True Value CEO John Hartmann Talks Marketing and Employee Training Strategies at AIMExpo 2015

ORLANDO, FL (FNN News) – Though the day officially kicked off at 10 a.m., Day 2 of AIMExpo 2015 at the Orange County Convention Center had two preceding events, one of which was a keynote talk by John Hartmann, President and CEO of True Value, in the Chapman Theatre. He shared with the audience the launch of a national customer service training initiative in July for the company’s retailers; and a thousand store associates have already completed the training to date. Hartmann said the company ran a pilot of the program in the Spring, and told FNN News that the feedback has been positive so far. “The feedback from our retailers has been terrific in terms of their ability to use the materials in a very common sense way with their associates not deviating too much time from the sales floor.”

Photo: J. WIllie David III/Florida National News.

Photo: J. WIllie David III/Florida National News.

In addition to improving customer service at each retail location, Hartmann is setting True Value’s sights on younger consumers ranging between twenty-five and thirty-five years old. He noted that people in his age group, fifties and up, are familiar with True Value and other national hardware store brands, but it is important to introduce new adults to True Value, especially given the research the company has accumulated from speaking with younger patrons of their stores. Two major contrasts younger customers noticed were True Value’s smaller property space—closer parking in proximity to the store, and polite, personal customer care. Hartmann wants to ensure True Value is able to serve the younger generation with the same excellence in which the company currently serves those consumers familiar with the brand.
During the audience Q&A, he explained the company’s strategy to reach the newer generation, which is more readily attached to its smartphones and the Internet. He mentioned the importance of having an online presence and admitted that a business cannot function without one at this point, if it intends to reach that market. “We’ve implemented a ship-to-store program,” he said. “Customers can place their orders online and pick their orders up in-store. We have direct-to-customer sales as well.”

Hartmann, a former FBI agent, was invited to speak at AIMExpo 2015 after his appearance on the hit reality show Undercover Boss. “I participated in this [show] back at the beginning of the year, and they saw in that that I was riding a dirt bike, and so they made the connection that I’m a big fan of motorsports.”

Ultimately, both the company’s marketing push and customer service initiatives speak to the common key to its success: serving people.

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