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SMARTS Speakers Encourage Grocery Leaders To Care, Share, Motivate


Last updated on February 7th, 2022 at 09:27 am

by Eric Pereira / content creator

Harold Llyod Presents held its 21st annual Supermarket SMARTS conference in a virtual format the week of Jan. 10.

The SMARTS event combined education and entertainment for grocery managers, assistant managers and management trainees to learn through interactive seminars and assignments.

The Supermarket SMARTS event featured various guest speakers including, but not limited to: Jim Donald, co-chairman of Albertsons Market/Safeway and former CEO of Starbucks; Paul Marth, former manager of Metropolitan Market based in Seattle; Steve Morrow, store manager at Allen’s Food Market in Arkansas; and Tom Zemaitis, retired Publix store manager.

Donald kicked off his presentation by emphasizing the importance of press releases. He encouraged the idea of department managers producing their own releases on production and sales. “Do you press release?” he asked. “And if you don’t, why not?”

Jim Donald

Donald shared an important catch phrase: “Care more than others think possible or necessary, and care more than your competition does.”

This can be exemplified in many ways, whether it’s writing handwritten letters, taking the job nobody wants or encouraging risk taking.

“Blending” work and life versus balancing was another focal point for Donald. As the Starbucks CEO, he shared how he was able to catch up on work during his son’s T-ball practice without missing any of the fun. 

Paul Marth

Marth covered some of the practices that helped strengthen his team at Metropolitan Market. A lot of it focused on creating a dialogue within a business. 

On the topic of team huddles, he would always ask department managers: “Do you have any equipment in your department that needs to be fixed? Do you need any tools to do your job? And…most days, somebody would have something that hadn’t quite gotten fixed,” he said. 

Paul Marth

This led him to highlight the importance of leadership meetings. 

New dialogues also emerged during his monthly “team-up orientations.” They included new hires from the previous month as well as 10 other team members. 

Each November, Marth liked to rent a van with his team and tour their competitors’ stores. To make it worthwhile, they would look for ideas on how to improve items per customer, pricing, merchandising and signage.

“The one key to the whole thing for me was to make sure that my team left the store behind that day,” he said. “Get out of your store mode, get into the creative half of your business, the solution side, the creative side, and look for those kinds of things. The other key to the whole thing – you’re not looking for what you do better than them; you’re looking for what they do better than you.”

Steve Morrow

Morrow preached the many values that help him run a store in “the retail epicenter” of Arkansas. These included “run it like you own it” and the “manager’s enthusiasm is the driving force of the store.”

Morrow has been an Associated Wholesale Grocers regional manager of the year and national manager of the year. In his webinar, he covered all of the steps he and his associates take to increase customer engagement and loyalty online and in person and how his store has become a pillar in the community. 

From shopping sprees and free steak dinners to hosting employee interviews out in the store, Morrow touted numerous practices. “Managing isn’t just being a manager, it’s being a leader…because, again, people might not follow a manager, but they will follow leader. Never forget you’re a leader,” he said.

Steve Morrow

Tom Zemaitis

Zemaitis was a store manager for Publix for 23 of his 40 years with the company. He also worked as a perishable manager and a meat manager. He was ranked Publix’s top store manager, receiving various accolades, including the George Jenkins Award.

Asked why he decided against taking a promotion, Zemaitis said he enjoyed the balance he had with life, family and his community. “I found that through the years, I had the opportunity to schedule myself around the needs of the store and around the needs of my family,” he said. “It was a great balance…and learning the community was even a greater gift to me. That’s why I stayed.”

For more information on the Supermarkets SMARTS conference, visit hlloydpresents.com.

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