Store info: Red Bud IGA and Millstadt IGA
Location: Red Bud, Illinois and Millstadt, Illinois
Submitted by: Craig Norrenberns
Three years ago, instead of creating another promotion or using another marketing tool to leverage sales, we took some time to figure out exactly who we are and what we value. The result is a new vision statement that defines our core principles:
- Joyful—We come to market everyday with the best attitudes and positive outlook.
- Prayerful—We start every meeting with prayer. We offer to pray for team members going through a hard time and you will regularly hear our team members saying, "Have a blessed day" during your time in our stores.
- Grateful—We show our appreciation to our guests in many ways during their shopping experience. We greet them and make it a point to say, "Thank you for shopping IGA today" at every opportunity we have, not just as they are leaving the register.
Everything we do as a company is run past this general vision, from the way we treat each other and our customers to the promotions we do and our charitable giving. The results have been transformational to our store culture at both our locations:
- We have enjoyed modest sales gains (1-1.5 percent) even as the local dollar stores have added new offerings of produce and dairy and frozen food.
- We have seen employee retention increase, and staff have rallied around and taken ownership of this vision.
- With our team more invested than ever, one of our greatest accomplishments in 2019 was to become a debt-free company. Our team has worked hard to attain this benchmark by keeping our gross profit margins in great shape.
With our new vision in place, our mission becomes more than selling food and making a profit. My father, T.J. Norrenberns has said that while we’re a grocery company, what we really are is a ministry disguised as a grocery store, which means our focus is always on people.
WHY IT WORKS
For Our Shoppers
Exceptional customer service is front and center. We might not beat our competitors on price, but we can on service.
Charitable giving. While we’ve always been involved in the community in our 25 years in business, our vision statement gives us guidance when making decisions on how to give. If it feels like the right thing to do, we do it. In 2019 alone, we gave to over 40 organizations totally over $3,000.
- Senior Services—We provide the lunches for the Senior Center and Meals on Wheels program. Our deli works closely with the Senior Center to provide hand-cooked meals for over 100 seniors Monday through Friday at a reduced rate of $5.35 per meal.
- Foster care—With our county having the highest number of children in state care, the need is large. We have partnered with the Restore Network, which helps recruit new foster families and provides them with ongoing support. Through them, we provide meals for families as they welcome foster children into their homes.
For Our Store
Low employee turnover. We’ve found that our staff have embraced the vision and enjoy feeling that they’re part of something bigger. We have noticed in the past few years, as the unemployment rate is at an all time low, that our turnover rate is maintaining a very low rate. Of the approximately 65 team members on staff last year, we replaced six with new team members. Of those six, only three left for new opportunities. The others were retirees or college students going away to school.
High employee engagement. A statistic we find more amazing is our attendance record. We post every team member’s attendance on a poster in the break room, and 90 percent of our team maintained a perfect attendance record last year. This means that almost our entire team did not miss a scheduled day of work for the entire year. We feel this speaks volumes about their desire to be part of this higher calling to be "Joyful, Prayerful, and Thankful." This also helps our managers to stay focused on margins, sales, and clean fresh displays, resulting in high productivity.
Hiring with our hearts. We have taken a chance on applicants who have struggled in the past and given them a chance to restart. We like to think that we’re doing things that another employer wouldn’t take the time to do.
- Do some soul searching. Get a team of people together and take an internal look, asking: "What’s the goal here?" and "In what ways are you making an impact or what would you like to achieve?" and "What makes your store different, unique, stand apart?"
- Get staff buy-in. We found that having employees take ownership gives them a sense of empowerment, and then we are all working toward the same goals.
- Go bold. Once you have your vision statement, put it on display. We run ours everywhere, in our print ads and on banners in the store.