Volume 47, Issue 9 - November/December 2008

Secret Shopper

Out Kicking Tires
Employees at Little Rock Store Make the Grade
by Samantha Carpenter

National Home Centers on Chenal Parkway in Little Rock, Ark., was the most recent building materials retailer that was secret shopped. This time, I wasn’t flying solo. I took my husband, Jeff, and 11-week-old baby, Cora. I always feel it’s more believable if I don’t go in a store alone; I’m still waiting for someone to recognize me and bust me in the middle of my secret shop.

The store was easy to find on Chenal Parkway, and the parking lot was neat and clean. Upon entering the store, I was surprised to find that not only does National Home Centers sell building materials, but it also sells furniture. As we both perused the furniture, my husband spotted the rugs on the side wall of the store. Just as we walked toward them, Justin, a sales associate, came over and asked if he could help us find something.I

 said, “We really came in to look at windows,” and my husband chimed in with, “Really we are just out kicking tires.”

“The rugs seem to be reasonably priced,” I said to Justin who said that if I liked one of the rugs in a different color he could probably order it.

As we finished discussing different rug options with Justin, he walked us over to the window section and said that he would find Bill to help us in that area of the store, since windows were Bill’s specialty.

Bill introduced himself and asked what he could help us with.

We explained to him that we have a window in our house that inside the unit the springs are broken and it has been known to fall in. He told us that if we knew what kind of window it is, then we could replace the springs. 

“We don’t know what type of window it is, but we have a contractor friend who was looking for a replacement piece, but really we are just interested in replacing the entire unit,” I told him.

“What kind of window is it—vinyl, aluminum?” he asked. 

“It’s an aluminum window and an off-white color,” I said.

“What about low-E glass?” my husband asked, giving me a wink (he’s learning the door and window lingo). 

“The window is available with that,” he replied.

Bill said that he would get us pricing for the standard sizes in aluminum windows with low-E glass, and with that, he shook our hands and went to write up some quotes for us.

Since we did not have our exact window size, Bill worked the quote up to show us several standard window sizes and told Jeff that if our window was one of those standard sizes then the price quoted wouldn’t vary by much. Even while we waited for Bill to finish, every associate was attentive to our needs and made small talk about their kids or grandkids. A big part of making a sale is: make a connection with your customer, and the associates at National Home Centers did this by talking with us about Cora and their children. We’ve been in some stores where we’ve been totally ignored by everyone except the associate attending to us. 

We were both really impressed with National Home Centers in Little Rock. While this was a secret shopping experience, we do need to replace our window unit soon with the weather turning much cooler (we are losing a lot of energy through that window opening). We very well might buy from Bill at National Home Centers.  

Secret Shopper Report Card
National Home Centers Inc.
LOCATION: Little Rock, Ark. 

Store was Easy to Find-- A
Parking Lot was Clean-- A
Windows were Clean-- A
Greeted Upon Entering-- B
Store Aisles were Clear of Debris-- A
Neatness of Displays-- A
Employee Politeness-- A
Employee Appearance-- A
Employee Product Knowledge-- A
Store Experience Satisfaction-- A
Overall Grade-- A

A Excellent 
B Above Average 
C Average 
D Below Average 
F Unsatisfactory

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