Improve Operations

Marketing Systems Revamp Lifts Sales

Ashland Food Co-op Ashland, OR Ashland Food Co-op in Ashland, OR is a successful food co-op in an artsy university town that also draws a lot of year-round tourists. The co-op is especially known for its outreach and popularity in the community. Recently, they faced a dilemma about this very thing. What should the co-op do when their dynamic and long-term marketing director retired? [...]

Gain Sales and Impact from Great Storytelling

Local food is a powerful branding force in grocery retailing. The huge shift in mainstream consumer demand regarding fresh, healthful eating and a desire to know where food comes from has changed how food is marketed and merchandised. Concurrent with the rise of “local” food, online retailing has changed how people buy food. It’s not enough to say its geographic origin. It’s not enough [...]

Telling the Story of Local and Fresh

Moscow Food Co-op Moscow, Idaho Year founded: 1973 Member investment: $150 Number of members: 7,800 Number of employees: 120 Locations: retail store + coffee shop For a long time, the Moscow Food Co-op had dreamed of “telling beautiful stories” about the co-op. They made the investment in 2015 to launch a co-op magazine called Rooted. Since then, their dreams have come true, and then [...]

How Cooperative is Your Customer Service?

Too often, customer service and membership trainings become a quick checked box on the first day on the job, and over time, staff become disconnected from the true meaning of service and the significance of their co-op in the community. As competition in our marketplace continues to tighten, it’s imperative that we strive to create a culture of continuous improvement and enthusiasm for the [...]

When a Living Wage Becomes a Demotivator

By Sarah Dahl 195 March-April 2018 It’s hard to understand how something as benevolent as paying a living wage could cause resentment within the workforce. With over half (29) of states and an additional 39 localities mandating a minimum wage higher than the legal threshold of $7.25, more co-ops are attempting to provide a living wage for their lowest-paid employees. While this is a [...]

The Problem No One Wants to Talk About

A client, who I’ll call Mary, is the owner of a small natural foods store. A new bookkeeper had been on the job for several months before Mary studied the bank records and realized $15,000 had disappeared. Mary confronted the bookkeeper, who sobbed that she'd "borrowed" the money to pay her mortgage. Mary was touched by this story. She intended to fire the bookkeeper, [...]

Aiming for Continuous Communications Improvement

By Sarah Dahl 191 July-August 2017 No one is a perfect communicator, and no co-op experiences completely effective communication at all times. While some co-ops may do better than others—at least as reported in more than 200 staff surveys conducted by CDS Consulting Co-op—communication issues are nearly always on the list of things that staff want to see improved. While communication issues can be as [...]

“Better safe, than sorry!”

If one were asked to summarize an Emergency Preparedness philosophy in a succinct, no-nonsense maxim, "better safe, than sorry" would definitely be it. Defined simply as: "a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action," responding safely and effectively to any emergency requires thoughtful planning ahead of time, streamlined procedures, trained staff, and capable leaders. Planning. Just because you can’t plan for everything, [...]

Co-ops at a Crossroads: A Co-op Security Case Study

By Michael Feiner, Paul Feiner 194 Jan.-Feb. 2018 Retail grocery co-ops are as quintessential Vermont as the brilliant colors of our fall foliage, the hallmark herd of Holsteins on the pasture, or the one-room schoolhouse at the crossroads of two backcountry roads. In fact, it’s said that Vermont boasts the most food co-ops per capita in the country—somewhere in the neighborhood of 17, give or take, [...]

Open Book Management: Now is the Time!

By Melanie Reid Co-ops continue to face an increasingly tough marketplace. Competition for employees is as tough as it is for food dollars. One strategy for attracting and retaining talented and passionate staff members is to build a culture of strong employee engagement. Open Book Management (OBM) has the potential to contribute to higher staff satisfaction, improved engagement, increased accountability, and strong communication. Inviting staff [...]