Nosh Food Market in Mt Maunganui, makes an extremely interesting business case study on more than one level. Their highly successful rebrand in 2012 (from Good Food Trading Company to Nosh) garnered impressive sales growth and they boast the lowest shrinkage (loss of product inventory) of any Nosh store, a direct testament to excellent operational management.
Even more remarkable is the fact that as of July 2014, financial reports showed that Nosh Mt Maunganui had confidently outperformed their corporate counterparts. Nosh executives stated that “100% independently owned stores can achieve better results than corporate stores run by salaried managers”, and based on their performance, planned a measured franchise roll out of all their corporate stores, actively promoting the owner operated model. “Having passionate small business owners with self investment in a store creates better in store customer satisfaction and financial results. The brand requires owner operators who have passion and authenticity to drive the brand and encourage patronage and capture return visits”.
Owners Jo and Jamie Blennerhasset exemplify this authentic approach. It became clear immediately that their accomplishments were no coincidence. I spent some time with this dynamic duo to discover their blueprint for success. Their energy, focus, work ethic and affinity for the business is abundantly apparent.
As with any thriving business, it will come as no surprise that Jo and Jamie both identify hard work, diligence, and effective communication as essential ingredients in their achievements . A recurring theme in their observations of Nosh’s outstanding performance was the fact that they are personally invested. There is a strong sentiment that the business has benefitted hugely by an accessible hands on approach, providing staff with timely support and problem solving where required.
Jamie also feels that their daily presence is invaluable for consistent monitoring of systems, staff performance, and maintaining familiarity with their core business. While strong leadership is often a stumbling block for businesses, Jo is a firm believer that the best managers are those who lead by example, are not afraid to get their hands dirty, and would never ask their staff to do something they wouldn’t be happy to do themselves. It is a leadership style that has proven to be highly effective in many organisations, irrespective of brand, and clearly works here too.
When asked how they differentiated themselves from other Nosh stores, Jamie replied that the ability to choose local suppliers allowed them to offer their customers all the benefits of the big brand but the feeling and service of a locally owned operator. The ability to offer employment to between 25 and 30 staff is a great source of satisfaction, and both Jo and Jamie have a strong sense of civic responsibility, frequently sponsoring local events, primary schools, charity functions and fundraisers.
There is of course, a degree of stress that accompanies being solely responsible for a business whose operations are 100 hours/7 days a week. These pressures have been eased by having skilled division managers, but Jo says she still spends a fair part of her working day on site, managing paperwork, phone calls and juggling meetings. As the business has grown, Jo has found it more difficult to spend time doing what she loves most, serving and interacting with my customers on the shop floor. “If I had a choice, my preference would be to work on floor, taking part in all the action. I love seeing all the new products coming in, chatting with customers and being inspired to cook in new and interesting ways. It’s always a good day when I do get the opportunity to work amongst our staff…watching our customers and local characters come and go is like soul food for me”.
Following our interview, I took the Nosh customer journey, and my experience confirmed that the couple’s ideology was paying off. With top quality fresh produce and cafe food, extensive product ranges, well organised in-store operations, and relaxed staff with excellent customer service skills, it’s hard to disagree that our local Nosh is a success story.
Written by Melanie Duval-Smith
Originally published in the Bay of Plenty Times