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Penny for Your Thoughts

by Adam Zack — January 17, 2018

Success or failure is literally built on pennies.

Would you stop to pick up a penny if you saw it on the ground? How about a nickel? Quarter? Everyone I know would stop to pick up a dollar, that is certain. But back to that penny… I was thinking about it when I saw a penny in the parking lot yesterday. I picked it up, put it in my pocket, forgot to take it out when I put my pants in the hamper and now it will probably come out in the washing machine or dryer and be clanking around while the dryer turns. You know the clack-clack-clack of copper on the metal dryer drum as it tumbles around. I should have just left that penny on the ground. It struck a nerve, though because grocery success or failure is literally built on pennies. In a business where a good net profit is 5 cents on the dollar, that penny that I didn’t pick up reduces my profit margin 20%. My dad is a old school grocer to his soul. I remember about 40 years ago he saw one of his supervisors had some product that had been mismanaged and was on the ground. It would have to be thrown out. He went up to that supervisor, took a dollar out of his pocket and threw it on the ground. “You see that? That’s the same thing you are doing with that [whatever the product was, I can’t remember.] Point made. Of course, it’s hundreds of thousands to millions of pennies that we deal with, but it starts with one. The 10 extra ketchup packets that the deli clerk throws in the back when a customer asks for ketchup add up. The dirty towel that goes in the trash instead of the laundry bag gets accounted for somewhere. Lights that don’t get shut off at night and air conditioners set a degree too cold all contribute to those pennies. Those pennies are the reason that the best grocers in the country are some of the smartest and savviest businessmen and women. Figuring out how to get an extra cent of profit on a sale and save an extra cent on operating expense is a talent that is becoming rarer and is often unappreciated.

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One response to “Penny for Your Thoughts”

  1. M Margaret says:

    And Adam, do you remember long time part-time Cashier Tony Arnold at Wrightwood store? He enjoyed a practice with customers that when he gave the customers change, he always counted back their change and would always say “and here you go, these are your lucky pennies!” The customers loved his upbeat ways and I learned a lot about making customers happy from him.

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