Four Ways Festival Foods Cultivates Employee Engagement

April 27, 2023

This past week, the Zipline team had the opportunity to join our friends at Festival Foods for a whirlwind one-day tour of the grocery brand’s De Pere, WI headquarters and surrounding stores.

While we were there to learn more about the brand’s use of Zipline, we couldn’t help but notice the palpable positivity radiating from every manager and associate we spoke to.

Aside from their large selection of fresh and locally sourced products, Festival Foods is known for their commitment to community involvement, high-quality customer service, and emphasis on culture and employee engagement. During the tour, we were blown away by the sense of camaraderie and loyalty among the store leaders we spoke to, along with the multitude of programs Festival Foods has put in place to cement its spot in the hearts of Wisconsin residents.

So, what’s their secret? Here are four ways Festival Foods builds a strong employee culture, ultimately creating a memorable customer experience:

Twenty-Seven Boomerang Basics

At Festival Foods, the “Boomerang Principle” is central to the company culture. This principle emphasizes the importance of treating customers well, so they will “boomerang” back to the store. Employees are trained to engage with customers in meaningful ways, such as learning their names, making product recommendations and even walking them to their cars with groceries. This personalized approach creates a welcoming atmosphere that keeps shoppers coming back for more.

To keep the Boomerang Principle top of mind, Festival Foods outlines “Boomerang Basics” – guidelines that every associate must know in order to work at the company. There are an impressive 27 (!) Boomerang Basics in all – which can be a lot to remember. Fortunately, Festival Foods makes it easy thanks to collateral like this pocket card that employees can slip in their back pocket and reference during a shift. Plus, all Boomerang Basics are referenceable at any time in the Zipline Resource Library.

Companywide Daily Huddle-Ups

In 2014, Festival Foods CEO Mark Skogen instituted a ritual of daily huddle-ups. Each day, associates in every department and on every shift gather for a brief, informal meeting to review the Boomerang Basic of the Day. These huddle-ups also give all associates the opportunity to celebrate birthdays and service awards as well as to share operations updates.

Daily huddles are nothing earth-shattering in the world of retail, but here’s something that makes Festival Foods’ huddle-ups unique: they are truly companywide. Employees at the company’s Support Center in De Pere, WI physically gather in the building lobby every single morning at 9:30 AM sharp to celebrate and recognize their store teams by reading a customer compliment aloud.

Community Involvement

One of Festival Foods’ core values is giving back to the community. The brand is heavily involved in various charitable efforts, with each store contributing to local organizations in the areas they serve. (Fun fact: in every single town where there’s a Festival Foods, the company sponsors that town’s local Fourth of July fireworks show!)

Many grocers would like to think their stores are community gathering places, but Festival Foods quite literally brings this concept to life. While visiting a store location in North Green Bay, we were taken to the “Community Room” – a clean and practical space located above the Deli that’s available for local meet-ups free of charge. A number of Festival Foods locations use their community space to host a “Heroes Cafe” program aimed at gathering together veterans for free coffee, donuts and conversation. While we were visiting, a group of senior citizens were there taking part in a sewing class!

This commitment to community creates a sense of pride among Festival Foods employees who are passionate about making a positive impact in their community. This shared commitment to giving back strengthens the bond between associates and the brand, ultimately leading to more loyal customers.

A Sense of Humor

Festival Foods’ final Boomerang Basic – number twenty-seven – is “Keep Things Fun.” The rule states: “Laugh every day and don’t take yourself too seriously.” And we know first-hand: Festival Foods is serious about a lack of seriousness.

Perhaps our favorite embodiment of this guiding principle is a wry sign you’ll find in every single Festival Foods location:

(If you can’t find your partner, check aisle 6.)

At Zipline, we’re proud to partner with retailers like Festival Foods who put employee engagement first. We believe employees feel motivated when they understand how their work impacts their company’s goals. A store greeter isn’t just saying hello. Rather, he’s a brand ambassador that knows that when customers are greeted within seconds of entering the store, they’re more likely to buy.

By combining communications and task management, Zipline helps employees see how their workload is part of the bigger picture. Zipline provides the information and context people need to make good decisions and helps them understand how those decisions affect business goals. As a result, employees are happier in their jobs – and stay with the company longer.

If you’d like to learn why Zipline customers see an average of 17% associate turnover (versus the 65% market average), reach out today.

Recent Posts

Company News

How To Convince Your Boss to Send You to Summer Camp

Employee Engagement

How Culture Fuels O’Reilly Auto Parts

Company News

Zipline Achieves Record-Breaking Customer Satisfaction Scores in 2023 Survey

Industry Trends

The Best Presentation I Saw at NRF Had Me Cheering By Myself in a Room Full of Strangers

Employee Engagement

Everything You Need to Know about Learning Journeys

Industry Trends

New Tech I Saw at NRF That May Be a Waste of Money

Expert Interviews

NRF 2024 Day 3

Industry Trends

NRF 2024 Day 2

Retail Execution

NRF 2024 Day 1

Expert Interviews

Two Decades in Retail, and NRF Remained a Mystery. But Now, I’m Heading to the Conference.

Related News

See how Zipline helps keep today on track