The News Is Almost Always Good at Publix

Discussion
Sep 08, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Publix Super Markets’ founder George Jenkins told Forbes in 1985, “There’s no secret to our success. We’re not the only people who treat their people well, we just make a bigger deal out of it.”


Making a bigger deal of taking care of its own employees has certainly worked for Publix, which has produced positive numbers for forever, it seems. Just ask Chuck Gilmer of The Shelby Report. Earlier this year, speaking to The Ledger, he said, “It’s the same thing every quarter, every year. Their news is always good.”


Taking care of its own has created a culture of customer service that has generated legions of loyal customers.


Gene Hoffman, president of Corporate Strategies International and RetailWire BrainTrust panelist, said, “Publix has always been tuned in to the needs of its customers better than its chain-store competition. They seem to have done an awfully good job of convincing people. They will do whatever these people want them to do.”


Not everything the chain has touched, however, has turned to gold.


The Ledger points to Publix’ venture into online grocery, PublixDirect. Launched in 2001, the business did not find the audience the chain was looking for and it was closed two years later.


But, even in the case of the failed PublixDirect, many see a strength that separates Publix from competitors — having the ability to know when to get out of a losing venture. 


Moderator’s Comment: Ranked in terms of importance, what aspects of Publix’ business and/or corporate culture have made it so successful?

George Anderson – Moderator

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8 Comments on "The News Is Almost Always Good at Publix"


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James Tenser
Guest
15 years 5 months ago

Satisfied employees tend to do a better job at producing satisfied shoppers. This is a customer service truism that clearly is not lost on Publix senior management.

Publix also has pursued a very smart real estate strategy that has it blanketing Florida’s gold coast and covering most of the rest of its trading area with few large gaps. It’s the first step in a great service experience – location convenience.

David Livingston
Guest
15 years 5 months ago
I think the greatest aspect to the success of Publix is that it is not controlled by the demands of Wall Street which is only interested in short term results. We do not see the rapid turnover with “take the money and run” executives like we see at the publicly held generic supermarket chains. When we read about management changes at other companies, the new executives will often have a resume of job hopping from one vanilla grocer to another. They like to get their picture in the trade publications, being seen at industry events and Wall Street dog and pony shows. While, at Publix, we have managers who will work their entire career for that company. Their names and faces are rarely known outside the company. Yet their accomplishments are far greater than we will ever know. Publix is also well known for not making any petty crybaby excuses — blaming the economy, Wal-Mart or hurricanes — when their are setbacks. Publix stays focused, never taking their eye off the ball.
Art Williams
Guest
Art Williams
15 years 5 months ago

Publix is a class act and seems to just keep getting better and stronger. They have continuous top management, have a successful strategy that they stick with, worry about the proper way to run the business instead of Wall Street investors, have great customer services and friendly employees. It is always a pleasure to shop in a Publix store. We have moved a lot of times and Publix is still my wife’s favorite grocery store.

Art Turock
Guest
Art Turock
15 years 5 months ago

One more item. Publix promotes from within. They have a terrific training department that provides managers with the preparation to be successful.

They also have a “bagboy to CEO” story (Mark Hollis) that serves as an inspiring example for upward mobility etched in the culture.

Warren Thayer
Guest
15 years 5 months ago

All good points. To build a little, Publix also actually spends slotting fees to move product, rather than just putting it to the bottom line. There’s true customer focus on promotions, rather than a focus on getting the money from the vendors and settling on “whatever.” Store-level execution actually happens when it comes to promotions. If they agree to an ad with a sign and a TPR for four or six weeks, they actually do it. The chain’s vendor scorecard program also produces real dialog and has helped suppliers improve their efficiencies significantly. There’s a real focus on logistics efficiencies, including metrics like store cuts, fill rate, days on hand, contractual lead time, actual lead time and Publix unload time. All in all, you won’t find many vendors complaining about Publix–quite the opposite.

Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 5 months ago

Publix’ ownership structure is unusual. The stock is not publicly traded. Stockholders who want to sell their stock must offer it to the company first, and the price is set via periodic appraisals. The company reminds its employees that they own much of the stock. This increases staff loyalty, a major issue for all retailers. The company sticks to the half-dozen states in its core trading area, which is among the fastest growing regions of the country. Undoubtedly, these are among the reasons for its success.

Lori Sudler
Guest
Lori Sudler
15 years 5 months ago

Happy workers create happy customers!!! It is the most important link that retailers often drop the ball on. The more pride a worker has in their job and the more ownership they can take over their particular duties, the better interaction that employee will have with customers. And now-a-days, finding a place that is customer friendly is so hard that people will flock to those few and far between locations.

Roger Soman
Guest
Roger Soman
15 years 5 months ago

Many of us Miami residents know that walking into a Publix is unlike walking into any other grocery store in South Florida. You’ll be treated nicely, the stores are clean and orderly, and you’ll get out with a fair deal. What else do you need?

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