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Copyright 2018 by Ron Knight and 9 Minute Books.

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Welcome to 9 Minute Books!

9 Minute Books Presents:

Which Way to Your Car?

Publix Philosophies to Succeed in Business and in Life

Written by Ron Knight

Published by 9 Minute Books

It’s amazing to think that being an associate at Publix is like understanding the best philosophies in business, sales, marketing, communications, customer service, and leadership, transforming you into a confident, patient, kind person who longs to benefit the lives of others.

Simply watching how the associates treat others, the way they approach their job, and the pride they have in serving others will help you learn all their philosophies.

It’s also beneficial to understand the history of Publix and how the ideals of George W. Jenkins set the tone for how a grocery store should operate.

The philosophies discussed in this book are based on the experiences from a Publix front service clerk (bagger), who vowed to share this knowledge to benefit Publix associates and guests.

Keep in mind, most management and executives started off as a front service clerk, which is the reason why learning Publix philosophies are so imperative, benefiting you professionally and personally.

It all starts with a question, “Which way to your car?”

A Typical Day at Publix

Olivia arrives in the parking lot and first notices a Publix associate collecting carts while retrieving excess trash that had been left behind. Olivia walks into the Publix store, seeing the foyer is clean and several rows of carts are neatly stacked to the side.

Philosophy: First impression is everything. You should be aware of what everyone else can see.

Olivia continues into the store, taking one of the weekly flyers and sifting through it. She notices over 30 items that are Buy-One, Get-One Free. (BOGO’s)

As Olivia pushes her cart forward, a customer service associate smiles and says, “Hello.”

Olivia smiles back and continues to the deli, greeted by another associate. “What can I make for you today?”

Olivia decides on Publix’s legendary 8-piece chicken meal with sides. This will cover dinner for tonight. The rest of her shopping will include meals for the family, lasting the next two or three days.

As Olivia turns her cart, she smells something wonderful cooking at the Apron’s booth. She samples a dish called, Kickin’ Peach Chicken with Chargrilled Asparagus. It would only take 30 minutes to make and all the ingredients are conveniently located next to the booth.

The Apron’s associate hands Olivia the recipe while asking, “Is this something for the family?”

“Yes,” Olivia responds while finishing the sample. “I have to feed my starving husband and two growing teenagers.”

The Apron’s associate makes a few suggestions for the teens to enjoy the meal and finishes by saying, “Let me know how it turns out.”

“I will,” Olivia says with a satisfied smile and continues shopping.

Philosophy: Personalize the experience of your guests through your associates, products and services, creating a stress-free environment.

While collecting the BOGO items, Olivia realizes she has meals to last more than a few days and items to fill her pantry.

An associate stocking shelves on the aisle smiles at her. “Can I help you find anything?”

Olivia’s first reaction is to say, ‘No,’ since she sees the associate is busy stocking the shelves. However, she notices that her teenager’s favorite soda isn’t on the shelf and she had trouble finding the Shake ‘N Bake, which is her husband’s favorite meal.

“Actually,” Olivia says, “I think you’re out of my kid’s soda.”

“Sorry about that,” the associate says in a kind voice. “I’ll check in the back.”

“Oh no, it’s okay.”

“It would be my pleasure,” the associate responds. “How many do you need?”

“Four.”

“You can continue your shopping. I’ll catch up to you.”

Olivia feels relieved that the associate was kind and genuinely wanted to help her. She grabs a few more BOGO’s on the next aisle when the associate arrives with the four sodas.

“Is there anything else I can help you find?”

Once again, Olivia feels she has troubled this associate enough, but she musters up the courage to say, “I really just have one thing left I can’t find. It’s the Shake ‘N Bake.”

“Yes, that’s on aisle four. I’ll walk over with you.”

“Oh it’s okay.”

The associate gives her a kind smile. “It would be my pleasure.” As they walk to the aisle, the associate asks, “How’s your day going?”

“Fine so far. Just want to get the shopping out of the way.”

“I can understand that,” the associate says as they arrive at the aisle. He points to the item on the shelf. “There you go. Is there anything else I can help you find today?”

“No, that’s it. Thank you for your help.”

“My pleasure.”

Philosophy: Be approachable and become the type of person everyone says is helpful.

Olivia makes her way to the checkout line, which moves surprisingly quick. A store manager happened to be walking by and helps her unload the cart and says, “How is everything today?”

“Fine, thank you,” Olivia says.

Cashier: “Did you find everything you needed today?”

Olivia: “Not at first, but someone helped me.”

Cashier: “Excellent. Do you need anything else? Maybe ice or stamps?”

Olivia: “Actually, I could use a book of stamps.”

Front Service Clerk: (Smiles) “Are plastic bags okay today?”

Olivia had forgotten her reusable bags in the car. She decides to spend a little more money and purchase two reusable bags in line. “You can use these.”

The Front Service Clerk begins packing cold items in one bag and her non-cold items in the other bag. She had also purchased dish soap, which the front service clerk packed separately in a plastic bag.

As the items are going by, Olivia suddenly realized that she forgot something important. “Oh gosh! I forgot the pork chops to go along with the Shake ‘N Bake.”

Front Service Clerk: “No problem. I can get that for you.”

Philosophy: One person helping others is great business…several people helping others, all with the same kindness and professionalism is life changing.

Olivia describes the boneless pork chops she wants. The front service clerk hurries off. A manager steps in and finishes packing the bags while loading them into the cart, smiling and making polite conversation.

Olivia notices the speed at which the items are being scanned and packed. In the process, the manager is making sure none of the groceries are damaged.

The front service clerk returns, the pork chops are scanned by the cashier, wrapped in plastic, and placed in the cart with the other items.

Philosophy: Speed, kindness, and managers pitching in to help seems to be a rare combination these days, yet critical to the success of a business.

“When we take care of the things we know are important, the outcome is a company that’s strong, vibrant and growing…that’s Publix!” ~ Ed Crenshaw, Former Publix CEO

You completed 9 minutes of this book!

Part 2

A Typical Day at Publix Continued…

Olivia types in her phone number, seeing that two items she purchased were reduced from her Publix Digital Coupons. She then slides her debit card.

