Better > Bigger

Our central offices are located above our Rockville store.  This is deliberate.  I never want the leadership of MOM’s to be removed from the day-to-day store operations.  If our Rockville store has an issue, than it’s likely that the other MOM’s stores could have the same issue.

I was downstairs a couple of times yesterday and both times there were customers waiting in line, yet not all 5 registers were open.  At one point, there were 5 customers in line and only 2 registers open.  This really concerns me.  Everyone who works at MOM’s knows that we have a rule here:  “Customers are never to unnecessarily wait in line.”  I.e. there should never be customers in line and unopened registers.

Coincidentally, the below article came into my view.

Screen Shot 2012-12-03 at 12.04.12 PM

2 nuggets:

  • Frank Blake, CEO of Home Depot- “‘We’re fully stored, so why don’t we focus on improving the existing stores that we have rather than growing for growth’s sake?'”
  • It takes guts to stop drinking the “growth or else” Kool-Aid. Starbucks (SBUX) CEO Howard Schultz also had to pull the reins in on his company’s expansion. In 2008, he took over a company that had over-saturated the market with its coffee. One of his first moves was to close 800 stores and lay off some 4,000 employees, then rally employees behind the idea of a more ethical coffee corporation.

And another blurb from a book I was looking at today with a quote from Warren Buffet:   Don’t do deals just to do deals. “We don’t get paid for activity, just for being right.”

The obvious theme to these messages is that quality is more important than quantity.  We’ve had a lot of “quantity” lately here at MOM’s.  To get an idea of how much MOM’s has grown recently, here is a note I recently sent to MOM’s employees:

It is time for some serious back-patting. Let’s allow the accomplishments to speak for themselves. Here is what you have accomplished in less than 18 months:

  • Opened Timonium

  • Renovated and expanded College Park

  • Opened Herndon

  • Moved Rockville store and central offices

  • Launched the new Naked Lunch concept

  • Opened Merrifield

  • Opened Waldorf

    In this time, sales have almost doubled. This is incredible growth, requiring heroic efforts by many. It has required hard work and being smart. If I were in your shoes, I’d take great pride in these accomplishments.

    People will sometimes ask me, “How did you do it?” My reply to this question is- “What makes you think I did it? I have no idea how this happened- you’d have to ask all the good, hard-working, smart people who work at MOM’s. They are the ones who have figured it out and done it.”

    MOM’s has taken on a life of its own, created by all of you.

We are very proud of what has been accomplished recently, but it is finally time to pause and start working ON the business again, rather than IN the business.

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6 Responses to Better > Bigger

  1. John Tomlin says:

    Well said, Scott. The biggest problem of growth is dealing with what it brings. None of us (your customers) should expect the personalized service we found in your first retail store. It’s just not possible. But we should expect that your employees stay focused on the customer, not on their own personal issues. We’ve been your loyal customers for a long time now, and we continue to support you as the best source of healthy, organically raised food anywhere. MOM’s employees need to understand that without us, the future is not bright. I’ve pointed out some things to your people in the Rockville store on several occasions recently that they should have been aware of themselves. That reflects poorly on first-level management. I’m sure you have training for all your staff on “customer focus” issues, so I will wait and see how things go.

  2. Doug Percival says:

    I have only ever shopped at the Rockville store (or, rather the Rockville stores, since I’ve shopped at every one of them over the years, including Organic Foods Express), and occasional waits to check out during busy times notwithstanding, each and every MOM’s staff person that I have ever interacted with has been incredibly helpful, gracious and friendly. Just recently, as I was leaving the store, I overheard a couple of people who were apparently first-time MOM shoppers exclaiming about how friendly and helpful everyone in the store had been. Sounded like they had a very different experience from what they were used to at Whole Foods, etc.

  3. Catherine Turner says:

    Great article, Scott. I’ve been a little worried about all the new Mom’s openings. Yours is the only market I can trust for clean, wholesome food, and I don’t want you to go the way of Whole Foods (if they ever were really ethical.)
    Re: your Compost a few weeks ago about self-checkout: I think it’s popularity is due to a tired and harried public that can’t face the rudeness or indifference of the live checkout clerks in chain supermarkets. Because I have the College Park Mom’s, I only drop in to a standard supermarket for something like matches or shoe polish, and then I’m happy to use the self-checkout because my feelings are easily hurt, and now I’m spoiled with the good cheer I get from the College Park Mom’s crew.

  4. Kate says:

    Great post, Scott. I’ve shopped in several MOMs stores and have loved all of them except Timonium. I was so happy when it opened as it was 1/4 mile from my house and I’d been a MOMs shopper for years. But then I found the employees were rude, were often in little groups chatting to themselves about their lives, even when they were obviously in the way of customers trying to get to products), and many were downright hostile if they were bothered by a customer. It was so bad that after a dozen visits or so, I eventually refused to go there anymore, instead I went back to shopping the Columbia MOMs on weekends. Now that I live in Columbia again, I am very happy with my shopping experience. The atmosphere is so much friendlier. I hope things have changed in the Timonium store, but I continue to warn people about shopping there.

  5. Pingback: Selling Out | Scott's Compost Pile

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