Thank you for your coffee, Seignor. I shall miss that when we leave Casablanca, ‘as Ingrid Bergman spoke in her hushed, husky tone making Casablanca one of the most celebrated movies in Hollywood, she also elevated that quintessential warm mug of smoking coffee to new heights. Be it falling in love over a steaming cup, or just taking an idle break and penning down words like author Ernest Hemingway often did in a pleasant and friendly café, over a café au lait, it’s always an exciting experience to just sit and laze at a café of your choice. But what about a café that brings hearts together and unites a community through love and friendship? It stands to create history for sure. Just like Arsaga’s Coffee Shop did at Fayetteville.
So in conclusion here's what made my particular first hand experience great:
Thanks to Cary & Team for a hospitable visit and best ventures into a successful 2017!
As a food merchandising consultant, last year's travels took us across the U.S. for a fun bunch of unique food industry projects but also simultaneously my entirely informal review of America's greatest coffeehouses, cafes, and espresso bars. Granted, any coffeehouse in a city I did not visit had a serious handicap in this exercise. Yet, frequent travel provides ample opportunities to sample and experience coffee in a variety of translations and retail environments. I've asked one of our writers to research and chronicle a bit more below to share in more narrative about an everyday visit to my favorite coffee experience in 2016: Arsagas Coffee:
Disclaimer: Please consult your local health department or other local authorities for specific temperature and food safety requirements for your retail food store. This article is written to generally share some of the retail benefits and potential pitfalls in a total store refrigeration approach to retailing.
In today’s best-in-class produce merchants careful attention is taken to ensure the uniquely delicate storage criteria for each produce item is offered whenever possible to ensure optimum freshness, quality, and flavor. Retailers generally benefit in numerous ways by modernizing departments to become more customer-centric and product quality focused through the use of mix of appropriately refrigerated cases and dry ambient fixtures. Here’s some thoughts you should consider:
Shopping Experience: A comfortable shopping environment is a core tenant for best-in-class retailers. Offering a shopping experience near normal room temperatures ensure customers can shop with limited distractions. Businesses can develop a reputation for being uncomfortable. Customers may express, “The music is so loud”, or “It’s freezing in there.” Don’t give customers a reason to shop somewhere else. Approximately over 2/3 of all grocery purchases are impulsive. This infers the longer guests stay in the retail space the more likely they are to add additional items to their basket.
Temperature Zones: The spectrum of fresh produce from tropicals to hearty greens has diverse temperature and humidity needs. While berries may thrive below 40 degrees tomatoes suffer significant degradation and flavor loss. Refrigerating bananas can contribute to chill injury and impact ripening. Addressing the unique requirements to keep each item in optimal freshness demonstrates your care and attention to your offering. The greater culinary experience and success your customers have with your products the more likely they are to return. Addressing these requirements in the retail environment can silently demonstrate to customers your expertise in the fresh produce industry or allow for fun and friendly educational conversations with guests which communicate your concern for the flavor and freshness of the items they will later enjoy at home.
Dehydration: The process of dehydration not only creates less desirable wilted dark greens, lettuces, or peppers it is also impacting your profitability. Significant water loss happens with continual air circulating over the surface of your produce. For items commonly sold by weight each water drop is money lost from your pocket. In the produce business this is called, unknown shrink. It’s the weight loss between receiving the product and selling it that you can’t charge for and it impacts your gross profits. Retail crisping procedures combined with modern refrigerated systems offer precision misting capabilities. Shelving in refrigerated cases can also be set in manners to limit water loss. Limiting dehydration in-store promotes longer shelf life once produce items arrive in customer’s homes.
Food Safety: A cold environment can create a false sense of security. A refrigerated store’s temperature is often set at a median level as a balance for all varied items in stock. This generally means a temperature too high for items of potential food safety risk and too low for items benefiting from ambient temperature. A wholly refrigerated store is typically at a temperature above recommended requirements for dairy items, fresh-cuts, bagged salads, fresh juices, etc. Employees may be unmotivated to quickly stock incoming loads to proper areas if they feel false security in the environment. A high risk item like cut melon held out of proper temperature for hours will become unsafe to eat potentially causing food-borne illness. Without the proper temperature zones, retailers must limit their product mix to items they can safely sell, which may also limit financial opportunities or meeting their customer’s needs.
