Fall at the Co-op: Where We Are Now and Where We Are Going

A Letter from the Co-op General Manager

To Our Community,

We are lucky to live in the Upper Valley, particularly at this time of year when the blazing autumn colors are everywhere. I know fall is a busy time of year, and it is not easy to stay on top of everything. Today I would like to review a few important topics and catch you up on anything you might have missed.

Budget

As I write this, our teams are busy working on the initial round of the 2021 Co-op budget. We have held our kickoff meetings to explain the process and the first budget submissions are due tomorrow. Keep in mind what all of this is about: Throughout the year we have been exploring the soul of our business and identifying what we would like to focus on in the year(s) ahead. Given the pandemic we are contending with, our budget forecasting covers the two-year period of 2021-2022, with 2021 as the primary focus.

As I have written about before, this is an open, transparent process. I am encouraged by the creativity and energy I have seen from so many different voices.

There will be more to come, and as always, I will keep you posted each step of the way. Until then, I am happy to report our business remains strong even given the many challenges we have faced during the pandemic.

The Trust Factor and the Co-op Service Centers

As you will recall, several Co-op teams have been working together to look strategically at areas of the business we have identified as key opportunities for 2021 and beyond. One of these areas is the Hanover and Norwich Service Centers.

Our Marketing and Service Center teams recently completed a market-research project that generated excellent data about what our customers are looking for when they bring their vehicles to our Service Centers.

What was not a surprise was our customers telling us
they come back for “the trust factor.”

Honesty, quality service, and trustworthy people is a hallmark of what we offer. We will continue to build upon the trust factor as we look at ways to differentiate our Service Centers next year and make them more efficient.

The data we collected and the ideas generated reinforces the concept that there is no such thing as bad market research. This was time well spent. The feedback we received will be incorporated into the Service Centers’ operating plan for 2021. In the meantime, our members should be proud that their Co-op has a well-earned reputation for honesty and trust.

Open Positions

Our teams continue to make great progress on hiring for open positions. Because of our interdisciplinary efforts and a wide variety of creative and innovative recruiting techniques, we now have several new hires throughout the Co-op, with more applications under review. This has not only brought in new people, it has also given our current employees new opportunities through a broad array of promotions and career advancements.

In summary, I feel good about where we are as we head into the fourth quarter. Although there is more work to be done, when the busy holiday season comes our way in a few short weeks, I have no doubt we will be ready for it.

Online Ordering

With good reason, many of our members are looking ahead and thinking about ways to stay safe this fall and winter, including taking advantage of touch-free shopping. Launched this summer, Groceries-2-Go, our online ordering and curbside pickup program, has clearly met the need and is growing by the week. We continue to look at the feasibility of adding an additional hour per day or another day of service, which will be dependent upon our Front End coverage. I will update you as this process continues.

A Note of Thanks

This week a discretionary bonus is being paid out to Co-op employees, a well-earned reward for a team of people that has carried our business through some of the most challenging circumstances imaginable. Over the past several months, many of you have expressed to me your desire to show appreciation for the hard work and dedication of our employees throughout this pandemic. This is just one of the ways we have shown that appreciation. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our members for their support of the Co-op and its employees. Our employees are one special team.

Wrap Up

As always, I welcome your comments and questions. Please reach out to me anytime. Remember to be kind to one another and to yourselves, and we look forward to serving you in our stores and at the curbside.

Onward and upward,

Thanks,

Paul

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Paul Guidone

Paul Guidone

Paul Guidone, CFA, spent the better part of four decades in the investment management business here and abroad. He held positions ranging from analyst through Deputy Chairman and Group CEO, at organizations such as Citigroup (US) and The HSBC Group (London and Hong Kong). He joined the Co-op in 2016 as the CFO and in 2018 became Strategic Advisor to the General Manager. Paul was appointed General Manager by the Co-op Board in September 2020. To contact, email PGuidone@coopfoodstore.com.
Paul Guidone

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