Describe in detail the culture of the company and a recent experience supporting that.
At Agway of Cape Cod, customer and employee success are two top priorities. The team achieves these by creating a company culture based on respect, collaboration, and giving back to the community.
Has the company/organization offered rewards or incentives for great customer service or a positive employee attitude?
When an employee goes above and beyond at Agway of Cape Cod, it is shared with the entire company. It can start with a manager’s e-mail to senior staff or it can come in the form of a customer review online. At year’s end, Agway has several team awards that are awarded to deserving employees, including a spirit award. Throughout the year, the team's hard work is celebrated with bonuses, breakroom surprises, and appreciation gifts.
Does the organization offer training for levels of advancement? Is there room for growth?
Agway of Cape Cod offers a robust training program, based both internally (via our internal Learning Management System and in-person training) and externally through educational resources like Cape Cod Landscape Association, Center for Corporate and Professional Education at 4Cs, local and national educational conferences, and special workshops hosted by our wide array of product vendors and specialists. Agway also reimburses employees for approved learning and training that is self-initiated.
We believe that training empowers our employees—to do their jobs better, communicate with customers better, and feel accomplished in their professional lives. With our internal training, an entry-level cashier can be promoted to pet department associate, to department manager, to store manager, to department buyer… and beyond. It’s incredibly rewarding to witness employees’ growth within Agway!
Does this organization promote from within, or hire outside when looking for employees?
Many of Agway’s employees have been with the company for 5, 10, or even 20+ years! Several executive-level team members started at entry-level—restocking shelves, deadheading plants in the garden centers, or working in the warehouse. Agway always looks internally before posting a position to the public. That is how our current Garden Center General Manager was recently promoted from Store Manager, having previously worked as an assistant manager, a supervisor, and before that, a cashier! Examples of this type of growth are numerous within Agway.
When an employee is promoted, they have already been grooming a team member to take over their position. When our garden center general manager moved up, so did our assistant manager to manager, and our supervisor to assistant manager.
When our long-time plant buyer retired earlier this year after working with us for 25 years, our Dennis garden center manager stepped up into the role, creating another internal promotion for our assistant manager to become a manager.
There is also an annual review structure at Agway that provides a consistent schedule for managers to talk with their staff about their paths and where they would like to grow personally and professionally. This also provides an opportunity for an increase in salary and for the team member to express their thoughts on any subject they choose.
Provide an example of how this organization has recently gone above and beyond for an employee, team or client/customer.
COVID has provided many situations that required Agway to think outside the box of a typical retail establishment. As an essential business, we remained open when much of the world shut down. This required creative thinking and unusual problem-solving tactics.
On the employee level, for example, one employee lost her daycare service so was unable to come to work but needed the weekly paycheck to sustain her family. Agway worked with the employee, creating a new remote position that allowed the employee to stay home while using her product expertise to help create the e-commerce store. Today, that employee has returned to us in person and was recently promoted to assistant manager.
On the team level, Agway has provided several monetary-based appreciation bonuses for sticking with us when many other companies saw people leaving to collect unemployment. Agway also celebrated its own Employee Appreciation Day (separate from National Employee Appreciation Day), and closed all three stores, paying all employees to take a day off for themselves. On top of regular pay for that day, Agway gave employees each $50 in cash. Throughout the year, Agway delivers pizza, breakfast sandwiches, ice cream, snack explosions, and more to employee breakrooms to thank them for their continued hard work.
On the customer level, we’ve seen that going above and beyond for employees results in our going above and beyond for our customers. We see it every day in small interactions… spending extra time to walk a customer through planting best practices, helping select pet food alternatives when inventories have been limited due to supply issues, and more. We know so many of our customers by name and are happy to see them return year after year to shop in our stores.
Communication is key, how effective is the organization at communication with their employees and/or client/customer? *
Communication is key with three locations and 125 employees! We have several communication platforms that help our employees feel connected to each other and to the organization as a whole. We have an employee newsletter that communicates our general “news.” This typically includes team promotion announcements, human resource news, store photos that employees have taken, training opportunities, product news, and more.
We use an app called “Remind” to send more timely alerts to all employees. This sends a text or notification to employees’ phones about store alerts, special coupons being offered, holiday updates, and snacks being delivered to breakrooms, for example.
The executive committee (team of 7) meets every Wednesday to discuss major company topics; on two Wednesdays per month the store managers are included, and on one Wednesday per month the assistant managers are also included. This open communication is critical to the success of our company, everyone participates and is invited to share thoughts on issues and opportunities.
On a customer level, we communicate via weekly e-mails that include product promotions as well as information on home, garden, and pet care. We also communicate via our active social media platforms, sharing what’s new in our stores, fun facts about pets and plants, and community happenings. When a customer makes a purchase on our e-commerce website, we communicate the status of their order through a series of e-mail updates. A customer can always e-mail our “info” address which is constantly monitored by our team.
In what ways does the organization give back to their community? Please provide an example.
Giving back to this wonderful community is a core value at Agway of Cape Cod. Agway supports dozens of local non-profit organizations annually, including the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s Cape Cod Branch, the MSPCA in Centerville, the Orleans Pond Coalition, Latham Centers, Family Pantry, local gardening clubs, elementary schools, local sports teams–to name just a few. We are also active members of the Orleans, Dennis, Chatham, Brewster, Harwich, Eastham, and Cape Cod Chambers of Commerce. As a small business on Cape Cod, we know the value of shopping small and supporting locals.
In 2016, we officially launched The Agway of Cape Cod Charitable Foundation through which we continue our philanthropic initiatives. The mission of The Foundation is to provide meaningful support to local non-profit organizations that help enrich the lives of Cape Cod’s people and animals. The Foundation assists through financial contributions, donations of products, and “manpower” assistance from our staff. The Foundation’s signature event – Paw Palooza – was held twice in 2016 of 2018. The two-day dog festival raised more than $110,000 for the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s Brewster shelter and the MSPCA shelter in Centerville.
In 2021, to help the Animal Rescue League celebrate its 100th Anniversary on Cape Cod, we hosted ARL Week. This week included an in-store fundraising drive that included an Agway match, a Yappy Hour event held at Devil’s Purse, and a direct sponsorship of $5000 that allowed the ARL to publish their centennial book that we also sell in our stores. During the holidays, Agway hosted a fundraising drive with a match that benefited The Family Pantry of Cape Cod and The Lower Cape Outreach Center.
Are you actively hiring/recruiting outside your organization?