Bloomingfoods exists to serve our member-owners. This is not an easy task, it never has been. We currently have more than 7,000 active member-owner households and they represent a diverse mix of people with many different interests and priorities. How is it that we can possibly figure out how to serve our all of them?
There are many tools we employ, perhaps the most obvious being those that collect ideas and comments directly from you, our customers. Customer comment cards are a wonderful example of this, any time you are in the store you can fill one out and request a response to your inquiry. A great many of these are product requests, comments on great service that a customer received when in the store, suggestions for ways we can be more efficient or environmentally aware - but some are truly a peek into the the diversity and unique perspectives that represent our amazing community of member-owners.
The very best suggestion I ever received was with regards to creating a company song that staff would sing together as they stretch and warm up before their shift each day. I still have this one hanging beside my desk as a reminder of the wonderful customers who shop our stores and how each one is unique and requires individual and personal attention.
OH MY! So we are back to that question - how do we manage to serve the needs of more than 7,000 active member-owner households when they represent such wonderful and diverse interests.
The short answer is that we all compromise. With each breath there may be some small thing that will not meet with enthusiastic approval from every person in our Bloomingfoods community but we do our very best to identify those things that seem to be truly meaningful to a significant number of our members as well as identify those things that are perhaps important to only a few but within our means to offer or do. Will we ever find that thing on which everyone can agree? Do we already have those things? I think it is important to think these thoughts and work towards discovering the ways in which we can better serve the needs of all our member-owners. It is in this spirit that we publish an extensive survey each year, to collect information about our member owners in a structured way. It allows us to identify interests, trends, thoughts - commonalities that will allow us to shape our business in a way that better serves the people and the community we are a part of.
It IS important to us that we hear from you. All of you. Our board of directors and our administrative team really do read what you have to say and use it to make decisions about this business. It is at the core of what we do.
Cooperative Principle #2, Democratic Member Control
Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and cooperatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.
So for us, this means that our member-owners determine bylaws, elect the Board of Directors (an important activity, as the board members represent the interests of the members), and may participate through committees and individual volunteer projects. Our Board of Directors uses policy governance to vision the future of the co-op and ensure operations are aligned with our mission statement and meet the evolving needs of our membership.
In all of this - hearing from you is really important.
Please take our survey if you have not yet done so.
Jenn Hileman - Systems and Planning Coordinator for Bloomingfoods