Known to her customers as upbeat and personable, which we think are the ideal ingredients for a food store manager, Michelle’s warm smile is disarming, and she shares it with everyone she meets.
“I like engaging with customers, it’s what I like best about my job. Many are very friendly and I wind up seeing some several times a week and so we develop a nice relationship. I find it hard to resist chatting with them,” she says.
Armed with a degree in nursing from her home country, the Philippines, Michelle’s career path swerved from medicine to managing a store full of nectarines, avocados, and artisanal chocolates and potato chips. In a sense, Michelle’s training to take care of people in hospitals prepared her for her job managing the Little Farms United Square store, where her main role is taking care of her customers.
Michelle seems to have mastered this. Throughout the day, regulars pop in and out, greeting her pearly white smile with one of their own. She and her team have created a bright, happy store with a pyramidal stack of tomatoes, oranges, limes, avocados, and other produce that’s like a beacon to the folks drifting down the escalator from upper floors.
She tells us the busiest times are morning, when the barista is preparing coffees one after another, and lunchtime when the office crowds from the building descend for takeaway sandwiches, quiches and pies.
She tries to remember people’s names and is always pleasantly surprised when a customer calls out “Hi Michelle” when they come into the store or pass by.
Some of the regulars have even given her gifts.
“One of my regular customers dropped off a box of mooncakes for me and the staff, which was such a sweet thing to do,“ she says.
Michelle’s magnetic personality nicely complements her hard-working can-do nature. Managing a staff of five means she wears a lot of hats. From handling paperwork in the back office to filling in for staff at the register when they go on break, Michelle is active all day long. This isn’t a job for low-energy people.
“It’s a fast-paced environment. In the morning before we open we need to prepare and set up and make sure everything looks good. Then we get a shipment of stock in the morning and again in the afternoon,” Michelle says.
Each day is buzzing with intention, chit chat and commerce.
“I think my customers come back again and again, not just because of the food we offer, but because the atmosphere is so upbeat and welcoming,” she says.
If a customer has an issue or a complaint (which Michelle points out is rare!), she handles it straight on with a sincere apology, and asks the customer how she can make it right.
“People are fine when they are treated with kindness and respect,” she says.
We can see that Michelle has a knack for customer service and truly enjoys interacting with those around her.
“It’s in the Filipino’s nature to be happy and laugh. We laugh even when we’re tired,” she says with a smile … of course.