Ep035: Robin Estevez

You are in for a treat as I’m talking to one of my favorite people in the world. I've been having this specific conversation with Robin Estevez for a number of years because I'm fascinated by the opportunities in the grocery business and today you get to listen in. 

Robin and his family own a chain of 10 grocery stores in the New York, New Jersey area and he's grown up in the grocery business his entire life. He has a passion to server the local community and he’s very interested in treating their neighbors like neighbors.

We've had some amazing conversations about overlaying the 8-Profit Activators, and specifically, all the opportunity in the after unit on top of an existing grocery business like this.

You'll notice we spent the entire hour just talking about the possibilities in the after unit. All the metrics that we talked about, the kind of meta approach to looking at the big picture of the after unit, looking how high is high, and all this is all transferable for you.

I think you're going to find this a fascinating real conversation about what’s possible when you take an advocacy approach to your relationship with your after unit and the people that know you, like you and trust you.



Want to be a guest on the show?  Simply follow the 'Be a Guest' link on the left & I'll be in touch.

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Transcript - More Cheese Less Whiskers 035

Dean: Robin Estevez

Robin: Mr. Dean Jackson. How are you?

Dean: I am very excited about this. I had a great spot on my calendar last week, and then it was taken away from me, and now here we are.

Robin: Here we are. What's up? It's been a little bit since you and I have connected, but here we are today.

Dean: I'm very excited. Have you been listening to More Cheese, Less Whiskers? You know all about the format and what we're doing?

Robin: Yeah. I have, I'm a little rusty on my eight profit activators and all that, but I think we could have a good conversation anyways.

Dean: That's so awesome. I'm so excited actually, because I love ... I think you're in an amazing business, and I always get excited about all the possibilities for all the evil schemes to hatch. Why don't you kind of set the stage and talk a little bit about your business and what kind of evil schemes you've got in mind for us?

Robin: Okay. Okay. I guess I should introduce myself.

Dean: Yeah.

Robin: Yeah. My name is Robin Estevez, and my family and I, we provide a wide selection of great delicious food and groceries for our neighbors, so they can lead healthier lives without having to spend their whole paycheck or trade down on the quality they deserve. We run and operate a chain of independent Foodtown supermarkets here in the New York and New Jersey area. We grew up in the business, my brothers and I, starting from the little corner mom-and-pop store, or as they call it here, a bodega, and have now a chain of supermarkets here in New York.

Dean: I love it. Serving your neighbors, including Seth Godin.

Robin: Yeah, he shops at our store regularly. He's a good guy, and has become a friend.

Dean: That's awesome.

Robin: Yeah. Actually that's one of the things that I wanted to talk to you about.

Dean: Sure.

Robin: As you know through our communications, we ramped up and we grew considerably in the last year and a half. There's a lot of consolidation going on in our business, in the grocery business. There's been also a lot of opportunities for guys like us, independents to acquire bigger stores and larger footprints in different types of neighborhoods. I remember my first breakthrough blueprint down in Orlando with you then. Going back in my notes, I remember that you mentioned Benjamin Franklin Plumbers.

Dean: Yeah, that's right. Benjamin Franklin, the plumbers.

Robin: Yes. So you have mentioned that even before they start servicing an area, they started promoting on Drive Time Radio and doing certain things.

Dean: Simon Temperature.

Robin: Yeah, Simon Temperture. They would get the surveys back, and to the people, and people would say, "Wow these folks are so great, yet they still have not opened up the area."

Dean: Right. So amazing, right? It's beautiful.

Robin: So amazing.

Dean: They were the top of mind plumbers before they even opened up in the marketplace, which is ... That's half the battle. So yeah, it was very exciting.

Robin: Using a little bit of that sort of thing and some of the other things that we've done in the past, I went out with my brothers and we just opened up social media pages, we got out there, started talking to people that store where actually Sobston in Hastings was one of those locations, the other one was in Jersey in Old Tappan, and before we even opened we had people who were engaging people, who were having conversations. We were asking what kind of food you would like to see us carry in the stores, and letting them know who we are. We don't call them customers, we call them neighbors.

