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Family First

by Adam Zack — July 9, 2018

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Some view nepotism as taboo that can ruin a business.

I used to know some grocery stores that wouldn’t let two members of the same family work in the same store. I found it kind of odd, since it was a family owned business. The parents were involved with the operations and they had kids who help run the stores. They were successful and really instilled the “family first” philosophy into the business. They worked well together, often vacationed together and were very happy. It was a dynamic that really worked, and a lot had to do with the family bond of watching each other’s back and deep trust. Which is why I found it peculiar that they didn’t see that the same family ties that made them a great team could also be applied to their employees. A great meat department manager may have a relative that possesses the same work ethic. The apple never falls too far from the tree, right? But instead they assumed (incorrectly) that family members would get unfair treatment. Surely the family member would get more favorable schedules, lower standards and lax enforcement of company rules. They might even collude to steal! Instead of seeing how family involvement among the rank and file could make their company stronger, they saw it ...
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The Waiting

by Adam Zack — July 3, 2018

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So much of waiting is a choice.

I get a little sad now every time I hear a Tom Petty song. And it happens a lot, since one of the Pandora stations playing on our store music is Tom Petty radio. I’ve seen Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers more than a dozen times since 1983. We were supposed to see him a month before he died, but the concert was postponed a week due to laryngitis and we couldn’t fly back up. I am a serious fan, but my great friend Mark Lindsey is a Petty scholar. Each new album was “another book in the Bible” delivered live by “God.” We are still both in mourning. My favorite Tom Petty song of all time is The Waiting. The plaintive lyrics and the slow build up from whistful thoughts to rocking conclusion is rock and roll magic. The waiting IS the hardest part of almost everything. Waiting in line. Waiting during the time your lover is away. Waiting for summer to come and waiting for Christmas are all tough. But so much of waiting is a choice. We wait to start a new promotion while we spend weeks and months discussing it. We wait to fire mediocre help in our stores because maybe they’ll get better or maybe the time isn’t right. We wait to introduce new initiatives because we are not organized and efficient enough to get them ...
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Turnover Tells The Tale

by Adam Zack — June 27, 2018

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It costs approximately $3,600 to replace one supermarket cashier.

Retail powers the U.S. economy. 29 million people work in the retail business, which represents roughly 20% of the 140 million jobs in America. Retail generates nearly $2.6 trillion in sales.With that much effect on the economy, why is the turnover rate in retail, especially grocery, so high? According to Daily Pay Retention Rates (Dailypay.com) the turnover rate in the grocery industry is 100%. That’s right here with fast-food. Ouch. In fact, according to USA Today, based on eployee reviews some of the worst places to work for in the country are grocery stores. (USA Today Worst Places to Work). Why is that? Poor communication, low wages, poor benefits, boredom and the idea that retail is not a job for educated workers contribute. It’s just not sexy. You work holidays and weekends, early mornings and late nights. Doesn’t sound like much fun on paper. But I think the number one reason that turnover is high is that some of those companies just don’t...
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The Good Ol’ Days

by Adam Zack — June 20, 2018

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What brings back memories of good times and comfort?

Remember when you could get a triple scoop of ice cream at the Thrifty for 15 cents?Those cylinder shaped scoops of your favorite flavors stacked three high that inevitably dripped all down your hand. Or when you didn’t have to lock your doors at night and every 4th of July there was a block party and all the dads drank beer, shot off fireworks while the kids ran around with sparklers. How great it was when you didn’t have to worry about cholesterol or gluten or allergies. There was no bottled water; you drank from the garden hose. You just ate what you were served by mom and it was all good. Remember when gas was $1 and T-bone steaks were 2 inches thick and the smell of the charcoal grill was the best thing in the world? Ahhh, the good old days. If you’re in your 50’s or older your sense of nostalgia seems to become heightened every year. Now it’s bad news here, problems there, more worries than during the time when “things were simple”. If you’re a millennial now you’re probably thinking: “What the hell is this old man prattling on about anyway?” Nostalgia is really just a recollection of good memories. We reminisce and feel good about t...
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Mom Always Said

by Adam Zack — June 13, 2018

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We are listening and observing better.