Philosophy: Store savings should be available without the hassle of needing a special card, or offering a “non-effort sale” such as Buy-One, Get another Item at 30% Off.

The cashier hands Olivia her receipt and says, “Have a nice day.”

The front service clerk then does something that has become the signature of Publix. The service clerk places two hands on the cart, smiles, and says, “Which way to your car?”

Philosophy: Offer the customers something unique, setting the bar high for other businesses to follow.

Olivia pauses for a second, because she only has two reusable bags full of groceries and a couple of items in plastic bags, but accepts the kind gesture and lets the front service clerk walk her outside.

On the way to her car, the front service clerk asks, “How’s your day going so far?”

“Pretty good. I’m looking forward to cleaning the house this afternoon.” Olivia said this with a bit of sarcasm. She realized it could have come off as her complaining.

The front service clerk chuckles. “Yes, we’ve all been there. Hopefully you’ll have time to take a few minutes to yourself.”

Olivia opens her trunk as the front service clerk loads the items and says, “Have a nice day.”

Olivia reaches in her purse and retrieves two dollars, attempting to hand it to the service clerk.

“Oh, that’s okay. I don’t accept tips. It was my pleasure to help you…make sure to find some time to relax later.”

“Thank you,” Olivia says, feeling almost overwhelmed by the kindness.

She climbs into her car, starts the engine, then notices the front service clerk collecting carts in the parking lot while picking up the excess trash. It was then Olivia realized Publix was different than any other supermarket.

In fact, Publix is the example of how every business in the world should be run.

Philosophy: You’re never finished. Every customer, client, and person you meet should be treated with the same maximum effort of professionalism and kindness.

“We have always believed that no sale is complete until the meal is eaten and enjoyed.” ~ George W. Jenkins, Founder of Publix

Publix, where shopping is a pleasure.”

Behind the scenes, the associates read another sign, “Publix, where working is a pleasure.”

This isn’t something Publix does as a marketing tool, but rather the way Publix does business while personalizing the shopping experience.

Other businesses claim that customer service is most important, along with treating their employees with respect. Publix takes those same statements to a level in which no other grocery store (or business) can match.

Philosophy: Every business stresses customer service, but how are you doing it better than everyone else? How are you going above and beyond?

Publix vs. Wal-Mart

It’s been clearly shown already that the Publix experience and their innovation is unlike any other supermarket. Wal-Mart has been losing market share to Publix for years and some claim the battle is over…Publix has won.

Based on a study done by BMO Capital Markets analyst Wayne Hood (Source: Business Insider), Publix has higher customer satisfaction ratings and aggressively offers, “More produce, organics, and freshly prepared foods.”

Consider the “Olivia” example of shopping at Publix and compare to Wal-Mart.

  • Is the parking lot in Wal-Mart clean of carts and trash?

  • Does the inside of the store give you a first impression of cleanliness and organization?

  • Does Wal-Mart offer over 30 items that are buy-one-get-one?

  • Does Wal-Mart have legendary deli and bakery items?

  • Is there a sample food area with an associate offering ideas for meals and a convenient way to purchase the items, then asking, “Let me know how everything turns out?”

  • How many employees ask you in Wal-Mart, “Can I help you find anything?”

  • If you need an item, does the associate run to the back and get it for you without complaint? In fact, does the associate seem eager to help?

  • If you cannot locate an item, does the associate walk you to the area while making thoughtful conversation?

  • Do Wal-Mart employees bag your groceries?

  • Do managers spend a considerable amount of time helping Wal-Mart employees tend to customer needs?

  • Do the Wal-Mart managers approach customers without being asked?

  • Do you get a sense employees are genially happy to be working for Wal-Mart and caring about customers?

  • Does the cashier ask each customer at Wal-Mart, “Did you find everything you needed?”

  • Would a Wal-Mart employee hurry back to a shelf and retrieve an item while you were in line?

  • Does a Wal-Mart employee place two hands on the cart, smile, and ask, “Which way to your car?”

You can compare the Publix business model to other retailers such as Target, Home Depot, or even McDonalds, and you’ll discover why Publix will always come out on top.

Philosophy: Think about what will benefit people five years from now and begin to implement those ideas today. This is how to be distinctive and stay ahead of the competition.

It’s inspiring how Publix has been the store to innovative new ways of making the shopping experience comfortable for guests while paving the way for how grocery stores, supermarkets, and retail stores do business.

Based on the ideas of George Jenkins, Publix was the first to install these items:

  • Fluorescent Lights

  • Eight-foot Wide Aisles

  • Piped-in Music

  • Air Conditioning

  • Inside Water Fountains

  • Cold Cases for Refrigerated and Frozen Items

  • Open Dairy Cases

  • Electric Eye for Automatic Doors

  • Flower Shop

  • Donut Shop (Expanded into a full-service bakery.)

Philosophy: Be innovating, while discovering new ways to help others, especially when it comes to providing a stress-free environment.

“If not for men like George Jenkins, Americans would still be plucking feathers from chickens to prepare for Sunday dinner.” ~ Eric Pera, Reporter at The Ledger

It All Started With George W. Jenkins, Jr.

Young George was born on September 29th, 1907 in Georgia, learning the grocery business from his father’s general store. At the time, cotton was one of the most valuable crops in the South, but it was under attack by a seemingly indestructible new beetle known as the boll weevil, which fed on cotton and completely infested U.S. cotton growing areas by the 1920’s.

Despite scientific efforts, no solution could be found as the boll weevil continued to destroy America’s most valuable crop while crippling the economy.

At the age of seventeen, Jenkins had to close down his father’s store. He then decided to start over in Florida.

Philosophy: Unforeseen moments will occur from time to time. Some of these moments will be humbling, yet other times, absolutely devastating. Understand the things you can and cannot control, while remaining focused on what you want to accomplish with your talents.

“Begin…the rest is easy.” ~ George W. Jenkins

You completed 9 minutes of this book!

