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Twenty-five years ago, and Ken Macey remembers it like it was yesterday. Chuck Coonradt, head of a new consulting company that would evolve into The Game of Work, stood in front of Ken, the newly appointed head of Macey's Grocery, a modest chain of four stores begun by Ken's father that sprawl along the foothills of the Wasatch Front in northern Utah.
"If you can't measure it, you can't manage it," is all Coonradt said.
"It was so simple and it made so much sense," remembers Macey. "It was like a light bulb went on."
It was the start of a beautiful relationship, one that has lasted for a quarter of a century and counting. Not only have they seen Macey's hold its own, and then some, with the large national grocery chains that dominate the heavily-populated Wasatch Front, but double the size of its chain. In the process, Macey's has become so profitable and attractive that the company was recently purchased, by its primary wholesalers, for a price Macey says he wouldn't have dared even imagine back in '74.
"The Game of Work gave us discipline when we didn't even know we needed discipline," says Macey. "We were kind of a seat-of-the-pants sort of operation back then." Macey was skeptical the first time Coonradt presented The Game of Work principles such as working like you play, and scorekeeping for success and if you can't measure it, you can't manage it. Coonradt assured the grocery store chief, that they would not just increase company productivity and profit margin but also increase the enjoyment quotient of every Macey's player, i.e. employee. "I thought we were fine, doing what we were doing. I didn't think we needed anything like that," remembers Macey. " But Chuck was persistent. Finally I said OK, and it made all the difference. Ever since, we have grown and really flourished."
One of the first things Coonradt implemented was a scorecard for Macey's that is still in use today. It's a scorecard kept by each department manager - be it produce, bakery, hard goods, etc.- that keeps track daily of that department's contribution to the overall net profit. Before, Macey's looked only at net profit in terms of the store as a whole, not bothering to break it down into individual departments. With the new scorecards - unheard of in the industry in1974 - Macey's upper management was able to begin to dissect department by department, its strong points and weak points and to react accordingly.
In like manner, all department managers now had tangible, concrete information to help them make decisions regarding personnel and product under their control - decisions that would help departmental productivity and performance to improve.
Thus, Macey's became a Game of Work practitioner - it began to work like play.
"First we started measuring and then we started giving ownership to each individual as to what their responsibilities were," recounts Ken Macey. "Then we started getting feedback. In the early stages that was really difficult for us. We weren't used to it and we didn't know how to do it."
Coonradt remembers well the challenges Macey's faced 25 years ago. "They were in a market dominated by three major players, they needed to compete for quality people to work for them, and they were too small for an aggressive advertising campaign. But they were a good company with a good reputation and a lot to offer." Like a lot of companies with a lot to offer, what Macey's needed was direction and identifiable goals. The Game of Work gave that to them.
"What they bring to you is a very simple, very understandable way of looking at your business, breaking it down, eliminating all the excuses, and establishing personal responsibility for your actions," is how Ken Macey sums it up. Of those first contribution-to-net-profit departmental scorecards, Coonradt remembers the almost instantaneous benefit to the department managers, who "now could coach so much more effectively by simply rewarding the behavior that they wanted more of." "Eventually we tied managerial bonuses to these departmental numbers and supplemented that measurement with daily department guest visit goals and average transaction size-per-guest or sales-per-guest visit goals at the department level."
Fred Ferguson, now the operations manager for Macey's, was an early practitioner, and convert, of The Game of Work. He credits the scorecards and their feedback with being the cornerstone that transformed Macey's annual revenue from $40 million to $200 million.
"In my opinion Chuck is what you'd call the Vince Lombardi when it comes to helping every member of the team see how they can make a difference," says Ferguson. "What he's done is show us how everybody can look at their performance and know how they're doing and how they can contribute. It's just an excellent program." Macey's deems The Game of Work principles so important that it is mandatory for all new department managers and store managers to complete The Game of Work training program.
Not only does this insure that all coaches are "scorecard proficient" but it creates exceptional company morale. "Beyond what it's done for our business," says Ken Macey, "is what it's done for our employee's personal lives and the positive impact it has made on them. It makes so much of a difference to pay attention and stay focused in whatever you're doing. Setting goals and knowing how to reach those goals is so important. I call Chuck Coonradt my personal 'goalie.' He helps me set my goals and he helps our company set its goals. You've got to know every day whether you're winning or losing, and if you're being responsible for what you have responsibility for. That's critical, and it's especially critical to smaller-sized companies like ours."
To learn more about how The Game of Work can help your business win call (800) 438-6074.
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