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Home Depot, an ongoing discussion....
#31
Fenders, I get you that valuation at time always matters, it really does. I don't know what are going to be my winners and what will be the eh investments--I really don't. That's why I'm just not selling--I hold and buy--hold--and buy--it's like lather--rinse--then repeat lol. That's why I like dividends.

I think that it also helps that if I don't think I can or why should I own this 10 plus years down the road I move on. Every so often I run the numbers, look at something and think--maybe I should sell this company? Then I look at the numbers again, if it's solid--I keep it. It's been a while since I sold anything.
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#32
Diversification may be the bigger lesson I learned from the tech bubble at some point.  Boring stocks were running 15% a year and that was regarded as completely missing the bus.  Smile
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#33
It's been an interesting few months. I still work at HD designing custom doors and windows. A few observations I've made as I have now worked through most of the seasons.

-Springtime is "Christmas" at HD. A strong surge in store traffic and sales for several months.
-Corporate applies extreme pressure to maximize efficiency. We don't waste any sales space from floor to ceiling. It's impressive and I can see the focus on growing earnings every quarter without fail. The downside to all that is about the only way to increase margins now is to cut staffing hours. I don't enjoy trying to work three departments part of each day, but that doesn't really matter to me as a shareholder. What does matter is the customers notice By the time they wait their turn to get help from me they are what I call "pre-annoyed". For hours at a time, everyday lately, not a single employee in building materials which is lumber, concrete, drywall, siding, decking. They are taking it too far. It really has become a self-service operation in many ways. I get an ear full several times a day and it is getting worse every month. They voice their displeasure verbally, and on the surveys attached to the cash register receipts. It isn't pleasant to deal with. I guess the good news is customers inform me the same exact same thing is going on at Lowe's and other competitors. It's not hard to see why retail sales continue to grow online. Why deal with all that if your product isn't too large to ship.

-The point of all this is I wonder what quarter we finally miss earnings, and how they will react? I think same store sales are nearing a peak. Will HD and LOW expand into an already saturated US market? We may be at the wrong end of the economic cycle for that. In any event, big box retail is very interesting now that I have an inside view at the store level. Get very efficient or you'll just go away.
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#34
Fenders, thanks for the on the floor insights. Being a customer, I had noticed a few of those things, but had discounted them as our store being in a poorer neighborhood, going at the wrong time of the day, etc. I mainly noticed the lack of cashiers. Which is why we always go through lawn and garden. Don't have to attempt to self check any large/bulky items that I bought that trip. If I was a contractor, the lack of floor staff would really bother me. Since I only go there about once a quarter (unless I've got some big house project that I'm working on), the lack of floor staff isn't really noticeable.
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#35
(08-16-2019, 09:46 AM)ChadR Wrote: Fenders, thanks for the on the floor insights.  Being a customer, I had noticed a few of those things, but had discounted them as our store being in a poorer neighborhood, going at the wrong time of the day, etc.  I mainly noticed the lack of cashiers.  Which is why we always go through lawn and garden.  Don't have to attempt to self check any large/bulky items that I bought that trip.  If I was a contractor, the lack of floor staff would really bother me.  Since I only go there about once a quarter (unless I've got some big house project that I'm working on), the lack of floor staff isn't really noticeable.

I'm certain the individual store manager decides how to employ his staffing.  It's sales vs manhours at the end of the week.  Checkout time is definitely measured and seems more than acceptable at my store.  You just have to get to that point before you are angry. Smile  Our local competitors are MUCH worse at manning cash registers so you just have to suck less maybe?  Smile   Seriously, maybe that is true from a stockholders perspective?    

HD corporate has a metric for almost everything.  Nothing wrong with that at all.  And they try to adjust for the season and weekly sales trends as well.  Nothing wrong with that either.  It's just interesting to watch them very clearly push their luck on customer service.  Not selling my shares yet, but I'm not doubling down either as I had planned.  Seriously considered a position in LOW, but I won't be doing that either.
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#36
(08-16-2019, 11:53 AM)fenders53 Wrote:
(08-16-2019, 09:46 AM)ChadR Wrote: Fenders, thanks for the on the floor insights.  Being a customer, I had noticed a few of those things, but had discounted them as our store being in a poorer neighborhood, going at the wrong time of the day, etc.  I mainly noticed the lack of cashiers.  Which is why we always go through lawn and garden.  Don't have to attempt to self check any large/bulky items that I bought that trip.  If I was a contractor, the lack of floor staff would really bother me.  Since I only go there about once a quarter (unless I've got some big house project that I'm working on), the lack of floor staff isn't really noticeable.

