Food Retailers: Is Your Culture Healthy?

Posted in Sustainability Written by Chris Schotsman

It’s often been said that if you don’t have your health, nothing else matters — and the same can be said for your organization.

This is especially true when there is very little product differentiation, as is the case with food and beverage retailers. Your apples are just as juicy and sweet as those of your competitors, so how do you attract and retain customers so your company is profitable?

While there are many factors that influence your customer’s experience — such as your store’s location, layout, services, ambiance and merchandising — your company’s organizational health and company culture is an important piece of the pie. (And food retailers can be some of the best employers — Wegmans, Target, Nuggets and Publix are all in the top five of Fortune’s best workplaces in retail!)


What is organizational health?

In his book, The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni defines organizational health as “the context for strategy, finance, marketing, technology, and everything else that happens within it, which is why it is the single greatest factor determining an organization’s success. More than talent. More than knowledge. More than innovation.”

While talent, knowledge and innovation are great, they can only occur in a healthy organization that puts value on company culture and employee development.

The path to organizational health is simple — you need to develop a strong leadership team who will create a strong, clear strategy, communicate it to the entire organization and reinforce it through systems and processes.

Everyone on your team should know the answer to six basic questions:

  1. Why do we exist?

  2. How will we succeed?

  3. What do we do?

  4. Who does what?

  5. What’s most important, right now?

  6. How will we behave?


How does organizational health affect the customers’ experience?

Organizational health is closely related to company culture — but that doesn’t mean snacks in the boardroom or the presence of an office dog (although both are nice perks!)

Company culture is about creating an atmosphere where employees are engaged and feel connected to the success of the company. It’s the Holy Grail of customer service — happy, hard-working employees who care deeply about the company, their products and the people they serve.

This positive attitude is felt by customers and they respond by returning to your business again and again — because your employees have made their experience one that is pleasant, easy and comfortable.

And if you figure out a way to attract these kinds of employees, having a healthy organization with a positive company culture will ensure they stick around for years to come.


We’re here to serve you.

At Cayuga, we take company culture seriously so we can serve you better.

Each of our employees knows and embraces our core principles and values and can answer these six questions:

1. Why we exist.

We believe people are important (whether customers, colleagues, or suppliers) and we will do what it takes to help them succeed — such as reworking Farm Boy’s food bars from a self-service model to a complete island serviced by staff (easily done with our flexible and modular designs).

2. What we do

We use our expertise to create, design and build merchandising displays to help retailers achieve their sales goals — and we do it in a way that encourages our employees to grow, be creative and love coming to work!

3. How we behave.

We behave with integrity, honor and respect for each other and are passionate about what we do — and as owners and leaders of the company, we strive to honor God. For you, that means you can expect nothing less than our personal best, and we will always go the extra mile to help you out (see what happened when a customer’s display case fell off the truck!)

4. How we will succeed.

By nurturing relationships with our customers and suppliers, listening to their concerns and responding to their needs, we will continue to provide flexible and innovative product solutions — focusing on quality, function, aesthetics and profitability, for both the customer and us.

5. What’s important right now.

With the pandemic changing a lot of business models, it’s important to be responsive, flexible and adaptable. We also keep a keen eye on industry trends (such as the trend toward stores with a smaller footprint) to come up with innovative designs to meet ever-evolving needs.

6. Who does what?

Each person in our organization knows and understands their role — and each person participates in our company’s efforts to support our customers.


Company culture is increasingly important in today’s marketplace.

Not only are you competing with other brick and mortar companies — but you’re also competing with online retailers (see Five Ways Food Retailers Can Win Customers Back in 2021).

Employees can also research your company culture by login into companies like Glassdoor, which posts reviews from previous and current employees. Too many negative reviews will make it difficult for you to find staff (especially those who are better qualified and can afford to be choosy).

Customers can read reviews as well — people are only too willing to share their negative experiences on online forums. So, if your organization isn’t healthy your business can suffer — and you might be the last to know!

Here at Cayuga, we’re proud of our company culture. Our employees are engaged, happy and productive — we learn from one another, listen and help our customers achieve their goals. (See what we came up with for Freson Bros. store-made honey!)

If you’re facing a challenge and you need to find a creative and functional way to display your merchandise, or if you have a question, please give us a call at 800.839.5336 — we’d love to hear from you!

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