There are not many industries that were positively affected by the coronavirus outbreak like the grocery business was. Early this spring, panicked customers cleared grocery store shelves, shopping for a month instead of a few days or week at a time. Stores had to quickly pivot and adjust to keep up with demand.
What got me thinking about this was Hayden McClenny’s article in this month’s issue (page 12). McClenny mentions Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen’s report titled, “Sharing What We’ve Learned: A Blueprint for Businesses.”
In this piece, McMullen talks of what measures the Kroger grocery store chain has taken and how the information they’ve learned from others has benefited their business.
“In the same spirit,” McMullen wrote, “we want to share what we’ve learned and best practices with other businesses, so they can take steps now to develop protocols and procedures to reopen safely and continue to flatten the curve.”
Included in the “Blueprint” are ways to promote healthy habits by educating employees, customers and vendors, as well as suggestions such as adjusting store hours to allow for more time to clean and prepare for new guests and cross-training employees to work in different areas if needed due to illness or changing obligations at home.
One part that I found interesting — and not often discussed — was preparing employees for difficult situations.
“In many ways, the pandemic has brought out the best in people, but the stress and fear can lead some to be confrontational. Prepare your employees to respond to these situations carefully to help ensure their safety. We prepared de-escalation tips for our employees and our store leaders, as well as ensured our leaders had talking points to use when communicating COVID-19 information to their teams, vendors and customers.”
McMullen encourages others to “Lead with your values. Be guided by your purpose and values while displaying strong leadership and trusting in your employees and partners,” he said. “Many things will be outside of your control, but it’s still important to be understanding and show empathy toward your employees.”
He recommends leaders recognize their employees’ experience and the value they bring, and trust in them to do the right thing.
“Leading during a crisis is challenging and requires managers to use both their heads and their hearts. Invest time preparing your managers to lead with empathy in these circumstances.”
There’s so much more that you too can find applicable to your dealership. I encourage you to check it out. We’ve posted a link on our site to the direct download or you can find it at KrogerBlueprint.com.
We applaud Rodney McMullen for sharing this with the world, including his competitors!
Auto sales can be a cut-throat business but maybe it’s time to think about how you can reach out and help other dealers for the greater good of the industry.