Apparently my mom wasn’t the only one who told her kids “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” If my brothers and I had listened, there probably would have been very long periods of silence. Very long.Bob LaBonne, President of LaBonne’s Markets in Connecticut, pointed out that his mom used to tell him the same thing, and that sarcasm is most often related to humor, but when it’s not humorous to both parties, it’s just not that funny anymore. He commented that his mom also told them: “It doesn’t matter what I said or what I meant, it’s what they heard and how they felt”. And there is no time in history when that saying is more true than today. It seems like every day we have to deal with someone who was offended by some comment or action that just a couple years ago would have been considered totally benign. In fact, the offended party would have been scorned, ostracized or even mocked for just being thin skinned. It’s a new day, but it’s a better day. I don’t think that we are more sensitive than ever or the sarcasm is harsher, we are just more aware. And that’s a good thing, because to be aware we are listening and observ...
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You’re so funny. Not.

by Adam Zack — June 6, 2018

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So thank you Tony for the comment from a couple years ago.


sar·casm
ˈsärˌkazəm/ 
noun
noun: sarcasm; plural noun: sarcasms
the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.
1. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until they speak.2. When people ask me stupid questions, it is my legal obligation to give a sarcastic remark.3. It’s okay if you don’t like me. Not everyone has good taste.4. You look good when your eyes are closed, but you look the best when my eyes are closed.5. I’ll try being nicer, if you try being smarter.6. If ignorance is bliss. You must be the happiest person on this planet.7. If it looks like I give a damn, please tell me. I don’t want to give off the wrong impression.8. Think I am sarcastic? Watch me pretend to care!9. I’d agree with you but then we’d both be wrong.10. Zombies eat brains. You’re safe.Pretty funny stuff right? A couple weeks ago my wife asked me why I didn’t say anything when she commented on one of my blogs on the DW Green website. I didn’t know. All the comments I got were replies to the email versio...
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Art of the Compliment

by Adam Zack — May 30, 2018

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…makes them feel good about shopping with you.

Did you realize that compliments generate revenue?A couple weeks ago we were out to dinner and when the server got around to me I gave her my choice (I don’t even remember what I ordered – it was the service that was memorable) and she said – very sincerely while looking me in the eye – “Excellent choice. That’s one of my very favorites.” They were words of affirmation and approval by someone “in the know” that made me really feel great. Upon reflection, she does that with everyone who looks like they will be paying the bill, but even if that is true, it didn’t matter. Those complimentary words resulted in a relaxed, satisfied dinner before the food even came and definitely a bigger tip. If more restaurant servers – from fast casual to fine dining – could master the art of the compliment we’d all be happier diners and they’d make more in tips. Pray tell, you ask, how does this even relate to the grocery industry? Well, I’ll tell you, and thank you for giving me the leeway to take such a circuitous route to the point. You have things that are your favorites. Lots of them. So do your employees. You even have some second, third and fourth favorites. It applies to nearly ev...
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Reflection

by Adam Zack — May 23, 2018

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I changed my path from quantity to quality.

“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 b...
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Who’s your go-to guy (or gal)?

by Adam Zack — May 16, 2018

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Think about who your go-to is.

You know the person at your store, or your family, who is the go-to guy?  The rock. The problem solver. The answer man. Your lifeline. Your shoulder to cry on. Your own personal “let me google that for you.” Your mentor.It’s the person you go to in times of crisis. Times of doubt. Times of uncertainty. They are the person who keeps their cool, thinks things through and talks you down off the ledge. Sometimes it’s mom. Sometimes it’s dad. Sometimes it’s Nana. Sometimes it’s your boss. Sometimes it’s the maintenance guy. And sometimes it’s you. The go-to guy is usually only honored at retirement. Or at his funeral. There’s no Hallmark Holiday to celebrate your go-to. It’s a role that is fulfilled by those who care and take pride in what they do and who they are. They use phrases like “You know I’m there for you”, “Call me if you need anything”, “Door’s always open” and “How can I help?” They have instincts to realize when something isn’t right with you. They know when to butt out and when to stick their nose in. Unfortunately, not everyone has a go-to. Some get thrown in to the deep and there’s no who can throw them a lifeline. Hey either sink or swim. Sometimes it’s a ...
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Front View Only

by Adam Zack — May 9, 2018

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Look at it like a first date.

“I’m looking at the man in the mirror….”            – Michael JacksonI got such a good response to last week’s blog that I feel the topic of really looking closely at what we see everyday needs to be probed a little further. I was listening to some comedy from the very funny and sardonic Dan Cummins recently. He talked about seeing himself straight on in the mirror: Looked good, aging well, seem fit. Some time later he saw a side view of himself, and thought “Holy crap! Am I a pregnant woman?” when he saw his gut. He didn’t see it when he was looking straight on. I think it’s something we can all relate to in some way. We look at ourselves in the mirror every day – looking good, aging well, hair mostly there, weight up a little but can’t really tell. Then, through some unexpected view of yourself, like in a hotel with a lot of mirrors or on a security camera or on someone else’s photos, you see yourself not through your own eyes of familiarity, but through the eyes of the rest of the world. Damn, I am going bald! Damn, am I that fat!? Damn, I don’t need to pack my bags because they’re already packed right under my eyes! It’s like last week’s familiarity story: You see ...
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