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By Timothy Crawford, Mary Kay Elsner, Jesse Macera, & Timothy P Shortall

Case Study:

Wegmans Food Market Inc.


1916 - The Rochester Fruit & Vegetable Company was opened, which became Wegmans Food Markets. Wegmans  is a family operated company that employs over 45,000 employees at 84 stores in six states.

Robert, Colleen, Nicole
and Danny Wegman

 

Wegmans cares about their people.

"I love working for Wegmans because the incredible service and culture you experience in our stores extends through every area of the company, including corporate. I know Wegmans truly cares about my development and has given me all of the tools I need to be successful. The opportunities are endless!"

Anna
Organizational Development Specialist
Incredible Service since 2005

 

 

Wegmans believes in (Wegmans.com):
  • Caring
    They care about the well-being and success of every person.
  • High Standards
    High standards
     are a way of life. They pursue excellence in everything we do.
  • Making A Difference
    They make a difference in every community they serve.
  • Respect
    They respect and listen to their people.
  • Empowerment
    They empower their people to make decisions that improve their work and benefit their customers and our company.

"I'm treated like a member of the family and really feel like I have a career that allows me to put my own family first. I can talk with my manager about anything and always get open and honest feedback. I really love coming to work every day. And, as an employee at Wegmans, we really make a difference in the communities we serve."

Sanjay, Merchandising Manager
Incredible Service since 2003

 

 

The tenets of Servant Leadership listed below are consistent with Wegmans commitment to their employees, customers and community (Northouse, 2015).

  • Listening
  • Empathy
  • Healing
  • Awareness
  • Persuasion
  • Conceptualization
  • Foresight
  • Stewardship
  • Commitment
  • Building community

 

Wegmans is a big proponent of providing ample training opportunities for their employees (Wegmans.com).

Learn And Grow

Learning and Growing at Wegmans means that each person is given the opportunity to improve every day. No matter what part of the company someone works in, it is important that everyone supports what they do with roles that continue to evolve.

Opportunities Are Endless

They have such a wide range of opportunities, their employees always have the option of trying something new and exciting. Career development is one of the many ways they take care of their people, so that they can take care of their customers.

Development Tools That Help Their Employees Succeed

They invest in their people's development by offering them the tools, opportunities and environment where they can find their passion and achieve their career goals. Employees are given a variety of resources so they can anticipate target career paths and understand performance expectations for various roles. They offer on-the-job, instructor-led and computer-based training so their people can engage in continuous learning and grow their careers at Wegmans.

Internships And Training Programs

Their talent development programs are structured opportunities designed to help employees learn and grow, while developing future leaders for our company.

 

How does Wegmans stack up to one of its biggest competitors - Wal-Mart?

"Wegmans Food Markets has been ranked the No. 1 supermarket in the country by customers in the latest Consumer Reports' survey. Wal-Mart Superstore is ranked last in the list of 55 chains (Deutsch, 2014)."

Wegmans tops Consumer Reports’ supermarket shoppers’ survey; See the list for CNY 

"The score reflects customers’ 'overall satisfaction with the shopping experience,' Consumer Reports said.  27,000 customers contributed to the survey (localsyr.com, 2014)."


Store

Reader Score

Survey Results

 

Scale: 0 - 100

Scale: Poor / Fair / Good / Very Good / Excellent

 

 

Service

Perishables

Prices

Cleanliness

Wegmans

88

Excellent

Excellent

Very Good

Excellent

Trader Joe's

87

Excellent

Very Good

Excellent

Excellent

Aldi

81

Very Good

Good

Excellent

Very Good

Hannaford

80

Very Good

Very Good

Good

Very Good

Target/SuperTarget

77

Good

Good

Very Good

Very Good

Save-A-Lot

77

Very Good

Good

Excellent

Good

IGA

76

Very Good

Very Good

Fair

Very Good

Sam's Club

76

Fair

Very Good

Excellent

Good

BJ's Wholesale Club

75

Fair

Good

Very Good

Good

Price Chopper

73

Good

Very Good

Good

Good

Tops Markets

72

Good

Good

Fair

Good

Walmart Supercenter

67

Poor

Poor

Very Good

Fair

 

The Wegman family attributes the high service marks to the employees working at the stores.  They say that "part of the devotion to the store is not just that it manages to have a huge selection while offering prices that can compete with Walmart, but that it does it while treating its employees well (Covert, 2015)."  The Wegman family embodies Servant Leadership.  

