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Store: Adams Hometown Market
Locations: 15 stores: 10 in Connecticut, 2 in Massachusetts, 2 in New York, 1 in Rhode Island
Annual Sales: $135M
Submitted by: Cassidy Spencer
With 15 store locations across four states, communication is critical to our brand, but also difficult to maintain using traditional methods. So, we started using the texting app GroupMe as a form of internal communication and found that not only does it boost team morale, it also has increased overall employee satisfaction—especially among our millennial employees. As an added benefit, the group conversations often spark creative ideas and competitions that make for great social media posts to engage our shoppers.
Teammates join our Adams Hometown Market group on the app and gain access to members from all locations and positions, from part-time employees to vice presidents. We share news through posts, chat and encourage each other, and host friendly competitions. Thanks to the archived conversations and our employees’ creative posts, this tool provides a constant stream of content to keep our social media fresh and our teammates engaged.
For example, one day our teammate Neka, from our Monson, Massachusetts store, carved a watermelon in the likeness of a dinosaur. Her team posted a photo to GroupMe, which sparked a competition between stores of who could create the best “Kooky Melon.” Our team dove head first into the fun, creating pirate ships, airplanes, frogs, and even a melon-baby. I shared these photos on our social media pages and the customers loved them.
Fosters exceptional customer service. The GroupMe app creates pillars of community, creativity, and openness among our team, which helps us provide our customers with a warm environment that makes us stand out as a Hometown Market.
Creates a unique shopping experience. The app allows us to share ideas and best practices without the barriers of title or location. We then bring these shared ideas to customers to make their experiences more enjoyable, both in-store and online.
Increases accessibility. After joining the group, a part-time cashier can instantly have access to our vice president. A deli clerk in West Warwick, Rhode Island can ask advice from the deli manager in Long Island, New York. Anyone can ask and answer questions, share ideas, and give praise, which helps our Adams Family grow.
Share pride in our work. Our team loves to share what they are up to at work. Our cake artists show off their sweet creations, our deli folk post photos of their cheese displays, and our meat cutters share their custom cut case.
Encourage each other. We also use the app for congratulations or extra shoutouts for promotions or exceptional customer feedback. It's a useful way of keeping everyone informed while bolstering a positive community.
Large and small-scale collaborations. Some of our stores have even created their own sub-groups to the "Adams Family." For instance, our customer service manager Logan in Monson, Massachusetts, created a group solely for his front-end team. Here they are able to cover shifts, post schedules, and brainstorm ideas.
Choose the right platform for your team. When I first started as manager of digital and social media excellence last year, one of the first items our VP Russ Greenlaw tasked me with was creating an internal Twitterfeed. After researching and playing around with Twitter, I was hesitant to use it for our team. It would have launched many of them into one of the largest social media platforms around and I knew offering that would alienate many of our teammates, so I searched for alternatives.
I decided to use GroupMe due to its simplistic approach—if you know how to text, you can use this app. The app is designed to easily bring large groups of people together on a single platform, allowing our teammates from all levels of the business and 15 locations to easily access one another.
Train your team on the app. Once I selected GroupMe, I trained the staff on how to properly use the app and created a brief video tutorial.
Make it fun. I dubbed our group the "Adams Family," and started adding teammates to it. First launching at our Shelton, Connecticut location, it has now organically spread to each store, creating bridges where there were once walls.
Use the content to engage customers on social media. The Kooky Melon and Bobby’s Bake-off competitions started with in-app posts, turning into in-store activities that garnered great engagement from customers in-store and on social media while boosting employee morale across locations.
Let the team opt in. Early on, there were a few instances where team members added others without their knowledge. I stepped in to remind everyone that being in the group is a choice. When people opt in, they are choosing to take an active role in our company. While we try to encourage that choice, we cannot and should not demand it. Everyone has a seat at the table and by joining the group, our team solidifies that. It becomes their way of raising their hand and saying, "I'm here and I want to help!"
Consider the tradeoffs. Because GroupMe has a simple format, there aren’t a lot of customizable options within the app. For example, once something is posted in the group, it stays there until the whole conversation is cleared (that includes typos). There’s not a search tool, so I can’t narrow down the content to find a particular post, which is difficult for me since the team posts frequently. The app is still fairly new and continues to evolve for the better with each update, so I have high hopes that these changes will eventually be made.