NGA’s “Five Questions” is a regular feature that explores the insights of independent grocery operators. This week, Lauren G.R. Johnson, president and CEO of Rudy’s Markets Inc., shares her thoughts with us.
- What were the most important lessons of 2020?
Your team is more capable in the face of unseen adversity than you could have ever been guessed. They will and do rise to the most challenging times.
- What changes do you expect will remain beyond the pandemic?
Fewer self-serve areas of the store. Those that chose to dive deep into perhaps an imperfect online portal will continue to be rewarded with those sales – now we fine-tune. Flexibility in workspace and how we schedule teams in tighter workspaces. A better plan for the next national or global issue. We’ve learned to pivot like never before, sometimes daily … and we can, and do it well.
- What are the most important opportunities for independent operators in the coming year?
To embrace the customer and the employee. Share our feelings of appreciation both verbally and with treats, perhaps pay. We shared over $1,000 with each employee through 2020 and issued a pay increase across the board equally, a 9 percent payroll increase.
- What are the most significant challenges for independents?
Supply chain, and helping customers understand the importance that all grocers play, but especially independent markets: When they choose to shop with us, they keep more of their money in their community, directly affecting their family, friends and neighbors. Also, when they shop us independents, those same grocers give back to their community nonprofits.
- How can independent operators continue to most effectively serve their customers and communities?
Be nimble and sell what people want to buy.