Part 3

New Start

Two months after being hired as a clerk for Piggly Wiggly in Tampa, Florida, Jenkins’ knowledge for the grocery store business shined. He was then promoted to store manager. Shortly after, he was promoted to the largest Piggly Wiggly store in Winter Haven, Florida.

Piggly Wiggly was the first store to provide checkout stands, along with price marking every item in the store. They were also first in providing shopping carts to every customer. This turned Piggly Wiggly into a genuine self-service store with the highest quality of food and customer satisfaction.

In fact, Piggly Wiggly dominated the supermarket industry.

When the owner of the Piggly Wiggly grocery chain attempted to corner the market, the Stock Exchange Governors had to step in, remove the stock from the board, and force the owner to turn over his assets to the bank.

Piggly Wiggly was divided and sold to reginal grocery chains such as Kroger, Safeway, National Tea, and Colonial.

As for Jenkins, he spent five years as a manager, learning the most effective way to run a successful grocery store while personalizing the shopping experience to customers.

The amount of wisdom Jenkins gained would one day be of great value to him. He experienced firsthand the owner of the company becoming greedy and punished for that greed, setting the business backwards, rather finding ways to propel forwards.

On the other hand, Jenkins also learned why Piggly Wiggly had become so successful: Excellent customer service and being innovative with every portion of the business to benefit all those who worked and shopped at Piggly Wiggly.

Philosophy: Learn from others, including their mistakes and successes. Pay attention to the little things and always be ready to learn some more.

When Piggly Wiggly was sold, Jenkins was anxious to meet the new owner and share ideas on how he had been successful running his own store.

Unfortunately, time slipped away and the new owner never showed up to view the store operation.

Philosophy: Communicate with those above you, below you, and next to you. Network, connect, and start conversations. Get to know as many people as possible and learn from their individual skills.

The Meeting that Never Happened

A few weeks went by and the new owner still had not made an appearance, which was strange to Jenkins, and also frustrating.

Jenkins decided he would drive to Atlanta and meet with the owner, knowing how critical it would be to the company that Jenkins share his important ideas for the future of the grocery business.

Jenkins arrived and sat outside the office, waiting for the owner to appear. The receptionist informed Jenkins that the owner was in an important conference and didn’t have time to meet.

This was certainly disheartening to Jenkins, but especially hurtful when Jenkins heard what the owner actually said behind the door.

He was discussing his golf game.

Jenkins heard the owner say, “If I hadn’t taken a six on the dogleg eighth hole, I’d have broken ninety in my last golf game.”

With his head low, Jenkins left the building. He was astonished at how the owner of the top grocery store could be so uncaring about the business and insensible to his managers and employees.

Philosophy: Caring about others can be as simple as listening to what they have to say.

On the ride back, Jenkins decided he didn’t want to work for a man that treated others this way. It was a life changing moment as Jenkins envisioned his own grocery store.

Philosophy: Don’t let the lacking of others stop you from being your best. It’s easy to allow someone to steal your joy, passion, and even your dreams. These are moments when we could be at our worst…or at our best!

Mr. George

Next to the Piggly Wiggly in Winter Haven, Jenkins opened his first store in a twenty-seven by sixty-five foot building.

Jenkins didn’t have the money to conduct a detailed market research for a store name. However, he was intrigued by a chain of motion picture theatres called, Publix, so he used the name.

Jenkins: “I liked the sound of the name, so I just took it for my store.”

Philosophy: When starting out on your own, funding is limited. Keep things simple, rather than adding expensive complexities.

Publix Mission Statement

Jenkins described everything he wanted Publix to be in this clear mission:

Our mission at Publix is to be the premier quality food retailer in the world.

To that end we commit to be:

  • Passionately focused on customer value

  • Intolerant of waste

  • Dedicated to the dignity, value and employment security of our associates

  • Devoted to the highest standards of stewardship for our stockholders

  • Involved as responsible citizens in our communities

“We want to be the best. Not necessarily the largest, but the best…the best size store to shop in comfortably with wide aisles, soft music playing so (guests) could shop relaxed.” ~ George W. Jenkins

Six Philosophies Learned from the Publix Mission Statement

“Our mission at Publix is to be the premier quality food retailer in the world.”

Philosophy: Never strive to be average. Words like premier, best, foremost, leading, and highest should be included with your mission and how you want people to perceive you.

“Passionately focused on customer value.”

Philosophy: Be willing to do things no one else has thought of, or willing to do.

“I resolved that if I ever got to be a big shot in this business, two things would be done. I would go around and visit the stores. And if anybody wanted to see me, they could walk into my office any time.” ~ George W. Jenkins

You completed 9 minutes of this book!

Part 4

Six Philosophies Learned from the Publix Mission Statement Continued…

“Intolerant of waste.”

Not many businesses include “intolerant of waste” as part of their mission statement. However, think about all the places a business loses money by waste. It could be a few grapes that dropped on the floor, causing someone to slip or damage their shoes.

Waste could be found in employees on their cell phones instead of working. Certainly Jenkins didn’t foresee people talking on their own phones, but cigarette breaks, chatting while on the clock, or simply not working has significant impact on a business and is a colossal waste of money.

Waste could also be an unconscious lack of effort when it comes to supplies. Or waste could be the loss of product or unused product which needed to be thrown away. Waste could be found in unsafe practices, causing injury to an associate or guest.

People may not consider this, but waste in not utilizing the skills of all the associates will prevent the company from succeeding.

Publix understands the importance of mentioning waste in the mission statement, because millions of dollars in lost revenue is at stake each year.

Philosophy: Waste has a significant impact on what you want to accomplish. Waste of time, money, and even a waste of talent must be avoided.

“Dedicated to the dignity, value and employment security of our associates.”

Philosophy: Succeeding in business and having a fulfilling life means you care about the self-respect and pride of others. Most of all, you care about the safety of others, which includes physically, mentally, and spiritually.

“Devoted to the highest standards of stewardship for our stockholders.”

Philosophy: The value of stock begins with the significance you place on serving others. Increasing the value of your associates is the same as increasing the value of the stock.

“Involved as responsible citizens in our communities.”

