ANAHEIM, Calif. — Harold Lloyd, president of Harold Lloyd Presents, will report on what's going on in the minds of deli and bakery department managers during his Sunday morning presentation here on June 5 at the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association's 2011 Seminar & Expo.
Based on a survey of more than 1,000 department managers representing 20 supermarket companies across the country, Lloyd found that overall, the attitudes and performances of department managers have improved since he did a similar study 11 years ago.
“The numbers had moved up. That pleased me. I'm proud of the industry, but there's still quite a ways to go,” Lloyd told SN in a pre-show interview.
Incisive questions were asked of the respondents, such as: “Do you get enough training to do your job well,” “do you know how to merchandise to increase sales,” “do you feel your job is secure,” “are you treated with respect from supervisors and management above you” and “how do you like working for a supermarket?”
“One number really stood out. In 2000, we asked, ‘Are you proud to work for a supermarket?’ and 85% agreed or strongly agreed. This year, we asked the same question, and 86% totally agreed. I know that isn't an impressive increase, but it's a big percentage to start with. It was even 11 years ago.”
While numbers were more positive than they were 11 years ago, Lloyd has a theory that some of the retailers polled back then may just not be around anymore. They may not have made it through the recession and tough times.
“That's just my theory,” he said. “There were improvements. That is good, but my theory is that the less qualified retailers are gone via attrition. Maybe it was the economy and extreme competition.”
Survey respondents were also more positive about their training. When managers were asked if they get ample training to do their job well, 62% totally agreed that they do. That's compared to 45% who totally agreed 11 years ago.
“That's a good jump ahead, but retailers shouldn't get too sassy about that. They need to look at that number and realize that 38% still feel they do not get ample training to do their job well,” Lloyd pointed out.
A particularly surprising result, Lloyd said, was that department managers who had been in their positions the longest, say 15 years, felt less job satisfaction than those who had been there fewer years.
“I don't know why it trailed off with time. I'm suggesting management convene focus groups of senior [those there at least 15 years] managers to find out what can be done to make them happier, more secure in their jobs.”
Lloyd suggested to supervisors, “Don't tell or yell. Instead, teach to sell.”
He cited a “very positive” sign seen behind the counters at Wegmans Food Markets, the pacesetting, industry-watched chain based in Rochester, N.Y. The signs say, “Wegmans provides knowledge-based service.”
“We should all be doing that,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd, a veteran of the supermarket and restaurant industries, gave much credit to The Retail Feedback Group, Plainview, N.Y., and especially to the group's president, Douglas Madenberg, for helping to make the survey possible.
“I wrote the survey, and then Doug verified it, critiqued it, tabulated it and reported the findings,” Lloyd said.
Madenberg told SN that, “the managers surveyed are clearly driven by the ‘people’ side of the business — they love the opportunity to serve customers on a daily basis, and they enjoy working with and developing their team.”
Lloyd also gave credit to Carol Christison and the IDDBA board for their support and help with the survey.
All 20 companies will receive copies of their results, along with an average of the other 19 participants.