Home Depot Nursery Consultants

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Recently the Wall St Journal ran an article about Home Depot training 7000 of its garden center workers to be "nursery consultants" via an online course. Does anyone have information on that course, how I can take it etc.....?
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No wonder they're doing it. I was there 2 days ago. 80% of their plants were ready to drop dead. Meanwhile, 5 minutes away, 2 locally owned nurseries were selling plants that looked like they were ready to be photographed for a plant catalog.
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I went to HD today. Same thing. Nearly everything was wilted BADLY, or just plain dead.
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I went to HD a few weeks ago, and asked about a problem with my tomatoes -- numerous holes in the leaves. The salescritter told me in no uncertain terms that it was caused by watering in sunny weather -- the drops of water cause lensing and burn the leaves. Uh-huh. I did a little research and discovered the *real* problem -- flea beetles.
I won't be asking them for advice again....
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You expect a lot for a little over minimum wage and low prices, don't you?
I suppose that sales person is supposed to study every plant they sell and every bug, disease and bad human practice inflicted on each one so they are prepared to play plant doctor for the public.
DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, <1 mile off L.I.Sound 3rd year gardener http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/royalfrazier/album?.dir=/2055&.src=ph
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I have received a lot of bad information at HD and Lowe's. It isn't limited to the garden department. I would rather that someone tell me that they don't know than to just make something up and/or sell me the wrong product. I have no idea what they are paid and it makes no difference to me. When they ask me if they can help and I ask a question, I expect them to give me an informed answer or to tell me they don't know. I don't think that is asking too much. You don't have to be highly trained or well paid to say "I don't know."
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" You don't have to be highly trained or well paid to say "I don't know."
Actually in our culture you have to be trained to say I don't know And it's not an easy thing to teach.
Even harder is to find someone who will flat out say I screwed up instead of shifting blame.
As for Home Depot- they try to find that magic minimum level of staffing that will get the goods out the door and in many cases it means I don't go in the door unless there is no other alternative. Yet I own their shares and have profitted handsomely.
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I'm not sure that's cultural. More like genetic. :-)
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Often a place like Lowes has an employee or two SOMEWHERE in the building who is very, very, very knowledgeable about gardening & could be as helpful as anyone ever can be. Unfortunately they are apt to be low seniority people working in plumbing or electrical aisles even if knowing nothing in particular about plumbing or lighting.

I've gotten crappy information from very fine nurseries too. I don't expect much from the Lowe's or HD staff frankly, but there have been exceptions.
I slipped into the nursery department at K Mart earlier this year & though I don't usually bother about such things in such a place, I could not resist telling the worker in that department that the azalea they had labeled as 'Coral Bells' was incorrect because 'Coral Bells' was hose-in-hose &ampt his was a single, & they might want to change the label to "Kurume Pink" if they couldn't find out the specific cultivar, as many likely customers do like to have that sort of information as correct as is possible. The unconcerned worker said, "The wholesaler tags them, not us," &amp he really couldn't've cared less if someone bought a mislabeled plant & never found out what it really was. Just one more reason to support the best independent nurseries foremost, as there's a much better chance that they will care, not that mislabeling can't happen even in the best places.
-paggers

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Since we're comparing apples to oranges.... What I'd like to know is this. If HD employees get paid so much more, then why can't they organize their merchandise so you can find something? I'd shop at a Lowes anytime over a HD because of this reason. Home Depot is also very dark. What's with that lighting? Their aisles seem like they're going into the pit of hell.
Pat
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Isn't that the truth! HD is totally disorganized. Items are all mixed-up in the bins. They are often out of items. The isles are stacked with skids of merchandise waiting to be put on shelves along with abandoned carts and those damned rolling stairs that are ALWAYS right in front of what you need. You only need throw in a handful of people yakking on cell phones: "Hi, I'm at HD. Where are you? blah, blah, blah ..." and the store becomes impossible to navigate. Lowe's is always much better organized and cleaner.
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Agreed!
--
Chris: "Dad, what's a blowhole for?"
Peter: "I'll tell you what it's NOT for and then you'll know why I can
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wrote:

power tool, how to install insulation, or information on some other project. Scary stuff.
These guys aren't hired to be home improvement experts. That's too bad. I think they should be, but no one wants to train their employees. They just want them to mind the store.
Swyck
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wrote:

