Improve Operations

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 [...]

Bridging the Gap. Interim General Management

Like any business, cooperatives need capable management at all times. Emergency management succession planning is essential but despite this planning, sometimes a co-op finds itself in need of a steady experienced hand to manage the co-op during a GM transition. Interim General Managers (IGMs) provide stable and competent management allowing the board of directors to focus on hiring. Here are some steps and things [...]

Starting the Conversation: What Does It Take to Achieve Organizational Racial Equity

If you were to ask, most people would say that they are against racism and intolerance. Yet our society has imposed many powerful economic and social barriers to those from disenfranchised racial and economic backgrounds. Most people live in separate spheres and have limited interactions with different races and classes. For nearly a generation, food co-ops have attracted mostly white, educated and affluent people. [...]

Leading Co-op Operations with an Equity Lens

Durham Co-op Market Durham, NC Year founded: 2015 Number of members: 4,000 Member investment: $100 Number of employees: 50 Retail square feet: 8,000 The startup vision for Durham Co-op Market in Durham, NC was to be a very inclusive organization, one that would be an integral part of the community in which it was located. It was important to the founding members that all [...]

Make Your Produce Holiday Season a Success

Traditionally a time of community events and gathering together to celebrate the bounty of the season’s agricultural harvest, the Thanksgiving holiday is a great opportunity for food co-ops to stand out and highlight what they have to offer! Here are a few seasonal suggestions to help make your produce holiday season a success. Planning. Having the right amount of all the seasonal staples in [...]