Grocery Items: In today’s world retailers generally benefit from offering other key items beyond their focus. For produce retailers dairy, meats, cheese, and dry grocery goods add incremental opportunities. However, refrigerating items such as olive oil solidifies products creating poor presentation and likely buyer hesitancy. Consider and research how refrigeration will impact the product integrity of all items you are retailing and merchandise accordingly.
As you can see the numerous benefits to zone refrigeration in combination with dry ambient fixtures offers a tremendous benefit to customers. This approach can limit food safety concerns, improve produce quality & freshness while simultaneously creating a more comfortable retail environment your guests will enjoy. Why not give your customers more reasons to shop more frequently in your store!
Discuss this approach with your trusted local refrigeration advisor today.
What do we do? Sometimes it might be a little abstract to suggest that we help hotels, resorts, recreational properties, and food markets drive their grab and go business. Besides our overall review and consultation for facilities, I thought it might be helpful to list a few very specific services that are involved in our day to day coaching of retained clients or on specific projects. The list below shares some of the types of assistance we can provide!
Once we match your needs with our experience we can present solutions for:
●Standard merch/operating procedures
●Product mix curation
●Vendor set-up and recommendations
●Product sourcing or review: packaged or prepared fresh foods
○Custom created fixtures
○Off the shelf fixtures
●Vessels, containers, baskets
○Determine “what goes where?”
●Case sets + Plan-o-grams
○Develop procedures and written systems
○Document merchandising or operational tasks with photos and graphic
Contact us today if we can help you grow your business profitability. We can help you achieve your desired objectives as an owner or director responsible for business results in your food business.
According to the Urban Dictionary :
A question of cause-and-effect or sequence of actions, possibly unanswerable.
From the eternal question "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?"
Did an earthquake cause the mine collapse, or was the collapse itself registered as the quake? This could be a chicken-or-egg problem. by Man Machine August 12, 2007
Without your knowing your produce department could actually be a "coop" of chicken and egg problems for your company or store.
Here's a few examples:
1. Freshness - The store owner could say they are suffering from a lack of customer traffic. In the weekly sales meeting the produce manager then uses this "fact" as an excuse for why they cannot stay fresh. However, in my opinion many fresh departments often start to show signs of lower freshness standards which then can in turn be followed by customers simply finding alternative occasional or home stores for their regular shopping. Since the produce department has been generally moved to front entrances of many leading retailers it is more important than ever for someone not to stick their hand through a rotten hole in your watermelons or smell an off-putting odor from a bag of onions. With freshness as a leading driver for store visits noted in study after industry study make sure this chicken and egg factor isn't plaguing your store performance. Fresh produce must be just that: FRESH!
2. Versatile Employees = My Department doesn't look as good as it could!- How can my produce department look less than stellar with some of the best employees in the store? The produce business is an ever changing seasonal business requiring hard working strong team members. All too often the nature of great produce department employees has fitting characteristics of flexible, mobile (used to not sitting behind a meat counter, but rather moving around coolers, the backroom and sales floor), and physically strong. Weight limits in job descriptions for produce employees could likely push 40-60 pounds which is necessary to lug cases of apples, cabbage, etc. Where I'm heading with this idea is that all too often versatile reliable produce employees are pulled off stocking for other total store projects due to their unique skill sets! Ask any produce clerk if they've ever been asked to go gather shopping carts, clean an area of the store, help life something heavy, or be pulled to the front end to ring customers. The proximity of produce clerks to the registers is often a leading culprit reason to have them help during times of peak customers. Never the less the chicken and egg effect can easily happen with this phenomenon.
3. Cleaning & Tightened Labor Budgets: All too often labor budgets cramp necessary cleaning tasks. When customers see mineral or debris build up on cases that have become slimy it can be a deterrent to sales. To maximize profitability management can all too often limit labor budgets to accomplish this and many other department tasks. We must ask ourselves does this begin to get counter-productive at some point. In chicken and egg fashion one factor affects another to undermine our ability to profit overall! Without clean well run departments we will eventually catch up with ourselves when the customer begins to notice.
