How Grocers Can Reap Benefits, Dodge Pitfalls of In-Store Restaurants

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How Grocers Can Reap Benefits, Dodge Pitfalls of In-Store Restaurants

By Steve Kramer - 07/10/2019
How Grocers Can Reap Benefits, Dodge Pitfalls of In-Store Restaurants
Hy-Vee's Wahlburgers restaurant in the grocer's hometown of West Des Moines, Iowa

As on-demand grocery delivery services take off, grocers are continuing to fine-tune their strategies to encourage in-person visits.

Hy-Vee, for example, revealed it will open a Wahlburgers restaurant in Brookfield, Wis., as part of its plan to build, own and operate a total of 26 Wahlburgers restaurants. H-E-B and Winn-Dixie also plan to use in-store restaurants as an opportunity to increase foot traffic and maintain customer loyalty.

But as more grocers develop in-store restaurants, coffee shops and other value-added concepts to increase foot traffic, margins and customer engagement, they’ll have to consider what it will take to manage two businesses under one roof — or risk incurring costly operational expenses.

While the multi-experience establishment is having a moment in the grocery sector and beyond, there’s no doubt that it can complicate day-to-day operations.

Navigating New Roles, Leveraging Existing Workforce

In-store initiatives like restaurants can be tricky for grocers to operate, as the influx of new foodservice roles will require new processes that accommodate different training from that of grocery employees. Further, employees filling the new roles will need access to communication from both facets of the store to ensure that they’re receiving the most pertinent information.

With this in mind, how can grocers efficiently train, schedule and engage foodservice employees alongside grocery employees? Grocery store leadership can follow a few best practices with digital workplace technology:

  1. Train existing employees: Adding a new in-store concept doesn’t mean that you need to hire new employees. Your employees want to learn new skills, and by offering training to their existing labor pool, employers can fill open positions, avoiding the costs associated with hiring new employees. Digital training tools enable employers to offer courses to every front-line employee, further streamlining the costs of upskilling the workforce.
  2. Ease the scheduling process: If manual scheduling, paper availability and verbal shift trading are your organization’s preferred methods, it’s crucial that the process becomes digital as your staffing needs become more complex. Transitioning scheduling to a digital workplace platform creates far less communication work for team leads, as they have access to better employee availability and can automatically alert employees to their shifts. This way, managers can be more productive on higher-level work.
  3. Engage with employees using two-way communication: Communication too often travels only from the top down. By boxing front-line workers out of the conversation, leadership loses out on valuable insights from employees watching the customer experience unfold in real time. These insights are especially useful when launching a new side of the business. Mobile communication via direct messages, targeted channels and segmented chat helps create that valuable feedback loop.
  4. Cheer on hourly workers: Working front-line retail can be draining in the smoothest of times, and unveiling a new business function can make the employee experience more complicated. To drive engagement and reinforce good customer service, employers should recognize individual accomplishments regularly. Digital recognition via badges, leaderboards and mobile communication enables employers to deploy engagement strategies at scale. Employers that regularly recognize employees help position their business as an employer of choice, boosting employee retention.

While the multi-experience establishment is having a moment in the grocery sector and beyond, there’s no doubt that it can complicate day-to-day operations. Grocers can manage the uptick in activity and responsibility — and still reap the rewards of a tandem business — by trusting the right digital tools to simplify the daily workflow.

About the Author

Steve Kramer

Steve Kramer

Steve Kramer, the CEO and co-founder of Montreal-based WorkJam, is a technology entrepreneur with more than 20 years of executive leadership experience in founding and scaling companies d Read More