Company Blog

You’re the owner now

by Adam Zack — September 20, 2023

What would you do if a customer had a particularly bad experience at your store and how would you make it right.

I decided to look back at some of my old blogs to see how my writing style and content has changed since I started writing them in 2015. The old blogs were much longer (maybe too long) and the topics have evolved from more grocery practical to more philosophical. I came across this one written in early 2016 and was reminded just how fantastic this idea was and still is today.BLOG #4 – JANUARY 2016I’ve talked and talked (and written and written) on the importance of treating employees like they really are family, being involved and aware of their lives outside of the store and how doing so will pay huge dividends in terms of employee loyalty, retention and the service they provide to your customers. While finding these great people to spread your message of food love and happiness to your customers is not an easy task, it is done by the best grocers consistently and thoughtfully. So how can I help you pick the best applicant among the dozens who may be applying for anything from a courtesy clerk to a store manager? Bob LaBonne Jr, President and CEO of the employee focused LaBonne’s Markets in Connecticut shared ...
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by Adam Zack — September 13, 2023


Perpetually tardy people need to be called out every once in a while.

Man, I hate being late. I type that, as I am late in writing this week’s blog. DW’s gentle inquiry “How’s the old blog coming?” spurs some action, but it’s still late and, well, late is not cool. Or fashionable. I hate it when others are late. It’s disrespectful. It’s rude. It wastes time. And it shortens my already shortened version of patience. So why do so many people make an unapologetic habit of being late?I used to carpool with this dude that was NEVER late. Well, except the time he forgot me and by the time I texted him and asked if he was still coming to pick me up, he was halfway to San Diego. I (and most sane people) love the dependability of those persons in our life that are always on time. That person who arrives promptly (or a few minutes early) brings comfort and confidence to a normally chaotic day. Punctuality in business is vital to making deals, because when you’re late you’ve already disrespected someone’s time. And still I know many people who are always late. They know it, laugh it off, and it just gets added to the sum of their personality traits. How many times have you heard “He’s always late, but I respect the hell out of him!”? How about...
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by Adam Zack — September 6, 2023

“When a relationship is on, it’s heaven and when it’s bad it’s awful..”

Music is a big part of my life. I love the live experience and witnessing how the creative and collaborative process of a band comes together during a really great concert. It’s like witnessing and participating in great teamwork. Passion, talent and enthusiasm combined with the drive for success. It isn’t just limited to rock ‘n roll. Great symphonies, plays and sports teams all have to be on to succeed. Even family gatherings are better when the family dynamic resembles more of a winning team than a dysfunctional band of individuals. But like most relationships, when it’s on it’s heaven and when it’s bad it’s awful. So, when a great band breaks up because of clashing egos or “creative differences” all you hear about is how the singer was an a-hole or the guitarist couldn’t get his act together. But who is the real casualty of the break-up? It’s the fans. The ones who have bought the albums and concert tickets. The people who have experienced the joy of the live show and been so supportive.For fans of Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Smiths or The Beatles, any show without the original band members will never be the same. Creedence Clearwater Revisited without John ...
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Saying What You Think

by Adam Zack — August 30, 2023

“She thanked me again and again.”

Late last year I wrote about making the commitment to enunciate your thoughts and feelings when you interact with someone who really affects you positively. I’ve been hit and miss on that commitment, but have been reminded a lot recently because customers have made the point of coming up to me, unsolicited, to tell me how much they love my grocery store in San Diego. They have expressed appreciation and gratitude for the service my team provides, the quality of our products, the friendly interactions, the variety of foods and how much we give back to the community. Every single time it happens I get a little embarrassed (which I shouldn’t), but also very proud and I let them know that they just made my day. It’s a good feeling when your vision becomes a reality. So reminded of saying what I think, I had the chance to put it into action. I go to physical therapy for my hand weekly, and every time there is a woman named Lisa at the front area where you check in. She, without fail, is so friendly and welcoming. You know it’s sincere, and her personality just makes you want to be a better person. So last week when I was leaving, Instead of just saying “Bye, see you next week!” I went over to her desk and thanked her for always being so...
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Cake or death?

by Adam Zack — August 23, 2023

“They just don’t shop in the business model that we have maintained.”

When told that French citizens were dying of hunger in 1789 because of a great famine, Marie Antionette, wife of King Louis XVI, reportedly said “Let them eat cake!” Now that would be fine if she was actually giving them cake, but it was a comment that was so out of touch (there wasn’t even any bread to be had, much less cake) that it led to her being despised and eventually losing her head to the guillotine. Comedian Eddie Izzard did a very funny riff on the subject in one of his stand-up specials, where the tyrant King of England offered subjects the choice of “cake or death!?” which of course everyone chose cake – until there was no more cake and “my choice is … ‘or death?’”. Which leads me to the point of this story, where a grocer near my home was trying to sell his neighborhood grocery store that has been in business since 1959. His business has eroded so much over the recent years that even though he owns the property, he is losing a lot of money every month. He was quoted:“I can’t even sell through a case of cake mix before it goes out of code. Besides, if people need cake now, they will go out and buy one.”He complains abou...
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Make no mistake about it

by Adam Zack — August 16, 2023


The people not making mistakes are the ones not doing anything at all.

