Close interaction with staff on a daily basis has laid the foundation for a successful operation at SPAR Dagbreek in Kirkwood, resulting in it being named Eastern Cape’s SPAR Store of the Year in 2018.
The award was made at the SPAR Eastern Cape Members Meeting at the Boardwalk Casino last month, leaving store owner Margaret Ehlers feeling blessed at the recognition she received.
“Words actually cannot describe the feeling of getting this award,” she said.
“To me it is an extreme honour as there are many well-run SPAR stores in the region and the competition is tremendously tough.
“It feels like winning an ‘Oscar’, a reward that tells me that all the long hours and consistency in our business have paid off.”
The bottom line in their business, Ehlers said, was to provide good customer service. She explained how they tried to achieve that.
“I arrive at the store before 7am and make sure I greet all staff and ask them how they are. If they look sick or unhappy I will make sure they receive the necessary attention.
“By doing that I will have happy staff and happy staff make for a happy customer.
“After that I do a floor walk with managers to ensure that all the departments are sufficiently stocked. Being on the floor also gives me sufficient time to interact with the customers.”
The SPAR Dagbreek has performed consistently well, being named the most improved star in 2008, the national store of the year in 2009 and the TOPS Store of the Year in 2013.
“We did not expect to receive this award and it is not something we aimed for in particular,” said Ehlers. “But we are a very competitive team.
“It is important for us is to hold regular meetings on how we can improve our growth, customer satisfaction, staff morale and the in-store promotions and competitions we run.”
She added that they also faced a number of challenges, among which were competing with the informal market and ensuring the staff turnover was not too high.
“We always focused on finding ways to offer our customers the best product at the best price, while also being ahead of our competition.”
Winning the award would provide motivation to ensure they maintained their high standards, she said.
“You must live up to that banner in front of your store each day, making sure you deserve it.
“It must motivate the staff that they are part of this award and that is a privilege to work for a store that has won this award.”
Ehlers said they also placed a strong emphasis on supporting community events.
“For example, each year we have a huge soccer tournament over Easter to give the children a healthy outlet for their energy and to teach them the benefits of playing sport.
“We sponsor the elderly with food for their soup kitchen monthly and support the local golf and bowls clubs.
“For the past three years SPAR Eastern Cape have been the main sponsor of the Kirkwood Wildsfees, which draws thousands of people to the town.
“During this time we work 24-hour shifts to make sure all orders are met and that the visitors receive excellent customer service and good fresh products.”