I'm certain the individual store manager decides how to employ his staffing.  It's sales vs manhours at the end of the week.  Checkout time is definitely measured and seems more than acceptable at my store.  You just have to get to that point before you are angry. Smile  Our local competitors are MUCH worse at manning cash registers so you just have to suck less maybe?  Smile   Seriously, maybe that is true from a stockholders perspective?    

Unless you do not consider Menards a direct competitor ( I do) I would disagree as they have much more staff on hand. They do not have self checkout and always have 3 or 4 or 5 registers open with the cashier standing out in front if their is no line in their aisle. I too am long HD stock btw.
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#37
Menards is ABSOLUTELY a direct competitor where they co-exist. Keep in mind what I share here is regionally anecdotal and my opinion. I am not a corporate insider and it would be inappropriate to share info if I was. That said, there are things I know to be true here, and suspect to be true nationally. I have a couple local HD stores, the one I work at is small for an HD. The two local Lowes would be slightly larger. The two Menards are HUGE superstores.

-In my small store that only does about $30M annual sales, it's very typical to have 3-4 live cashiers plus ASSISTED checkout. Don't ever say SELF Checkout Mike. We fixed our lighted sign lol. Usually two more employees at the customer service desk and they will check out small carts if asked. Usually one cashier in outdoor garden unless it "mulch give-away days". I even check a few people out through the day at my Millwork Design desk but I can't take cash. All Dept Supervisors and above are reguired to perform about 25 check outs a month, so we are never without a cashier if several cashiers were to call in sick. You have to be formally cashier trained to log on a register. That's a few days of training.

More observations.................

HD Associate training is best in the industry. Computer based and peer assisted OJT for less complex jobs. My millwork training is pretty substantial. I have taken about 50 computer based courses since March. Six- two hour distance learning sessions conducted live from Atlanta HQ by true experts. I am only Intermediate level certified and on the naughty list with a half dozen overdue computer classes. Advance Millworker Cert is next if I hang in there. It would be VERY easy to make big dollar mistakes the store has to eat if I didn't know what I was doing. I am the only full-time millworker. It's not good when the desk is not manned. When somebody tries to "wing it", the errors are expensive.

Point is HD attempts to man the floor with employees that have a clue what they are doing. That is NOT the case at my local Menard's. Their custom millwork customers come to me and tell me they were just told "something" couldn't be done, then I design it and order it in 20 minutes. I am curious how Lowes handles their training. I am going to drop by and ask their millworkers sometime just out of curiousity.

Menard's is the "Wal-Mart Supercenter" of home improvement. They are much cheaper on a lot of cheap product lines. They are not cheaper on quality brands. A smart shopper shows up with their current ad, or a custom quote and they won't leave disappointed. They generally leave with a better brand at about the same price.

Back to the point, I hope they don't continue to under staff my store like the past month. It is NOT a subtle difference. Intentionally not manning building materials dept is profoundly stupid. Too many customers are getting angry on a daily basis. Maybe just my store is experimenting with this? I can't help but think this is an attempt to make sure we beat quarterly sales/earnings. It's not hard to understand it's getting tougher every quarter.

Earnings report on Tuesday I think. I'll definitely listen to the CC with great interest. It will be on Youtube. If I have a prediction, it will be there is much discussion of tariff effects going forward. Our longtime CFO is retiring soon. Carol is a rockstar and won't be easily replaced.
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#38
(08-17-2019, 06:51 AM)fenders53 Wrote: -(A)In my small store that only does about $30M annual sales, it's very typical to have 3-4 live cashiers plus ASSISTED checkout. Don't ever say SELF Checkout Mike.



(B) I am curious how Lowes handles their training. I am going to drop by and ask their millworkers sometime just out of curiousity.