The moral of the story: Keep Chickens and Eggs out of the produce department...and back in the Meat and Dairy departments where they belong for best success!
We help retailers all the time find factors that limit their ability to drive gross profit. Feel free to take a look for yourself!
Are you asking questions about how you can grow your fresh produce business? Are you asking the right questions? All too often food retailers marketing fresh produce can feel like the fresh business is controlling them verses they are controlling their business. Shrink concerns and freshness presentation issues can quickly make a produce manager or store owner feel helpless. What often happens next is a paralyzing or depressing effect. When business owners feel out of control sometimes they simply stop trying to improve business results looking the other way and ignoring major signs of lost customers, deteriorating produce, or less than helpful employees. What unfortunately can set in is a general malaise of apathy where produce managers or even clerk level employees simply stop trying as well. Since we've all been in circumstances that seem overwhelming or challenging I thought I might offer a bit of insight or advice by simply sharing some questions that progressive retailers should be asking about their fresh produce business.
To accomplish this I had my team compile a downloadable ebook entitled the:
Fresh Produce Retail Merchandising Reinvention Guidebook
If you've ever tried to bang in a nail with a screw driver you'll understand how ineffective the process might be. In much the same way I sense many food retailers need to find a "better tool for the job" when it comes to presenting fresh prepared foods in a favorable manner. It surprises me as I travel the country at how foods are presented in every form imaginable in ready-to-eat formats in cafes, markets, small kiosks. How frequently I see foods displayed in very ineffective packages concerns me. If I didn't know better I would say they were just trying to use up old packaging stock. Often packages are grossly over-sized for the item inside. Other packaging materials offer little to no ability to see what's inside. All in all fresh prepared foods operators have significant opportunities to improve. From my perspective that's terrific because it means for our clients there's regularly more money to be made by gaining additional impulse purchases more often.
1. Take a lesson from Food Manufacturers: Food manufacturers often have a competitive edge when it comes to selecting proper packaging for fresh food products as they understand how great labeling, views of the food / ingredients, and choosing packaging that properly fits the food inside. This idea has two parts. The first is don't hesitate to work with companies that allow you to bring in great tasting packaged foods into your program. The second is look closely at how food manufacturers execute this grab and go challenge. Rarely do I find any manufacturer offering a hacked away at slice of cake in a package 3 times it's size with smeared frosting on the lid! For groups looking to do everything in-house consider how consistent and well displayed your offering will be day in and day out. Sure there might be a little more margin. Is it worth it?
2. Sandwich 101 - Show me the ingredients: How many retailers who still show very little of their delicious food ingredients in a sandwich are shocking. Show me the colorful and delicious tomatoes. A sandwich is more than just bread! Test different plating and presentation techniques. Slice a few samples in various cross-sections and see what manner looks best.
3. Build Standards - Document the process of how your products are displayed in clear packaging. A simply method is to take photos and share them with kitchen staff to ensure regular consistent plating of items in your package. Without standards every day might offer a different "mix-up" of sandwich visuals. Keep in mind some items are on display from a prior day alongside items made the same day.
4. Date the Packages - Make sure a rigorous coding or customer-facing date label is visible. Protect your guests and yourself from food born illness. Make food safety a priority by "culling" or hands-on touching every item in the cooler and checking dates every day. This program must be consistent and understood as a key priority by all staff. Ensure a double check your cold cases for "outdated culprits" by having employees review during a non-peak business time.
5. Labels - Do something unique and fun. A label should have all proper required labeling requirements, but also communicate what's inside. Consider adding a few selling points to the label and selecting a design and color that represents your brand well to the customer. Consider how to place the logo consistently in the same location day to day. Take photos of label placement as a standard and supply to responsible team members.
6. Don't overthink it: I've seen groups bring in custom or special order packaging materials for a small project. The freight costs alone might make a package an unprofitable means to package your food items. With a proliferation of options consult your packaging supplier closely. Suppliers may buy from specific manufacturers in volume and be able to pass along savings. Other packages may be manufactured 1000 miles away and offer little affordability due to all the freight costs involved. For key items you will be selling volumes of over the year, a little extra front end research will likely pay dividends in getting packaging costs to a workable number to make small grab and go side items or main entrees a profitable reality.
