Produce departments thrive with detailed goals. As promised, here are the second of three sets to help forge into the New Year, which I call “Eighteen goals for 2018.”

1. Increase Produce Variety. Time to get aggressive. Remember you can’t sell something if you don’t stock it. Shoot for, say, a 10% stock-keeping unit goal. That’s attainable. Be patient, as it will take a little time for your customers to notice the newly stocked fresh produce. However, once you have their attention, expect to see sales to match.

2. Set Ordering Goals. First of all, you have to ask yourself, what is your current strategy? Or is there one? Ideally, a good guideline is to order only what is needed until the next produce delivery arrives. With all the variables that affect ordering accuracy (quality, ad items, price, anticipated business, weather, etc.) the one goal that makes the most sense is to allow yourself ample time (an hour total, maybe longer) to take accurate inventory and equal time to write the order.
3. Organize the Sign Kit. Oh, the pesky sign kit. It gets used and abused on a weekly basis, and a disorganized kit creates excess labor and headaches. If nothing else, an attainable goal is to assign the most consistent (and most organized) clerk a full shift to organize, reorder missing components and secure. Afterward, as much as possible, limit access to the kit to that one clerk (and the produce manager of course) to keep it intact. 

4. Schedule Training. If something is written into the schedule it is most likely to happen. Get with your store manager to plan these hours, so the investment now will translate into higher sales and stronger profit margins later. The goal? Shoot for one four-hour shift per week or as needed.

5. Schedule Employee Evaluations. Speaking of getting things in writing, every employee typically requires an annual (or ongoing, training) evaluation. Not every department head keeps up with this requirement. If you have twelve people on your crew, a reasonable goal is to schedule one per evaluation per month, for example. By staggering this often-procrastinated chore in such a manageable fashion, you’re far more likely to stay caught up.

6. Backroom Organization. Here’s a challenge goal to most produce departments. Your cooler, prep area and backrooms need much more discipline than is provided. You might start with your most experienced set-up clerk and allocate one shift to clean and organize things as you both envision. Then — and this is the important part — ensure that everyone keeps it that way.

Next week: The grand 2018 goal trilogy finale. I’ll talk rotation, sampling, sign standards and more.

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]

Related content:
First six goals for 2018
New Year’s resolutions for a better industry