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Orchard Supply Hardware, OSH, Customer Service, Lucavia Consulting

As a “Radical Do-It-Yourselfer” (R-DIY) I’ve been a regular same-store Orchard Supply Hardware customer for 16 years. In all but a handful of visits I’ve shopped at OSH because it’s about half as far away from my house as the big box stores. In other words I only shop there if I’m in a hurry or if I’m already nearby. As a result, I only buy the small inexpensive items where paying an extra 10%-30% won’t break the bank. You know; screws, nuts, bolts, and minor plumbing supplies.

Why? It’s convenient. And. That’s. It. Being in a neighborhood gives a brand many advantages. However, none will overcome if people only visit you for fill-in purchases—while spending 95% of their budget elsewhere. So, after 16 years of not one OSH clerk or manager taking the time to learn my name, or to even recognize my face with a smile or head nod, it came as no surprise—and, yes, a bit of schadenfreude to read of OSH’s demise.

The irony is I’ll be able to reuse this post in just a few years. Lowe’s management is buying the locations—not OSH culture. Without a commendable customer service culture of its own to inject into OSH it will only be a matter of time before the same cycle repeats itself (Sears bought-and-spun out OSH 1996-2011). One day, Lowe’s will look back and wish they hadn’t simply purchased the locations without doing more to make OSH worth the few percentage points customers would willingly pay to patronize a community resource: Where the staff looks up, smiles, makes eye contact, and says, “Hi Jim. Nice to see you.”

Seriously, all the management firepower that could be brought to bear to make this acquisition succeed pales in comparison to this one friendly human touch.


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