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Van's IGA Dillon—Customer Service and Community Commitment Make the Difference!

Author: Paul Vander Jagt
Paul Vander JagtDecember 11, 2013

A message from...
Paul Vander Jagt 
2014 IGA USA Retailer of the Year Finalist 
Van's IGA Dillon
Dillon, MT 

Look to The Independent View in the coming days to learn more about the Finalists in the running to become one of three 2014 IGA USA International Retailers of the Year. Today, Paul Vander Jagt of Van's IGA Dillon shares the retailing philosophy and "best practices" that set his IGA apart from the competition.

We recently had a market survey done here at Van's IGA Dillon, and we were pleased to learn that we scored two or three points higher than the competition in town in terms of customer service. In my opinion, that score is actually reflective of a combination of two things: the way we treat our shoppers, of course, but also the way we treat our community outside of the store.

On a shopper level, we have a number of policies that ensure that we are doing all we can to deliver the best shopping experience possible. For example, when our cashiers don't have customers, they stand out in front of the registers to let the customers know that they are ready to help. We also have a "Three's a Crowd" policy, meaning when there's more than three people in a cashier's lane, the cashier will call an additional checker to the front of the store to open another lane. And we have policies about greeting customers and thanking them for their business when they checkout to ensure that first and last impression are always favorable.

On the community front, we wouldn't have to do much to stand out from the competition given that community support from the chain stores in our area is basically nonexistent, but that wouldn't be the IGA way. IGA is Hometown Proud, so that's what we hang our hat on.

We are involved in just about everything that goes on in the city of Dillon, from purchasing steers at the local FHA livestock sale and donating the meat to the elementary school; to sponsoring a little league team; to holding a reading rewards program for the middle school. If you get involved with all local organizations in your hometown, you touch the lives of most of the people in the community at some time or another. There's a lasting bond there that these people simply don't have with the chain stores. When you develop that bond—and you keep it going with really great customer service—you better believe they're going to keep coming back.

Paul Vander Jagt