Planning Ahead: a Strategic Approach

A Letter from the Co-op General Manager

To Our Community, 

For the remainder of the summer and leading up to our budget process in the fall, several Co-op teams are working together to look closely and strategically at two areas of the business we have identified as key opportunities to focus on next year: the Co-op Kitchen and the Hanover and Norwich Service Centers. Along with our food stores, Market, and Learning Center, the Kitchen and Service Centers are true showcases for us, differentiating our cooperative from other businesses in our service area.

Moving forward, our goal is to build brand awareness, enhance services, and think strategically about how we make investments in the businesses that make up our organization, rather than relying on “feel” or “instinct.” This morning we began with a broad overview of the Service Centers, guided by a tool called the Business Model Canvas.

To put it simply, a Business Model Canvas is a strategic-management template that breaks a business model down into nine building blocks:

  1. Key Partnerships
  2. Key Activities
  3. Key Resources
  4. Value Proposition
  5. Customer Relationships
  6. Channels
  7. Customer Segments
  8. Cost Structure
  9. Revenue Streams

Ideally, all nine building blocks should be working together, as this tackles the fundamental challenges any business model must address. The Value Proposition in particular is nothing new to our Co-op. This idea has already permeated the planning efforts of other parts of our organization thanks to work from our Outreach and Marketing teams.

The philosophy behind a Value Proposition is simply to think customer first. Many businesses make the mistake of making decisions based purely on lofty operational goals, which may be out of a touch with what customers are looking for.

A Value Proposition helps a business to stay focused by thinking about what the customer wants and needs and how that intersects with what the business has to offer.

To use a specific example, we applied this idea to the Service Center this morning by discussing one particular customer segment that frequently uses the service: the working professional. When working professionals drop off their vehicles for service, what do they need? What will make their experience easier? If they have an all-day repair and could benefit from a temporary office while they wait, for example, what should that area be like and what would they be looking for?

We will incorporate this method of analytical thinking to every area of our cooperative, as we continue with our planning process. To ensure a robust process, we will also be collecting solid, strong, objective data to work with to help guide our decision-making.

As always, I will update you as we move forward. In the meantime, as I emphasize repeatedly, this sort of process benefits from many voices. So if you have ideas, please speak up! Input from both our member and non-member shoppers is invaluable as we work on our strategic plans. So reach out to me anytime and share any thoughts or ideas you may have. I want to know what you think.

In the meantime, my thanks to all of you as always for your support. Remember to be kind to one another and to yourselves. See you in our stores and at the curbside.

Onward and upward,



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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 by the Co-op Board as interim General Manager in March 2020 and General Manager in September 2020. To contact, email

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