I was recently in a grocery store known as a market leader down south. I wasn't impressed when I reviewed their in-house cut-fruit program. While the food looked fresh, every single package had a round label strewn across the top in a different location reminding me more of my 3 year old's activity book than a professional packaged fresh food product.
I've often repeated the age old phrase, successful retailers do the things unsuccessful retailers don't want to do. Retail truly is detail. When it comes to packaging I would take your in-house program seriously. Research great affordable packaging materials and build systems for consistent best-in-class food presentation to build a successful program.
When ever you develop a product mix it's important to make sure that you have a high-level frame work to limit missing any "types of items" that could offer opportunity. In my work coaching small markets, hospitality companies, and travel outlets to improve their profitability this is one of the key areas I regularly find opportunities. There's a few ways to help ensure you're not just putting up items in a beverage cooler hoping for the best, but instead be better positioned to meet the needs of customers entering your market.
Here's some tips I would recommend:
Make sure you have items for diverse categories: From a quick look online here's a good starting point below:
Carbonated Beverages: Cans, Bottles, Natural, Regular
Bottled Water: carbonated, regular, Spring, varied bottle formats
Energy Drinks and Shots: (Often left out of sets)
Coffee & Tea: Important items include cold brew, and low to high end teas, be conscious of varied caffeine options
Alternative & Specialty Beverages: Any number of unique beverages exist, select items that go well with your food concept, health related & allergen specific items (almond milk, coconut water, etc.)
Juice & Juice Drinks: Breakfast options, kids, healthy
Beer, Etc.: Imports, Local Micros, National Brands, Hard Ciders
Wine & Spirits: Review size options, single service, half to full bottles, varietals
Dairy, Etc.: Milk options, aseptic milk options
Feel free to send me an email if you sense another category would be helpful here that I may have missed:
by Maggie Bayless, ZingTrain
Have you ever caught yourself saying, “once things calm down a bit, I’ll . . .(fill in the blank)”? I don’t know about you, but those “calm times” I keep waiting for don’t ever seem to arrive. So if I don’t just make time for whatever it is I want to accomplish, it’s never going to get done.
I see many managers making the same mistake, especially when it comes to creating, updating or implementing training for their employees. For many people, creating a “training plan” feels like a huge project that requires a big chunk of time and because that big chunk of time never materializes—neither does the training.
Contrary to popular belief, improving your organization’s training doesn’t require some huge master plan. There are many meaningful changes you can make that don’t require lots of time. But they do require implementation and consistent follow-through in order to be effective. Setting aside time to focus on training each week—and then really doing it—will get you much farther in the long run than any one-time shot—no matter how many hours you devote to that initial session. An investment as small as 30 minutes/week, if made consistently, can yield significant results.
Look at your Bottom Lines
So, OK, you’ve set aside some time. Now, where to start? It is impossible to do everything at once. We all know that’s true intellectually, but most of us find ourselves trying to do the impossible anyway. Training improvements, like any other project, will benefit from some up-front thinking about priorities. So curb your inclination to just rush right in and start changing everything. Spend your first weekly training time allotment on determining your top priorities.
At Zingerman’s we work towards positive results on three bottom lines—Great Food, Great Service and Great Finance—and we measure our progress in each of those areas. As a result, we focus our training, which we call Bottom Line Training, on making a positive bottom-line impact.
Although you may not talk in terms of multiple bottom lines, I think most retail managers would agree that product quality, service quality and financial results are all top priorities. So look at your organization’s current performance in each of those areas. If you feel you’re particularly weak in one area, focus there.
What’s Bugging You?
A good place to start is with your gut. That’s right, with those feelings down in the pit of your stomach about what is not going the way you know it should. I’m usually most in touch with these feelings when I first wake up in the morning and find myself anxious about some aspect of work. For some retail managers, it’s whatever they find themselves thinking about as they are getting in to work each day, hoping that there hasn’t been a problem. Still others know they’ve hit a hot spot when they’re grinding their teeth upon returning after a couple of days off. You get the idea.
The situations that generate these anxieties can run the gamut from relatively minor to quite serious:
● Are the display cases set up by opening time?
