Last updated on July 5th, 2016 at 02:31 pm
If your company does not arrange for a member of senior management to spend time with new hires during basic training you are missing an opportunity. The opportunity to help newly hired employees get a clear understanding of your company’s brand character as well as the financial drivers that make a retail grocery business successful.
At one point in my time as a retail grocer, I had the opportunity to work with a young district manager (DM) who consistently ticked all the performance boxes necessary to be a high-level performer.
After following our DM’s good-and-getting-better results for several quarters, we thought it was time to learn how the DM led the pack in sales growth, margin improvement, labor management, workers comp and expense, and employee turnover. When asked, “Why such good numbers?” after a short pause the young leader responded, “New hires.”
The DM had taken a portion of the standard training program and called it “An afternoon with the DM.” The meetings, with an average of 10 to 15 new employees, were usually held every four to six weeks. The common-sense format allowed the district manager to share their family and background information with new employees and in turn hear about their lives and interest in the retail grocery business.
After introductions, the DM addressed sales—their origin and importance. The new employees learned that sales begin and end with the customer. Further, they learned that the most important part of their job was giving the customer their undivided attention!
Margins were explained as a function of sales, costs and expenses. Generally speaking, a happy customer nurtured all three.
Because over time it would affect the employee directly, the process of labor and scheduling were important for new employees to understand. The DM made sure they understood that the number of hours on a schedule was determined by the store sales, and the day and time of hours assigned were based primarily on customer traffic.
The DM spent some time explaining the importance of a safe workplace and how careless accidents lead to increased workers comp expense. They were asked to report anything they felt was not safe.
The DM was particularly proud of the district turnover rate. Historically the lowest in the company, in the DM’s mind, the low turnover could be attributed to “An afternoon with the DM” meetings, making new employees feel like they are part of the team.
By learning personal information about their DM and a short list of business financials, newly hired employees felt a sense of belonging and ownership.
Give it a try.
Chase those sales—they won’t chase you!
After a 40-year career that included executive-level positions with Safeway, Lucky Stores, Appletree Markets and Save Mart/Food Maxx, Art Patch retired from the retail grocery business in 2007. He is a graduate of San Jose State College and the Cornell Food Executive Program. Patch is on the ExecuForce Team of Encore Associates and is a counselor for SCORE, helping new and emerging businesses develop business and marketing plans. He welcomes your feedback. Email him at [email protected].