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    Learn from the Chains

    Lake Mills Market Owner Mitch Eveland shares time management tips

    By Katie Martin, Progressive Grocer

    Mitch Eveland, owner of Lake Mills Market in Lake Mills, Wis., and cover story for PGI’s October issue, started in the business working for small independent groceries in Wisconsin, but he knew that chains had a lot to teach and he was willing to learn.

    “When I worked with these independents, they knew what they wanted but they didn’t know how to get there,” Eveland says. “I wanted to work for a chain to see what kind of differences there would be.”

    Wisconsin in the late ’70s was dominated by independents and did not have many chains, so he left his home state for Maine to work for Hannaford Bros. While in Maine, he also worked in two distribution centers, learning both sides of the grocery business. Working in a supermarket chain taught Eveland some very valuable time management techniques.

    “They were just so darned organized,” he says. “[Hannaford] had a goal for everything.” Every function in the store had a set time that it should take to accomplish that particular task. For example, when the delivery came, it was noted that it should take an hour to break 200 cases onto carts, Eveland says.

    Labor is one of the biggest controllable costs in a supermarket, and Eveland has applied some of those time management techniques to both his Lake Mills Market and his other store, Capitol Centre Market in Madison, Wis. One of the best time management strategies is to set out duties with goals for employees. “That way, you know when you’re coming into work what is expected of you and what your goal is,” he says. Duties/goals and the results are tracked, so both managers and employees know which goals were met, exceeded or not met.

    The process also makes it easier during employee evaluations; you can look at how many goals were met, the reasons why they weren’t met and can either raise the employee’s pay or set out requirements that need to be met that would merit a pay raise. The reasonable expectancies sheet also documents when the employee is pulled away from his set tasks, such as having to check or bag during an especially busy time at the front registers.

    “It’s very beneficial for the store and the people who work here because it’s an easy way to identify top performers,” Eveland says. “Then, you can pay them more or offer them a position with more responsibility.”

    By Katie Martin, Progressive Grocer
    • About Katie Martin Katie Martin is the editor-in-chief of Progressive Grocer Independent, in charge of the magazine’s daily operations, including visiting independent grocery stores for the Store of the Month features and working with industry experts to pass along best practices. Katie has more than 15 years of experience covering the retail food industry, previously on the bakery side with Modern Baking magazine, and enjoys covering small business owners and the joy, passion and drive they bring to their work.

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