I make a lot of mistakes. Every single day. Every day there are things I would have done differently, or not at all. Things I would have said differently, or things unsaid that I should have. The people not making mistakes are the ones not doing anything at all. Just letting it ride and leaving no wake as they putt through life, trying their best not to rock the boat of the universe. A great teacher once told me that his acceptable level of failure is 30%. You make a lot of decisions, try a lot of things, do vast amounts of work and if 70% are successful, you’re doing pretty damn good. It’s the people who have a track record of really being great employees, or just great humans in general, who, when they make a notable mistake, really pay the toll. Expectations are high for the do-ers in your company. They make things happen. They are leaders. They are the example. And sometimes they make a big mistake. It could result in a big financial loss. Or it could affect customer confidence in your store. Sometimes orders are not sent before a big holiday, costing you money in lost sales. Mistakes happen, and nearly always unintentional and are learned from. Those people of yours who make mistak...
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Who’s your obsession

by Adam Zack — August 9, 2023

I think it’s their single obsession over their customers that has led them to be a trillion-dollar company.

“Obsess over your customer, never your competitor.” – Jeff BezosNo one can dispute that Jeff Bezos and Amazon have changed the world of shopping. What was initially just an online bookstore, dismissed by many as something that wouldn’t even be around for a few years, has become the largest seller of, well, about everything. (And made Jeff Bezos the wealthiest man in the world). It’s changed everything from ordering office supplies to how and what we read. Although I have very fond memories of taking each new Stephen King hardback book to the beach to read, I can’t imagine not having my Kindle. Maybe that’s why my arms used to be so much stronger. So what? Everyone’s amazed what Amazon does – and will do. I think it’s their single obsession over their customers that has led them to be a trillion-dollar company. It’s the old school way for the founders of the modern grocery store business to obsess over our competitors. We pull out the ads from all the competition and curse when they beat us on chicken breast by 50 cents and beam when we feature strawberries that are 60 cents lower than them. But you know who’s not pulling out the ...
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There goes my hero

by Adam Zack — August 2, 2023

My heroes are people that make me laugh, people who care deeply, and naturally make the room they are in a better place simply because they are there.

There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He’s ordinary
– Foo FightersWhen I was a kid my first hero was Batman. I was a Halloween batman a few times. I made models of the Batmobile and watched the show religiously. It was especially cool that the actor who played him was Adam West. Not too many other Adams were around in the 60’s and early 70’s. As I got a little older my heroes became sports icons. Franco Harris and Terry Bradshaw from the Steelers. Roman Gabriel of the Rams. Steve Garvey of the Dodgers. Those were guys I aspired to be like. I didn’t know much about them personally, but I loved watching them play. When I got into my 20’s I got some more practical heroes. Michel Richard was a French chef with a restaurant in L.A. that was incredible. I went to one of his cooking classes at Bristol Farms and was awed by the simplicity of techniques he used to create deliciousness. Hero. Paul Westerberg was a wild rock and roll game changer for me. A mess most of the time with the excesses of rock and roll, he wrote songs that changed my whole musical outlook on lif...
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Old’s Cool

by Adam Zack — July 26, 2023

The experience of knowing what to do, and what not to do is easily taken for granted.

Seems like the millennials get all the attention.Everyone cares what they think, what they eat, what they buy, how much money they make, if they’re happy. The surveys focus on them – “90% of millennials had organic avocado toast with Maldon sea salt on it for breakfast in the last 30 days…” Don’t get me wrong, I love the millennials. I work with them, joke with them, am friends with them – heck, I even have a couple of my own. With all that millennial focus, what I think has got lost is how the old dudes and babes get overlooked and taken for granted. No one really cares if we get our feelings hurt or what we think of the latest fashion trend. They know we will take care of ourselves. Where I think the old folks – and yes I put myself in that category just by using the word folks – need some appreciation shown is the workplace. People who have been with one company for 20 years or more are often the soul of the business. They have seen good times and bad. They’ve grown up with the company and seen the customers grow up with them too. You see government workers with extreme longevity, but they don’t count in my book. The ones that count are the private sector. ...
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More on listening

by Adam Zack — July 19, 2023

“Before we can influence others, we must first listen and understand.”

I’m never going to stop writing about listening. It’s not because I’m enamored with it, but because it’s consistently the most challenging skill that I am trying to master. Both listening to others and listening to myself. Here’s a bonehead example of “If I listened to myself, I would have apologized.” I’m currently in a cast on my left arm with my thumb completely immobilized. It makes cutting food and tying shoes impossible. So Sunday morning, my daughter was kind enough to make a breakfast of toast, bacon, tomatoes and an egg on top. It looked and smelled delicious. Since I could not cut it, I asked my wife to please cut it for me. It proved very difficult to cut and keep it all together, and the result was cut pieces all over the plate. Instead of simply saying “Thank you for doing your best”, I said “I might as well have put it in a blender.” Stupid AND ungrateful. If I’d have listened to myself, I would have apologized on the spot.I’m reading the book “Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator” by Gary Noesner. His work negotiating peaceful surrenders is fascinating. If the FBI bosses had listened to him at Waco, the ending most likely ...
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