Specialty Food Magazine

Spring 2020

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

Issue link: https://www.e-digitaleditions.com/i/1220124

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Page 39 of 75

SPRING 2020 37 5 Provide opportunities for education and growth. Invest in your employees' professional growth by helping them build skills or deepen their cheese knowledge. Some stores organize field trips to local dairy farms or creameries; others bring vendors into the stores for staff education. Di Bruno sponsors selected employees who want to try for the American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional credential, providing extra mentoring and help with related expenses. For small companies that aren't adding stores, carving paths for advancement for valued employees can be tricky. At Venissimo, a longtime employee who had sensed customer interest in classes suggested growing that side of the business. The employee developed and now oversees the company's Academy of Cheese. Frieze also hopes to make use of another employee's culinary skills to build her offsite catering business. 3 Be flexible. People expect competitive pay, of course, but money isn't always what seals the deal. For some—especially students, people with young children, or those who have to work multiple jobs—a flexible schedule is like gold. If you can promise someone Sundays off or no early-morning shifts, that may be more valuable than higher pay. "What I think attracts people is good hours: not too early and not too late," says Gina Frieze, proprietor of four Venissimo stores in the San Diego area. "We're very flexible and word gets around about that. We don't have strict dress codes. We work with people on their schedule if they're going to school or want to hold two jobs." It also pays to think creatively about where applicants might fit in your organization, beyond the position they applied for. "Our recruiter tries to think about what role they might be best in," says Virginia Sheetz, human resources director for Di Bruno Bros. in Philadelphia. "If you apply for cashier but you have the potential to work behind the counter, we'll consider you for that." 4 Get creative with benefits. Not every employer can afford to offer healthcare coverage. But can you offer a free or subsidized meal for each shift worked? Can you subsidize a worker's commute? Venissimo staffers can take any of the store's cheese classes for free and bring a guest. Installing a point-of- sale system that prompts customers to leave tips can also boost a clerk's take- home pay significantly. "When a monger spends 30 minutes with somebody, that person is very willing to offer a tip," reports Frieze. At Venissimo shops, tips are shared among all who worked on a given day. "I'm surprised how much that has added," she says. When you can't offer a higher wage, think about what you can do. Frieze says her employees really appreciate that she encourages them to work occasionally in her other stores, to get exposure to different cheeses, shoppers, and management styles.

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