.

(A) I don't know the volume of my nearby stores (60056) but they seldom have that much up front staff. Their best dept. IMO is the tool rental.

(B) I may have told this Lowes story, I tell it to everyone. I wanted to buy a pre-hung stock steel door that was on sale and have Lowes install it. Get the price, a fee is charged for a guy to come out and verify the fit and deducted at the end. This guy comes out and tells my wife that the opening is not standard so we need a custom door. $700 more and 3 weeks lead time. I get home and measure, again. Spot on.

I call Lowes and they tell me they stick with their guy as he would be the installer as well. The manager would not listen or budge off the "he's our guy" position. I would have been out $700 extra and he would have furred the opening down to "make it fit".

I will never shop Lowes and will never invest in Lowes.
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#39
(08-17-2019, 05:33 PM)NilesMike Wrote:
(08-17-2019, 06:51 AM)fenders53 Wrote: -(A)In my small store that only does about $30M annual sales, it's very typical to have 3-4 live cashiers plus ASSISTED checkout. Don't ever say SELF Checkout Mike.

     

 (B) I am curious how Lowes handles their training.  I am going to drop by and ask their millworkers sometime just out of curiousity.                  


 

.

(A)  I don't know the volume of my nearby stores (60056) but they seldom have that much up front staff. Their best dept. IMO is the tool rental.

(B) I may have told this Lowes story, I tell it to everyone. I wanted to buy a pre-hung stock steel door that was on sale and have Lowes install it. Get the price, a fee is charged for a guy to come out and verify the fit and deducted at the end. This guy comes out and tells my wife that the opening is not standard so we need a custom door. $700 more and 3 weeks lead time. I get home and measure, again. Spot on.

I call Lowes and they tell me they stick with their guy as he would be the installer as well. The manager would not listen or budge off the "he's our guy" position. I would have been out $700 extra and he would have furred the opening down to "make it fit".

I will never shop Lowes and will never invest in Lowes.
You may never use any of my investment advice but I can explain some of the nuances of your door measuring episode.  I deal with this issue constantly....

1.  The measure fee is reasonable.  The installer needs to be compensated if you aren't seriously shopping for a window or door.  You get it back if you buy a door and install.  It's not only a measurement but a site visit to see if something crazy is going on.  It happens with 100 year old houses.  I'm sure you are OK with this part.

2.  There are legit reasons to desire a smaller door.  The installer wants to be done quickly and be able to compensate for out of square and level for a professional install.  If the floor has multiple layers of flooring stacked high it's easier to get a smooth transition with a door that if firred up as required.  This is a 1 out of 5 thing.  It's understandable when the problem truly exists.  He is covering the risk at the customers expense making them buy a custom door 4 of 5 don't actually need.   

3.  Here's the big problem.  You can't measure a door properly without popping the casing trim. Without doing that there is no way to know the true dimensions of the rough opening.  They measure what they can see and assume there is no room to play with. Why?  Because if they pop trim there is about zero chance they can re-install without marring it some.  It's just a measure and now we have customers that want their trim repaired when they bought nothing but a cheap measure.  There are people unreasonable like that.

Here's how it works in my real world.  I get measures that require a custom door by 1/8 inch.  Yeah that is ridiculous.  If the customer desires a door that is very custom anyway we just roll with the stupidity because the price difference is minimal.  If not I call the installer out.  I tell them the customer will waive minor trim damage for an accurate measure, or they will pop trim themselves and give me a real measurement.  That should embarrass them and it usually does.

I only sell about 6 measures a week in my little store.  My installer is re-measuring two doors on Monday because I called BS.  The customer would not have known the difference, but that doesn't matter to me. I will do this every week if I have to.  The day I am required to rip people off to get along will be my last day at HD.
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#40
1) No problem conceptually, however tons of businesses come out and give free estimates on jobs that take a lot more time than measuring a rough opening.

2) Not my problem as to their inefficiency, they are setting the price for the install. Easy ones, tough ones already factored in.

3) I popped the trim, measured and reinstalled trim. No problem.

My carpenter nephew installed the stock door and storm door in a couple of hours.
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