By Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
For many companies, the final months of the year are filled with planning for 2016. It's the perfect time for retail RDs to take stock of accomplishments and successes as well as missed opportunities and low performing programs in 2015, and build health and wellness strategies and plans for the new year. Here are some things to consider as you move into this process:
High vs. Low Performers. All major food brands take stock of products that sold well as well as those that are the lowest performing. This same approach can be taken with health and wellness programs. Which ones exceeded expectations, bring an impactful ROI to your company or reaching a significant shopper base? At the same time, consider those that did not meet goals and expectations. It can be hard to let go of some of your "pet" programs, but it's essential to be objective in your evaluation of your offerings. If there is an obvious reason a program didn't do well and a logical fix that can be put in place moving forward, by all means keep it on your short list. But if it's lost its life, be willing to let it go.
Aligning Goals and Objectives. Leverage the planning cycle as an opportunity to meet with leadership in your store, division or company to understand what overall objectives are moving into the new year. Treat these meetings as information gathering, asking in-depth questions and seeking to understand how your healthy living programs fit into the overall goals. Consider if there are new company objectives (i.e. your retailer is starting to offer online grocery shopping and delivery) that might create opportunities for you or your RD team. Are there departments that are lagging and are looking for ways to bring new life to their categories? Do marketing or advertising have new programs that you might tie to? Are there new pharmacy initiatives that are a logical fit for partnership?
Staff Structures. As retail dietetics continues to evolve, it's also essential to look at resources dedicated to health and wellness initiatives as well as salaries and titles of those supporting these programs. Consider if the current structure of RDs within your company is ideally suited to the environment and your approach to meeting shoppers' health and wellness needs or if there are changes that would improve program execution. Meet with your human resources department to ensure RDs are compensated and titled equivalently to other positions in the company with similar levels of responsibility.
Be Budget Savvy. Whether or not you have budget control of healthy living programs, it’s essential to summarize and evaluate where dollars were spent in 2015 and the ROI accompanying this spend. This logically leads into the process of budget planning for 2016. If you have new programs or services being offered in the new year, it’s essential to fully flesh out the budgetary needs of these offerings. Consider if there are programs that were wildly successful in 2015 that could be even more impactful for company profits if additional funding was allocated to them.
The end of the year is an ideal time to take stock of the previous year, learn from it, and strategize for the next fiscal cycle. It can also create renewed energy and motivation for team members and colleagues for the work ahead.