armand lobato no shortcuts I learned this early on: Life isn’t fair.

All someone has to do to drive this concept home is a quick Google search — “How the rich and powerful (or celebrities) get away with what they do.” “How some politicians get away with all their double-speak/contradictory statements/and more.” The list goes on.

I was thinking about this as I was walking my neighborhood produce department, and how a few produce managers used to try to get away with things that either went against company policy, or were, plain and simple, wrong.

Take quality, for example. I worked for a few produce managers who were reluctant to cull poor quality off the rack. “Put this back on the shelf, heh-heh,” one said as he extracted a wilted leaf lettuce from my cull box. “Someone will buy it.” 

I’ve seen produce managers intentionally leave out aged, wrinkled fruit, fearful of losing gross profit and having excessive shrink.

To borrow a presidential tweet word: Sad! 

Pricing gimmicks are less common today, but can still be found. Some produce managers try to raise prices on their own, overriding corporate-set prices. Or the “no-sign” display, which can create sticker shock at the checkstand.

Nothing scares customers away faster than a lack of price integrity.

Shady invoicing tactics are something a few unscrupulous produce managers may try. Any attempt to delay payments, alter invoice quantities or costs are in most instances grounds to lose a job. Concentrate on your work at hand: that should take care of just about everything.

There are no shortcuts to success in the produce aisle. The formula is pretty simple: You buy from your distribution center or wholesaler, and sell for retail. The difference is the profit for your department, and anything missing from the potential is shrink. Bad!

I learned a long time ago if a produce manager simply does things right — regular sanitation, sticking to food safety rules, close ordering, frequent culling, constant rotation, acceptable inventory and stock conditions, good merchandising, well-signed, and so forth — they will maximize sales and, by extension, maximize profits. 

Trying to skirt the system, cook the books — or any other euphemism for trying to get away with anything — just doesn’t pay.

Always try to work, do things the right way, and your produce department will look great, especially when filled with lots of satisfied repeat customers. Winning!


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