Pick the best ‘great idea’ of the week and make a plan to make it happen next month.
Everyone is just so busy. It seems that especially in the grocery business that constantly something comes up that gets in the way of your To-Do list and what you planned for today gets pushed back to tomorrow.The dominoes fall and your monthly and weekly plan gets screwed. Procrastination, distraction and disorganization don’t help, but it’s the consistency of the unexpected that really mess with our planning. How many times has someone asked you to do something for them and when you ask when they need it by, the answer is “Well, umm, yesterday. But ASAP will have to do.” It’s impossible to put out your best work when you’re rushing to meet a deadline that has passed. The pressure to produce something that is “just fine” and that doesn’t allow for contemplation, review, revision and polishing often produces ho-hum results. And when the CEO wants to know why the promotion was not the success he (or she) envisioned, what do you tell him. “Well, ummm, you know, the deadlines were tight, and, ummm, Tammy didn’t get us the copy until Tuesday, and, ummm, the server went down so we couldn’t check our email, a...read more
Listening is my aspiration in life. Not just listening, but good listening. The kind where who I am talking to says “Wow, you’re a really good listener.” That happened to me once, and it was from the lifetime grocery consultant Harold Lloyd. It was a compliment that still makes me feel great a year later. So, as I aspire and listen daily, I started categorizing (not judging) the types of first responders I have been and that we all have been or interact with daily.RESPONDER CATEGORIES1. I KNOW! – The common response to most every statement or comment is countered with “I know!…”, which makes you wonder why you say anything at all since they already know everything.2. I KNOW, BUT… – A close cousin to “I know”, “I know, but …” not only already knows everything, they also need to throw in a big “but” which lets you know that you really don’t know what you’re talking about.3. THE REPEATER – Repeats everything you just said. “The Super Bowl was a really great game!” Response – “The Super Bowl really was a great game!” Kind of like a human echo chamber.4. THE SILENT TYPE – The listener says nothing, or pauses long enough...read more
Has anyone ever told you to just get out of the way? To move it or lose it? It’s almost never well received. It implies that you are impeding progress and are an obstacle to progress. It’s an uncomfortable feeling when you’re in the way. You feel useless and stupid. Strong (and not necessarily in a good way) and powerful bosses often do a great job of making their employees feel like they are in the way. General impatience, arrogance and the fact that they are indeed the boss often make employees feel like they ARE in the way. They become timid and withdraw, resulting in action that only happens with direction from the boss. In reality, it’s the opposite that’s true. The bosses are the ones that need to get out of the way. We need to let our employees exercise their judgment, training and experience to achieve the goals we give them. Show them the target, and get out of the way so that they can shoot. Think of it this way: You have 100 employees that you have goals for. Goals that will help your business, help your customers and help your bottom line. Only problem is, you are standing right in front of the target. They are gun shy – who wants to kill the boss (Ok,...read more
We have all read something that as we are reading we think “How long is this guy going to go on? Get to the point already.” And then we skip ahead to the end, or sometimes just stop reading altogether out of boredom or informational overload. So many things – movies, books, blogs – go on for much longer than they need to because the author or director is satisfying an ego need by thinking of himself instead of his audience. It’s the same with advertising and promotions. The key is to identify the story and tell it succinctly before your reader skips to the end – or doesn’t start at all – because it just looks like too many words. Ads can turn into diarrhea of the mouth – you just want them to shut up for a minute. Still reading or have you skipped to the end? What am I trying to convey here? Less is more, especially when it comes to telling the story of your store and your signature products. Get to the point, make it interesting, then shut up.
