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May I Present…

by Adam Zack — May 5, 2015

presentationDo you know the three most important words to increase sales? Price? No. Service? No. Selection? No. Sure they are important factors, and they do influence the buying decision, but the three most important words to get the customer, or should I say potential customer, to stop and check you out are: 1. Presentation. 2. Presentation and 3. Presentation. I learned that lesson about 25 years ago from a customer who listed it just like that. He said “Why would I shop at your deli if the foods look like dog crap?” And he was 100% right. A little extreme maybe, but right. It really applies to almost everything we purchase. If we don’t like the look of a car, we move on. If the photo on the dating website (and I have no experience in this, but I’ve been told) isn’t attractive to you – pass. If the macaroni and cheese in the hot foods case is dry and crusty, well it won’t be on the table for dinner. And if the burger you get doesn’t even come close to resembling the one in the photo, you feel gypped and jaded to future purchases. Presentation, presentation, presentation.In our grocery business, presentation is more than just the food. It’s the creativity of the merchandiser. It’s the good looking and informative signage. It’s the display that stops you in your tracks and makes you go “Wow!...
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Promotion, Promotion, Promotion

by Adam Zack — April 30, 2015

DW and I were recently in Indiana talking to a very respected grocer and his executive management staff about branding and marketing. The topic of promotions came up, and we subsequently talked about the importance of promoting your store during non-traditional promoting times. Maybe because we are both just more than a little weird, we started bouncing ideas around and we felt like the ideas that have some type of humor to them would resonate best with customers and employees. One of my very favorites from DW was a garlic promotion, with the headline “For a guy who smells, he sure is popular!” Or a seedless watermelon promotion: “He’s the Spittin’ image of his father, without the spittin’ part.” In the end, after a couple beers on my part and a couple Cokes for DW, we ended up with a list of over 75 promotional ad themes to share with our customers.So next time you look at your competitors ads and notice how boring and indistinct they are compared to yours, push yourself to think of a new ad theme that will blow both your customers and your competition away. Battle of the Bacons anyone?

Read More: To Theme or N...
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Perfect

by Adam Zack — April 22, 2015

selecting-diamonds1perfect

adjective per·fect \ˈpər-fikt\

: having no mistakes or flaws
: completely correct or accurate
: having all the qualities you want in that kind of person, situation, etc.

I don’t know if there is a word that in the past 5 or so years has been more overused than “perfect”. “I’ll be home in about an hour.” “Perfect.” “I shampood the cat.” “Perfect.” “My feet don’t hurt today.” “Perfect.” “We are out of cheddar but we have American cheese”. “Perfect.” “I only found one mistake on this week’s ad.” “Perfect.” No, “not perfect”, that’s more “acceptable”, “Okay” or “good”. Maybe I am just a little too demanding. When I think perfect, I think I cannot do any better. Not one thing would make it better. It’s flawless. And flawlessness is one thing that doesn’t run in my family. We are a pretty confident bunch, and fairly competent too, but flawlessness did not dip its toe in our gene pool. I don’t think it was even in the same back yard. Our compliments tend to be more of “Not bad”, “Pretty good”, “Nice try” and for something really exceptional maybe a “Great! (with the ...
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The Magic Words

by Adam Zack — April 15, 2015

magic-words-2Nothing mesmerizes like magic. Remember how certain phrases or words were the conductors for magic to really happen? “Open Sesame” (does anyone remember that? From Alibaba and the Forty Thieves? We used to change it to Open Sez Me!) or “Abracadabra” invoke magic. “Presto change-o”, “Shazam!” and “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” all have their place in conjuring magic. But in our very practical household I can remember only three magic words that actually worked: Please and Thank You. As far back as I can remember my parents told us “What’s the magic word?” Please, mom. Or “What do you say?” Thaaannk you. And they worked. Most of the time. I recall asking for something and then not getting it. “But I said PLEASE!”. To this day, from my own kids or from total strangers, the use of the magic words makes you feel good about what you have done. Do you really want to do something when someone simply makes a demand? “Give me that!” No. When you do something for someone, is there anything that puts a sour taste on it more than not receiving a thank you? “That’s the last time I’ll help him out, bastard didn’t even say thank you!”So here we go again, how in the world does this even relate to our beloved grocery business? I...
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It’s Cool to be Cool

by Adam Zack — April 9, 2015

SeasideBagSo have the words “cool” and “grocery store” ever been used in the same sentence? Unless it has to do with the ambient temperature of your store, or the way frozen food feels when the refrigeration system has been down for hours, then the answer is a definite no. And why is that? Can a grocery store, any grocery store, be considered cool? Of course it can, and there are some wonderful stores that embrace food trends, create cutting edge products, have a great rapport with their customers, where the cool people shop and hang out. Wouldn’t you want the cool people (and the warm people too) to be representing your brand by wearing your bitchen’ design on a t-shirt or hat? Carrying your reusable bag that gets peoples attention?It never ceases to amaze me how some really cool restaurants, with their really cool shirts and hats turn around and charge $20 or $25 for them. Really, you don’t have to be a marketing professor to realize that more people are going to pay you to wear your logo around town for others to see if you sell it at a value price. A shirt that costs $5 tops (seriously) that people want to pay to wear, and you’re going to mark it up 400%? In-n-Out Burger gets it changing the design annually and selling them for about $10. Who wouldn’t pay $10 for a cool In-n-Out t-shirt?So what does thi...
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Mirror Mirror…

