Call them supervisors, merchandisers, specialists or, uh, one of many colorful colloquialisms.
The supervisor visit in produce departments can be a welcome or a painful period. Most visits are surprises. At least to the produce managers, that is. They have to be by nature. We once had a rather unreserved supervisor who gave away his daily agenda. As soon as he left, phones started ringing and the whole district was in alert mode, ready for his âsurpriseâ visits.
Exactly what are supervisors looking for? Theyâre usually serious, with low tolerance for foolishness. Like Joe Friday on âDragnet,â except instead of a badge the supers carry a name tag and a trim knife.
Ever been caught in bad shape by the supervisor? Itâs a rare produce manager that hasnât been caught with his pants down. Remember trying to persuade the supervisor that the bad condition he sees is not how the department usually looks? You would say something like, âIâm still catching up from yesterdayâs sick callsâ or âYou caught me on a day Iâm letting the department run down to rotate.â
Ideally, heâs not there to penalize but to evaluate, to be the âeyesâ of the company. What he sees may not be your best profile, but itâs a snapshot.
Supervisors look for general stock conditions. They want to see if youâre doing what is expected. The super wants to know what you may be struggling with so he can be of assistance. Or if you are succeeding â so he may incorporate what is working for you in other stores.
Supervisors can see things the average store manager canât, like greening potatoes or if apples are dehydrating in the base of a display. They can see if you are ordering correctly and if your priorities are in line.
They look to see if youâre keeping up with your business, from programs to paperwork, from the back door to the sales floor.
The supervisor has one overriding purpose: To be the âtheyâ in the produce managerâs subconscious, as in âI better do things the right way. âThey might be in to check.â
Lest we forget, the most important âtheyâ is the customer. And you can bet âthey will be more far discriminating that the supervisor. And they are in your store every day.
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. E-mail email@example.com.
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