Dean: Like it.

Robin: Yeah, because a customer is a transaction. "Oh, get out of the way, let me get it over with." But if you're a neighbor, I'm happy to see you and can't wait to see what you've been up to.

Dean: Yeah.

Robin: Neighbors look out for each other. Just the way I'm looking out for them, they're looking out for me, and that has been a great thing for us, because we don't like to be on a highway, we like to be literally inside neighborhoods. That engagement of, just Superbowl just passed, and people are going for the Falcons, people are going for the Patriots, and we have that conversation in the aisles. "Come on, how can you be going for the Patriots?" You know or, "You're a Falcon fan," and that kind of thing.

Dean: Yes, right.

Robin: Yeah. Yeah. So having conversations in the aisle.

Dean: I love it. What's been the focus now? What kind of things are you working on, and what kind of things can we hatch some evil schemes for?

Robin: Well, just recently ramping up the engagement of the one on one, the personal engagement. I sent out an email just this week saying "thank you" to everybody, our whole list, and I've gotten such a positive response from that. That has been great, and also I'm doing cards as well. Just yesterday alone, people have been enjoying the videos that I've been making, which you pushed me to do as well.

Dean: Yeah. I remember, I'm so glad that I did that. That whole idea of ... You're a natural at this.

Robin: Thank you.

Dean: I mean you're the most personable guy. You're not just saying those things about neighbors, and saying it because it's the businessy thing. I mean, that's your heart. That's really what your whole family is about, and you get that as soon as you meet you. I think that allowing people to see that on video and putting a name and a face to their neighborhood grocer, you're the guy. I think there's something to that.

Robin: Yeah. I would like to develop, I know that that was one of our stresses. How could really ramp this up for 2017 and get it? Because we gave away recently 10 TVs and 10 Superbowl party packs. That was one of our original promotions, and all the corporate stores, now they followed along and joined on. As a corporate entity we gave away over 100 TVs and the Superbowl party packs. People just go crazy over that sort of thing.

Dean: Great.

Robin: Now they got a brand new TV, that every time they're watching they know they got it from Foodtown.

Dean: Yes.

Robin: Just the fun of being in it.

Dean: Imagine that, all of their friends that are watching that TV with them, "You know where I got that TV?"

Robin: Exactly.

Dean: Yeah, of course, it's got legs.

Robin: It's got legs, and with the food included, it's a great thing. Like I was saying, just yesterday somebody was saying -- his name is Donny -- he goes, "Dude, you are so great. I love seeing your videos. Thank you for what you guys are doing. Keep doing what you're doing, and I always get a kick of what you've got coming." Well, that's great.

Dean: I think that there's the thing that I've mentioned to you, growing up in Canada, Toronto, the influence of Dave Nichols on my interpretation of the grocery world, right? Dave Nichols was the president of Loblaws, which was the big Canadian grocer at the time, but he made it very personal. He took the role of being the president of Loblaws and being your grocer, he took that very seriously. He would always, he created a whole line of products called President's Choice, which were premium products that he would search the world and find.

He would do Taste of Thailand sauce, he would travel all over and fall in love with these products. Then he would create this Taste of Thailand sauce that you could use for chicken, and beef, and marinating, and all these things. Where he created the President's Choice decadent chocolate chip cookie, which was the best chocolate chip cookie on the market, better than the big brand names, but he would private label and develop products for their own line. Anyway, just that whole, the fact that he was the face of Loblaws made it a very different experience. There's a guy, and it's a real thing. I think there's something to it, and I believe you've got that opportunity, that personality, because it just is who you are naturally.

Robin: As an introvert, that just sounds very funny.

Dean: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I imagine it is, but I mean that's why you ... Introverts kind of get misinterpreted a lot, because I'm an introvert myself as you know. But we definitely have a heart for people, and wanting people to have a great experience, and have great things. Just we're not the life of the party kind of people, you know?

