Friday, June 9, 2023
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.
Saturday, June 10, 2023
8:30 – 10:00 a.m. PT
Restorative Revolution: Transforming the Food System in California
This session will feature visionaries who are working to build a more equitable, just, and sustainable food and agriculture system in California. They will share their stories of transforming food systems in the face of daunting structural and societal obstacles.
- David Benson, Produce Manager, BriarPatch Food Co-op
- Adrionna Fike, former member from Mandela Grocery Cooperative
- Chanowk Yisrael, Founder, Yisrael Family Urban Farm
- Javier Zamora, Owner, JSM Organics
- Moderator: Doug O’Brien, President & CEO, National Cooperative Business Association
10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PT
Small Store with Big Plans
Sarah Christensen, General Manager, GreenTree Co-op Market
Sara Moffett, Prepared Foods Manager, GreenTree Co-op Market
Just because you’re a small operator doesn’t mean you can’t have a great business plan. GreenTree Co-op Market has served the central Michigan community of Mt. Pleasant for the last 53 years. Over those years, GreenTree has grown from a small buying club to a $4.4 million in annual sales co-op that just relocated to a brand new building quadrupling its size! A great business plan has assisted the co-op’s success over the years.
GreenTree’s leadership team uses a multi-stakeholder process to develop their annual and/or multi-year plan engaging all levels of the organization, beginning with staff input, and ending with a presentation back to staff. In this session, attendees will learn all about our process from start to finish including understanding the elements of a business plan, what resources can help inform your business plan, and how to write a plan for the first time.
12:30 – 2:00 p.m. PT
CCMA Award Ceremony
CCMA Awards honor cooperatives, cooperative managers, board members, and their colleagues for outstanding accomplishment. These award are an opportunity to recognize and honor cooperatives and their leaders for exceptional dedication and hard work.
2:00 – 3:30 p.m. PT
(Re)imagining Your Volunteer Program
Courtney Tarrant, Community Engagement Coordinator, BriarPatch Food Co-op
Rebecca Torpie, Director of Marketing, BriarPatch Food Co-op
BriarPatch Food Co-op’s PatchWorks Volunteer Program has been awarded two Progressive Grocer awards and the Creative Choice Awards for Community Engagement by the National Grocers Association (NGA).
As food co-ops transition away from the in-store working-member program model, they are looking for creative ways to fill the gap left behind for owners’ desire to participate and engage in co-op life. We’ll discuss how we implemented our community-based volunteer program that supports both local nonprofit organizations and incentivizes and encourages co-op owners to become active members in our community.
PatchWorks is a reimagined iteration of BriarPatch’s outdated volunteer program. It offered similar “discounts-for-work” incentives but lacked reliable hour-tracking and significantly cost the co-op.
By switching to this new volunteer model, the co-op was able to engage with nearly 7 times more owners, create partnerships with 16 nonprofits, and save nearly three-quarters of the costs.
Since PatchWorks was launched in 2020, it has more than doubled the number of volunteer hours contributed to the local community, making a tangible difference to nonprofits struggling after the pandemic. Today, the “Nonprofit Neighbor” organizations that benefit from PatchWorks include local food banks, environmental organizations, a farmers’ market, a homeless shelter, and an organization dedicated to DEI.
We will discuss the steps we took to launch PatchWorks, the logistics of tracking hours and distributing discounts, and growing our volunteer program through active engagement and communication with owners and nonprofits.