Philosophy: To better our neighborhoods and surroundings, we must first become accountable for our own actions while leading by example. Next, we need to find ways to benefit those who are struggling. This starts in our own community.

Store Number One

The early Publix stores featured bright white stucco, marble entrance ways, curved corners of glass brick, and what became the trademark Publix tower sign in front.

Publix made $120,000 in sales the first year, despite being in the middle of the Great Depression.

Jenkins continued building stores, featuring “wings” on the tower and neon lights.

Philosophy: Get started by using all of your talent and experience. From there, improve. If you don’t take at least one step forward, then you’ll never know how great you truly can become and how many people you could help.

The employees nicknamed Jenkins, “Mr. George.” His management style, which can still be seen today at Publix, consisted of calling his staff “associates,” rather than employees. He treated them as companions and even considered his associates as friends.

“First, take care of your customers. Second, take care of your associates. They will in turn take care of your customers.” ~ George W. Jenkins

Philosophy: Search for opportunities to benefit someone else. It begins with a smile, followed by looking for ways to build relationships. The more relationships you build, the more successful you will become.

Jenkins believed if his associates owned the business and shared in its success, they would work harder while creating an atmosphere that exceeded customer expectations. From this idea, Jenkins permitted full-time associates to purchase stock in Publix. He was then able to share the store’s profits on a quarterly basis.

From there, Jenkins extended this offer to all associates, even those working part-time, who had logged in at least 1,000 hours in a year.

“Every shareholder in the company was a cashier, a bagger, or a baker.” ~ George W. Jenkins

Mr. George took every opportunity to speak with associates and honor their efforts. He believed the most important investment Publix could make was in their personnel.

A common phrase from Jenkins was, “Publix will be a little better place to work, or not quite as good because of you.”

Note from the author: On my first day of work, I saw the sign, “Publix will be a little better place to work, or not quite as good because of you,” in the breakroom of store 491 and took it to heart. Every day from that point on, I always read the sign when clocking in. I wanted to be the reason associates and guests were happy.

Philosophy: Today, you will impact your surroundings for the better or for the worse…it will be up to you.

Surviving War

The goal Jenkins had in mind was to build at least 50 stores, thinking it should be enough to generate the volume needed to secure success in the supermarket industry.

However, it wouldn’t be easy, especially since Publix was trying to grow during World War II. American businesses were directing their resources to the war effort, causing expansion to become difficult, if not impossible.

Things became worse when shortages of products to stock the shelves were difficult to come by, along with paper bags to pack groceries. Jenkins traveled around the country to locate what he needed for Publix to keep his business running.

Philosophy: Do not let the circumstances around you prevent what you want to accomplish. There’s always a way to solve a problem.

Before the war, Jenkins had a reputation of treating food suppliers fairly. So during this difficult period, the suppliers returned the favor and did whatever they could to keep food on the Publix shelves. While other stores ran out of food and stock items, Jenkins had continued providing families a place to shop.

Philosophy: Unselfish good deeds will come back one day as a smooth path to achievement and a way to overcome your own obstacles. The question you should ask yourself each night before you go to bed is, “How did I treat others today?”

Another shortage problem occurred during the war…Publix did not have enough men to work at the stores. Jenkins welcomed women and teenagers to the Publix family. Most of the teens gladly came into work before and after school while the women became cashiers and donut cooks.

Associates looked at Jenkins as a man who would do anything for the business and their guests. His fair treatment, respect, and constant open communication paid off when other stores suffered during the war.

Philosophy: Many times a problem, or series of problems, will open the door to new ideas and better ways to improve, even during the face of adversity.

As World War II came to an end in 1945, Jenkins made a deal for Publix to purchase 19 stores, an office, and a warehouse located in Lakeland, Florida.

He also decided it was time to improve the shopping experience.

The Sunshine State Loves Publix!

By 1959, Publix dominated Central Florida. After a significant growth during the 1950’s and 1960’s, the state of Florida also witnessed substantial growth in land ownership and wealth, resulting in the most populated state in America.

The perception of Florida had become a place with a beautifully warm climate, inexpensive land, a variety of resources, and the most gorgeous beaches in the world.

In order to fill the need of Florida’s quickly growing population, Jenkins had to exceed his goal of 50 stores and build more rapidly.

Publix opened 85 stores by 1962, expanding the supermarket beyond central Florida, with the 100th Publix built on March 3rd, 1964. In order to support those stores, a 300,000 square-foot distribution center was also built.

From there, Publix grew to 150 stores by 1969.

Philosophy: Never put a limit on your dreams. Always think bigger, because you are only limited by what you imagine.

“Take personal accountability for your next step. Reach up and out.” ~ Todd Jones, CEO of Publix

You completed 9 minutes of this book!

Part 5

Back during the war, Jenkins had driven around the country in search of new products. Now, Jenkins drove around Florida to visit with Publix associates, speak with customers, and find new locations for more Publix stores.

Jenkins remembered a time when he was a store manager at Piggly Wiggly. Burned in his memory was the horrific moment when the owner of the supermarket chose a golf conversation over speaking with him about new ideas on how to grow, innovate, and provide premier customer service.

Jenkins vowed he would be available to his associates, managers, and guests, while leading by example. He started off as a bagger and would happily bag groceries to assist a store when he visited.

This did not go unnoticed by others. Jenkins received the Horatio Alger Award for succeeding in a time of adversity.

Philosophy: How you act during the heat of adversity will be one of the way’s you’ll be remembered.

1970’s

Publix grew from $500 million in sales to nearly $2 billion as the company expanded throughout the 70’s. This generated more than $32 million in profits.

However, “profits” wasn’t the reason why Publix dominated Florida supermarkets. The main reason Publix remained on top was associates and managers followed Jenkins’ example to always do the right thing.

Jenkins reinvested the profits to continue expansion, creating opportunities for the future while making a personal investment with the associates. Publix wasn’t just a place to shop for groceries; the associates and managers were like family to the guests, which mirrored Jenkins’ vision.

Philosophy: It would be impossible to be friends with everyone, but you certainly have the power to be friendly with everyone you meet.

