A thriving business in one of the most beautiful spots in Australia continues to set itself apart.
Margaret River Home Timber & Hardware has been operating since 1984. Today the business is a thriving member of its local community and has earned a reputation across Western Australia for its trade and retail excellence.
It’s certainly a stunning location, with some of the world’s best surf right next door to world-class wineries. The original store was located on the main street of town, but as the town grew and the volume of sales grew with it, the business was relocated to a larger site on Station Street.
The store, which is owned by Lloyd and Anne Shepherdson, is led by store manager Paul Brown and general manager Noelene Willcox. Together with a tight-knit team, the business has grown and prospered in the face of competition – firstly from Mitre 10 and then Bunnings. A key part of the business’s success is its continued aim to ‘act local’ and offer a true point of difference that sets Margaret River Home Timber & Hardware apart from its competitors.
“When I first started here about seven years ago, I realised we didn’t have a garden centre,” Brown says. “We catered for trade and weren’t interested in the DIY/female aspect. So I created a garden centre which changed our clientele – that was a big success. From there we opened a home improvement centre in a new building, as we needed the space to showcase what we do. Then we got into flat pack kitchens and wood heaters and now we’ve got seven kitchens on display and one laundry, we’re a Weber specialist dealership, and then about 18 months ago we opened a bathroom centre as well.”
HOME IMPROVEMENT CENTRE
The idea is to consistently reinvest in both store and staff to ensure the business offers a convenient and easy shopping environment, setting a new standard in home improvement retailing in the region with the delivery of a “one-stop shop” offer for all customers’ home, timber, paint, garden, gas, hardware and building material needs.
“We want to be able to say that you can come here and source everything you need,” Brown says. “We have a trade reward program, and we find that to be a really good tool for when we’re quoting – the builder gets rewarded for supporting us. We’re trying to give something back to the builders for supporting us.
“Our Home Improvement centres cater for our builders, because they don’t have display showrooms. They can send their clients in to us to choose what they want. So it supports our builders and the DIY renovators as well. Right now we’re the number one in kitchen sales in Australia for flat pack kitchens in the Independent Hardware Group.
“Bunnings do flat pack kitchens, but we think, if you’re going to do something you do it well – we don’t just put it into a hardware store and let it gather dust. We’ve also got a team of four fantastic kitchen designers, which I think is another reason we’re so successful.”
The store also makes strong use of digital media as major communication tool to connect with its customer base, with an extensive website and Facebook page.
“With our website you can see all different sections of our store, and we also use Facebook to promote our store with online videos and to take people through our centres, and also to promote specials.” Brown says. “We don’t sit still; we’re always driving the store.”
Margaret River Home Timber & Hardware’s DIY Rewards HTH loyalty program is another strong sales driver with over 12,000 members. And the business also invests heavily in the community, supporting local sporting groups and charities.
“We sponsor quite a number of things,” Brown says. “We have a Rotary Book in our town, which is basically a local bible with all trades and services listed. We’re the major sponsor for that. We also do weekly sausage sizzles for sporting groups or clubs. We donate all the food and all they do is come on the day and cook the sausages and everything they make is clear profit. We also support the local clubs by donating raffle prizes and new jerseys, and are a major sponsor for the Margaret River bowling club. So we’re pretty heavily involved in the community.”
The team’s community-minded approach saw the business win an Excellence in the Community award at the Margaret River Region Business Awards in 2016.
As the business continues to grow and flourish, Brown and his team are always looking for new ways to grow and improve.
“We’re always trying to think outside the square,” he says. “Our major challenge at the moment is to maintain our business and our builders, as it’s quite an aggressive market out there.”
Staff development is a key part of the business’s success, with online training modules offered through the Independent Hardware Group that offer training on all aspects of hardware.
“We also hold regular training days with suppliers,” Brown says. “If a sales rep comes in, I don’t just want them to sell me a product; I want them to come in to do some training as well. The more we know about your product the better we are at selling it.”
This dedication to constant improvement has seen the business win a slew of awards. Just recently the store won 2017 WA Home Timber & Hardware Trade Store of the Year, and in 2013 they were named National HTH Trade Store of the Year.
“That was a massive accolade,” Brown says. “And this was only possible because of the fantastic staff we’ve got in this team. I could have all the ideas in the world, but if I don’t have a team underneath me it wouldn’t happen. They make it happen.”
For more information, go to margaretriverhomehardware.com.au