Dale Carnegie, still a best-selling author after nearly a hundred years, said this about goals: “Write out goals. A plan for goal setting is only as good as the paper you write it on. Give your goals ‘life’ by writing them down. Use these goals as the basis for the actions you will take to reach each one.”

It is in this spirit I thought I’d start off the new year with a gamut of goals.
Eighteen in all, spread over the next few weeks. Even if a produce operation adopted just a few to shoot for, that’d be better than nothing, right? 

Here’s my non-inclusive list, in no particular order.

1. Take Care of the Customer. Did you hear about Apple recently apologizing to its customers over creating battery and performance problems in some of its older iPhones? Its solution (because it isn’t taking full responsibility) is to offer reduced-rate battery replacement. Tsk, tsk. 

Always take complete care of your customer when handling quality or other issues — and then some. We, (the original apple sellers) could teach those tech guys a thing or two about providing ideal customer service.

2. Be the Clean Machine. Schedule a daily, weekly and monthly sanitation schedule. Employees take pride in, and work most efficiently in, a clean environment. You’ll never fall behind, and your bosses and customers (even your crew) will thank you.

3. Stress Fresh. If it isn’t a produce item you’d want your sweet silver-haired mother to buy, cull it. Order expecting the best quality, not fearing the worst. Maintain “grand opening quality” as much as possible. Fresh attracts. Fresh motivates. Fresh sells.

4. No Out-of-Stocks. OK, this is a toughie. But strive to stay in stock. Give yourself plenty of time to write a thoughtful produce order. Think ahead and consider factors such as customer pay periods, holidays, price, quality, ad items and even the weather. Having enough product is a good way to stay in good graces, and in business.

5. Dress to Impress. Neat appearances, good hygiene, clean crisp aprons, name tags — all matter to your fresh produce customer. Oh yeah, don’t forget to wear a smile.

6. Promote the Ad. No, building prominent ad displays isn’t going to hurt your gross profit. What it will do is improve the produce department image, sales and repeat business. Your humble, produce-aisle scribe and cheerleader says, “Be, be, be aggressive!”

This is just one week of three, folks. Next week: I’ll talk goals to kick-start training, variety, dealing with the pesky, disorganized sign kit, and more.
Happy 2018!

Armand Lobato works for the Idaho Potato Commission. His 40 years’ experience in the produce business span a range of foodservice and retail positions. E-mail him at [email protected]