As Publix continued building stores to the north of Florida, 3 more stores were constructed in Jacksonville, along with new distribution centers and storage facilities throughout the Sunshine State.

With Publix’s ever growing popular baked goods, a new bakery production facility was needed, along with a produce distribution center, both built in Lakeland, Florida and operational by 1973.

Philosophy: Expansion and success comes easier when you’re always striving to do the right thing.

During this era, George Jenkins and Publix had received recognition from others. One example was Jenkins received the Sydney Robb Award, presented by the Food Marketing Institute for years of selfless service to the food industry.

In addition, the Retail Grocer Association awarded Jenkins and Publix the title of Grocer of the Year.

Perhaps the ultimate honor during the 70’s was when Jenkins was awarded the McKenzie Statue by the Boy Scouts of America. This meant he was truly making an impact on people of all ages.

Philosophy: Recognition is gained by serving….recognition can only be lost when your pride overcomes your desire to benefit others.

1980’s

With the technological age in America during the 80’s, Publix introduced checkout scanning to improve accuracy while at the same time, increasing the speed in customer lines. This coincided with Publix celebrating its 50th Anniversary in business.

Presto! ATM’s were placed outside of each store, creating a $5 billion revenue stream, followed by the first in-store pharmacy opened in the Orlando Publix store.

A dairy manufacturing facility was constructed in Lakeland, Florida, producing milk, along with Publix brand dairy products, yogurts, frozen yogurts, and what would soon become award-winning ice cream.

Next to the manufacturing facility, a birthday cake water tower was built. Just imagine a massive cake in the sky with birthday candles providing water for the facility.

More stores were built along with distribution centers and manufacturing facilities. By 1989, Publix had 367 stores, 62,000 associates, and revenues that reached $5.4 billion.

Philosophy: What is your goal in life? Think about that for a moment and double your goal, expanding it to new heights. Tomorrow, double it again.

1990’s Continued Success

In 1991, Publix expanded to Savannah, Georgia and the slogan of, “It’s Been Our Pleasure” became well-known. This led to a new Atlanta division, which was the location that Jenkins had transformed an unkind experience into a vision of greatness and service to others.

Philosophy: The snubbing of another person can be transformed into a successful idea. Did someone ignore you recently? How can that experience be used as an opportunity?

In 1993, Publix opened a store in South Carolina, with goals of continued growth and expansion to the north, state-by-state, city-by-city, moving to Alabama by 1996.

More Publix Awards

Listed in the top 10 of The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America.

Fortune Magazine ranked Publix 29th in Fortune’s 500 and Global 500 lists.

Fortune Magazine Most Admired Company.

Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Florida Commission on the Status of Women honored Publix for programs to support women.

Progressive Grocer announced Publix as their Retailer of the Year.

Award by Catalyst Blue Ribbon Board for having a Fortune 500 Company with Multiple Women Directors. (Awarded multiple times.)

Alexis de Toquerille Award for George Jenkins’ substantial contributions to the United Way of America.

Philosophy: Awards are terrific, but what you’ve done before the awards and how you will improve in the future is the driving force of your passion and talents.

The awards listed were not just for appearance, or to fill a page. It’s to show how Publix thrived on the mission and vision of George Jenkins. Notice the pattern of these awards:

  • One of the best places to work.

  • A company admired by those in the business world and its peers.

  • Setting a tone for the future by promoting women in management and executive positions.

This indeed was a company to be a pleasure working for, not to mention the pleasure of shopping as a guest. The Publix vision by George Jenkins had become a reality with the first store and remained a reality with each new location.

Philosophy: Imagine being awarded, Best Person to Work With. Then imagine the award of, Most Admired by Others. Perhaps you could envision the award of, Setting the Tone for the Future. If you cannot even comprehend winning these awards, then it’s time to improve by searching for ways to increase the value of others.

“My hero in the business world has been and will always be George Jenkins, the founder of Publix and my grandfather. George Jenkins set a wonderful example for me and taught me many valuable lessons, but the one that stands out, and the one I think about most often is very simply, ‘don’t let making a profit stand in the way of doing the right thing.’” ~ Ed Crenshaw, Former CEO of Publix

You completed 9 minutes of this book!

Part 6

Sad Ending, Creates a New Beginning

Suddenly, Publix was shocked by a tragic moment.

On April 8th, 1998, George W. Jenkins passed away at the age of 88. Services were held in Lakeland, Florida, with over 1,500 family, friends, industry leaders, and community leaders attending.

Mr. George was described as “generous, big-hearted, down-to-earth, gentle, firm, and fair.” This would become the description of every Publix manager, leader, and associate.

Philosophy: How people look at you will determine your level of success. Would people describe you as generous, big-hearted, down-to-earth, gentle, firm, and fair? If not, then begin working on ways to excel with those traits, creating unlimited opportunities for you and others.

To sum up George Jenkins, a question was once asked of him. “Mr. George, how much do you think you’d be worth today if you hadn’t given so much away?”

Without hesitation, Jenkins responded, “Probably nothing.”

2000’s: Publix continues its success with the memory of George Jenkins leading the way.

Publix opened stores in Tennessee. From there, they began opening stores that offered expanded products and services, creating a way to benefit guests on a much higher level.

The birthday cake water tower received a fresh coat of paint, decorated in white, with yellow trim, the word “Publix” written in green on the front of the cake, and adorned with different colored candles.

By 2014, Publix had expanded in to North Carolina.

In addition, Publix began the Greenwise Market with natural foods and environmentally friendly products. Publix also offered selections of Caribbean and Central South America food products.

At the time of writing this book, Publix has 1,114 stores across seven states, with over 179,000 employees and a net revenue of $32.36 billion, up $2 billion from the previous year. There are Publix cooking schools, corporate offices, 8 grocery distribution centers, and 10 manufacturing facilities.

As this book was published, several more stores were being planned and constructed, with Publix continued growth throughout the United States.

Philosophy: Never stop improving. Never stop looking for ways to better the lives of others. Never believe that humbling moments will prevent you from greatness. Instead, use challenging days to fuel your passion.

Awards, 2000-2013

Experience Works Award for Outstanding Employers of Older Workers.

