TreeHouse sell great products, but they provide service to their customers through a team of highly trained professionals who install and complete the project for the customer, Ballard says. The majority of Treehouse's employees specialize in the departments they work in. "Often the person selling in our stores is professionally trained in the department they work in," Ballard says. "This elevates our entire company. It would be hard to casually work at TreeHouse. When we hire someone lacking experience, they can learn directly from our knowledgeable employees to close the gap." TreeHouse differs from big-box retailers in that products are arranged in an open concept and departments are primarily organized by project, rather than retail product categories. If customers have questions, employees with professional backgrounds can assist.

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