Brown’s Super Stores, Inc. opened its first grocery store in the Philadelphia area 30 years ago. The owner, Jeff Brown, had a vision of bringing fresh, healthy, and affordable food to underserved areas while helping to cultivate vibrant communities. Today, his company’s 2,600 associates deliver on this mission daily in ten ShopRites and two Fresh Grocer Supermarkets.
Over the years, it’s gotten harder for Jeff and the central office to keep this growing organization connected, especially since only 10% of employees are supervisory staff with email accounts and computers. In order to reach thousands of part-time frontline workers, both corporate leaders and individual store managers previously posted paper schedules and other important information on bulletin boards. John Vining, Brown’s director of human resources, felt this approach was unreliable and impersonal, so when he heard about Crew’s mobile team communications and scheduling solution from industry peers, his ears perked up.
The company rolled out Crew earlier this year to help employees keep up with what’s happening throughout Brown’s, and find out about their schedules and extra shifts as they become available—all without requiring visits to the break room. After an initial training with key administrators from across the organization, Crew’s customer success team held weekly “office hours” during the first month. Store and department managers dialed in to get tips for taking full advantage of the platform and share how their teams were using Crew, which was very helpful in driving adoption.
“On typical sales calls for new tools, they always sound great, but you never know quite how it will work once you’re live. Crew’s deployment and support exceeded our expectations,” shared John. “The engaging mobile app perfectly supports our younger workers, who already prefer to communicate with technology.” Now that employees always know when they’re working and can easily request shift coverage through Crew, teams maintain optimal staffing levels. Furthermore, by posting digital schedules to Crew on a weekly basis, it’s easier for managers to comply with union requirements and prepare for upcoming predictive scheduling laws.
“Communications is so important at every level of our business—from corporate down to the frontline, from store managers to their teams, and between departments and co-workers. As compared to the cumbersome scheduling portal we tried before, Crew is completely intuitive for our associates.”
Director of HR
Marie Wagner, human resources supervisor at Brown’s, loves having the ability to distribute information to staff in every location instantaneously. For example, “During Labor day, each store manager was able to announce their appreciation events and activities for employees, and our corporate team decided to double the associate discount for the weekend,” she said. “It was fantastic to send out one message, and know that our frontline could all see it right away and enjoy their well-deserved perks.”
All employees use to Crew to share happy birthday messages and welcome new team members, while store managers post customer service results, the loss prevention and safety team distributes updates with technical videos, and sales and merchandising managers promote up-sell contests. For instance, the company offers rewards to the cashier who sells the most of a certain front-of-store item each week. By posting helpful product details to Crew, and then sending out daily rankings of the top-selling cashiers, leaders encourage friendly competition and are seeing much higher engagement amongst cashiers as a result.
In addition, teams regularly use Crew’s “Gold Stars” to recognize top-notch performance and increase morale. Frontline workers have taken to posting photos of cool displays or other work they’re proud of, exchanging useful best practices. And thanks to Crew, more people feel comfortable contacting central HR directly to express interest in taking on larger roles.
“Before Crew, we’d only hear about associates’ career goals if their manager told us, or we happened to bump into them during one of our store visits,” noted John. “Whereas last month, I had five people reach out to me proactively on Crew, letting us know they’d be interested in management-level openings.” Marie added, “With Crew’s Command Center, I can keep an eye on who’s engaging with our conversations and content, or who’s frequently volunteering to cover shifts. We make note of these folks for future opportunities, so Crew has turned into a great tool for identifying potential leaders.”
As Brown’s Super Stores continues to expand, Crew helps all team members stay connected and aligned with the company’s mission. This, in turn, increases employee engagement and improves customer service levels. Over time, the company expects to see its stores with the highest Crew participation grow both employee retention levels and customer satisfaction.