Customer service and quality products.
That's what Publix founder George Jenkins decided to focus on early in the company's history, says Brian West, Publix Media and Community Relations manager for ventral, western and southwest Florida. West spoke about that history at a recent meeting of the Central West Coast Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association. “Mr. George was all about developing relationships with his customers,” West says.
In the initial days and years of the company, that focus on customer service meant incorporating features into stores to make shopping easier and more comfortable for customers, such as air conditioning and automatic doors at the entrances.
Publix also included scales in stores for customers to use, he says. During a time when people didn't have personal scales at home, it gave them another chance to weigh themselves besides the doctor's office.
The measures were part of the company's continued emphasis on customer service. “It can be easy to focus on the bottom line,” West says. “If you focus on your customer first, everything will fall into place.”
With 17 new Publix stores opening between now and Christmas, West says that approach to customer service is carried to each new location.
When Publix opens a new store, the company transfers employees from nearby stores so the new store only has a small number of new employees. “New hires are always surrounded by veteran associates,” West says. That procedure, he says, is an important way to ensure that company culture stays strong.