How Staff Collaborates on our Co-op’s Business Plan

Grocery is an ever-changing, fast-paced industry, so an important part of our work at Menomonie Market Food Co-op is creating a thorough, actionable business plan each fiscal year to keep us on track. Our Development Team, made up of the General Manager and several department managers, is responsible for collaborating on this document that our entire team ultimately uses to work on the upcoming year’s goals.

Our co-op’s fiscal years run July through June, so our business planning cycles usually kick off in the summer months. Our General Manager begins with the previous year’s business plan as a starting point and creates an outline of what she anticipates will be our top goals in the new fiscal year. Once the bones of the document are solidified, it is then shared with the other managers on the Development Team, usually in July, so they can flesh out their sections of the plan by mid-August. Similar to the General Manager’s process, the Development Team takes a look at the previous year’s business plan to first determine which of their department’s goals weren’t met and whether they should be carried over to the new plan or omitted altogether. Then they add in any new goals they believe should be set for the new year.

Within each department’s section of the business plan are usually two types of goals: hard goals, or high-priority measurable data points we track to compare year-over-year growth, and soft goals, or “wishlist” projects we’d like to complete but consider lower priority. Examples of hard goals are store sales growth percentages, department labor goals, and new ownership investments. Meanwhile, examples of soft goals would be reformatting department documents so they’re standardized or redoing signage in our seating area—nice to complete but not 100% necessary if there are other high-priority tasks that need to be done to keep our doors open.

Once all departments have a solid list of goals, the managers share the ones from their section of the business plan with their teams. Staff is encouraged to give feedback at that time so the manager can assign the correct roles to each project and set realistic deadlines based on everyone’s workloads. How each department tracks progress once tasks are assigned varies by manager, but the expectation is that they keep an eye on progress being made on their department’s goals each quarter so they can adjust as needs change.

Because of the nature of retail, our staff has to be flexible and extremely realistic with project timelines when setting goals. It’s not uncommon that we have to push off multiple projects each year because others came up. Our merger and Eau Claire expansion are great examples of this. Our business plan looked very different two years ago, but it just shows that our business can grow beyond even our staff’s wildest dreams when we pivot quickly!

This article was originally published in the January/February 2023 issue of our bi-monthly newsletter, The Morsel. If you’d like to read more stories like this one and stay up to date on the latest co-op news and events, pick up a print copy in-store on your next grocery run or find more news on our website here.

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