The Home Depot has partnered with home service franchiser ServiceMaster in a pilot program the retail giant hopes will strengthen its position in the installed sales market.

According to ServiceMaster's Mike Toll, senior vice president, retail, the program began in February with ServiceMaster opening kiosks in The Home Depot stores in the Memphis, Tenn., Sacramento, Calif., and Orlando, Fla., markets. The Home Depot gets a cut of all services sold to their customers at the kiosks. Kiosk staffers "propose strenuously that the products in The Home Depot stores are great products if you'd like to do it yourself, but The Home Depot is now offering you a choice -- a service that is done for you," says Toll.

Last October, The Home Depot began a pilot program in fifteen California stores with national home improvement service ImproveNet to expand their kitchen and bath installed sales. "Our customer service follows up on all of the jobs on behalf of The Home Depot," says ImproveNet spokesperson Nora DePalma. "If the homeowner has any problems, we actually answer the phone 'The Home Depot,' but ImproveNet supplies the support mechanism."

"All American industry is doing alliances," says Walt Stoeppelwerth of HomeTech Information Systems and a Remodeling columnist. He calls installed sales "the 800-pound gorilla coming down the tracks" and warns that the large retailers, who already rule the flooring installation market, are "making inroads" to higher-end remodeling work through installed sales programs. According to Toll, The Home Depot president Bob Nardelli wants the $2 billion The Home Depot did in installed sales last year to be $10 billion in five years.