Stephanie Wright photo_150

Category A: (1-25 Stores), Finalist

Stephanie Wright

Monadnock Food Co-Op
Keene, NH

Anyone can spout data, but a strong manager knows how to use information to guide improvement. Stephanie Wright, store manager of the Monadock Food Co-op in New Hampshire, regularly shares key metrics in weekly “open book” meetings, engaging staff to understand what sales, customer count and average basket mean and how team members’ work directly impacts results.

Often, those numbers are good for Wright’s store. Since she started with the co-op four years ago, sales have risen from $10.7 million to $18.5 million. High yearly growth rates have come under her leadership: a 10% spike in 2020, a 14% surge in 2021 and a projected 15% increase for this fiscal year. The important indicator of income was also decisively in the black, up between 3.2% and 6.2% over the past four years.

As she uses data-driven benchmarks to achieve goals, Wright is keen to look at success through different lenses. Given the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and related challenges on both customers and staff, she strives to balance the needs of all parties to deliver an excellent customer experience and a strong, attractive working environment.

From a customer experience standpoint, she enrolled the co-op in a customer service experience survey through National Cooperative Grocers, sharing shopper feedback during team meetings. At a time when supplies were stretched, she worked with departments to identify alternative distributors to keep supplies as full as possible. As a result, the store saw improvements in the survey’s product availability scores.

From the perspective of her team, she provided training to staff on how to de-escalate potential conflicts with shoppers over masks and advocated for training on how to address customers exhibiting mental health issues. Her colleagues point to her innate empathy, which enables her to work through tough situations in a caring way.

Training under her tutelage is practical for day-to-day success as well as long-term achievement. She has worked to foster development opportunities for staff in each department and partnered with managers to ensure that staff can advance whenever possible. In fact, her managerial commitment to mentoring has spurred the promotion of more than 50 team members.

Uplifting the community is a goal for Wright as well. She oversees the company’s “Health Food for All” program that provides a 10% discount to those in financial need, an effort that led to more than $50,000 in discounts during the last fiscal year. She also champions a program that provides half-off fresh produce for shoppers using EBT and collaborates with the prepared food team to host $5 community dinners. Thanks to her oversight of a round-up campaign, more than $65,000 was raised for community causes over the past year.

Another metric of success is the view of the co-op by the area it serves. To that end, her location received the Business of the Year Award from the Chamber of Commerce and the store’s United Way campaigns were awarded a Community Excellence Award, a reflection that the Wright way is often the right way.

“Whether it’s an acute staffing challenge in the store or customer theft, Stephanie prioritizes the well being of our staff and the store and is always willing to make a trip to the store regardless if it happens on a day off. This demonstrates to staff that she cares about them and they in turn feel inspired to help each other. But Stephanie also recognizes the need to balance working in the business and working on the business and seamlessly balances both needs to the benefit of the store.”