Ace Hardware goes Thanksgrilling in customer service strategy

It’s Thanksgiving time, at least at Ace Hardware stores this Thanksgiving, as the hardware retailer not only aims to help customers find what they need in terms of holiday gear and products, but also when it comes to organizing the festival.

According to a poll by Ace Hardware, over three-quarters of Americans will be hosting or attending a turkey celebration this year, and just 17% plan to quarantine — a huge drop from 40% in 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Beginning November 20, stores across the country will host unique Thanksgiving events, including classes in turkey roasting and other grilled foods. Cooks who can’t stop by the stores can access grilling recipe videos and even a prep cookbook with host chef Jason Morse on the Ace Hardware website.

The Thanksgrilling effort, which has been taking place in stores for a number of years, has several goals. The first is to help those who might be a bit rusty in Thanksgiving cooking and those intrepid turkey grillers and those who love to smoke turkey outdoors.

The second, according to Jeff Gooding, vice president at Ace Hardware, the largest hardware cooperative owned by retailers with more than 5,400 local and operated hardware stores in approximately 70 countries, is deeper collaboration with new and familiar customers.

“Our local Ace stores have been hosting how-to and demo events for their customers for years, and grilling tips and tricks have always been a big part of that. We created Thanksgiving a few years ago to help consumers think beyond the oven to learn and enjoy the awesomeness that a turkey and the whole Thanksgiving meal can be when grilled for friends and family ” he told Retail Customer Experience in an email interview.

The retailer’s mantra is to be known as a ‘helpful place’ and customers are accustomed to personal service from store associates.

“Occasionally we will go all out at the same time as themed events in stores nationally, really leveraging the knowledge of our local experts to increase the joy, fun and helpful learning for our customers. Our signature help is a key reason Ace Hardware has received JD Power’s highest rating for customer satisfaction in 14 of the last 15 years,” said Gooding.

Part of Thanksgrilling is ensuring employees have the product knowledge and experience that consumers are increasingly expecting.

The store associate, Gooding said, is key to why people shop at Ace stores.

“Their local knowledge and expertise keeps their neighbors coming back for any home maintenance project, and they know they can get good advice and service on larger purchases like grills. One of the many things that further sets Ace apart from our employees is the training they undergo on an ongoing basis. Grilling is no different. We run BBQ boot camp training for our store associates to constantly learn the latest and greatest in grilling and grilling so they can pass that knowledge on to their customers every day,” he said.

For larger barbecue events like Thanksgiving and the retailer’s spring barbecue, many stores will bring in local chefs and barbecue experts to work with to enhance the customer experience, he added.

Customers who can’t stop by in-store can get the same set of resources at Ace’s e-commerce site, which includes BBQ recipe videos and a playbook for preparing a complete holiday feast hosted by Chef Jason Morse becomes.

Once Thanksgrilling is complete, the retailer will focus on ensuring customer retention during the holiday gift-giving season.

On December 4, participating stores will be hosting a gift and BBQ party from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m

“This event will feature grill sales and a range of great gifts such as Milwaukee, Craftsman and DeWalt power tools, Ego and Stihl outdoor power tools, Yeti products and of course the best grills from Weber, Traeger and Big Green Egg. Ace is the destination for quality gifts and the best brands in the industry for the DIY enthusiast in your life,” said Gooding.

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