Ace Hardware Ranks Highest in Customer Satisfaction by J.D. Power Ten Years in a Row

OAK BROOK, Ill., June 7, 2016 – The J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Home Improvement Retailer Store Satisfaction StudySM ranked Ace Hardware “Highest in Customer Satisfaction among Home Improvement Retail Stores” for the tenth year in a row. Ace has captured this ranking every year since J. D. Power began surveying the home improvement industry ten years ago.

The J.D. Power study is based on responses from nearly 2,995 consumers who purchased home improvement products or services in the previous 12 months. Ace Hardware ranked highest among major retailers with an overall satisfaction index score of 810 on a 1,000-point scale. According to consumers, Ace performs particularly well in the categories of staff and service, as well as store facility.

The score is based on performance in five areas: merchandise, price, sales and promotions, staff and service, and store facility.

“Given the impressive list of retailers with which we compete, in no way do we take our tenth consecutive J.D. Power award for granted,” said John Venhuizen, President and CEO, Ace Hardware Corporation. “My grateful and sincere thanks goes to the consumers who have honored us with this award, the Ace team who never ceases to amaze me and most importantly, our frontline, red-vested heroes who so passionately serve our customers.”

In 2015, Ace Hardware launched the Ace Center for Excellence, a division created to help businesses and organizations around the world improve upon their customer experience utilizing Ace’s award winning approach. Through keynotes and workshops, the Ace Center for Excellence shares the strategies and principles that help leaders cultivate, and team members to contribute to, a culture of customer service that exceeds the consumer’s evolving expectations of helpfulness. For more information, visit www.acecenterforexcellence.com.

About Ace Hardware
For more than 90 years, Ace Hardware has been known as the place with the helpful hardware folks in thousands of neighborhoods across America, providing customers with a more personal kind of helpful. In 2016, Ace ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Home Improvement Retail Stores, Ten Years in a Row,” according to J.D. Power. With more than 4,800 hardware stores locally owned and operated across the globe, Ace is the largest retailer-owned hardware cooperative in the world. Headquartered in Oak Brook, Ill., Ace and its subsidiaries currently operate 17 distribution centers in the U.S. and also have distribution capabilities in Ningbo, China; Colon, Panama; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Its retailers’ stores are located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and approximately 60 countries. For more information on Ace, visit www.acehardware.com.

Disclaimer: Ace Hardware received the highest numerical score among retail stores in the proprietary J.D. Power 2016 Home Improvement Retail Store StudySM. Study based on responses from 2,995 consumers measuring six stores and opinions of consumers who purchased a home improvement product or service within the previous 12 months. Proprietary study results are based on experiences and perceptions of consumers surveyed January-February 2016. Your experiences may vary. Visit jdpower.com

Media Contact:
Anna Wyrwas
630-990-2065
awyrw@acehardware.com

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Ace Hardware Celebrates its Local Entrepreneurs and Their 2015 Accomplishments

Ace Center for ExcellenceOAK BROOK, Ill., Dec. 30, 2015 – Ace Hardware Corporation, the largest retailer-owned hardware cooperative in the world, could not be more proud of its locally owned retailers and the impressive number of awards and accolades they received in 2015. These small business owners continue to advance Ace Hardware as a globally trusted, locally embraced brand.

Outlined below are highlights of the awards and rankings Ace Hardware received across the industry in 2015.

  • Ace ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Home Improvement Retail Stores, Nine Years in a Row,” according to J.D. Power*
  • Ace ranked No. 2 on CareerBliss’ list of “happiest retailers to work for in 2015”
  • Ace ranked No. 24 on the National Retail Federation’s STORES Magazine’s Hot 100 List, ranking the nation’s fastest-growing retailers by year-over-year domestic sales growth
  • Ace ranked No. 6 on the Franchise Times Top 200 List, ranking the fastest-growing franchise opportunities in the nation
  • Ace was named “America’s Favorite Home Improvement Store” by a Market Force study
  • Ace Hardware ranked No. 3 in a customer survey by RetailCustomerExperience.com, outpacing all other home improvement stores

Click here to view the full press release.

