Skogen used examples of customer service in practice, philosophy on building a winning culture, and a timeline on how the family business became what it is now today. Many of the philosophies incorporated today at Festival Foods are founded on his grandfather’s first store, how his grandfather would take care of the customers like friends and understand the community. “If someone was down on luck,” Skogen said, “my grandfather would go to the charge box back in those days where money owed was written on a slip and tear the slip up.”
One of the primary customer service philosophies Skogen teaches is “will it bring the customer back” also known as “the boomerang effect.” In everything Festival Foods does, that is in the back of its employees’ minds. Festival Foods employees with a certain amount of hours are also part-owners of the company, building a winning team culture. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” Skogen said.
Empowering employees to solve problems has built a tremendous culture at Festival Foods. Employees take ownership and try to solve problems on the spot. “We would rather have an employee take ownership on a problem and go three for ten than have no ownership or feeling of empowerment and go one for one.”
Managerial styles were also presented along with aligning personnel. An employee that is really good at something does not necessarily make them a leader. “If you promote the best baker to lead the department just because that individual is the best baker,” said Skogen, “now you lost your top producer in the department and have a lack of leadership.”
Questions were asked by attendees throughout the session. Louie Gentine of Sargento Foods asked how Skogen maintained the culture with the growth of the company. “It’s always harder the bigger the headcount” Skogen said, but added, “empowering your employees certainly helps the big picture.”
Bob Jorstad of Sheboygan Health Mart Pharmacy asked if there was a specific audience for their marketing efforts. Skogen said everyone is treated as customers and potential customers but Festival Foods places coupons and ads in the newspaper that at least 70% of the market would consume.
In his closing remarks Skogen concluded, “You are either getting better or you are getting worse, you are never staying the same.”
The Festival Foods in Sheboygan that opened a year ago this September has sparked new energy for Taylor Drive. Festival Foods is a member of the Sheboygan County Chamber.
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