Streamlining Systems Helps Local Organic Market Crunch Time

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Embarking on an adventure known as opening and owning a natural grocery store leaves one open to questions, comments and conversation: questions of disbelief, comments of support and conversations—many conversations—about logistics, operations and procedures for everything from the produce coming in the door to the average ticket price walking out.

Jonas Buehl, owner of The Crunchy Grocer, which opened its Crunchy doors 2 years ago in Loveland, CO, was well aware of all this chatter, and also knew that the key to success was good basic integrative systems that worked for every department from milk to mustard and coconuts to cashews.  As the only natural food store in Loveland, and a member of the Independent Natural Food Retailers Association, Buehl knew his systems had to include not only finding good staff ambassadors, as they are called, but enabling those frontline folks the ability to work easily and efficiently. Establishing good systems, with excellent outcomes and projectable results was the manpower mantra, just as non-GMO and organic was to the store’s core values.

“We knew going into this that we needed to establish systems for staffing that were streamline and communicative, along with being easy to use and interactive,” Buehl said. “The system we used had to be efficient so we could get good people to work and work when they were scheduled. Chains and Big Box stores have all their systems in place. Hand it to them and they open their doors. Small businesses are forced to think beyond that box and implement customizable technologies that work for 2 to 2,000 people.”

To accomplish this task The Crunchy Grocer adopted When I Work, a system that simplifies employee scheduling and communication by using a blend of collaborative communication technologies, which include the web, mobile apps, text messaging, social media and email.

“I chose this system, first and foremost, because it saved me time and our staff time. Our ambassador team knows how easily they can get their schedule and can choose the platform in which to receive their communication,” Buehl said. “When I first opened Crunchy, scheduling was a nightmare. I will admit I used Excel spreadsheets and had two to three different versions running at any given time. It was a mess.”

With the integration of When I Work for staff ambassadors, the spreadsheet enigma was very quickly turned into a crystal clear electronic tool accessible by computer, phone or tablet. As Buehl put it, “The Crunchy Grocer went from ordinary to organic in the time it takes to install an App.”

“I love it,” said Crunchy Grocer Department Head Jessica Mere. “I downloaded the App to my phone and I get a notification every time the schedule is posted. I can respond, ask for time off, send notes to fellow staff members and also see everyone’s schedule. I do not waste any time go back and forth on schedules and communication and I know, even an hour before through an alert, when I am expected to be at the store.”

The simplicity and ease Buehl and his ambassadors have found with great systems have left them with time – time to enjoy the culture The Crunchy Grocer perpetuates to community and customers.

“Not only are we proponents of organic, clean living, but we’re a bunch of folks with fun personalities and big spirits. We’re crunchy at heart and we live crunchy lives,” added Buehl. “Our mission at The Crunchy Grocer is to feed our community consciously, deliciously, and with love. We promote conscious, healthy living through clean, organic food and products, empowering our customers to make informed choices about the health benefits of their food by breaking through all the noise and confusion to provide straightforward information about clean food. And, we accomplish this all while having a little crunchy fun along the way.”

Jonas Buehl is the owner of The Crunchy Grocer.