I teach a class on customer service to corporate and government clients. Fairly early in the material, students are asked to name companies that give the best customer service. Two names have been at the top of the list of responses 100 percent of the time. Those two companies are Chick-fil-A and Publix Supermarkets. If you are a Floridian (especially a native), Publix is in your top five “Best of Florida” list for sure. Publix has been ranked in Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list every year from 1998-2017. In 2016 Fortune even sent an undercover worker to the Publix at Lake Nona Plaza (13900 Narcoossee Rd) to find out what makes this company such a special place to work and why it has such a strong culture (you can easily find the video by searching “Undercover Publix”).
I recently caught up with store manager, Alan Veith, from the Lake Nona Publix. I asked him to give me the top five things that make the culture at Publix so strong. Here are the five things I learned from Alan that have created a winning culture at Publix:
1. It all starts with the founder, George Jenkins, making everyone owners in the company. “Mr. George,” as they call him, passed away in 1996, but his philosophy of an employee owned company has remained in place. When employees have ownership, they take greater pride in what they do for the good of everyone.
2. Live and breathe the Jenkins philosophy to treat everyone as the most important person. This goes for fellow employees, customers, vendors…EVERYONE! No matter what position an employee holds they are all treated exactly the same.
3. The Publix motto, “Where Shopping is a Pleasure” is lived out every day. Every employee, in every department, at every level is trained and taught to have a focus on customers.
4. Daily huddles with department managers. Every day the department managers have a short m
eeting (huddle). During these huddles they talk about business, but also share something personal with the team. This creates team bonding and also maximizes communication for the day. Following this meeting, managers go back and have individual huddles with their departments, which is another way they maximize communication.
5. Community Involvement. They are active in giving back through different community organizations, but community involvement does not stop there. They actively hire the children of their customers. They get to know families, watch their kids grow, and then make them part of the team.
As a regular shopper at the Lake Nona Publix, I consider it “my store.” The overall shopping experience is truly best in class. Their winning culture shows in every aspect of their operations. They live it and breathe it! There is a reason this company is recognized for the following, among other things: A Fortune “100 Best Company to Work for;” one of America’s Best Employers by Forbes magazine (2016); and one of the Great Rated! “Best Workplaces in Retail” and “Best Workplaces for Millennials” (2015-2016). Thanks Alan and the Publix team for helping to make the business community in Lake Nona strong and proud!