The Home Depot®, Atlanta, has been in the rental business for 25 years and currently has about 1,300 locations across the U.S. and Canada. To help supply Pro rental customers with additional inventory, the company also has four rental operations facilities (ROFs) across the U.S. including locations in Houston and Nashville — which opened earlier this year — as well as Greater New Orleans and Los Angeles, which opened in 2019 and 2020 respectively. In addition, The Home Depot Rental recently launched its Rent Online, Pick-up In Store technology for tools earlier this summer, a service available in more than 1,100 locations.
Tim Dugan, senior director of rental operations, The Home Depot, recently spoke with Rental Management on how ROFs fit into the company’s expansion plans and more. An edited version of the interview follows.
Rental Management: Where did the idea come from to launch ROFs?
Tim Dugan: We introduced Rental Operations Facilities in 2019 to streamline operations, expand to larger-class fleet and improve the delivery process.
Rental Management: What impact have they had in just two years?
Dugan: We listened to our customer base, especially our Pro customers, when we developed the first ROF and it has proven to be right in line with customer expectations to deliver the most comprehensive rental solutions for their needs. The rental business is part of our One Home Depot solution, and we continuously seek ways to enhance the customer experience for all their jobs, large and small.
Rental Management: ROFs are not open to the public so how do they benefit the rental customer?
Dugan: ROFs benefit rental customers by making a broader assortment of heavier equipment available via delivery for large-scale construction. This equipment is larger than the towable equipment typically found in the parking lots at The Home Depot stores to meet the needs of our Pro customers.
Rental Management: Are there plans to open additional ROFs?
Dugan: We are continuing to expand ROF locations with new facilities expected in Atlanta and Dallas later this year as well as new Rental Centers across the North American footprint with focus on general tools, trucks, trailers and large equipment.
Rental Management: How do these facilities fit in with The Home Depot Rental expansion plans?
Dugan: ROFs give us the ability to supplement the depth and breadth of the tools, trucks and large equipment available in our rental locations. Growth offers opportunities to identify new ways to serve our DIY and Pro customers and operationally, ROFs enhance our associates’ ability to service customers through advanced repair, delivery and expanded rental solutions.
Rental Management: Are there plans to open additional rental locations in 2021?
Dugan: The Home Depot plans to continue growing our rental footprint. Our customers are asking, and we are listening to serve their needs, just as we have in the past.
Rental Management: How do you think ROFs might give you a competitive advantage?
Dugan: The Home Depot Rental is expanding available solutions via the quantity, size and scale at ROFs including:
- Delivery — Making delivering large equipment more timely.
- Maintenance — Continuous upkeep of equipment to minimize breakdowns and lost time.
- Inventory — Optimizing the fleet via new equipment categories and product depth.
- Expanded offerings — Complementing the retail experience through assortment of rental options.
- Service — Delivering best-in-class customer service in line with The Home Depot’s expectations.
Rental Management: How is The Home Depot Rental preparing for post-coronavirus recovery?
Dugan: The Home Depot is considered an essential retailer and followed the direction set by The Home Depot’s leadership team to ensure a safe rental experience for all throughout 2020. We were fortunate to remain open throughout the pandemic and stayed on track safely opening 10 new rental locations and one ROF location in 2020. Through the commitment of leadership and the dedication of associates, we adjusted and were able to overcome challenges to continue to grow while also prioritizing a safe experience.
Rental Management: How does the company expect 2021 to look compared to 2020?
Dugan: We will continue to prioritize our customers. As we interface with them day-in and day-out, we are continuing to be agile and responsive to their needs. We are being thoughtful about the future and prepared to serve the needs of Pro customers. Whether it’s entering into new markets and growing our footprint to 1,300 locations to be the most convenient option, providing new products and technology or introducing new vehicle rental and moving solutions, we listen, adapt and deliver.