Armand Lobato, The Produce Aisle
Armand Lobato, The Produce Aisle

Last week I answered a letter from a reader who asked what 2015 sales goal he should shoot for, percentagewise.

However, in addition I sensed he wanted not only views on a simple percentage figure to hand into the boss but thoughts about tangible goals in attaining that percentage in the first place.


  •  Goals in running a produce department are just like goals for any other organization.

  •  Goals should be realistic. Don’t project a 20% sales growth if you know the best you can do is 6%.

  •  Goals should be written. It’s a good idea to record goals in a file or with your store manager for safekeeping. This list usually includes goals you wish to accomplish in areas such as sales, shrink, labor and merchandising. (You are going to enter the big annual Idaho Potato Commission’s February Potato Lover’s Month contest, aren’t you?)

  •  Goals should be posted. I’ve seen many bulletin boards for safety, such as: “We have been accident-free for 150 days.” Similarly, I’ve seen graphs posted above a produce desk comparing sales for the current week versus last year for the same week. You’ll discover that clerks’ morale rises and they feel involved when information is shared.

  •  Goals should not be limited to yearly achievements, such as win at least one merchandising contest, or go from 17th in company sales ranking to 14th. Certainly you have these in mind, but shoot for goals such as what you’re going to accomplish weekly (turn in schedules on time) or monthly (tear down one fixture the first of each month to clean and remerchandise). Or what you plan to do, seasonally (be ready with summer table remerchandising by May 15).


It helps to jot down what you want to accomplish on a daily basis. Post it on your bulletin board so that the entire crew can follow. This can be what you need rotated, cleaned or remerchandised that day.

Don’t forget management-related goals. Perhaps this includes things like arrive one hour early once a week to work on all the extras, from straightening files to setting up new cooler storage racks. You know all the things you want to get done: Reorganizing the sign kit, catching up on employee evaluations and so forth. Maybe among your 2015 goals are to stay on top of your paperwork or no matter what project you’re involved with devote an hour (or more) to carefully write an accurate order.

The average produce manager is busy with everything from meetings to one-on-one training. So it helps to take a few minutes now, and get all the goals in order for this new year.

The best New Year’s resolution? Try to keep at least half of them.

Armand Lobato works for the Idaho Potato Commission. His 30 years of experience in the produce business span a range of foodservice and retail positions.

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