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Pro's in the Big Box

9 July, 2019

Thinking Inside the Box

Pro Programs From the Big Chains

By Jerry Rabushka

You’ve probably driven by that new retail complex somewhere in your city where there’s a Lowe’s on one side of the street, a Home Depot on the other, and down the block is Menards. Your friendly independent is standing its ground where it’s been since 1922, and there’s a hardware or building supply store around the corner. With so many choices, how do you know which is best for you? Everyone says they’ve got the contractor in mind, but which contractor, and which mind? We asked some of the larger merchants to talk a little about the programs they have put into place especially for painting pros. Here’s what they said:

Bringing It Home

According to Home Depot, PRO Paint Merchant Tony Drew, one of the biggest impediments to you getting a project started is that it takes, on average, about 100 days for your customer to pick a color. That means if someone decides to paint on April Fools’ Day, they’re likely still dithering about color at the July 4th parade.

To help, Home Depot’s Project Color app is designed to alleviate color-choice anxiety so pros can get to work faster. “Project Color helps customers find the perfect paint color for their interior and exterior paint project,” said Drew. “The app brings realistic visuals to them through exclusive patented technology. It ensures they feel confident about the color they’re choosing by allowing them to see that color in their space before purchasing paint. Whether inspired by a room, a picture or a pin, Project Color gives homeowners the confidence they are color matching and picking the perfect color.”

This success trickles up to the contractor, he adds, because when customers are confident in their color selection, you can be confident that when you order a batch of custom-tinted paint that they won’t change their mind and send it all back – but you still might want them to see a wall before you coat up the whole house. “You can learn more about Project Color by downloading the app or by speaking with a Home Depot Pro desk associate,” said Drew.

Of course, color’s just the beginning; Home Depot has more programs and resources to help contractors save that dynamic duo of time and money.

  • PRO Xtra: This loyalty program lets members save up to 20 % on paints, stains and primers, including brands such as Behr.
  • Superior Service: Take advantage of bulk pricing, commercial credit, expanded assortment, tool rental, and express delivery.
  • Color Matching: Home Depot keeps track of your color matches, so if you need to pick up paint from multiple locations, they’ll have your formulas at the ready.
  • Delivery Services: The company has invested in a five-year expansion of its delivery services so you can get product when and where you need it. This includes express same-day and next-day local delivery for more than 20,000 of its most popular items to 35 major metros across the U.S.

The Highs of Lowe’s

Speaking of customers who take forever to pick color, one thing you don’t want to do is stand in line behind three of them when you need to get to the job site. Lowe’s has made a strong effort to make sure you can get taken care of quickly while saving time and money. “Our stores now have dedicated pro loaders and management-level supervisors responsible solely for pro sales and service in every U.S. store,” the company reports. “To get in and out faster, you can take advantage of designated parking spots located near the pro desk at many of our stores.” That saves you the time, now about the money: “When using a Lowe’s Business Account, pros can save 5% every day and receive $20 truck delivery.”

Lowe’s has also stepped up efforts to have the pro products you need when you need them. “Lowe’s is continuing to invest in job lot quantities to ensure that we have the inventory depth at our stores to meet pro customer needs. We’ve added more inventory in heavily pro-purchased products like applicators, 5-gallon pails, primers, and contractor packs of tape and caulk,” they told us. “We’re also testing new assortments across the department, including pro-grade paint sprayers and painter’s whites.”

It’s also helpful to be able to access a paint professional who knows what they’re talking about, and Lowe’s is working on that as well. “We are training and scheduling associates in a way that’s tailored to the needs of the pro, such as early morning shifts; we’re also implementing color/data capture for faster ordering. Our stores have knowledgeable associates in both the paint department and the pro department who can provide you with the information you need for projects and purchases every day. We also have Project Specialist Exterior (PSE) consultants available to help with outdoor projects. Lowe’s will continue making additional investments in growing its paint business in 2019 and 2020,” they concluded.

Called to (Contractor) Account

Menards has a lot of ways a pro painter can get the job started – and finished. “When you need it now, come to Menards and count on our team for fast and dependable service all day long. Menards has a wide variety of national paint brands including Pittsburgh Paints, Dutch Boy, Rust-Oleum, Conco and more,” said the company, who put a small team of experts together to answer our questions. “Menards has everything a pro painter will need to complete the job including paint, stain, removers, brushes, applicators, sealants, ladders and more.” Menards has more than 300 stores throughout the Midwest, from Ohio to Wyoming, Missouri to Minnesota.

Conco Paint, available exclusively at Menards, offers the following benefits in its Professional Paint Program:

  • Complete line of primers, topcoats and a variety of specialty products.
  • Competitive pricing from the first gallon purchase, with no set purchase amounts necessary to receive value pricing.
  • Support from an experienced Conco factory field rep who will come directly to a job site, estimate the work, recommend products, provide specs and do whatever it takes to make your work easier.
  • Delivery directly to a job site seven days a week.
  • Custom color matching at Menards.
  • File management at Menards that records the paint color and quantity for a specific job and keeps it on file for future reference.

Conco is a 90-year-old brand that offers a complete range of products for the professional. “Whether you’re looking for hide and touch-up on apartments, scrubbability on custom homes, or durability in extreme weather conditions, Conco has a product designed especially for you,” says the coating company’s website.

Along with the increased depth of in store inventory, there is even more product available online. “You can visit menards.com to set up a business account and learn more about services and products,” the company encourages. “When ordering online using the Menards app, products can be ready for pickup at the store when you arrive, getting you back to work faster.”

Menards makes it easy to buy, and just as important, easy to save. “We have several financing options available, including the Big Card, the Contractor Card and a Commercial Account, all designed for professionals and businesses. Menards also offers great savings on your purchases, including a 2% quarterly rebate for your company by setting up a Menards Contractor Account. It’s fast and easy,” they tell us, “just log in to the website, click on credit center/programs at the top of the screen and fill out the application.”

Before you buy for that job, of course, you need to get the job to begin with, and Menards can help you get the word out. “Contractors can promote their business free of charge in our Installer Centers,” they said.

Do you love or hate the big boxes? Have experiences with any of these services? Write in to editorial@paintmag.com with your stories.

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