The best thing about the economy being such a dog? Employers get the pick of the litter when it comes to job candidates.
Worcester, Mass.-based Honey Farms Mini-Market landed an expert last month when it hired retail veteran Lisa Clement to oversee nine Honey Farm stores in the Worcester and Middlesex county markets.
Just weeks into her new position, Clement said she’s seeing an influx in qualified job candidates in the Massachusetts market, a trend that should bode well for her and the Honey Farms brand as they continue building a formidable team of managers and frontline workers.
Clement joined the 35-store chain from Hallmark, where she also served as a district manager, but her new role isn’t her first foray in convenience retailing. Throughout college she worked as a sales associate and keyholder at a Mobil On the Run store in Massachusetts.
It was Honey Farms’ emphasis on customer service and corporate leadership that drew her to the brand.
“It was definitely the people in this organization,” she said. “There’s a strong group of leadership here. The culture of the company is based on service and reputation in their demographics and market.”
Honey Farms Mini-Markets is owned by the Iandoli family, which has been operating retail food stores since 1921. The company’s leaders say the chain’s stellar reputation has been forged by adhering to an ironclad business philosophy: conduct business courteously and respect customers.
That’s sound policy in a year when customers are scrutinizing their every purchase, and it will, in fact, be exceptional customer service that sets companies like Honey Farms apart from the riffraff.
But continued success in this area is going to come down to people management. That’s where Clement and her three district-manager counterparts at Honey Farms come in.
“I’ll focus on the development of programs that build strength within the organization,” said Clement, who will lead a group of about 45-50 people at the nine stores in her district.
Clement said the caliber of workers who are seeking jobs in the current market is much higher than it was just five years ago. “In the years that I’ve been doing this, this is the most we’ve seen as far as opportunities to hire,” she said. “And in this industry, it’s really about getting the right fit for the position.”
Finding great employees may be a bit easier at the moment, but the economy is going to shed its ugly snakeskin at some point and emerge with a healthier sheen. Retailers like Honey Farms know they have to remain competitive and forward-thinking if they want to retain the best of their current stock.
“You have to give them a plan for development and understand what their career goals and aspirations are,” Clement said. “One of the reasons people leave is because they feel they have no future. It’s important to address those issues.”
New programs and plans for performance tracking, professional development, employee succession and rewards will be critical tools that help Honey Farms continue to lead in customer service and convenience retail, Clement said.
“You can’t really get great results by continuing to have turnover,” she said. “You have to build your business through people—people who are better qualified, trained, coached and developed.”