By Chris McGillicuddy • October 22, 2013
You walk in. Your footsteps echo off the concrete floor. Towers of shelves filled with appliances, fixtures, and tools loom high above you. As you try to remember whether that screw was a Phillips or a flathead, an army of orange aprons starts to surround you. Fear not. They are there to help.
Earning the Apron
The Home Depot can be an intimidating place. I know it was for me when I applied for a job there the summer after graduating high school. I had worked at a local nursery as seasonal help, but they were already flooded by a sea of recent graduates whose parents forced them to find a summer job. So, with resume in hand, I went off to the home for home improvement.
The interview process was simple enough and within a week or so I was hired. It seemed like the job would be a breeze. Help customers load supplies into their cars. What is there to know?
A lot, it turns out. Orientation at The Home Depot for “Lot Associates,” the folks at the front of the store who help you load your cars, lasts a week. During that time I watched videos on store safety, learned about credit plans, and took quizzes and evaluations to test my knowledge of store policy and procedure. I thought I’d be free of tests during the summer.
The Home Depot trains their employees so thoroughly for a reason - to help the customer. They are a resource to help you find what you need and to give advice on how to accomplish your home improvement goal, whether it’s as simple as knocking up a shelf or as ambitious as renovating your bathroom.
Knowing that, here are some pointers to make your next trip to The Home Depot as beneficial as possible.
Smart, but Not Know-It-Alls
As I had mentioned before, employees at The Home Depot are trained thoroughly about store policies in general. They are then assigned to their department, where they receive more relevant training to accomplish the tasks assigned to them. For instance, I was a Lot Associate. I was shown where lumber carts were supposed to go and instructed to offer my assistance to any customer who seemed in need. I was not shown how to install a light switch nor told about the virtues of PVC pipe vs. galvanized steel.
That said, I was told that when confronted with a question I did not know how to answer to find an employee who could. I was shown the layout of the store so that I could direct customers to where they needed to go. Just as I was instructed on all my relevant duties, the other associates are knowledgeable about their departments. Not every employee will know everything about the store, but they will be more than happy to find someone who can answer your questions.
This brings me to my next point. Associates at the Home Depot are…
Eager to Help
I worked during the summer. My typical day consisted of standing outside, in the heat, making myself available to customers who needed help. When there were no customers to help, I was, well, just waiting, usually occupying myself by corralling carts. My fellow Lot Associates and I looked for customers who seemed to need assistance just so we could have something to do.
While I cannot speak about the particular duties of other departments, I can safely assume that an employee would prefer engage with a customer to help him or her solve a problem rather than re-stock shelves or do an inventory.
Do NOT be Afraid to Ask
The main job of all Home Depot Associates is to help you. No project is too small and no question too simple. Asking an Associate for help gives them a refreshing reprieve from routine tasks. They will not judge you for not knowing what a stud finder is or how to use one (I didn’t until an associate showed me).
Remember, these are people just like you with their own hobbies and interests. Don’t be shy to ask for their opinion on tackling a particular project. You’d be surprised to find how many employees have dealt with the same issue and can offer you first-hand advice on how to resolve it.
From Happy Employee to Loyal Customer
I enjoyed my time working at The Home Depot, so much so that I go there first with any of my home improvement needs. Each trip only re-affirms my commitment to their service.
That summer I couldn’t wait to go to college. When I got there I couldn’t wait to get out of the dorms. I rented my first apartment with two of my friends during my junior year. This was a first for all of us, so, of course, we threw a housewarming party. The party was a smash success – emphasis on SMASH.
One of our guests, we never knew who, put a hole in the wall of one of our bedrooms – my bedroom. With critical reasoning skills honed by years of higher learning, my roommates decided that since the hole was in my room, it was my problem.
I measured the size of the hole and went to Home Depot. With the help of the associates, my trip took no more than five minutes. I got a dry wall repair kit as well as the required tools and supplies, all of which cost about twenty dollars. I followed the instructions given to me by the associate and patched the hole well enough for my roommates and I to get almost our entire security deposit refunded (minus the cost of paint thanks to my roommates’ bike scuffing the wall).
So, don’t be afraid to take advantage of the products and services The Home Depot has to offer. You never know when you may need it.
Got any home improvement tips or tricks? Feel free to share them below!
Chris McGillicuddy Chris McGillicuddy is an amateur chef, aspiring author, and independent filmmaker, so you can guess he knows a thing or two about finding deals and living on a budget.