Retail RD Close Up: Kimberly Proctor RD, LD Hy-Vee
What's the story behind your experience in retail and your position with your store?
I started working at Hy-Vee in 2011, which was my first experience working in retail. I had always joked that being a Hy-Vee dietitian was my “dream job,” because as a customer, I had observed the Hy-Vee dietitians doing really creative projects in the stores and in the community. When an opening came at my current store, I immediately applied. The store had a dietitian previously, so the employees were familiar with my role in the store, and the customers were extremely welcoming. I love having a job that I look forward to every day!
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
A challenge for me has been learning to meet customers where they are. As dietitians, we want to jump right to the #1 healthiest choice. For customers, we have to learn to gauge their willingness to accept change, and appreciate small steps in the right direction.
What is one thing that you wish you would have known before starting your career as a retail dietitian?
I wish I would have had more training in sales and marketing. You can plan fabulous programs and events, but unless you market them successfully, attendance can be disappointing. In order to reach customers, you have to be creative in getting their attention. Additional training in this area prior to becoming a retail dietitian would have been beneficial.
Has there been anything specific that has held you back? If yes, tell us about this and how you dealt with it.
To be successful as a retail dietitian, you have to promote yourself and your services. Having never worked in such a capacity before, it was a bit uncomfortable for me to get used to the idea of putting myself out there and “tooting my own horn,” so to speak. It became much easier when I settled in and realized that customers really appreciate the opportunity to get their questions answered, and often seek out my advice. The best feeling is when a customer you have helped reports back his or her success stories!
In a similar vein, has there been anything specific that has helped you move forward? If yes, tell us about this.
Having store management that understands the value of what a dietitian can bring to the store has been most helpful. Getting to know the department managers and finding creative ways to get involved in store events has helped me become an integral member of the team.
What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry?
At Hy-Vee, we have a great network. With so many dynamic and creative dietitians at work in so many stores, it is helpful to reach out to those who have successful programs in place. You can then take the ideas and modify them to benefit your customers. We are also fortunate to have strong leadership at the corporate level. We are provided support and training opportunities throughout the year.
Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that you are most proud of and why.
I am most proud of my programs for children and families. By holding cooking classes and garden programs for children, I feel that I am helping give children an appreciation for healthy foods. Often, participants will return to my store and report that they have started cooking or gardening together as a result of attending our programs. It is so rewarding to see children and families enjoying and sharing a love of cooking!
Kimberly Proctor is a registered and licensed dietitian serving customers at the Mount Vernon Road Hy-Vee store. Kimberly earned her Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics and completed a dietetic internship at Iowa State University in 2000. Through her previous work with the WIC program and the Midwest Athletic Club, she has experience working with clients of all ages and nutrition needs.
Kimberly is passionate about nutrition, and loves teaching people how to incorporate healthy eating into their daily lives! She can be found in the aisles helping customers make healthy food choices, and demonstrating recipes. Kimberly also offers one-on-one consultations, personalized store tours, group weight management programs and unique food experiences.
When she is not at the store, Kimberly enjoys raising livestock and produce on her hobby farm and experimenting in the kitchen.