Case exercise: Build-It home improvement stores, Sweden
Bert Nystrom was the managing director of Build-It AB, a chain of do-it-yourself (DIY) stores across Sweden. The Build-It concept was modelled on the same lines as the American company, Home Depot, but didn’t seem to enjoy the same level of success. This was frustrating given that home improvement is the number one use of disposable income. That said, it is clear that customers are expecting a great deal from their home improvement stores, not least because DIY is so important in their lives.
Bert observed customers leaving his stores and, although they were spending money, they didn’t seem to be delighted with the service or with their purchases. Routine customer satisfaction surveys didn’t really give much insight, suggesting customers were satisfied, but not delighted, with Build-It. However, there was no consistent message as to what Build-It should do to improve the satisfaction scores.
He decided to talk to some of the customers in the store to try to understand what they were really looking for and to get some clues as to whether Build-It was delivering what they wanted.
Jenny Soderstrom said:
It’s OK here, but I feel intimidated by the store – there’s so much stuff, I don’t know what I need and haven’t a clue about how to use it. Everyone else looks so competent, able to explain exactly what they need, that I feel a bit pathetic in asking for help about how to mend a leaking tap! More often than not, I give up and leave the store without buying anything, feeling pretty bad, and reluctantly deciding to pay someone else to do this for me. This isn’t what I want, but it seems to be the only thing I can do.
Marcus Wallenberg added:
My wife and I have invested a great many krona in improving our home. We spent years creating our perfect home. Every time we go to Build-It we set off with a picture of what we’re trying to achieve in our minds. It’s not just the end result that’s important, but knowing that we’ve been a part of its creation gives us such a buzz, so going to Build-It is part of this. It’s a real mixture of experiences for us. Sometimes we’re delighted with the service we receive, we get exactly what we need to complete our latest project and we know what we need to do to make it happen.
Unfortunately, not every visit to Build-It is this good. Sometimes we would like to take time to discuss different options with someone who knows what can be done. Unfortunately, some employees are neither competent nor at all interested in our projects. It feels like they want to take our money and get rid of us as quickly as possible.
Frederik Åberg commented:
I’m a self-employed craftsman. I’ve been building house extensions and carrying out small building work for 20 years. I know what I want when I go to Build-It and I need to get in, get served, and get back to work. I need bigger quantities than the general public, slicker service, and I don’t want to have to have to wait to be served because employees are discussing simple projects with people who simply don’t know what they’re doing.
Bert Nystrom was beginning to realise that Build-It was a long way from matching the promise of Home Depot, which seems to be able to deliver on their advertising line of ‘You can do it – we can help.’ Home Depot seemed to be so much more than simply a DIY store where customers went to buy wood, nails, paint and tools. Another of Home Depot’s customer objectives is to ‘teach the skills to build your dreams and your dream home’. Bert was pondering how to turn these nice advertising slogans into something that could be delivered in his Build-It stores.
Identify and develop the service concepts that Bert Nystrom should deliver in Build-It stores.
What operational challenges does he face in delivering these services?
This is the book reference
Johnston, R., Clark, G. (2008). Service operations management: Improving service delivery (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. ISBN: 9781405847322.