Looking forward to 2016 and all that the Ace team will accomplish together. Happy New Year!

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The CEO OF Ace® Hardware on Leadership

THE CEO OF ACE® HARDWARE ON LEADERSHIP

John Venhuizen, CEO of Ace Hardware, was recently interviewed by Dan Rockwell on the topic of Leadership. The interview was included on Dan’s blog called “Leadership Freak”. Below is the introduction to the post.

“I asked the CEO of the largest home improvement franchise company in the world, Ace Hardware, what others saw in him as a leader. He started talking about definitions.

Three Definitions of Leadership:
1. Leaders take people where they could not go on their own.
2. “Leaders rally people toward a better future.” Marcus Buckingham
3. Leaders galvanize people to want to do what must be done.

Leaders instigate forward-facing movement. You have to go somewhere to lead. You aren’t just taking a walk.”

Click here to read the full article and hear John’s own words.

 

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Ace Center for Excellence Celebrates National Customer Service Week

In celebration of National Customer Service Week October 5 – 9, here’s a few of our best customer service practices:

Ace Center for Excellence Customer ServiceAct like you own the place.

If you want your associates to provide amazing service to your customers – then you’ll need them to think and act like owners.  Which means you need to share information about your business with your team, including the numbers.  The more they know, the more they’ll understand.  The more they understand, the more they’ll care.  And once they care – there’s no stopping them.

Ace Center for Excellence Customer Service Strive to be the best place to buy and the best place to work.

Your associates will either fulfill or break your brand promise.  If you want promise keepers; you need to be an employer of choice – not the last resort – for them.

Ace Center for Excellence Customer Service Defend the culture of your brand and company.

Arguably the most important role of the leader of any business is to be the creator and keeper of the culture.  When you create a steady culture, you create consistency for the customer, which keeps them coming back!

Ace Center for Excellence Customer Service  Don’t leave customer loyalty to chance.

Luck is not a strategy.  Operationalize your customer experience without compromising the personality and individuality of your team that sets you apart from your competitors.

Ace Center for Excellence Customer Service  Connect effective training to your brand promise.

You cannot expect what you don’t instruct.  Always engage your employees in training because when they care more about the brand, they will inevitably care more about your customers.
Wired Market features Ace Center for Excellence Celebrating National Customer Service Week. Click here to see some award-winning customer service tips. - See more at: http://www.acecenterforexcellence.com/industry_recognition.php

Wired Market features Ace Center for Excellence Celebrating National Customer Service Week. Click here to view the full press release.

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Ten Tips to Build Stronger Customer Engagement

Ten Tips to Build Stronger Customer Engagement

1. Customers are just like you: Remember that your customers are no different than you. They’re people who happen to use tools, not tool users who happen to be people.
2. Familiarity breeds respect: Put yourself in situations where you meet people in your community you wouldn’t otherwise.
3. Walk on the other side: Buy several magazines you typically don’t read. Watch a TV show you’ve heard people talk about but you’ve never seen for yourself.
4. Hone your sense of adventure: Do something this weekend you’ve never done before. Nurture your relentless curiosity.
5. Look a little deeper: Watch the people coming into your store and notice the details. Then ask yourself, “What’s the insight? What should I keep doing, or do differently in my business?”
6. Generate new ideas: Explain your insights to someone else, watch their reactions, and listen to what they say. What ideas come up?
7. Look through a different lens: When you meet someone you don’t like or can’t understand, ask yourself, “what does life look like from their perspective?”
8. Find the fun in every customer: Develop your ability to get a kick out each and every person you meet. People are never ordinary.
9. Cultivate that sense of connection: Ask yourself, “would I be willing to spend an evening with my customers?” If not, you need to do some work to be able to do this in the near future.
10. Find your trick for recharging energy and love what you do … every day! If customers bore you (for more than a day or two), recall the first customer you helped. Remember the fun? Recapture that magic!

Customer relationships need continuous work.  As one of our Ace retailers shared with me, it takes a lifetime to build a customer relationship and it can take just one poor experience to lose that customer.  Remember, a more engaged customer is a more profitable customer. How engaged are your customers? I encourage you to apply one or more of the tips above to re-energize your focus on customer engagement.

