Taking the Co-op to the Next Level

Critical factors we need to keep at the forefront moving into the future
By: Jamale Crockett, Board Member | 2018-04-04

This is a special time in the overall history of the Whole Foods Co-op. It has been good so far with all of its peaks and valleys, especially when you consider the humble origins. The question though is will the Co-op become great? Once upon a time we were or definitely seemed to be the leaders in organic food options in Erie, PA. That may not be the case anymore. Big boy grocers such as Walmart, Wegmans, and Giant Eagle are expanding their organic/all natural products. With that said, there still are plenty of opportunities for the Co-op to become better than ever. In this short article I'm going to scratch the surface of factors that I believe will be vital to the Erie Co-op's ride from good to great. Those 4 factors are Team, Perception/Position, Focus, and Demographics.

The best plan in the world means nothing without the right people in the proper places. We have a fairly new quarterback (general manager) at the helm. Building trust and adjusting the team to this somewhat new offense is critical. We humans tend to compare and contrast a lot. Old GM vs. new GM, this way versus that way, etc. All staff and members will not easily adjust to the subtle and not so subtle changes because old habits will put up a hell of a fight. This current team is a gold mine if tapped into. There are possibly talents not being put to use and more efficient ways to do tasks if only the initiative is taken. Front line soldiers on the battlefield are always in touch with the on goings in real time.

Forget true and false. When it comes to people, PERCEPTION is REALITY. So what position does the Whole Foods Co-op hold in customers minds? Test yourself. What word(s) pop in your own mind? Owning a word in the person's mind is powerful marketing wise. What is the Co-op the leader in? If we know, does the customer? When customers have a compliment or complaint, the staff on the floor are usually the ones to hear about it. There's magic in the comments and questions that folks ask because they are sharing their perceptions.

Everyone should have a chief definite aim. Every business should also have one. It's the target, the focus, the bullseye that's being pursued. In my opinion, it should be simple enough to quickly verbalize in a few words. When a whole team is deadly serious about achieving a goal then everyone in the organization has to know the chief definite aim. It creates a Mastermind. In focusing there is sacrifice. You have to give up something in order to get something. There is strength in reduction. It's suicide to try to be everything for everybody.

"Demographics is destiny". I don't know who said that but they were on to something. The more the Co-op knows about who their customers are, the better. This institution was created by Baby Boomers before the internet. It's my theory that these same Baby Boomers drive the wonderful health and beauty aid section sales. Folks tend to supplement more as they age. As wonderful as they are, Baby Boomers will not be the drivers of the Cooperative if we are to rise to another level. 70% of the Co-op's customers are member-owners. Therefore if we can turn a customer into a member then the chances of them shopping repeatedly skyrockets up. Did anyone say membership drives?