Mid-Florida Society for Human Resource Management Diversity Award.

Diversistar Award, excelling in promoting workplace diversity practices.

Child Magazine award for Top 10 Family-Friendly Supermarkets.

Wilson Survey announced Publix as the Top Pharmacy.

Computerworld announced Publix as Best Place to Work in IT.

Businessweek Magazine listed Publix in the Top 25 for Customer Service.

Supermarket News Retail Excellence Award.

National Retail Federation announced Publix as their Customer’s Choice Award.

Glassdoor.com listed Publix as one of the Top 50 Best Places to Work.

First Place on the Reputation Institute’s Corporate Social Responsibility Index. (Actually, Publix ranked first 2 years in a row for this award.)

First Place award given by Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship.

Fortune Magazine’s Most Admired Company.

United Way of America Summit Award.

Mr. George Community Service Award

Associates have the opportunity to live Mr. George’s legacy of service and following his example of being involved in the community by giving of their time, talent, and treasure.

The Mr. George Community Service Award is given once a year to six associates who represent what “Publix Serves” truly means. Publix believes no matter why, how, or where you serve, everyone at Publix has the opportunity to change the lives of others for the better.

Winners of the award receive:

  • $5,000 donated to the charity of their choice.

  • Three days off with pay.

  • A personalize award.

  • Dinner with Publix executives.

  • Featured in Publix News.

Philosophy: Volunteering your time, treasure, and talent should become your number one goal and your way of life.

Whether it’s United Way, March of Dimes, Habitat for Humanity, or many other ways Publix Serves, it all goes back to the example set by George Jenkins, showing that by giving first and receiving second, it is how every business on the planet should lead the way.

It’s also why the Publix Mission Statement includes the phrase, “Involved as responsible citizens in our community.”

“Publix has taken good care of me, so now it’s my turn to give back to the less fortunate. Mr. George’s legacy was selflessness. I felt his service through the many managers who have guided me and set such great examples of giving.” ~ Teri Schweiger, Publix Store Manager

Associate Training

Publix takes great pride in training new associates and continues refresher training throughout the associate’s career. This includes everyone from the front service clerks to every department, manager, and executive.

When you think of training an associate, the first thing that comes to mind is placing an associate in front of a computer for a day, followed by more training while the associate “learns the ropes.”

Perhaps the biggest difference at Publix is what’s called, “Rolling Out the Green Carpet.” This is a day spent learning the history of Publix, the way George Jenkins developed Publix, and how to give the best customer satisfaction on the planet.

By the time a new associate is finished with this amazing experience, the job at Publix has a special meaning. The new associate could now use what they learned with the mindset of George Jenkins and the proud “ownership” of their own Publix store.

For example, if you met a Publix associate at a party and asked where they worked, they would respond, “I work for Publix. My store is located at…”

Notice the phrase, “My store.” This is what George Jenkins wanted from each associate; the pride in working with Publix, rather than working for Publix.

Philosophy: You should never look at a career as working for a manger, or working above others. Instead, you are always in a position to work with associates, leaders, managers, and vendors. Here’s the difference. Working for someone means your efforts are for that person. Working with someone means your efforts and goals are the same.

“Our founder, Mr. George, made associates company owners because he believed that when you own something you take better care of it. That philosophy has proven true time and time again. And it’s what makes Publix so unique today.” ~ Ed Crenshaw, Former Publix CEO

You completed 9 minutes of this book!

Part 7

The Publix Way

During Publix associate training, every piece of information is based on how to please customers. This includes the way you bag groceries, look for customers in your 10-foot area, pick up a crumpled piece of paper on the floor, move an item on the shelf an inch to the right so it looks better, and going out of your way to make sure the entire shopping experience for customers is a “pleasure.”

Also during associate training, Publix guest feedback is reviewed. This doesn’t just include the good feedback comments, but also the negative.

An example is when a customer noticed that over half of the yogurts on the shelf were out of date. She brought this problem to the attention of the nearest Publix associate who had been stocking milk.

The associate rolled his eyes and never apologized, or mentioned he would solve the problem.

This of course upset the customer. “I don’t know why lazy and unmotivated employees are hired these days when there are so many other worthy people seeking employment. Publix standards seem to be rapidly slipping in this respect.”

Publix uses examples like these to improve customer service, mostly by showing new associates, “What not to do.”

One thing that should be noted from this complaint is the guest held Publix to a high standard. When guests walk into the door, Publix associates are aware of how going above and beyond is part of the job and should be done with a smile and genuine care for the guest.

After all, this was what Jenkins’ envisioned when starting the company and what he expected should last as a legacy.

Philosophy: Hold yourself to a higher standard and no one could ever say that you’re average.

Publix also hires associates who are handicapped, giving everyone a chance to become part of the Publix family. For example, in store 491 located in Bradenton, Florida, a front service clerk provides premier customer service despite being blind.

When businesses attempt to mirror the Publix model, many decisions seem impossible. However, Publix has proven that everything is possible and everyone deserves a chance to earn a paycheck.

Philosophy: Instead of looking what others cannot provide, discover what value they can provide.

Here’s a letter from a high school principal in Atlanta: “Late Tuesday afternoon we still had between 150-200 students waiting on busses and rides home. Being so late in the day, the children were extremely hungry, so I reached out to Publix and were they great neighbors!

“They provided fried and baked chicken, chips, cold cuts, bread, muffins, and water. If you go to Publix, please thank Mr. Jack Pimms, the new Publix manager for his unselfish act toward our school! The kids were fed and happy.”

When reading this, most business executives would cringe if they discovered their NEW manager cost the company money by giving out chicken, chips, cold cuts, bread, muffins, and bottled water; enough to feed 150-200 kids.

Also, can you imagine the enormous risk the manager was taking, especially since he was new to the store?

Nevertheless, what Manager Jack Pimms displayed was something that founder George Jenkins would have done. Read this over again, but in the vision of Jenkins.

“Late Tuesday afternoon we still had between 150-200 students waiting on busses or for rides home. Being so late in the day, the children were extremely hungry, so I reached out to Publix and were they great neighbors!

