I always have a copy of Rene J. Cappon’s “Guide to News Writing” handy when I write. The booklet serves as a reminder to follow certain journalistic and grammatical principles.
Steadfast rules apply in produce departments as well.
Rules for business ethics
A produce manager should know how to follow good accounting practices. Many chains still depend on their managers to handle their invoices from their distribution center and from direct-delivery vendors.
A reputable chain will go further in coaching department heads on ethics and even laws that have been enacted over recent years that prevent or minimize accounting mishaps.
For the average produce manager, it’s enough to teach them to get bills submitted promptly and treat vendors with courtesy and fairness.
Rules for employees
All those posters hanging near the time cards include fine print of employees’ rights. Every produce manager should know that all states prohibit harassment or discrimination, for example.
Most chains have employee policies that expound upon these to include their well-being as well, such as rules for wage increases, benefits, promotions and so on.
Make sure they have what they need to work, ranging from adequate training and equipment — to making sure they take a lunch break.
For handling produce
Now we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty. Every chain should have a training manual that outlines this topic.
Usually it details things like how to air-stack bananas or rotate product in the stock room and on the sales floor. It should also advise how to handle produce properly and what temperature zone is correct for storing various items.
Sometimes these internal rules include what and how much to trim. Or other specific handling rules, such as how to crisp leafy greens and how to stock for maximum function and appeal.
For safety and health
Some rules in this vein are easy enough — be it in how to lift safely, what is appropriate dress or footwear, or how to use of potentially hazardous equipment such as power lifts or knives.
Other rules may not be as obvious. A produce manager needs to make sure no one cleans mop heads in the produce prep sink, for example.
The rules lists go on, and just like the grammar comparison each affects how a department is managed. The effects can have serious ramifications.
Armand Lobato works for the Idaho Potato Commission. His 30 years of experience in the produce business span a range of foodservice and retail positions.
What's your take? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.