Big-box home improvement stores spent years targeting consumers who wanted to do their own repairs and home improvement projects. Now, both Lowe’s Companies Inc. and The Home Depot Inc. are going after professional contractors. To attract this business, they are offering special programs designed to meet the needs of people who do this work for a living.

Lowe’s recently introduced its MVPs Rewards and Partnership Program. According to the company’s State of the Pros survey, nearly 90% of home improvement professionals say it’s important for retailers to have loyalty programs. The survey also found professionals want retailers to help them solve their problems.

Lowe’s MVPs Pro Rewards became available in select regions in January, scheduled to roll out nationwide on March 7. Lowe’s MVPs Pro Rewards offers benefits for new and existing loyalty members. This includes access to business resources to help handle back-of-house operations. According to the State of the Pros survey, 22% of contractors find administrative tasks a major challenge.

The program also offers several rewards, ranging from the small to the very large. At the lower end, program participants earn electronic gift cards on eligible purchases made both in-store and online. There are also free snacks and drinks available at the stores. At the higher end, program participants are entered for the chance to win prizes such as a Ford F-series truck. Contractors can track and claim rewards online or using a mobile app.

“We’re deepening our partnership with Pro customers because when they succeed, we succeed,” said Tony Hurst, Lowe’s senior vice president of Pro, services and international. “Lowe’s MVPs Pro Rewards is another big step in Lowe’s continued total home strategy when it comes to the important Pro customer. We are committed to a true business partnership mindset to help Pros as they grow their businesses and their futures.”


Homeowners Need Professional Help

A main reason for the shift is that consumers have soured on making their own repairs and upgrades. This reverses a trend toward DIY that started in the ‘80s with video tapes and the popularity of shows like “This Old House” and grew to dedicated networks for DIYers. That trend drove the expansion of these big-box retailers.

The State of the Pros survey now finds that half of consumers say they prefer to leave these projects to professionals. The survey found 45% of homeowners admit they overestimated their ability to complete a home improvement project. More than a third of homeowners regretted taking on the project themselves rather than hire a professional.

The State of the Pros survey found consumers plan to continue investing in their homes. Nearly half plan to hire a professional for a project this year. In good news for HVAC contractors, making homes more energy-efficient tops the list of planned improvements.

Home Depot, the biggest competitor for Lowe’s, is also investing in services for home improvement professionals. In late 2020, the company bought HD Supply Holdings Inc. This was actually a repurchase, since Home Depot had spun off HD Supply in 2007.

Home Depot CEO Craig Menear said at the time of the acquisition that it was being made to better serve home improvement professionals and accelerate sales for the company. Menear described the professional trades segment as “a highly fragmented $55 billion marketplace.”

Speaking at last fall’s Service World Expo event, Tony Drew, vice president of HD Supply, talked about how working with suppliers helps HVAC contractors meet their goals. He gave the example of educating technicians about certain products to increase sales and overcome any customer objections. Drew said HD Supply has experienced this as a company itself.

“The more we bring suppliers in, the more helpful we find them to be,” Drew said.