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Home improvement giant leverages automation and texting to source and hire niche talent

Increase in hiring YoY
33 to 23
Drop in average days to fill
Conversion in Alumni re-engagement campaign

As America’s leading retailer offering home improvement, appliance repair and maintenance services, this company employs thousands of technicians nationwide and completes over seven million service requests each year.

During the pandemic, the demand for their services skyrocketed as thousands of householders began to spend more time at home. The retailer experienced a staff shortage of as much as 50%, which impacted their ability to serve customers. They urgently needed new ways to step up their hiring.

The retailer leveraged Sense’s powerful text and web chat based conversational AI platform to re-engage, hire, and onboard service technicians and sales reps. As a result, they were able to quickly ramp up their crew, serve more customers, and deliver stellar candidate experience.

Our client is one of America’s leading retailers of home repair, renovation & improvement services, with 10,000+ employees nationwide. During its 30+ years of service, the organization has created a reputation for being an experience-focused company. If you call them for an appliance repair, they diagnose the problem using technology and make sure they arrive to work with all the right parts. If you are mulling over a home improvement project, they will give you a free, in-home consultation. And if you sign up for their services, you get a project coordinator who oversees the work to your satisfaction.

The same focus on delivering best-in-class experiences is extended to their own people, right from the hiring stage. According to their Director of Talent Acquisition, hiring is starting to mimic shopping habits in terms of candidate expectations. She says, “Today, job applicants want swiftness and ease in the process and we are always trying to stay ahead of that in the way we treat them.”

A pandemic growth story

Prior to the pandemic, their business used to be pretty seasonal, with the peak season starting around Memorial Day until the end of fall, with October their busiest month. After the pandemic hit, the company experienced an exponential growth in demand. With thousands of people spending more time at home, the number of inquiries they received for repairs, maintenance, cleaning, and home improvement projects skyrocketed. “There is no longer a seasonality,” says the Director of Talent Acquisition, “We are busy all year round. There was a point when we could not even take all the calls that came our way. It was totally unanticipated.”

As a result of the spike in demand, the lean talent acquisition had to quickly pivot from the traditional seasonal hiring to an ongoing hiring. They were already understaffed and now had to support stretched hiring volumes. “Last August, we set a goal to bring in 600 new technicians by January. And then in January, we realized that we need to hire 1,000 more technicians this year.”

Altogether, the load on their system was massive and they urgently needed to amp up their hiring.

A lean HR tech stack

Like many other retailers, the company’s traditional talent acquisition practices and tools fell short to meet the need of the hour. For example:

  • Finding candidates through job boards and traditional recruiting marketing no longer worked because of the tight labor market
  • Lean HR team supporting already overworked store managers on recruiting activities were stretched to meet the hiring demand, and experienced significant productivity drop due to mundane activities like basic screening and scheduling
  • Incumbent tools like ATS had very low adoption (e.g., hiring managers didn’t enter interview feedback slowing the process)

The retailer urgently needed a next-gen AI-based engagement platform that would automate mundane tasks and engage with high-volume candidates the way they would want.

The key buying criteria the company established were: One, complete visibility of messaging analytics to track every candidate in the pipeline. Two, the capability to monitor campaign-level performance for the many focused hiring campaigns they were running. And three, simplify logistics by bringing multiple recruiting teams under a single umbrella.

They add, “Aside from campaigns, we needed something that could help us communicate quickly and effectively, because one of our goals was to bring down our hiring time, from application to start.”

Enter Sense, a single, end-to-end high-volume recruiting platform

The company evaluated Sense’s conversational AI capabilities for its engagement and automation requirements and piloted it during their first ever National Hiring Day campaign. Sense was deployed to invite and drive traffic to the hiring event. Apart from getting in touch with new invitees, the team ran successful campaigns targeting their alumni and silver medalists from the past.

“We just jumped right in and said we’re going to use Sense nationally. It was our crash course in campaigns and it went really well! We met our target RSVPs for the event. It was a big win for us right off the bat.”

Emboldened by the success of their event marketing with Sense, the team began to deploy it for multiple additional business needs.

Lead outreach

The company regularly participates in large recruitment fairs. However, not every attendee is able to stop by their booth—left unaddressed, this is a missed opportunity. Using Sense Messaging, their recruiters were able to reach out to these participants after the event, introduce themselves,establish a relationship, and also expand their talent pool.


““Re-engaging anyone who was in our talent network is very important to meet our big hiring goals.”

Alumni bases, those who have previously worked with the company, and silver medallists, those who previously missed out on open positions by a narrow margin, are two highly qualified candidate pools that companies tend to overlook or under utilize.

Using Sense, the team was able to get in touch with these candidates and collect information about their interest, availability, updated location & pay. This kept their database updated and accelerated the time-to-hire by activating passive talent in their network.

Candidate care

Their team of recruiters use Sense to stay connected with their candidates. From quick check-ins to answering their queries and keeping them updated about their application status, they keep up regular, text-based communication. This goes a long way towards enhancing candidate experience and boosting their employer brand.

Onboarding support

Their onboarding team too uses Sense in multiple ways, for instance, as a reminder tool for candidates. A nudge text such as ‘Hey, you have an outstanding form. We can't get started on your background check until it’s complete.’ sent at the right time has sped up processes and positively impacted time-to-hire.

Employee engagement and delight

The team continues to experiment with various pieces of candidate experience using Sense. One that they are particularly enthusiastic about is new recruit engagement. Every time a new hire completes a milestone (for example, finished a solo route after training), they get a personalized message from their recruiter wishing them good luck or congratulating them. This goes a long way in delighting the new recruits, boosting their sense of belonging in the organization, and in turn, improving retention.

Internal communications

The recruiters are also using Sense Messaging for internal communications; they are amplifying internal alignment, connectivity, and productivity by texting one another, sending reminders, doing follow-ups, and generally, simplifying communication within the team. Recruiters find the app convenient as they can use the Sense mobile app or the web extension whenever, from wherever.

A future bright with opportunities

For the company, experience is the #1 priority. In a crowded talent market with tough competition, it all comes down to experience. And great experiences are created through communication and the human touch—powered by new technology.

“What really impacts our top-of-funnel is the automated and personalized communication that goes out from our recruiters.” This jives exactly with Sense’s ethos, where our solutions are designed to help recruiters make their work more effective and efficient.

So, where do they plan to take Sense next? “We are testing out a number of initiatives, all revolving around different touchpoints of the candidate experience,” they share, “For instance, sharing realistic job previews to make it easier for candidates to check. Another is broadcast updates for our associates anytime there is something new or exciting going on. It’s all about building connections, nurturing relationships.”

Want to create phenomenal experiences for your candidates, employees, and partners? Talk to a Sense representative to understand how our automation & communication solutions can seamlessly do this for you.

Want to create phenomenal experiences for your candidates, employees, and partners? Talk to a Sense representative to understand how our automation & communication solutions can seamlessly do this for you.