8:30 – 10:00 a.m. PT
The Future of Grocery: How Co-ops can Adapt and Compete
Errol Schweizer, Host of The Checkout and Grocery Nerd
The world of grocery is ever-changing and the last several years have given the industry whiplash with a completely new set of challenges. Some are shaped by macroeconomic factors like sector consolidation, supply chain issues, and profit-driven inflation, while others stem from evolving customer preferences and significant shocks to the labor market. In this session, Errol Schweizer will share his perspective on how food cooperatives are positioned to compete is this volatile market.
10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PT
Preparing your co-op for a leadership transition: GM succession planning
LaDonna Sanders-Redmond, Board President, Seward Community Co-op and Consultant, Columinate
Tony White, General Manager, Skagit Valley Food Co-op
Ray Williams, General Manager, Seward Community Co-op
Kelly Dean Wiseman, General Manager, Community Food Co-op (Bozeman)
Recent estimates suggest that GM turnover has been 25% annually since the pandemic began. While some of these are long-planned retirements, others have been unplanned exits. In this session, we will talk with co-op leaders about how they are preparing their co-ops for a leadership transition, from deepening the bench, to discussing the transition planning process.
1:30 – 3:00 p.m. PT
Talent Acquisition in a Post-Pandemic Workplace
LeAnna Nieratko, General Manager, Erie Food Co-op
Christopher Wrobel, Human Resources Manager, Erie Food Co-op
Being a great employer doesn’t just mean you focus on the employees that are currently in your organization; it also means you focus on those “future” employees who are looking for their next great employer.
Since 2020, organizations (and co-ops) have dealt with many changes in hiring trends. Recruiting has become more active than passive, where recruiters and hiring managers cannot rely on applications to “just appear.” Candidates are applying for more than one job, also known as “mass applying,” due to the ease with which they can apply to job postings and the increase in jobs available. Organizations are now competing more than ever for the best talent. Candidates are also negotiating job offers more regularly as they are seeing more offers at a time and are empowered to find the best offer that benefits them. Lastly, organizations are seeing changes in job duties and responsibilities; job descriptions that were once accurate for the work being done need to be updated to accommodate changes or organizational changes.
This presentation will take a fresh look at finding, attracting, and hiring the best candidates throughout all the stages of the talent acquisition process. Throughout the presentation, we will discuss a variety of topics, including: reevaluating your hiring strategy, assessing your hiring needs, assessing the needs of your candidates, taking an active and innovative approach to recruiting, and maintaining candidate relationships throughout the hiring process.
3:30 – 5:00 p.m. PT
Inclusive, Exciting, and Impactful Owner Perks and Benefits
Jill Holter, Marketing Director, Twin Cities Co-op Partners
Twin Cities Co-op Partners (TCCP) recognizes the ever-changing competitive retail grocery landscape, and we know acquiring, retaining, and engaging owners takes creativity, research, and specific tools to achieve those goals. In this session, TCCP leaders will share recent changes in their owner perks and benefit programs.
Twin Cities Co-op Partners had an end-of-the-year cash back owner benefit that was not particularly valued by customers, did not lead to incremental sales, and was costing us over $300,000 per year. While there was concern by some that we would alienate owners by eliminating the benefit, we made the decision to cut it and re-invest the dollars into 2 new programs that were more incremental, better supported our mission, helped build more owner loyalty, and cost significantly less money. In a world where we need to make every dollar we spend count and we are in a battle on many fronts for owner attention and loyalty, we are seeing success with this shift in owner benefits.
Loyalty Bot: TCCP’s Owner Perks program, relies on owner data about shopping behaviors, spending, trends, and history. For several years, we have tried to figure out how to best use our owner data in a way that customers valued but did not seem like “Big Brother”. We know many co-ops have had similar challenges starting loyalty programs. We are finally seeing some great momentum, as measured by increased owner loyalty and strong sales growth. In the first year of use, offers and deals sent to owners have resulted in consistently high redemptions, increased basket sizes, strong ROIs, and sales growth. By sending owners an attractive offer and bringing them into the stores, they are introduced to new brands, departments, or categories.
Owners Love Local is a bi-monthly sales promotion, that offers a locally made product only to owners at a discount of 30%. This reinforces TCCP’s commitment to supporting small, local food entrepreneurs and fulfills the number one request from owners to see more local products on store shelves. Wherever possible, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, Woman, and Veteran owned brands are chosen for these promotions, and their stories are amplified on the shelf and in digital marketing campaigns. Sales during these two-week periods often see a growth of 3-5 times compared to the previous two week period, and new brand champions are created.