A lot? Saying "I don't know" if they don't know is "a lot"? Saying "I'll get someone who knows about these things" is "a lot" ? When I go into the plumbing section and ask a question about plumbing or plumbing supplies, I expect to get some kind of reasonable answer because 1) Home Depot in particular advertises that their "knowledgable sales staff" can "answer your questions", and 2) because as a general rule I expect a company and the representatives thereof to know a thing or two about the business that they are in. That means that electrical supply companies should know about electrical supplies, furniture companies should know about furniture, etc etc etc. No different for departments in something like HD.
Having said all that, there's just no way that this represented "high expectations", any more than expecting the lumber staff to know the difference between pine and cedar. And your reductio ad absurbitum of turning my comment into a supposed expectation that they have a PHD in biology doesn't do your argument or your credibility any good.
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discouragement about a company. Just read two sentences down and you'll see this is not an exceptable answer for you.

are asking.

Mega-store sales people are not in the business of plumbing, more like simply supplying parts. Honestly if you wanted old-style customer service you'd have to go to that old hardware store that closed when HD opened and everyone stopped shopping there. I don't expect anyone at HD to be a plumber, carpenter, roofer, landscaper, machinist, architect, electrician, stonemason, tile worker, cabinetry expert, botanist, or anything else they sell supplies for. I'm lucky if I can find a human being working there, and that goes for most stores that aren't high-priced and catering to upper class. I expect them to low prices and bulk and the sales people to be few and have little knowledge. Its rare to find someone who does have knowledge, and I attribute that to their personal employment history, personal interests and none of it to their temporary employment with Home Depot.
Oddly we don't expect a supermarket checkout to know which foods are good for your particular situation, or how to assemble a meal. But we expect a company that sells hardware parts to guide and instruct us on how to use what they sell us. We expect them to educate us some. It's weird, I would normally try to find information myself because in my lifetime I seldom find people in businesses that are truly knowledgeable. And when you do they want to be on the clock. Most people freely pass along bad information. Just read newsgroups and you see it happening.

see. To staff every department during all hours with a knowledgeable person about that department is never going to happen. That's the difference between an electrical supply company and a mega store. As the complexity of the base businesses increases the quality of the support has to drop. They CAN'T know enough about all the areas they cover. Not without raising their prices. An electrical supply company focuses on one segment and dedicates multiple employees just to it. A HD is never gonna come close to that knowledge level.

says cedar. I'm sure if they had dedicated people whose career was HD or woodworking they would know about wood but be rather ignorant about plumbing--but chances are that still wouldn't satisfy customers who were looking for advice on how to do a home-plumbing job. The wood expert would have to point you to the only guy who knew somethign. He'd be the guy who has a line of four other people waiting for him to answer their questions.

Well I've been gardening for three years, done lots of reading, experimented with about 100 different varieties and still need to come here and ask stupid questions from time to time.
DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, <1 mile off L.I.Sound 3rd year gardener http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/royalfrazier/album?.dir=/2055&.src=ph
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wrote:

Strangely, I *do* find the HD people in the plumbing and electrical sections to be quite knowledgeable. Maybe it's a regional thing.
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You're correct, of course. But, most HD/Lowe's people should also NOT be wandering the aisles, asking "Can I help you with something?", because most of they time, they cannot. They should expect us to respond "I doubt it".
You can't compare this to supermarkets, where people are NOT walking around posing as experts. Yeah...you may find a person stocking the shelves, who knows where to find everything in the store, but that's not product knowledge.
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In retailing, customer service is largely surface gloss. Having salespeople walk around and ask that presents an IMAGE of customer service. Many people don't need help or what they need is simple like pointing out where merchandise can be found. Those people see a positive c.s. experience. Its when you actually need someonething of substance that you see there is little to back it up. One of the silliest things I see is customers arguing with salespeople about prces, slaes, or discounts. Sales people have no authority to change prices. I think those people just get off on being difficult or are just too ignorant to realize asking for a manager is step one.
Secondly, asking everyone on the floor if you can help them is the best deterrent to shortage (shoplifting). If you suspect someone is a shoplifter you "customer service" them, you don't watch them. You agressive seek to help them, just hanging out and asking questions will cause the non-pros to bolt.

