Five Star Food Service never settles. The Chattanooga, TN-based company, a leader in micro market installations, has not only placed more than 500 micro market locations, but is also expanding the concept to be more inclusive of today’s changing workplace. The company recently launched a new micro market concept, dubbed the “Micro Market Lounge”.
The concept, placed in just one location so far, features two 75-inch HD-TVs, two multi-station iPad banks (with full accessibility and internet connection), four lounge sofas, and a lineup of features included in traditional micro markets, such as gourmet food and beverage options (see image 1).
The idea was born from one client’s desire to improve employee satisfaction, explains Greg McCall, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Five Star. “They had a traditional micro market, but were looking to provide an even bigger employee benefit,” he said. “We know that customers are investing in their breakrooms right now to help with retention and to attract a new workforce, so we wanted to partner with this company to expand their vision for what they wanted their breakroom to be.”
Five Star and its client teamed up to co-invest in the space. The location hired a construction and design crew and Five Star blended the market into their vision. “We wanted to help them create an experience - much like one Starbucks has created — with a good atmosphere, music, collaboration. It had to be a place to relax,” said McCall. Five Star included an iPad station that it had seen at the Minneapolis, MN airport where users could check email and unwind. The food service company also encouraged the use of digital signage throughout the lounge. The walls were painted to blend with the Avenue C equipment and 365 Retail Markets kiosks as well.
This concept, which has been in place for a little more than 3 months, is already a success for the location and Five Star. From the feedback so far, employees are spending more time and money in the micro market lounge. Coffee is the biggest seller in sales volume, said McCall. The company brought in a pod machine at $.75 per cup and a Starbucks brewer that dispenses coffee for $1.50. “We thought this approach of offering a two-tiered coffee option would work and it did,” said McCall. “People like the branding of the Starbucks coffee and are willing to pay more for it.” In fact, 65 percent of unit sales are Starbucks. “We believe this has made a difference in how long people stay in the market and what complementary items they purchase alongside their coffee.”
The space in its entirety has seen sales gains, too. Since converting from vending, sales have nearly tripled at the same location. “It’s the concept that drives sales,” said McCall. “It’s a collaborative space and it hits directly into the new workplace culture and what employees are looking for. When you really invest money into the paint, flooring and design, it’s amazing what it can do.”
The adaptability of micro markets has helped Five Star elevate its relationships with its clients. “The micro market concept is great because you can make it as big or small as you want,” said McCall. “The employer has full range in what they want to do.”
There's still a lot Five Star has to evaluate with its Micro Market Lounge concept, however. The company plans to utilize its security footage to remotely view how people shop in this new market. As Five Star obtains more data, it will adapt the concept even more to fit consumer needs. And this concept, says McCall, will not be an anomaly as the traditional market adapts to include more modernizations for the changing workforce.