Keeping a Clean Department
Just about every survey that you will encounter will have cleanliness as one of the top three (if not the top) reasons for selecting where people shop for fresh produce. The reason is simple: a clean appearance in a produce department equates with clean product in the mind of the shopper. Whether this is true or not is not even the issue. It’s all about perception, and the perceived value of a clean looking department cannot be overstated! When your department looks clean and neat (and yes neatness is very tied in and closely related to cleanliness) then your customers will tend to trust the safety of the food you sell. It’s as if the quality of your product is elevated because of the ambiance and setting of your department. Here are a few tips and strategies for what to clean and how to maintain a regular cleaning schedule:
Floor: Keeping your floor clean is as important as keeping your racks and tables clean. It requires constant maintenance throughout the day. Many departments will let the floor go, thinking that since no food is displayed on the floor, that it is not that critical. A clean floor in produce is a must. It is true that food is not displayed directly on the floor, but it is where your customers walk and they will definitely notice a floor that is not clean. It can also become a safety hazard. You should become compulsive about keeping your floor swept and mopped!
Wet Rack: Cleaning the wet rack (although the results are rarely seen) is very important. If your rack is filled with broccoli droppings on the bottom (as most are) and your display cooler were to go down, in a matter of minutes your entire store would smell like rotten broccoli. Regularly cleaning the wet rack can seem like a daunting task which is why having a schedule is the best way to ensure that it gets done. A very reasonable strategy is to clean 8 feet at a time once a week. On Monday morning as part of the setup this would occur. If you try to tackle this cleaning all at once, it will rarely get done and your crew will definitely be working all night. When the underbelly of your wet rack is clean (although no customer will really be able to notice) there is a certain “glow” about the rack that you and your team will definitely observe. Also, once a week make sure to not only clean the rack itself, but also mirrors if you have them in your cooler. The minerals from water can create a haze on most mirrors and without regular cleaning they will maintain a dirty, foggy appearance.
Dry Tables: Much like with the wet rack, the dry tables should also have a once a week cleaning schedule. You will find as you clean the tables that old rotten potatoes, apples and other goodies have been hiding beneath your displays.
General Cleaning: Not only is it important to keep the racks and tables clean but, your entire department should emanate a clean appearance. Make sure that the visible, outer portions of the tables and racks are wiped down and kept clean. Pretend that either company is coming or you are about to get inspected, and then clean accordingly. Often everything that you clean will not be individually noticed by your customers, however, as a cumulative effect you can be certain that it will be noticed. The more you clean, the greater that effect.
General Tidiness: Neat and clean go hand in hand. Even if your department is very clean, but has a messy appearance, your customers will have the perception that it is not clean. While at work, it is certainly OK to find that place in you that is slightly obsessive-compulsive. A very neat and tidy department will actually be more initially apparent to your customers than a clean department. There are two areas that if always kept neat will go a very long way towards enhancing the look of your department, and that is the floor and the top of your cooler. For some reason, in most departments, these two areas have become prominent storage areas. It is so important that there is nothing on the floor - no boxes stored under tables or around the racks. Not only can this be potentially dangerous for customers, but it looks very sloppy. When you have boxes and product on the floor, your customer’s attention is drawn away from your display racks, and they begin looking downwards at your mess. The same is true for the top of the cooler. It is not the storage area for empty boxes! And again, it draws the eye of your customers upward and away from the product. The ambience of your department should be neat and relatively sparse. Keep in mind that your product is the star. The less visual distraction you create, the more noticeable your displays will be. The only visual clutter in your department should be gorgeous signage that sells and promotes your food.