I want to redefine how we look and treat our customers. But first of all lets stop calling them customers or even shoppers. At Estevez Foodtown our customers are our neighbors so we will treat them as such. While important we cannot measure our success by customer count or basket size alone but need to make every effort to become better neighbors. I want to measure our success by how well we treat and get along with our neighbors. Because being a good neighbor is great for the community and our business too.
The basic definition of a good neighbor is someone who is friendly, cooperative and is supportive of others in/and around the neighborhood. Good neighbors look out for one another not just themselves. They support each other in good and bad times. A good neighbor really wants to know how well you are doing and does not walk past as if they never even saw you. They are interested in you and for that reason make the community better.
We strive to be an integral part of the communities we serve. Where we are considered to be a good neighbor. A place where moms chat in the aisles and teachers catch up with past students. Where a dad heads over to talk about last nights game with the kid behind the delicatessen counter. We look for ways to be a direct supporter of local churches, block parties, charities, and girl scouts. To contribute is not just a business model but also an essential part of what Estevez Foodtown is about. Our goal is to be of service to our community while supporting, growing, and inspiring the over 250+ families that make up our team.
For us it is not a job where you just show up to work. It is more than that for our team who have become contributors in creating a healthy environment to shop in. Becoming a second family to countless others who have not shared in the same support system or stability out in the real world. For some the team at Estevez Foodtown has been a cornerstone or the helping hand they may have needed. I take great pride in seeing the growth that has come from team members that have been with us 6 months or 25 years. Nothing is more satisfying then when a veteran team member grooms and develops a young new rookie and sees her thrive. Being a successful team member in and away from the store is something we make a big effort to ingrain in our team training and numerous conversations. It is our responsibility to listen well so that we can let our teams flourish in and away from the business.
Those that only want a job and not be part of a bigger future need not apply. Those that are only working a job see, a customer not a neighbor, as a disturbance and something to get over with. We want team members that are listening to and are interested in becoming a good neighbor. To treat our neighbors as guests just like when someone is visiting you at home. Helping a mom of 3 unload her cart onto the counter and getting to a jar of roasted peppers that is out of reach. Greeting her by name and genuinely asking how her day has been going.
When we choose to view all who come through our door as our neighbors we open ourselves up to making a new friends, opportunity, and possibility. We need to look at coming to work as a privilege to serve our neighbors. By becoming interested in their lives and they will in yours. One of my greatest pleasures is seeing when a neighbor brings in a plate food from the BBQ their having to one of our team members. Or seeing a cashier brought to tears when neighbor after neighbor ask her about how well her new baby is doing, offering the new mom advice, and bringing her a gift of an outfit and booties for her new baby. That is significant and a big deal! This sort of thing happens often to our team and they love being appreciated by the people they happily serve everyday. For years my brother John has gotten cakes or cookies on his birthday and has people in the checkouts join in to sing Happy Birthday to him. Cakes and cookies baked at home by a neighbor who just wants to show their appreciation.
These small acts of kindness from our neighbors to our team are really a big show of gratitude. It’s their way of saying “Thank you” for providing such great customer service and listening to their needs. When you take an interest in another’s well being they can sense it and know if it’s genuine. Having a neighbor bring in a plate of warm food or cookies to you or someone on your team proves that you’ve been listening and your store is a big part of the community and their lives.
Some easy thing you can do is smile, greet them by name, buy girl scout cookies or any other school fund raising products. Offer them to try a product they never tasted before they buy. Ask about their sons little league team better yet become their sponsor. Support the local church and food pantry. Make sure to seek out local charities that are really making a difference in the neighborhood. Buy an ad in the journal to help the drama club put on their play. Walk them to their car, say thank you, send them home with a sample to try no strings attached. Talk about last nights game and what a tough lost it was or great win their team had. Be sure to complement a grandmother on a new hairstyle, congratulate them on grandkids graduation or new baby. The important thing is to be yourself. Get interested in them and listen to what they have to say. Start behaving like a good neighbor and become one. Remember it is better to treat others the way you would like to be treated.