Robin: Yeah, yeah, yeah, definitely. Definitely.

Dean: Yeah.

Robin: You know, it's interesting, it hit me the other day that we have about 55 to 70,000 people, neighbors coming through our doors, transactions coming through our stores. If you, taking simple math and doubling that, because somebody comes in with their spouse, or their kids, or their grandma, and all that. That's about 120, 130,000 people there, literally coming through our doors.

Dean: Yeah.

Robin: It's a challenge for ... There's only four of us, and we have an amazing team that works with us, and that's one of the greatest comments that we get about how helpful and how friendly and kind they are. They actually go out and talk to them. It's how you scale that family and the neighborly attitude of wanting to serve.

Dean: I got some ideas.

Robin: Oh, let's go.

Dean: I've got some ideas. I mean, there's the whole thing of that, it really does come down to and depend on metrics and data. You have to have that, right? You have to be able to ... That's the biggest obstacle for people, and I say "at scale," but the things, it's got to be fundamentally ... The scale isn't the part that makes if difficult, it's figuring out the algorithm that makes it difficult. That is the same thing, whether you figured it out for one store, for one of your units versus ... What do you call them, by the way? Do you call them stores? Do you call them ...

Robin: Foodtown.

Dean: I mean, when you're internally talking about them do you say, "We've got so many stores," or do you call them ...

Robin: Oh, yeah. We usually call them stores, or we call them by the street name if we're talking about individual ones.

Dean: Individual ones, okay. But you call the stores, okay.

Robin: Yeah, stores.

Dean: So you got one store, because it's no different to crack the code for one store, versus doing it for ... How many are you guys up to now, 10 or 11, or more?

Robin: About 10, with the outlook of within the next two years adding probably another three.

Dean: Part of this is that your ... The opportunity is that when you can crack the code for one store, you've cracked the code really for all of them, right? That's where the scaling part comes.

Robin: Yep.

Dean: But you still have to ... It's like this is, if I live in Hastings on Hudson, that my store is right there in Hastings on Hudson. I'm not going to the one in New Jersey, or the one in New York, right? I mean, I'm going just to this one. So when you look at it, the number of people, your neighbors that you have there -- I love that languaging, by the way -- that your neighbors there are involved with you on that way. They're not jumping around to different Foodtowns. You're primarily, "This is my Foodtown," right?

Robin: Yeah. Yeah. That's true.

Dean: When you look at it, you've got the opportunity to really kind of break things down on a store level, right? I look for always the micros, the single target markets, and look at your whole organization as a macro level where you've got all of the 10 stores. When you look at that, when we break it down to Hastings, and you say we've got 5,000 people, 5,000 neighbors who are on record here with that store, that's really where the value is. Now I know you guys have a PRM type of ... Yeah, you've got an ability to keep all of that data, and I'm going from memory about ... Is that about what it is? About 5,000 in a ...

Robin: In Hastings we're about 9,200.

Dean: Okay, that's one of your bigger ones, right?

Robin: Yeah, about 9,200 active club card members who ... and it tapers. Some stores I have 10,000, some stores I can have as low as 5,500. It all depends on the density.

Dean: Right. So when you look at it, the way you've got that card ... What do you call it again?

Robin: It's the Foodtown Club Card.

Dean: That club card.

Robin: Yeah.

Dean: So you've got 9,200 club card members in Hastings, and let's just have our conversation about Hastings, because it's fun.

Robin: Makes it easier.

Dean: Yeah, it makes it easier, because everything that we're talking about is just as applicable to the other stores, aside from the strictly local things, that there may be different demographics or different neighborhood sort of personalities that have different products SKUs or different demographics around it, right?

Robin: That's exactly right.

Dean: That's part of the great thing about being an independent like that, is you can program the stores to meet the needs very specifically with the neighbors, right?

Robin: That's exactly what one of our advantages are.

