In an effort to increase sales and enhance customer service, Home Depot is providing nursery certification classes for all its workers.
"This is all about sales and the customer," said Bob Jacobson, Home Depot’s senior director for live goods, in a news article from Reuters.
Home Depot’s nursery training program was developed with the University of Georgia’s agricultural college and Macquarium Intelligent Communications, an Atlanta-based agency that designs Web sites and computer training for companies.
The gardening program requires workers to take and pass eight two-hour interactive classes. The computer classes educate store employees on garden topics such as plant diseases, insect control and landscaping design.
According to the National Gardening Association, gardening is a growing U.S. pastime. Lawn and garden sales rose from $30.2 billion in 1998 to $38.4 billion in 2003. U.S. consumers on average spent $457 per household on their lawns and gardens last year. Therefore Home Depot is taking that information and running with it.
So many of the independent garden centers are known for their ability for customer service. Much of that service includes plant and insect diagnostics and landscape design. At this point Home Depot is adding this service to better assist in those services much like the independents do.
Employees who complete the training are given patches to wear that identify them as certified nursery consultants. The company has at least 35,000 lawn and garden workers. More than 1,700 employees have already been certified since classes began in February 2004.