It’s only the middle of February, but here in New England — and in much of the country — it feels like we’ve been permanently relocated to the arctic.
At our stores, protocol is different on a snow day, but the preparation starts the day before. As a store manager, I pay close attention to the weather all year round, but especially in the winter – lots of things need to be adjusted in the event of a storm. When we get word that snow is coming, we start by modifying our orders to make sure we have enough of everyone’s essential items, such as bottled water, milk, toilet paper and baby food.
Next, we take a look at our staffing. The day before the storm is typically quite busy, as customers understandably want to get their shopping in before the roads get icy. To keep up with demand, we call in extra Team Members to make sure everyone gets what they need. Depending on when the storm is going to hit, we also shift schedules around. We make sure Team Members who live close to the store are scheduled to work opening shifts if the store is going to hit overnight, and we make sure anyone with a particularly bad commute is scheduled to have the day off or to go home early. The safety of our Team Members is always our top priority.
Making sure the building is safe is also very important. Wet floor signs are put out to warn customers of any puddles that form from melting snow boots, our maintenance crew is doubled, and shovels and ice melt are always on hand for walkways. We also make sure to take care of our roofs — removing snow and icicles on a regular basis protects us from getting leaks. And, finally, talking to our landlords and keeping in touch with our snowplow companies helps us keep our parking lots clear for customers.
After the storm hit, things can be slow in the store as most people are happy to be holed up cooking the food they bought the day before. But as long as it is safe, Whole Foods Market is open for business, so we find different ways to pass our time. On slow days we have time for extra cleaning in our departments, as well as time for extra training. Our Team Members are encouraged to take a seat at our break room computers to train on the many Whole Foods Market sponsored Podcasts available, and our In-Store Educators are available for “I Wonder” trainings — on the spot trainings about whatever a Team Member might be curious about. Wondering about the different varieties of honey we have available? Or why coffee tastes different when it comes from a different region? There’s an “I Wonder” for that!
Most of all, we always have time for fun on a slow snow day. For the brave Team Members who make it to the store, we usually provide a free lunch and hot chocolate throughout the day. Our Team Members are here to serve you, and it’s my job as a manager to keep them smiling.