by Adam Zack — April 2, 2015

mirror-mirror“When I look in your eyes I see a reflection. And that reflection is me, and I look mahvelous, dahling.”
– Billy Crystal (as Fernando Llamas)
Being in retail all my life (literally – my dad worked grocery night crew at Market Basket when I was born.) I have made mistakes many times over by doing the most economical thing as opposed to doing things right. I hired a repair man to fix our ice machine that saved me $100 over the qualified technician, only to find out later that he fixed it by sticking a pencil into the leak, only to cost us over $400 later to fix it right. I thought I could replace a defective electric socket myself to save the cost of having the electrician do it, only to short out all the scales that were on the circuit. Until I learned better I always used the newspaper graphics department to design my ads. After all they were FREE! and I had a budget to meet. Or I would have the radio station write my ads because their service was FREE! I’d have the magazine publisher create my ad because, of course, the service was FREE! Until one day someone pointed out, not demurely, that my ads SUCKED! After indignation and denial wore off and I got over the bruised ego that this verbal ass kicking had g...
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I Got a Name

by Adam Zack — March 27, 2015

i-got-no-name

Like the pine trees lining the winding road 
I got a name, I got a name
– Jim CroceWhen I was in 8th grade I was on team that made the school yearbook. Our instructor, Mr. Bellamy, asked as we were proofing the book “What is the first thing people look for when they read the book?” I thought I was smart and answered “Mistakes.” WRONG! They look for photos of themselves and their name in the book. Oh yeah, that makes sense. I do that. We all do.One thing you can’t take away from someone is their name. Love your name or hate it, it is a group of letters that is uniquely you. When people you encounter take the time to learn your name, to remember it, to pronounce it correctly, to call you by it each time they see you, it gives you a sense of worth. Of importance. Of relevance. People who really make the effort to listen and remember the names of those they interact with and do business with will be more respected and more successful. And more liked. You are important enough to them that they remember your name and it gives you a natural sense of comfort and ease.So the next time you see that regular customer in your store, ask their name if you don’t know it. It’s OK to say “I see you in here all the time and ...

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Adam’s Family Values

by Adam Zack — March 19, 2015

adams-values-blogWhen I think of family, I think of a group of people related to me that somehow, through thick and thin, warts and flaws, fights and reconciliations still manage to share an unwavering support, love and loyalty to each other. No matter how upset I get with any of my family members, or how upset they get with me (and believe me, we are no picnic, with the many fractured branches in our family tree), we know that with a phone call or text we would be there for each other at the drop of a hat. It’s a comfort level that sometimes (OK, a lot of times) we take for granted. It means a lot to take the time to say “Hey, I appreciate you.” Or “I got this for you because I thought you’d like it.” Or “Hey, I just called to say hi and see how you’re doing.” It’s that family bond that we don’t often express, and sometimes it’s too late and we never did say the things we should.“So how does this relate to my store?”, you’re asking. Well, fortunately we work with a lot of family owned and operated stores. And it’s the family mindset and dynamic that distinguishes us from the chain stores. If we take that family consciousness and look at our employees like family, they will treat us like family. And you can’t just...
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Setting Your Ground Rules

by Adam Zack — March 10, 2015

GroundRulesTo us fervent carnivores there is nothing quite like the quest for the perfect burger. I have driven many miles, read extensive reviews and scoured social media for the ultimate combination of beef, bread and condiments that comprise burger perfection. (And for the record, I believe I have found it at The Riders Club in San Clemente, CA.) But what about creating the perfect burger at home? With the right ingredients, you don’t have to travel beyond your own kitchen to find taste nirvana.It all starts with the beef. And that is an area the big chain stores cannot compete with. Nearly all of them sell pre-ground beef in chubs. To the hamburger aficionado, that is cardinal sin #1. You have to have a combination of freshly ground chuck or sirloin. Some burger blends use short rib and steak trimmings. It has to have some fat in the blend. Yes, I said it – fat. Fat is flavor. Fat is juiciness. Fat is tenderness. I’m not talking all, or even mostly fat. I’m talking 20%. Maybe 22%. It has to be high quality beef too. No Holstein. No bull meat. We’re talking USDA Choice beef. The patty has to be gently formed. Not mashed and compressed. Gently formed to insure tenderness. The supporting players in this quest for perfection are also stars in the final result. Brioche buns? Check. Applewood Smoked bacon? Check. Aged...
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In Support of REAL Local

by Adam Zack — March 4, 2015

Jensens_TrueLocal_DigitalBillboard_Redesign-01There is a certain national natural foods chain that really, really, REALLY tries hard to make its customers think it is a local company. And they do a really good job of reinforcing that brand image in their stores. But you know and I know that besides stores in Austin, Texas (or Texas in general if you want to really get liberal with the boundaries), it’s not local at all. But you are. And your customers should be reminded that you are. After all, you are the one who supports the local schools, sports teams and churches. You donate food to feed the needy in your city. You shop in your community. You pay taxes that go directly into your town. Your customers sit by you in church. They run into you at the movies. They see you working really hard in your store. Really, you are helping support your customers and their families. It’s an easy thing to say that you are local. Anyone can do that. Your advantage comes with the irrefutable proof that your profits, which are a very small percentage of sales, do actually stay in your community. They are not forwarded to Wall Street. They are not distributed to institutional investors. They stay with you and are reinvested in your town, in your customers’ town.So how a...
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