According to Fortune Magazine, Wegman’s Food Markets are the second best place to work in America. Fortune Top 100 Companies Wow! One of our own is very near the top in this era where all these tech companies have perks like stand-up treadmill desks, company chefs, work–from-home options, free massages and free child care. Two of our other brethren made the top 100 – Publix at #47 and Nugget Markets at #70. It’s a big achievement in a time when finding, and more importantly retaining good employees, is extremely challenging. I was speaking to a store owner in Northern California who has had to stop events such as weekend barbecues and catering (two profitable promotions) because he just can’t find the employees to execute the program. That says something about the tight job market and maybe something else about the company. Many years ago the grocery business could be a career. You could start at the bottom in maintenance or a courtesy clerk and work your way up, getting pay increases, good benefits and promotions. You could be a department manager or even store manager and earn a good living to provide for your family. My dad did it...read more
Did you hear that XYZ market is closing? Yeah, I heard it from a friend who dates the assistant to the assistant manager. She says that business is slow and Amazon is killing them so the owner is closing. Can you believe it? The thing is, it is 100% not true. One of my favorite comedians Tom Segura tells the story of his dad telling him that Tommy Lee Jones is gay. (Click here for the story Tom Segura Tommy Lee Jones Story) He goes on to tell everyone he meets that Tommy Lee Jones is gay. One day someone calls him out on it, and asks where he heard it. He says his dad told him. Turns out the dad didn’t even remember where he heard it, but that didn’t stop him from telling people. The rumor mill is a powerful son-of-a-gun. Once it gets started it can go like wildfire and when you deny the rumor and try to put an end to it, you are the one who looks like a liar. It’s brutal. The root of rumors is gossip, one of the evil deadly sins. It’s something that is just to titillating to keep to yourself, no matter how preposterous it sounds. I remember back in the day the rumor was that in Mexico the workers peed into the Corona because they knew it...read more
I was walking down the wine aisle of my store in San Diego last week and Jennifer Aniston stopped me and asked me for a recommendation on a good, value priced Pinot Noir. Wow, Jennifer Aniston! And she was even prettier in person (and shorter, too, but all those Hollywood types are.) We chatted about what her favorite wines (Meomi? Really? Someone had steered her wrong there, but who was I to tell her that) and what she was serving it with. Turns out Gwyneth and Brad, Ed Sheeran and his fiancée and Courtney Cox were all joining Jen and Justin for the weekend at an Air BnB here in San Diego. She’s going to need a lot of wine, and it turns out Justin likes his bourbon, so I saw some Eagle Rare in her future. We picked out some nice bottles (she made sure she got 6 so she could get her 10% discount), then I escorted her to the meat department, where Alex cut her some beautiful prime ribeyes and Chris packed up 10 of his fantastic crab cakes. After helping her with more supplies (Toilet paper Jen? Air BnB’s are usually stocked up), I took her to the checkout, got her a cup of complimentary coffee and packed her groceries in reusable shopping bags (no charge, I wanted Jen to be photographed carrying one of my bags so it would...read more
Your company’s culture starts at the very top. There’s no way around it. If the boss is a moody a-hole, the company vibe will be that of moody a-holes. Think about places you’ve been to and consistently get indifferent, or even terrible service. Convenience stores, Walmart, Sears, the DMV all have reputations for marginal – at best – service. In businesses that rely on repeat customers the emphasis is often not on making those customers want to return, it’s on improving the bottom line. The culture of caring is painfully absent. And it’s not just customer service that flows down from the big boss, it’s cleanliness, organization, efficiency and more. A messy and disorganized office of the CEO gives employees no reason to be organized and neat. I was fortunate enough to go to Littlefield, Texas last week and spend some time with the folks at Lowe’s Markets. They operate 155 stores mainly in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. It’s a lot of stores to maintain a culture of caring. And it’s not just the customer service at store level that I was impressed with, it was the feeling of respect that proliferated the office buildings I visited and people I met. The grocery business is notorious for going cheap wh...read more
Most of our lives are shaped and defined by the little things we do and say. The everyday unacknowledged kindnesses, the way we treat others, doing the right thing when it’s not the easy thing. People of high character and integrity do millions of the little things that add up over a lifetime and define them as an exceptional human being, just as the a-holes of the world are ignorant to those same things. But what about the big things? We all have major, often life-changing events that depending on how we react to them can define us even more as a truly great man or woman. Chesley Sullenberger would have been an accomplished and mostly anonymous pilot if he hadn’t responded the way he did to land a jet in the Hudson River. Rosa Parks would have been mostly unknown if she hadn’t refused to give up her seat on the bus. John @@@@@ would have been another brave soldier if he hadn’t shown the courage and character he showed on Guadalcanal during World War II. These are all extreme examples for us regular folk, but how we react to big events can make us a hero or despised. If you ever had to close a business or just a location, how you handled it either defined you as making a necessary...read more
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. O...read more