The Importance of Assessments

Mar 11, 2021

If you ever spent time in the military, or went to a boarding school, you probably remember hating inspections. There was nothing worse than someone coming into where you live and walking around with a clip board, looking for ways to get you in trouble.

It is the same when you work for a big retailer, having to prepare for a big store walk with your district manager or RVP, or worse, company senior leaders. No matter how good you are, the raters don’t feel like they are doing their job unless they find something wrong.

I always hated it all. That's why we changed the IGA Five Star Assessment program, and modernized it. I wanted our redesigned program to work for the store owner, so he or she could use it to make their stores better. We want it to be a way to catch a store doing things right, too!

We no longer grade a store on how “IGA-ish” they are. We don’t count IGA stickers, we don’t punish a store if they use their family name more than the IGA corporate name. We trust the store owner to use the right brand in the market to grow, whether that is "Northampton IGA," "Martin’s Fresh Markets IGA," or “Grocery King, proud member of the independent Grocers Alliance." We want IGA owners to use the brand the way it works best for their customers.

Second, we try to capture photos of what the raters see—lots of photos, dozens. We want store owners and their management teams to be able to see how others see their store, and a photo of something that needs attention, or something done well, is easier to understand because it gives an unbiased view.

And third, we made the study nimble so we can add or subtract questions as market conditions change. For example, during COVID, we won't judge a store for out-of-stocks or missing items. And we canceled inspections during spring last year so stores wouldn’t be pulled away from handling high shopper demand.

The Five Star IGA rating system is not looking for bad stores to punish; instead, it is looking for good things we can celebrate, and reward."

The Five Star IGA rating system is not looking for bad stores to punish; instead, it is looking for good things we can celebrate, and reward. There is no curve—we want all stores to get top marks. But if a store doesn’t, we want the owner to have a good toolset to see where they need to improve. Often, we find small changes can make a big difference to shoppers, and the IGA Five Star program is designed to help you identify those changes, delegate them, and get your store on track.

And if a store gets poor scores in customer service areas, we don’t want anyone in trouble; instead, we want IGA owners to take advantage of the IGA Coca-Cola Institute's online customer service tools they can use for free. We call the program “Way to Care” and we know that stores who use it improve service, improve sales, and retain their best people.

The report now is all online, and it is easy to access and use. You can access your dashboard here.

And now we're adding a new component, a Voice of the Consumer score to go along with the professional raters. Stores can now get a net promoter score rating right from their own shoppers using a set of simple links and QR codes they put in their ads, bottom of receipts or online. The program is brand new, but we hope to have hundreds of IGA USA stores using it before year end.

The IGA Voice of the Consumer net promoter score takes all the shoppers who love you and subtracts out all the ones who don’t and give you an overall score for your store. Almost every big retailer uses Net Promoter Score (NPS) as a key metric. Now you can use it, too.

And oh, by the way, it's free!

Five Star is a tool to help you. But it is also a way for IGA INC. to help identify our best stores. We love to give out recognition. Unfortunately, during 2020 we couldn’t give out awards in person, but we are hoping to do it this year as COVID effects lessen. There is nothing better than knowing your store performed at the top of our business, one of the best IGA stores in a 6,000+ store chain.

Take advantage of the Five Star rating program. There will be two ratings this year, starting in April, and one in August. Click here to find out more.

As we come out of the crazy effects of a worldwide health crisis, it is a perfect time to relook at your store, your interior and exterior, signage, branding, and—most importantly—customer service. It can be a perfect time to take a deep breath, focus on a few areas to improve and then go execute.

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