“Dynamic Signal has been a huge win. People really enjoy using the product, and they’re highly engaged. It helps us stay connected with what’s going on throughout the company. We see, hear, and read things on FarmFeed that enable us to understand what’s happening and build a sense of community.”
Jamie Hill, Director of Guest and Team Member Experience
Cumberland Farms doesn’t have customers. Patrons at the company’s 560 convenience stores throughout New England, New York, and Florida are considered guests.
That sense of hospitality begins with the employees. No, wait. They’re team members.
That attitude all ties back to the Cumberland Farms mission statement “to deliver the friendliest, cleanest customer experience by first being the best place to work.” The 80-year-old, family-owned company is considered an innovator in designing a culture where employees feel they’re part of a community that respects and values them.
Cumberland Farms was certified in 2018 as a Great Place to Work in Retail. President and COO Ari Haseotes, the grandson of the founders, also was invited to the White House in 2015 when the company was recognized for its use of technology in engaging and connecting with team members.
“If you want happy guests, you need happy people who have smiles on their faces and enjoy their jobs,” explained Jamie Hill, Director of Guest and Team Member Experience. “They have to feel like they’re part of something much bigger and greater than themselves and feel like they work for a brand that truly cares about them. You can’t just speak about it. You have to show it.”
One of the most effective ways Cumberland Farms does that is with FarmFeed, the employee communication platform powered by Dynamic Signal, which puts information directly in the hands of team members.
“We are a 24-7 business, and our team members have very busy jobs,” added Jaclyn Harrison, Retail Internal Communications Manager. “Over 90 percent of them don’t sit at a desk, don’t have access to a computer when they’re at work, and don’t have their own company email addresses. We need a way for anybody in the company to be able to contact us – and for us to be able to respond.”
It can be difficult for any business with on-the-go employees to stay connected with the workforce. It’s particularly daunting in the fast-paced environment at Cumberland Farms, which provides guests with grocery items, gasoline, and fresh food such as pizza and sandwiches. (Fun fact: Cumberland Farms can fill more than 118 oil tankers with the 73 million cups of coffee it sells each year.)
Of the company’s 9,000 team members, about 8,000 work in stores assisting guests. The other 1,000 are in support roles including driving delivery trucks and working at culinary and distribution centers. The primary challenge is that with such a dispersed workforce, how can Cumberland Farms continue to build and maintain that sense of community?
The company previously had used a mobile app that pushed out information to team members. But Cumberland Farms wanted more than just top-down communication to team members. It recognized the business value in creating a real dialogue with a two-way conversation where team members could offer feedback through comments and the ability to create posts that highlighted their own work experiences.
With the help of Dynamic Signal, FarmFeed has become a digital place where team members not only can learn what’s happening around the company but also celebrate everything good about working at Cumberland Farms. Within the first three months, FarmFeed had 3,000 active users, and the vast majority (89 percent) were accessing the platform on their mobile devices. For Harrison, that provides validation of how today’s employees want and expect information to be delivered directly to them.
“I was really impressed with how much engagement we had immediately,” Harrison added. “I’ve had over 100 posts from our team members every single week. There was lots of commenting and liking on posts – even right at the very beginning.”
FarmFeed offers a rich mix of content that keeps team members coming back for more. Each week, Haseotes records a video for the company and another member of the executive team writes a blog post. There is company news, announcements about promotions and changes, and posts from individual store teams. You might also see the occasional baby picture with the title, “Future Cumberland Farms Employee!”
Often, team members will reference in their posts or comments company values, such as Succeed Together or Never Settle. And when the company unveiled a new sandwich, a store in Massachusetts struck up a friendly competition with another store in Connecticut on which one could sell the most.
It’s also a way to say thank you. When a town was put under a boil water advisory, the local Cumberland Farms store requested a special delivery of bottled water for that community. Afterward, the store posted a photo on FarmFeed and noted how the distribution center and delivery drivers went above and beyond.
“These are the kinds of things that never could have happened in the past,” Harrison said. “It’s just a really nice way for everybody to connect and support one another. The values that are embedded into our culture are reflected in FarmFeed.”
From a business perspective, it’s also a clear sign to team members that the company is genuinely invested in their lives and welfare.
“Having a product that allows us to interact with our team members on a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour basis is an engagement piece that a lot of organizations miss,” Hill said. “If we give our people a way to show their passion, the next thing you know we have a whole company of engaged team members. They’re wearing Cumberland gear on their days off. At barbecues, they’re talking about how much they enjoy their work. FarmFeed is key to showing how much the brand cares about them.”
“One of our store managers said, ‘Thank you for creating an avenue that lets us communicate with our Cumberland Farms family. There’s so much value in that.’ We really are a family, and this gives us a way to talk, interact, and engage with each other.”
Jaclyn Harrison, Retail Internal Communications Manager