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3 Ways to Improve Your Plumbing Category

A core category, plumbing may not be considered the most inspiring area of your salesfloor. However, investing in categories that are regular traffic-drivers can lead to more knowledgeable team members, which creates more satisfied customers and increased sales. Hardware Retailing spoke with Michael Gillette, the manager of plumbing, hardware and fasteners at McGuckin Hardware located in Boulder, Colorado, about how he ensures the store’s plumbing department meets the needs of a diverse set of customers.

Service and Experience

In the plumbing department at McGuckin Hardware, customers rely on the expertise of employees, which includes a certified master plumber with over 40 years of industry experience and another employee who has been working in plumbing at McGuckin for more than 23 years. Their knowledge, paired with an elite customer service team who is ready and able to answer questions, makes an impression and builds trust, Gillette says. “Once that trust is built, the next time the customer has a problem, they come back to us,” Gillette says. “We have customers who have learned employee schedules because they appreciate and trust them so much.”

Finding a Balance

McGuckin Hardware serves a variety of contractors and DIYers at different income levels, which makes product mix tricky, Gillette says. The store stocks the basics along with commercial fittings, sprinkler systems and specialized fittings, and he says it is important to sell more than just new parts, but also items for older products like a 50-year-old faucet. “We are also really special-order friendly,” Gillette says. “If a customer or contractor wants to bring in a specific product or part, and I think there is enough demand, I go ahead and start stocking it.”

Creativity Is Key

While there is little change in the plumbing department and the products aren’t often exciting to customers, Gillette says he and his team make an effort to promote what is new and merchandise it well. Gillette also supports constant experimentation and encourages his team to come to him with new ideas on how to merchandise products and create interesting displays. “I have one team member right now trying to pitch a bidet Christmas display to me,” Gillette says. “He is still working on selling me on it and fleshing out the idea, but having this openness and idea generation is important and gives us an edge.”

About Lindsey Thompson

Lindsey joined the NHPA staff in 2021 as an associate editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. A native of Ohio, Lindsey earned a B.S. in journalism and minors in business and sociology from Ohio University. She loves spending time with her husband, two kids, two cats and one dog, as well as doing DIY projects around the house, going to concerts, boating and cheering on the Cleveland Indians.

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