So in supermarkets there is no customer service? WHy aren't we offended by that? A family of four spends $500 easily a month at a store you'd think with that kind of repeat business c.s. and floor presence would be greater. BTW Mine has a help desk on the floor with 1-2 people at all hours. That's in addition to the customer service desk.
In retailing the people who stock are often the people who display, perform markdowns, hang signage, and run cash registers. I did all of those as a salesperson in each retail job over a 10 year period. At Macy*s you were trained about the merchandise-they were the only employee that did that. But again, I can tell you a Pima Cotton dress shirt is the best you can buy, but when you bring it home and your wife has to iron that wrinkled shirt she might disagree with the salesperson's assessment. Usualy people just learn a few facts and toss them out over and over again. (i.e. lensing on a leaf)
Training is not looked upon favorably in business. I've been in the computer industry for 14 years and I've attended about 15 days of real training. And I've progressed from 1st tier PC work through top tier, performed worldwide LAN administration, transitioned to international office networking, firewalls, security and now working on a customer with over 12,000 users. It is always a struggle to get money for training and another struggle to get the free time.
DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, <1 mile off L.I.Sound 3rd year gardener http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/royalfrazier/album?.dir=/2055&.src=ph
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wrote:

In supermarkets, I guess it depends on how you define "customer service". If the person stocking shelves tells you where to find something, is that customer service? Or, do you define it as a cut above: If you go to the cheese department (which may or may not exist in your store), and tell the person that in your mind, you have a recipe halfway dreamt up, can they give you some cheese flavor advice to help you complete the recipe?
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Doug Kanter wrote:

I don't go to grocery stores that have high enough prices to pay someone with that skill set to spend 90% of their day stocking the cheese department display, and run a slicer while waiting for that one customer who actually has a real question to come along. Most of my grocery shopping is done at stores that operate efficiently, and provide a pleasant environment for me to make my buying decisions in.
There just happens to be a couple of horticultural degree holders biding their time at the local Home Depot. They'll be out of there for a non-retail job just as soon as they can be. Ask them a question about plants, and you're likely to get a better answer than you will from the gardening hobbyists or grunt labor running around the local nursery.
The problem, as others have pointed out, is that we have a culture that frowns on people saying they don't know. And it starts early in school. Sit around an elementary school classroom, and you'll never see a teacher praise a student for admitting that they don't know something, but you'll see them go nuts with praise when a kid guesses right.
Most standardized tests also reward guessing, too. There's a whole industry built around test preparation, and how to guess the right answer when you don't know.
Go to a job interview, and say "I don't know". See if you get the job, or if the guy who slung the best sounding BS gets the job.
And it's even more important for a guy to learn how to pretend he knows things he doesn't. Turn on ESPN2 in a room full of men, and the alpha males will start discussing the game even if they have no idea what the game is. Comedians convince us every day that guys aren't supposed to stop and ask directions. Real men should have an answer to everything, no matter how absurd it is to fake it.
How many of us have had a close friend or family member fall over in shock when we said, "I don't know" (and didn't really mean "I don't care")? "I'm going to mark this day on the calendar!"
I don't know if this is a part of other cultures. I only know that as I was growing up, not knowing something was the ultimate failure. I was taught never to admit I didn't know anything, and to do my best to fake it when I had to. And this wasn't something that was only taught at home. It was the message every teacher and role model gave.
It's hard enough to admit you don't know something to a friend or family member. So is it really so surprising that someone is afraid to say "I don't know" to a stranger? Is someone making retail sales floor wages going to go out on a limb, and risk their self-esteem for some guy walking up and testing them? "Heck, the guy asking doesn't know, so all I have to do is guess better than he can. I don't have to admit that I'm as clueless as he is."
Then again, maybe I'm wrong. I don't know.
--
Warren H.

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