The Wegman family has a strong commitment to prices but not at the expense of their employees.  "The perks start with pay, which for hourly store employees is a little more than $33,000 a year on average. By contrast, Walmart has admitted that more than half of its employees make less than $25,000 a year, although it recently announced a wage increase, and retail sales workers make a median $21,410 annual salary (Covert, 2015)."

Management's sentiment for their employees is echoed by Kevin Stickles, a vice president for human resources at Wegmans with his comment that "our employees are our number one asset, period (Rohde, 2012)."  Stickles continued with the claim that "when you think about employees first, the bottom line is better ... we want our employees to extend the brand to our customers (Rohde, 2012)."  The Wegmans model is straight forward and quite consistent with the Servant Leadership model - "a happy, knowledgeable and superbly trained employee creates a better experience for customers. Extraordinary service builds tremendous loyalty (Rohde, 2012)."

 

In the 1950’s when Robert Wegman became president of the company he, at 31 years of age, vowed to make Wegmans the finest supermarket chain in the land even if it was not the fastest growing.  To do this he concluded that for a company to get their employees to care about and serve their customers then the company must first care about and serve their employees.  With this in mind he decided to first raise salaries (Wegmans.com).

As a servant leader, Robert Wegman first listened to the demands of the market, was aware of the needs of his employees and then exercised a degree of empathy by providing them with raises as his first order of business in building the finest supermarket in the land.

 

 


To their customers and their people they pledge continuous
improvement, and they make the commitment:

 EVERY DAY YOU GET THEIR BEST


WHO THEY ARE—THEIR VALUES:

  • They care about the well-being and success of every person.
  • High standards are a way of life. They pursue excellence in everything we do.
  • They make a difference in every community we serve.
  • They respect and listen to our people.
  • They empower our people to make decisions that improve their work and benefit our customers and our company.

The Wegman values make up the servant leadership culture. 

WHAT THEY BELIEVE:

At Wegmans, they believe that good people, working toward a common goal, can accomplish anything they set out to do.  In this spirit, they set a goal to be the very best at serving the needs of their customers. Every action they take should be made with this in mind. They also believe that they can achieve their goala only if they fulfill the needs of their own people.  (This is Servant Leadership personified).

HOW THEY GET THERE

TRAIN – They invest an average of six months of training for full-time employees, using hands-on program modules, mentor-trainee programs, team-building exercises and provide feedback, (Smith, 2012).   They are devoted to recruitment and employee development by researching the needs and desires of their employees the same way they research the needs of our customers, (Owen, 2009).

COMMUNICATE – Transparency with employees, including interaction with customers, is critical for communication and provides necessary tools to set individual and department goals, (Smith, 2012).

INVEST – They invest in their employees addressing concerns they may have and identify best practices, making a personal connection with each employee, who is part of their family, (Smith, 2012)

MANAGE – Leader’s are empowered to provide flexibility with employees to meet everyone’s needs, providing a necessary balance between work and life, (Smith, 2012).

Servant Leadership - Wegmans

The model of Servant Leadership consist of three main components - antecedent conditions, servant leader behavior, and leadership outcomes - see diagram below (Northouse, 2015).  Wegmans' stated values, beliefs and strategic plan support a behavior system that has yielded incredible results by landing Wegmans at the top of the supermarket industry.

Wegmans' Who, What and How listed above (Wegmans.com) are basic Servant Leadership tenets.    The trend to build a servant leadership culture at Wegmans can be traced back to the 1950s.  The Wegman family have continued to demonstrate servant leadership characteristics with the formation of their Value system.  The culture is one of excellence in everything that they do.  The leadership behavior supports the culture. Wegmans empowers their employees to make the right decisions.  Wegmans explains how they support the servant leadership culture - they train, communicate, invest and manage to this end.  Wegmans is committed to their employees and consequently committed to their customers as well as their community.  The outcome is clear - Wegmans is at the top of the supermarket with an extremely favorable employee rating. 

