Customer Stories

Sendik’s Food Market embodies family values

How the family owned grocery chain is maintaining a personal touch and keeping connected to employees and the community through COVID-19.

Sendik’s Food Market has a 94-year history in the Milwaukee area of Wisconsin. After immigrating from Sant’Elia, Sicily in 1926, the Balistreri family started out by selling fruits and vegetables from a horse-drawn wagon.

The business has flourished through many generations and expanded from a single wagon to 17 grocery locations, a support center warehousing facility employing 1,800 people. The company’s mission is to combine quality products with exceptional customer service to offer the best grocery shopping experience, period.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, grocery stores were classified as essential businesses, and employees were suddenly on the front-lines, providing an essential service. With the public being asked to stay at home, and restaurants closing for all but delivery, more and more people were starting to stock up on groceries and cook at home.

In a recent interview, Sendik’s co-owner Ted Balistreri noted that peoples’ spending has shifted significantly towards grocery stores, where prior to the pandemic, it was more evenly split between grocery and food service.

Sendik’s was quick to respond to this increased demand, to ensure that both employees and customers who visited its stores were safe.

Timely communication about safety protocols

In response to the spread of COVID-19, Sendik’s has rolled out several in-store health and safety protocols including plexiglass shields to separate cashiers from customers, a dedicated shopping hour from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. for at-risk or elderly shoppers, and increased sanitation of high-touch areas such as shopping carts and card readers. The company has also marked the floors to encourage customers to maintain physical distance by keeping at least six feet apart.

In order to quickly and efficiently communicate these changes to employees across its 17 locations, Sendik’s leveraged the messaging center in Dayforce.

“We've been using Dayforce to broadcast things as they are changing so that our employees know what is going on,” says Janet Jeter, Sendik’s Payroll Supervisor. “If someone is showing symptoms or contracts the virus, we’re alerting employees at the location that may be affected. We're also sending communications about updates to store protocols, such as the dedicated shopping hour for seniors. In addition, we are giving employees information about the safety precautions that they need to take. We've found that the Dayforce message center has been very helpful for us to get that communication out to our entire population as fast as possible.”

Employees can access these communications, as well as information about their schedules and pay, directly on their phones through the Dayforce mobile app. The app has proven especially useful to employees with varying degrees of technological access. “Because a lot of people don’t have a computer at home, the fact that they can do everything through the mobile app is great,” says Jeter.

Recognizing the dedication of front-line employees

Sendik’s wanted to recognize its employees’ dedication, so the company implemented a 10% bonus since March 9 for all front-line workers. “We feel that during this time, our people that are working in our store locations are really essential and we wanted to show our appreciation,” says Jeter.

Using Dayforce, Jeter’s team pulled a report on the number of regular and overtime hours each employee has worked to be able to calculate their bonuses.

“Because we have such a large workforce, we actually use an import into Quick Entry,” says Jeter. “All of our bonuses are already set up as additional pay, so it's just a matter of taking the numbers from Dayforce, putting them into our template and importing it. Once we have all the information it’s a simple 15-minute process.”

Meeting demand by creating jobs

With stay-at-home orders in place, and people being encouraged to limit their physical store visits, online purchasing and contactless pickup and delivery have skyrocketed.

Jeter says that since the pandemic hit, Sendik’s online shopping orders have been in high demand. “We've had a huge spike for our personal shopping. With employees being laid off from other companies, we've been hiring many of those individuals as personal shoppers since there's been such a demand for it,” she explains.

Sendik’s has been staffing up its personal shopping team as quickly as it can, and Jeter says that just in the month of April, the company has hired and onboarded over 150 new employees to meet demand. “We have been hosting two additional orientations every day since mid-March, and adding about 20 employees weekly, if not more. There's just been a huge jump,” she says.

Sendik’s HR team has been able to track these newly onboarded employees within Dayforce by labeling them as temporary workers for reporting. This allows them to quickly and easily do a population pull to measure the proportion of employees who are temporary versus full-time.

Jeter also says that it has been interesting to track the surge of online orders, and wonders whether this buying pattern will continue moving forward. “People that probably never even thought about ordering online, after trying it might say, ‘Hey, I really liked it. Even when this is over, I think I'm going to continue ordering online,’” she says.

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Community appreciation and everyone pitching in

Sendik’s being a family owned and operated business, really lives by the family values of coming together and helping out in times of need. With store locations being so busy, and employees working long hours together to ensure continued service, company leaders wanted to pitch in.

“We are a family, and family supports family, and that's the best way to look at it,” says Jeter. “No position is too small for anybody to help out. The owners and VPs are out in the store helping, doing personal shopping, picking up the extra load. That is how everybody has helped one another, by just stepping up and doing some work outside their normal job and supporting the stores that way.”

The community's response to Sendik’s remaining open and stocked has been appreciative. “The feedback has been very positive. Everyone is just very grateful and always saying that they hope everybody is treating our employees kindly,” says Jeter.

Seeking guidance from trusted partners, and doing your part to slow the spread

Over the past few months, many aspects of people's lives have been uprooted. Employees and companies around the world are having to adjust to the changing conditions, and having partners that are supportive during this time is crucial.

Sendik’s HR and payroll teams have turned to Ceridian as a partner for support and knowledge on best practices, and things that they can be doing to improve their employees' work lives through this pandemic. “What was really nice is there are documented procedures from Ceridian that we were able to reference on how time clocks need to be cleaned, and how often they need to be cleaned. We’re able to take this guidance and follow through, which I think is so important given the current situation,” says Jeter.

Jeter has also been able to collaborate with other customers and share solutions and tips in Ceridian’s customer advocacy program. “The discussion board has lots of ideas for people. I think it's not just the support of the actual system, but the support of the community group as a whole. You're able to talk to people in similar situations and see what they're doing,” Jeter says.

The thing that Jeter has appreciated the most about Dayforce, however, is that fact that it enables her to do her job effectively from anywhere. “I can be at home and check timecards, process and submit payroll; I can do everything remotely,” she says.

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