● Are our phones being answered correctly?
● Are the cash drawers consistently short?
Whatever it is that’s bugging you, if it’s been an issue for more than a day or two, it’s probably worth looking into. Because until you resolve that issue, the anxiety about it is sapping energy that you could apply elsewhere.
Is Training the Answer?
So let’s say you’ve decided on a problem that you want to focus on. Something that’s been bugging you and/or an issue that you know impacts your product quality, customer service or financial performance. Is training the answer? Good question, and one that all too often goes unasked—and unanswered.
Training is not the answer to every problem. Training is only the solution when lack of training is the cause. Lack of systems and lack of management are other important causes of business problems. To decide if training is the solution to your problem, ask yourself these three questions:
#1 Is there an effective, agreed upon and documented system in place for performing the task—one that works if it is followed?
For the situations cited above, these would be procedures for setting up cases before opening, for answering the phone, and for handling cash. If the answer to #1 is no, you’re dealing with a systems problem. Until leadership agrees on a system that works and documents it, there isn’t anything to train. The focus here should be to leverage the people who understand the situation best to design a system that—if followed consistently—would eliminate (or greatly minimize) the problem.
#2 Is there an effective, documented system in place and the employees know how to use it, but it’s not being followed?
If the answer to #2 is yes, you’re dealing with a management problem. If employees already know how to use the system, they don’t need more training. What’s needed is effective leadership. Putting people through additional training on things they already know is NOT a good bottom line use of resources, but as managers we often default to training when we are uncomfortable holding people accountable.
#3 Is there an effective, documented system in place, but employees don’t really know what it is or how to use it?
If the answer to #3 is yes, you have uncovered a training problem. What’s needed is effective training. If you have no current training on this system the answer is obvious: create some. If you are currently offering training on this system, it isn’t as effective as it needs to be, so you’ll want to redesign it. Look for situations in which the answer to question #3 is yes, and you will find the places where training can really make a difference. If these situations also have a big impact on your bottom lines, you’ve uncovered some top training priorities.
Make a commitment to set-aside “training time” each week. Sit down right now, pick an amount of time that you know you can devote week-in and week-out to training, and block that time off each week in your planner. Committing to 15 minutes a week and always doing it will be much more effective than committing to 2 hours a week and only doing it once or twice. But you also want to be sure that the time you invest is being used effectively. So as you focus on the problem you want to address, review the 3 questions above and ask yourself, “Is lack of training (or poor training) the primary cause of this problem?” If the answer is yes, you can be assured that you’ll be putting your “training time” to good use.
If the answer is yes to training being the issue, here are some further resources :
● Essays on Training (and other things)
● Webinars on Training (and other things)
● 2-day seminar : Bottom Line Training
This article was first published in July 2010 for Gourmet Retailer magazine's Staff Training Column
Written By: Donald Cooper
The #1 problem facing every retailer today is simple…there's way too many stores that all look alike, selling way too much merchandise that all looks alike, staffed by people who don’t know and don’t care. That’s it! Add to that an economy in “snooze mode” and it’s not a pretty picture.
All of that being said, money will still be spent somewhere and the very best retailers will always do well. These are the retailers who create, deliver and communicate compelling Value...retailers who have the ability to consistently excel at six things:
Donald Cooper, MBA, has been both a world-class manufacturer and an award-winning retailer. He speaks and coaches internationally on marketing, management and business excellence. Donald can be reached at email@example.com in Toronto, Canada. To read more of his articles, go to www.donaldcooper.com and click on “Free Articles”
Hey everyone: My friends over at ZingTrain shared this reminder on how to build better service in your organization. I hope you find it helpful.
Creating Recipes for Service Success
By Maggie Bayless, ZingTrain
Breaking down key procedures into simple-to-follow steps gives your staff a fail-proof recipe for success.
What is a business recipe?
At Zingerman's, we like recipes. Documenting and following recipes for the foods that we serve make it more likely that the corned beef sandwich you have today will taste just as good as the one you have next week, that the chicken broth will have the right amount of salt, and that the pecan raisin bread has the right amount of pecans and raisins.
