1. Rotation, Rotation, Rotation. The produce department of today is infinitely more complicated than what the norm was 30 or 40 years ago. One thing that has not changed is the importance of rotation. Full strip rotation--pull the old product, put new product down and put the old product on the top—is still the best way to rotate. Here are some techniques you can use to ensure your people are rotating properly:
- Feel the product on warm tables—if you feel cold product on top on warm product, you may have a rotation problem.
- Inspect your apple displays. Dull looking apples, wrinkled apples or cloudy apple bags are all signs of old product.
- Place stickers on the bottom of bagged fruit or potatoes with a date or number. Checking the display on a daily basis will allow you to see how the product is being rotated (i.e. if the bags with the stickers stay on the bottom of the display, with untagged product on top of them, you have a rotation problem).
2. Backroom Organization. Many problems on the sales floor start in the backroom. Because of this it is important to make sure your backroom is clean and organized. Some key attributes to watch for:
- Your backroom and coolers should mirror your sales floor as closely as possible i.e. if your rack has in order: carrots, celery, broccoli and cauliflower, then your cooler should have in order carrots, celery, broccoli and cauliflower. This will make it easier keep track of what you have on hand and write accurate orders.
- Make sure your prep areas and supply storage areas are kept clean. Dirty prep areas can introduce bacteria and potential food borne illnesses
3. Cull the department at least 3 times per day. Many produce departments will cut corners on culling, because it can be difficult to take the time to cull when there are holes to be filled. Others will leave questionable product on the rack in hopes that it will sell. In reality, leaving questionable or spoiled product on the rack will hurt sales and lead to more spoilage. A full department cull 1st thing in the morning, midday and right before peak evening shopping hours will ensure only saleable product is on your shelves.
Believe it or not, these basic tips require a tremendous amount of discipline, but reap tremendous rewards. Keep your team focused this winter season and you'll be sure to keep your owners happy as well!