Supporting The Community

Wegmans strives to make a difference in every community they serve. They’re committed to improving the lives of their customers and employees in every way they can. Being part of community life and setting an example of leadership giving is central to their heritage and operating philosophy. Since 1916, Wegmans has given back to every neighborhood where they do business (Wegmans.com).  Wegmans is committed to building communities.

 

 

 

 

Awards & Recognitions

2013: Colleen  Legman  receives the  Morrie Silver Award as  "a person who has shown an exemplary interest in better the community through their efforts in the area of sports." (Awards - Wegmans, 2015).

2011: Friend of Education Award presented by New York State for an " organization that has consistently contributed to the support and advancement of outstanding public education and the students of New York State" (Awards - Wegmans, 2015 ).

2009:  U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center presents the Corporate Stewardship Award for "strong financial success, a sustained contribution to community and social programs" ( Awards - Wegmans, 2015 ).

Also recognized for donations and charitable work with: Food Bank of the Southern Tier, American Lung Association, The New York State Rehabilitation Association, Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection Program, United Way of Greater Rochester, New York State Association for the Education of Young Children. ( Awards - Wegmans, 2015 ).


Why Wegmans?

According to our research Wegmans is a great place to work and maintains employee relations through a servant leadership model. The owners and managers are invested in their employees and continue to support their employees through training and support within the structure of their business. According to Wegmans leadership, "employees are given a variety of resources so they can seek a career path and achieve their goals" (Wegmans, 2015). This principle of encouraging employees to train and better themselves for career development is an investment in the happiness of each team member which is why Wegmans is a great place to work and build a future. Northouse explains, servant leadership emphasizes that leaders be attentive to the concerns of their followers, empathize with them, and nurture them (Northouse, 2015). From what the employees who work at Wegmans have been saying the leadership of the store does just that, making Wegmans an excellent model of servant leadership theory.  


 

References

 

Awards - Wegmans. 2015. Wegmans Food Market Inc. Retrieved from: https://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10052&partNumber=UNIVERSAL_3407

Covert, B. (2015).  The Grocery Store That Competes With Walmart Prices And Is Beloved By Employees.  Retrieved from: http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2015/05/14/3658771/wegmans/

Deutsch, L. (2014).  Wegmans tops supermarket survey; Wal-Mart ranks last.  Retrieved from: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2014/03/27/grocery-stores-consumer-reports-rankings/6967537/

GreatPlaceToWork (n/d).  Great Place To Work.  Retrieved from: http://reviews.greatplacetowork.com/wegmans-food-markets

Owens, D. (2009).  Treating Employees Like Customers.  Society for Human Resource Management.  Retrieved from:  http://www.shrm.org/publications/hrmagazine/editorialcontent/2009/1009/pages/1009owens.aspx

Rohde, D (2012).  The Anti-Walmart: The Secret Sauce of Wegmans is People.  Retrieved from:  http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/03/the-anti-walmart-the-secret-sauce-of-wegmans-is-people/254994/ .

Localsyr, (2014).  Wegmans tops Consumer Reports' supermarket shoppers' survey; See the list for CNY.  Retrieved from: http://www.localsyr.com/story/d/story/wegmans-tops-consumer-reports-supermarket-shoppers/72557/3Bjy3c2H402zAHGDfpoDBg

Northouse, P. G. (2015).  Leadership: Theory and practice  (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications

Smith, G.P. (2012). Employee Appreciation, The Wegman Way.  Chart Your Course International.  Retrieved from:  http://www.chartcourse.com/appreciate-your-staff-the-wegman-way

Wegmans (n/d).  Wegmans Food Market Inc. Retrieved from:  https://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?storeId=10052&identifier=CATEGORY_2441


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1 Comment

  1. Nice take on the Wegman's supermarket and how this business came from the ground up.  I am impressed at how their

    success was dependent upon personalization customer satisfaction as well as their employees.  According to Wegmans leadership,

    "employees are given a variety of resources so they can seek a career path and achieve their goals" (Wegmans, 2015). They are

     model to behold.  Enjoyed your page.

    Susan