Tuesday, May 08, 2007

No, really, you do it YOURSELF

I attended my local Home Depot's Do It Herself Clinic last night. It was supposed to be about building a relaxing retreat in your backyard.

It was actually about Andy from the Garden Department explaining that he found out 20 minutes before we were to start that he had to do this. He wasn't able to access the Home Depot web site to find out how many of us were coming (we had all registered on-line) and therefore didn't have enough materials. We also received an "explanation" that lots of times they set up for these clinics and then no one shows up. "We're just standing at a table with all our stuff, putting together papers, and no one comes."

Andy's solution? "Next time, show up about 45 minutes early and let them know you're here, so then we know that there are people and we can get set up."

Um. Yeah. So not ever going to happen. I'm pretty sure that, as the customer, it's not my responsibility to show up 45 minutes early so you know you have to get ready. Can you see us pulling that here at the spa? "We don't like to prepare for our pedicures until we know for sure you're coming. So, you're appointment is at 5:30, can you get here around 4:45 or so? And then wait for us to get ready?"

Due to his lack of preparation, Andy said he'd have to basically just go through our information packets with us, you know, he learns as we learn. That doesn't do much to instill confidence in the audience, I must say. He kicked everything off with, "So, what do you guys want? Are there any specific questions you have? What do you want to talk about? I thought we could share ideas and that would get us started."

That drew blank stares from pretty much all of us, as we were all expecting to learn from him how to build a relaxing retreat in our backyards. Someone tentatively offered up, "Walkways?" Yes! Andy jumped all over it! He can talk about walkways! Paths! (I'm pretty sure the woman threw out "walkways" because that was one of the things listed on the description for the clinic.)

Turns out that the Do It Herself workshops are really just a big ol' advertisement for purchasing Home Depot's Pavestone brand of walkway materials. Andy even had props for his sales pitch: two pavestones, a bag of sand, and a bag of pea pebbles. Wow.

You know, it's a free clinic, so I expect a certain amount of selling to be involved. It's only natural. They're not paying Andy to give free advice all day long. I get it. I'm in marketing, for Pete's sake. I'm pickin' up what yer puttin' down.

But crikey, have some finesse when you do it.

Last fall we purchased some shrubs from Sherwood's Forest Nursery. We found a guy there who probably wasn't much older than Andy, if at all, but he was light years ahead of him as far as sales go. He positioned himself as an expert on plants and shrubs and landscaping and hardscaping. He asked us specific questions (without being patronizing), the answers to which guided his recommendations for which plants to purchase. He even got measurements of the front landscape bed from M and sketched out what we should plant, where. It was like hiring a professional landscape architect, only we didn't have to pay a cent. As a result, we purchased all our shrubs from him. And we'll purchase more from him. (Sherwood's Forest has only one downfall: they're only open until 5 every day, which makes it hard for the workin' girl to get there during the week.)

My point is, you don't have to plunk a 5 lb. bag of sand on the table in front of me to drive home the point that I need to set my pavers on a sand bed to avoid sinkage. I'm not a complete idiot.

So, I do not recommend the Do It Herself Clinics at Home Depot. At least not at my Home Depot. There is one little benefit, though. If you sit through all the drivel, Andy will give you a coupon for 10% off just about anything at the end. Now that's just good marketing.


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