Scott Jerousek has turned outdoor power equipment into a pillar department at his two Farm & Home Hardware stores in Ohio.
During a downturn in the housing market more than a decade ago, Scott Jerousek, owner of Farm & Home Hardware, identified an opportunity to continue growing his business—outdoor power equipment (OPE). He quickly discovered he had a natural intuition for identifying the brands and products most likely to sell, which he complements with extensive research and an eye for up-and-coming trends like battery-powered, hand-held equipment.
In addition to a solid product mix, the following four strategies have helped grow the OPE department at Farm & Home Hardware’s stores in Ashland and Wellington, Ohio, through the years:
1. Parts and service — By servicing the OPE products they sell and carrying on-hand parts for repairs, Farm & Home Hardware has earned the confidence of younger shoppers who need a local, trusted expert.
2. Female-friendly — Female sales associates and service representatives make the store, and specifically the OPE department, welcoming to female shoppers.
3. Extended hours — Extended hours of operation, including weekends, make shopping for and owning OPE products more convenient.
4. Google ads — Since scaling back on print advertising in favor of digital ads, Jerousek has seen a significant increase in both store traffic and OPE sales.
With a decade of experience under his belt, Farm & Home Hardware is a prime example of how growth in OPE is possible with imagination, intuition, insight—and more than a little elbow grease. Read on to learn more insights into OPE success from Jerousek and Farm & Home Hardware.
Repairing what they sell has been a game changer for Farm & Home Hardware.
Having OPE parts in stock is a huge advantage for Farm & Home Hardware.
What made you identify OPE as a growth category?
Jerousek: Farm & Home Hardware has sold outdoor power from the inception of the business in 1960. Over the years we had success but looked at the department as a troublesome child. At the scale we operated it was not possible to have personnel dedicated to sales, service, assembly and delivery. So, over the years we muddled in OPE, thinking it would be a dealership-based business that we could not compete with. Then in the mid ‘90s the national big-box retailers started to spring up in our trading area. Outdoor power was a key department in their product offering. That started the transition of customer shopping habits by shifting a good portion of buying away from the dealership model. They started looking at OPE as a product and not a committed/service after the purchase product. Dealerships in our area were run by great people but had not continued to evolve with the times. By 2007 most dealerships continued to struggle competing with the boxes and this gave us an opportunity to adjust to the needs of our customers.
Our customers were looking for something more. I looked at this as an opportunity to refine our business model and commit to being one of the best in the industry by developing departments we could compete directly with national retails in. We chose these “pillar” departments carefully, by looking at opportunities with service as a backbone. OPE is one of those “pillar” departments.
The store has focused on becoming a female-friendly shopping destination.