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Your Employees Have Something to Say, Be Ready to Listen

Across the nation, research has shown that only three out of ten employees are actively engaged. These three employees are the ones who strive to go above and beyond what is asked of them, who plan to stay with your business. These are your advocates with your customers and in the community. But this leaves seven out of ten of your employees who are either ambivalent (going through the motions) or actively dis-engaged (rooting against your business’s success).

Ouch.

So how can we engage employees? How can we increase those three engaged employees to four, five or even higher? How much more successful could your business become if one more employee was actively engaged?

Actions taken to improve employee engagement will vary by company, organization size and culture. But there are certain things all companies with highly engaged employees do on a regular basis.

1. They listen to their employees. Engagement surveys or feedback mechanisms allow employees to provide their perspective on what’s occurring, what positively drives their behavior and what doesn’t.  It also provides organizations with a way to determine what might be different by role, by performance group or other key factor.
2. They continually express appreciation. Employees’ contributions aren’t always grandiose gestures, but often small ones such as covering for an employee who was sick or going the extra mile for a customer who needed assistance. Great companies acknowledge those efforts. Consider a hand-penned note when an employee goes above and beyond or a free lunch when an employee provides an innovative idea.  What else might be meaningful to employees in your organization?
3. They communicate! If you don’t explain the “why” to your employees, they will fill in the blanks and often inaccurately. Employees need to understand what’s expected of them and how these expectations are critical to the success of the organization. Remember: everyone likes to feel part of something and creating this sense of collaboration is easier when communication channels are clear.

Are you ready to engage your employees? Start by listening to what they have to say.

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Who comes first: employees or customers?

Ace Center for Excellence

I can almost hear many of you shaking your heads and thinking the answer to this is a no-brainer. If you’re a customer service-focused organization – of course customers come first! And you would be right. For most of us, without customers, our businesses would not thrive.

But then again, I bet many of you would argue that, without engaged employees, you couldn’t provide the amazing customer-service that has your customers returning again and again.

So which should be our primary focus, the employee or the customer? Sounds a lot like the old chicken-and-egg question to me.

The truth is that employee engagement and customer engagement are intricately linked in an endless cycle. Think of it this way. When your employees’ aren’t engaged, they don’t provide an amazing customer experience. When your customers aren’t engaged, they don’t return to your store and your employees won’t have a job.

Without a doubt, we can all agree that making both employees and customers a priority is critical to your ongoing success. As leaders, we need to understand what motivates employees to go above and beyond to help us succeed. It also helps in understanding how to create an amazing customer experience for your customers.

To boil it down to the eggshell; without eggs there are no chickens and without chickens there are no eggs. Both are necessary and, honestly, it’s hard not to love both. Why not take the same approach to employees and customers in your business? And if you agree you need to do this, but just aren’t sure where to start, contact the Ace Center for Excellence today for more information.

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What do all these words have in common?

Ace Center for Excellence can help your business to be more successful

These are all ways that the Ace Center for Excellence can help your business to be more successful.
1. Inspire individuals of all levels to lead and realize the collective impact they can have on your business.

2. Increase employee engagement and retention by becoming the best place to work.

3. Help your employees learn how amazing every customer every time is actually possible.

4. Build a culture around a customer-first mindset.

5. Develop an action plan on how to operationalize and improve customer service in your business.

6. Adopt proven customer service tools from Shep Hyken’s book featuring Ace Hardware.Amaze Every Customer Every Time - SHep Hyken

7. Elevate your company from good to amazing by implementing Ace Hardware’s customer service philosophy.

8. Learn how to consistently amaze customers by delivering stellar service.

9. Engage your employees – when they care more, they deliver more to your customers and to your bottom line.

10. Connect effective training to your brand promise – you can’t expect what you don’t instruct.

The Ace Center for Excellence’s goal is to teach other companies, and we would love to help your business be more successful. Contact us today, and let’s begin the conversation.

Dana Larsen
Director, Ace Center for Excellence

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