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Putting Employees and Shoppers First Leads to Long-term Shopper Loyalty

Author: Blake Meek

The Independent View

Blake Meek 2

Putting Employees and Shoppers First Leads to Long-term Shopper Loyalty  

 December 6, 2012 


I started out in this business as a night stocker when I was teenager. At the time I remember thinking that it would be just a temporary job, but it didn't take long for me to start enjoying the grocery business. Over the years I've worked in chain stores, for wholesalers, and now as an independent operator, and I've learned that there are two things that matter above everything else in the grocery business: your employees and your shoppers.

Now I know you're probably thinking that putting your employees and shoppers first is kind of a no-brainer, but anyone who works in the grocery business as an independent knows it's easy to get distracted. You start worrying about prices, and competition and sales, and before you know it, you realize that you've lost touch with what's really important.

I can't say it enough: without your employees you are really nothing. They are the pulse of your store, and you have to make sure that pulse is strong by showing them that they are critical to the success of the business. When I see an employee who is always willing to take the shift no one wants, or picks up trash in the parking lot on their way in to store, or looks for things that need to be done instead of waiting to be told, I give them a little card that congratulates them and gives them a few bucks to spend in the store on their break. It's a small thing that I do all the time to reinforce our helpful company culture, and it works. It's almost like going above and beyond becomes contagious, and then it spills over into those employees putting our shoppers first.

We must always remember that the heart of our business is the community we live in and the shoppers we serve. Without them, there is no "us." Our employees understand that when shoppers come to an IGA store, they expect a certain level of personalized, hometown service. They deliver that by calling shoppers by name, helping them find what they're looking for and suggesting new products for them to try, and by asking a simple question that makes all the difference: "Is there anything about your shopping experience that I can relate back to the manager for you?"

Lawrence Brothers IGA 2012

All those little things add up to make a "wow" experience that leaves shoppers feeling like they've never been treated so well at a grocery store. When that happens you can bet they're going to think twice before taking their business to a chain store where they're just another dollar sign.


Blake Meek