“They provided fried and baked chicken, chips, cold cuts, bread, muffins, and water. If you go to Publix, please thank Mr. George Jenkins for his unselfish act toward our school! The kids were fed and happy.”

Suddenly, it makes perfect sense why Mr. Pimms made the decision to unselfishly help others in need…

“Earning a profit should never get in the way of doing the right thing.”

Philosophy: There are many leaders throughout history like George Jenkins you can learn a great deal from and live by their example. Become a reader of biographies, while gaining the perspective of what it takes to become successful in business and achieve a fulfilling life.

Publix Leaders and Managers

Publix managers move to different stores every couple of years. One of the main reasons is to apply fresh ideas that had been learned at the previous store. This keeps Publix always innovating and improving their service.

As stated in the beginning of this book, most managers and executives started as a front service clerk (bagger). Here’s an example of a how an associate moved up the ladder in Publix:

  • Front Service Clerk

  • Stock Clerk

  • 2nd Assistant Manager

  • Assistant Store Manager

  • Store Manager

  • District Manager

  • Regional Manager

This kind of upward movement is common at Publix, creating an atmosphere for achievement. Associates who keep in mind the example of George Jenkins have placed themselves in a position to succeed.

All leaders at Publix use the George Jenkins style, but add their own personality and talents as a way to make each store unique.

One example is Terry Uphaus at store 491, (Now retired) carried the image of George Jenkins throughout his career, greeting guests and making time to know Publix associates while understanding their goals and dreams.

Tessa Nobles at store 792, was a manager under Terry. Imagine George Jenkins style of managing mixed with Mighty Mouse; incredibly strong and invulnerable to negativity, while managing by example. That’s the kind of leadership Tessa brings to Publix.

Working under both Terry and Tessa was Andrew Skafec now at store 828, who is comparable to both George Jenkins and the big brother you always wanted. Andrew thrives by trusting his team to get the job done, never compromises the dignity of the store, and creates a culture of people cooperating with each other.

The female version of George Jenkins could certainly be Sandy Hightower, a store manager at 417. Whether it’s taking time to paint houses with Habitat for Humanity, or leading a kickball game for United Way, her guidance is an inspiration to others.

Sandy has an amazing team of customer service leaders who are just about the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Most of all, they display superior leadership skills.

Assistant Store Manager Erika Kolb is a mix between George Jenkins and traits that include gaining energy from adversity, doesn’t fall in the trap of perception, and takes pride in the appearance of her staff and store.

Customer Service Manager Tara Farley is a mix between George Jenkins and traits that include taking responsibility for a successful store, developing other great leaders, and genuinely cares about the associates and guests.

Assistant Customer Service Manager Geren Leon is a mix between George Jenkins and traits that include the ability to guide staff and make people better than himself, loyalty to all who work hard, giving associates everything they need to do their job well, and not letting ego get in the way of success.

Team Leader Carter Hubbs has the traits of George Jenkins mixed with traits that include being knowledgeable in a variety of areas, attentive in all situations, and the ability to teach others through example.

As you can see, managers at Publix continue the legacy of George Jenkins while using their own natural born traits as a way to freshen the perspective of each store. To Publix associates and guests, they are the examples of what every business should have as leaders.

Philosophy: Highlight the people around you, especially those who you learned from the most. Give praise every chance you can.

“Ideal employee-customer relationships cannot be accomplished without a sincere interest in your employees as real people.” ~ George W. Jenkins

You completed 9 minutes of this book!

Part 8

It’s not uncommon for a store manager to bag groceries, or an assistant manager cleaning the floors at midnight. You will see managers pushing carts and constantly available to the guests, answering questions, or simply getting to know the guest a little better.

This leads to the heart of Publix. Consider just some of the offers Publix makes to its guests.

Publix Guarantee

“We will never knowingly disappoint you. If for any reason your purchase does not give you complete satisfaction, the full purchase price will be cheerfully refunded immediately upon request.” ~ Publix Policy

Let’s say you purchase groceries, make dinner, and two of your family members didn’t enjoy the meal. You may take your receipt back to Publix, explain what happened, and receive a full refund along with a couple of suggestions for a meal that would be a better fit for your family.

Another example is if you arrive at the register and the price of the item was different than what you read on the shelf. A front service clerk checks this and realizes the price was indeed labeled incorrectly. You will receive the item for free because of the inconvenience.

Philosophy: Being unique goes past the mindset of quarterly profits. It starts by using your imagination on how to go above and beyond to the point that no one else can compete.

10-10-10

Each associate learns the 10-10-10 rule.

  • Any guest within 10 feet of the associate should be greeted within 10 seconds and asked if they are finding everything they need.

  • The associates are to learn 10 guests’ names.

  • Associates are to use the customer’s names when they arrive at the store.

If a guest is having trouble locating an item, the associate will walk the guest to the correct location in the store.

If at any time a guest or associate cannot locate the item, a call will be made to the grocery associates to ensure there isn’t more of the item in the back.

Philosophy: When you come within ten feet of someone, make sure to smile and greet them.

Bonus Philosophy: Every week, meet 10 new people and learn their names. The younger you are, the more successful you’ll become by doing this.

Avoiding Angry Customers

Publix uses the “Calm Approach.” By using C.A.L.M., it can make the difference between an angry customer and a loyal customer.

  • Stay Cool

  • Apologize for the problem

  • Listen with Empathy

  • Make it Right

Philosophy: When approached by someone who is angry or unsatisfied in any way, keep your emotions under control, apologize with sincerity, and make sure to listen to all the facts, then do whatever possible to correct the problem.

Overview of Customer Service Policies

As stated, most businesses claim they have premier customer service, but Jenkins took customer service to another level. Here’s an overview of what Jenkins expects from each associate at Publix.

  • Greet guests with a smile.

  • Use guest names when possible.

  • If you’re already working with a guest and another one approaches, acknowledge the new guest with a smile and say, “I’ll be right with you.”

  • Engage guests using observation skills. (Observation is the key to “Legendary” customer service. This includes noticing the customer’s facial expression.)