But we don't just have recipes for the foods we prepare; we also have recipes for key processes and procedures – for elements of the customer (or the employee) experience that we want to be consistent each time. Our best-known business recipes include Zingerman's 3 Steps to Great Service and Zingerman's 5 Steps to Handling Customer Complaints, but we also have recipes for order accuracy, effective organizational change and conflict resolution – to name just a few.
Zingerman's 3 Steps to Great Service
1. Figure out what the customer wants.
2. Get if for them: accurately, politely, enthusiastically.
3. Go the extra mile.
A successful business recipe is a process or procedure that you have thought through, broken down into simple-to-follow steps, documented, taught and practiced consistently – and that, when followed, guarantees (or at least greatly increases the likelihood of) a positive outcome.
Zingerman's 3 Steps to Great Service is simple enough that new staffers can learn it on their first day. But its beauty as a recipe is that it's still exactly the right process for the most skilled service providers in our organization, who exhibit tremendous creativity and finesse in performing each step – but who follow those same steps all the same.
Origins of Business Recipes
Often, business recipes are developed because one person in an organization is consistently better at accomplishing a task that most other people, and when that person's process for performing the task is analyzed, a recipe is born. Other times, a group gets together to compare best practices and document those as a recipe.
In most businesses, the recipes aren't documented from the beginning, but rather developed over time. When Zingerman's Delicatessen opened in 1982, we weren't teaching a customer service class; Ari and Paul were waiting on customers and modeling their vision of great service. About eight years in, however, with around 50 staff members, it became clear that we needed to do more formal training if we wanted to maintain the level of service we'd become known for. In creating Zingerman's 3 Steps to Great Service, we searched for the common elements in the best customer service interactions and wrote them down. Then, over the years, we've tweaked them a little as we found pieces that needed to be clarified.
Business recipes can also be imported from other businesses, although we've found that this is most effective if the recipes are adapted to reflect the culture of the new organization, rather than just adopted "as is." For example, when ZingTrain works with clients on developing a vision of great service for their organization, we offer Zingerman's 3 Steps to Great Service as a model but encourage them to create their own steps, using language consistent with their organization's look and feel.
When we worked with the staff of Laurey's Catering in Asheville, N.C., here's how they adapted Zingerman's customer service recipe to fit their business:
Laurey's 4 Steps to Customer Service
1. Welcome and find out what the customer wants. Spend the necessary time with them.
2. Accurate orders delivered quickly and politely with genuine enthusiasm.
3. When you think you've done enough, do more.
4. Thank the customer.
The language reflects the culture of Laurey's and feels comfortable to the people who work there. When they put these steps in writing nine or so years ago, the culture of great service at Laurey's wasn't new, and their recipe simply documented what they'd been doing for a long time. But having a recipe written down has made it much easier to teach incoming staff what's expected – and to measure whether individuals are following all of the steps.
Documenting Business Recipes
We have two main motivations for documenting business recipes:
1. We're really good at something, or have a special way of doing it, and we want to formalize that process.
2. We're not so good at a process or procedure that we know is essential to long-term success, so we want to find a better way to do it.
In either case, once we've defined the process, we need to teach it to others. The whole point of business recipes is to make teaching and learning easier. If the idea of creating business recipes intrigues you, but you're not sure where to start, I'd spend some time thinking about what the most important things are that your staff needs to be able to do, and what you find yourself repeatedly telling them/teaching them again and again. Answering those questions will provide some insight into where to start and – for many organizations – will bring the idea of a recipe for delivering customer service to the fore. Feel free to use Zingerman's 3 Steps to Great Service as a launchpad and adapt it as needed to fit your organization's service standards and culture. For a more in-depth explanation of what we've done at Zingerman's, check
out "Zingerman's Guide to Good Leading, Part 1: A Lapsed Anarchist's Approach to Building a Great Business" by Ari Weinzweig. And if you create recipes of your own, please let us know what you come up with and how they're working!
More resources for Zingerman's Customer Service training :
Zingerman's Guide to Giving Great Service by Ari Weinzweig
Zingerman's 5 Steps to Effectively Handling a Complaint Training DVD
This article also appeared in Gourmet Retailer magazine in April/May 2013
Food Merchandising Blog: Ideas & Tips to Help you Grow Your Food Market