6 tips to find, train, sustain, and lead skill workers

To run better grocerants, supermarkets and convenience stores must morph their retail worker pools into foodservice teams skilled in culinary, food preparation, food safety, sanitation, and customer service.

These tips from Foodservice@Retail: Grocerants will help you get started and address your challenges ahead:

  • Explore your trading area to recruit employees with these vital skills from nearby restaurants, culinary and hospitality schools, and other foodservice settings. Augment efforts with social media messages that play up both your positive culture and the opportunity to work more normal hours than the 7-day-a-week grind required in many restaurants.
  • Find great candidates on your own staffs already—perhaps people from the meat, seafood or produce departments who want to work with prepared foods. You already know about them and can judge if they’d fit well in your grocerants.
  • Empower your grocerant leaders to assemble their teams and hire to fill specific skills gaps. Let them be picky about who they choose to serve customers directly, as long as they also hire to professional standards for back-of-house duties.
  • Commit grocerant leaders to budgets, which should allocate at least a 30%-35% share of revenue toward labor costs.  Keep in mind the rising minimum wage, the need to pay competitively, and hire and train right the first time to minimize the costly process of replacing and retraining workers.
  • Impose rigid training policies because you can’t afford to compromise on food quality and production, food safety, cleanliness, documentation and overall integrity—especially in open work environments where customers see most of what goes on.
  • Millennials will likely be visible on your grocerant teams. Millennial customers will relate to them. Try to keep them happy with policies that younger workers appreciate, to the extent you can provide them—for example, help develop and broaden their skills, listen to their suggestions so they feel they make a difference, and leverage their technology skills.

Learn more about managing labor. Read our Grocerant Expert Q&A this issue with chef and food operations advisor Steven Petusevsky, author of the Whole Foods Market Cookbook.