Philosophy: Become a master at studying expressions, body language, and tone of voice. This will benefit you both personally and professionally. You can check out books from the library on the subject, but also, just simply pay attention to other people when they speak. Watch their movements and listen to their voice and how it changes.

Publix’s Unique Way of Saving Customers Money

Publix has built a reputation of being more expensive than other grocery stores, yet the service received was beyond what any other grocery store could provide. So basically it was the notion that guests would have to decide if the customer service at Publix outweighed paying a little more for groceries.

In response to this, Publix created several ways for customers to save money. At the same time, Publix made the shopping experience personal by planning a shopper’s meals.

Note: This became so successful that people began calling their local Publix, “My store.” Everything you read from this point on in the book is how Publix continues to personalize the grocery shopping experience.

BOGO (Buy One, Get One Free)

BOGO’s have become a staple at Publix and one of the main reasons people shop at the store. There are over 30 BOGO deals every week. Publix also makes sure to provide BOGO’s during specialized weeks.

For example, during Super Bowl week, Publix would provide BOGO’s on snacks, grill options, and specialty items like shrimp and decorated cakes, cookies, and cupcakes.

The BOGO’s are clearly marked in both the ad and on the shelf next to the item. Customers who are pinching the penny will shop almost entirely for BOGO’s and create their weekly meals accordingly.

What’s even more amazing is that customers can use coupons to go along with the BOGO’s, which creates larger savings.

“The man who made shopping a pleasure for generations of Floridians was the quintessential merchant caring more about customer’s satisfactions than profit. His philosophy and innovations revolutionized the industry.” ~ Eric Pera, Reporter at The Ledger

You completed 9 minutes of this book!

Part 9

Coupons

There are several ways to collect Publix coupons:

  • Digital Coupons. Guests simply sign up for a free Publix account, then punch in their phone number at checkout. It’s a great feeling when a coupon appears and automatically takes off the cost of an item.

  • Printable Coupons. Guests can go to the Publix website and “clip coupons,” which means to print the ones needed. There’s usually over $300 in savings each week.

  • Coupons Savings Helper. The idea behind the Coupons Savings Helper is for Publix to do the work and the guests reap the awards. This program searches for sales from several resources, along with the local weekly ad, while letting the guest know exactly what’s being saved on each product.

  • Weekly Ad. The weekly ad is perhaps the most popular spot in Publix. It’s where to find all the sales and BOGO’s, while planning daily or weekly shopping meals.

  • Competitors Coupons. Yes, Publix accepts coupons created by manufactures and even competitors.

Publix Brands

By providing lower cost brand products that are as good as, or even better than national brands, Publix has created yet another way for guests to save on shopping.

In addition, guests can shop for Publix GreenWise products, offering a wide variety of excellent products that are organic or made without artificial preservatives, flavors, and colors. Publix household products are produced to minimize impact on the environment.

Remember, if you’re not completely satisfied with any of the Publix products, return them for a complete refund.

Note: It’s common for customers to say at the checkout line, “I came in for two items and ended up with an entire shopping cart.” The reason behind this is simple…Publix has found several ways to personalize a guest’s shopping experience and save money at the same time.

Aprons

Publix offers an expert to cook sample meals right in front of you, specifically designed for Publix guests with recipes that feature ingredients available at Publix. Each recipe is thoroughly tested to make sure it’s easy to follow and becomes a wonderful meal to enjoy many times in the future.

Aprons help spark the creative side for guests while planning weekly meals with confidence. In fact, collecting recipes has become an exciting tradition for Publix guests.

There’re over 1,000 different recipes, so running out of ideas is impossible!

Apron Cooking School

If a guest is interested in classes, Publix offers the Apron Cooking School at select store locations, providing meal instruction and techniques from worldwide cuisines. This is terrific for any level chef including expert culinary students, couples looking for a date night, or a gift for your kids to learn the joy of creating meals.

Guests can even sit back, relax, and watch the demonstration, or take a more hands-on class from basic cutting skills to creating fancy meals with simple ingredients. This is a taste and learn process, making the idea of cooking fun again, enjoying a worthwhile experience.

Philosophy: Sometimes an idea isn’t enough. You need a recipe to succeed.

Investing in Properties

You may notice when a Publix store is opened, suddenly it is surrounded by other businesses and even new housing developments. Publix is not only a major player in the supermarket industry, but also becoming a powerhouse real estate investor.

The company has been spending billions on buying, building, and remodeling shopping centers, which gives Publix an edge over competitors. Most importantly, real estate investing provides more opportunities for guests.

Publix of Today and the Future

Todd Jones, new CEO of Publix, had this to say in his first message to the company.

“You make Publix what it is today and that makes me proud. No matter if you’re a front service clerk or a vice president, you are critical to our success, and continuing what’s happening at Publix is important to me.

“Being a large company means we have to find ways to stay glued together. It’s part of what makes Publix people unique and effective.”

Philosophy: Communication is critical to success, along with how you communicate your vision. The same message of one visionary must be clearly presented to ten others, along with one hundred, or even thousands of people, as if everyone were in one room to hear the message.

(Todd Jones’ statement continued…) “If you aren’t sure what’s important to your company, ask your manager. They’re here to guide you and help you be successful in your Publix career. Investing in our associates is the most important thing we can do.”

Philosophy: Buildup everyone you come in contact with, making a goal to surround yourself with the brightest, smartest people. Great leaders serve those around them and invest in their dreams while having a goal to make others better than themselves.

(Todd Jones’ statement continued…) “We want you to know when you’re doing a great job, and we want you to know how you can do even better. But above all, we want you to know you can build a career here. With future growth plans, you have so many opportunities to advance. You just have to work hard and take advantage of what comes your way.”

Philosophy: In order to build a career, you must be able to see the path ahead of you. This way, you know how to recognize an opportunity.

(Todd Jones’ statement continued…) “Publix is a tree…you…our associates are our branches that help strengthen us. We will struggle growing if you don’t work toward finding and following the paths available to you. Learn what you can do and how you can get there. Take personal accountability for your next step. Reach up and out.”


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