Dean: So when we look at this now, the thing that having a context, like Breakthrough DNA, like the Eight Profit Activators gives you, is a context to set and overlay your metrics on. So we had lots of conversations about the idea of those 9,200 neighbors who have the club card are your after units. Those are people who have come into the store, who have shopped and decided to join your club card because they come back frequently, right?

Now, what you have with that is, you collect all the data for everything that they do, right? When they buy, every purchase that they make is recorded, and you've got access to that data, it's just about what are the algorithms that we're gonna use to extract that data and turn the data into information, into something that's usable here, something that's trackable. What's a metric that we can look at and affect? What's a metric that we can move?

If you look at just from a top down sense, if you just take 100% of the revenue for the Hastings on Hudson store, that's going to ... You know that that total amount of revenue in the month of January, or over the whole course of the year, if you look at it year on year, came from some known number of transactions, because you met ... Every time somebody rings in a ticket you know whether they were a club card member, or whether they were not a club card member. Am I right in that?

Robin: That's correct. The interesting part is that a club card member spends about three and a half times more than a non club card member.

Dean: On a per ticket, on a per trip basis, right? Okay.

Robin: That's correct.

Dean: That's interesting. Sometimes people come in, and if they're just coming in and they're not a club card member they're picking up on average 30% of what somebody who's a club card member is doing each time they come into the store. That makes sense. Okay. What percentage would you say of the total transactions, the total tickets ... I do keep coming back to that word, but I don't know if you have another language for it. If you have check outs ...

Robin: Baskets.

Dean: Baskets, there you go. Perfect. That's good. That's good to have that kind of language, right? That we're all looking at the same thing. So the number of baskets on a annual basis of 100% of the annual baskets, what percentage of the baskets are club members?

Robin: I have member sales are about 76.2%, and their transactions is 53 point, well let's round it up, 54%.

Dean: Okay. So just over half of the transactions that you do are club members.

Robin: Yeah.

Dean: 50%, 46% are people who you don't know. It could be their first time, or it could be that they come, but they just haven't joined the club. They could be repeat, but they just are not getting credit for it. They haven't joined in.

Robin: They joined in, or their mom, their husband, somebody else in the household may have it so they don't know the phone number associated with the card. It could be any number of things.

Dean: Yeah. Okay. So that's it. so about half of your transactions are trackable. When you look at this now as a metric, what we're looking for is of the 6.2% of the total volume that you do, that's quite substantial that it's all from the after unit. That those are people who know you, like you, trust you, and come back again and again, they're not new customers. Then what I would look at on that is the -- on an annual basis -- the value of each of those individuals now.

This is all, this is knowable stuff, and if you look at the total number of the 9,200 club members in Hastings, if you were to lay them out on a line by line and rank them by the total amount of money that they spent, you would have something from customer number one, the whale, the person who spent the most. Your most valuable club member spent X thousand dollars over the course of the year and came in and bought X number of baskets. So you've got the number of baskets and the basket value as two knowable and measurable metrics that you use, right?

Robin: Yes, yes. That's the great thing of the club card is that we know the average baskets, how much they've spent over the last cycle, and so on and so forth.

Dean: Part of it is taking that knowledge from a macro level of knowing what the average basket is, and knowing what the average total volume is, and the total number of visits on average, and going on a micro level and looking at assigning it almost to specific people, right? Getting to that level of it. So if you took the 9,200, in theory, what happens is that your number one person, if we ranked them by total spend this year, or in the last 12 months, and would probably also be your leader in the total number of baskets. In the 9,200 may not potentially have come in at all last year, right? Would you say that there's the potential of the 9,200 people that some of them have a card but have stopped coming in, or not come in at all?

Robin: Of course. It's like the bass club theory. You've always got folks coming in and folks coming out. We are signing up about 6,500 to 7,000 people per cycle, which it's a 30 day cycle. There's always people coming in and out, of course.

Dean: Yes, okay perfect. So the card never expires, right? Is it just ...

Robin: No. Whenever they're in, they're in. Yeah. Yeah.

Dean: And that 6,500 is across the whole, all 10 stores, right?

Robin: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That's ... I just looked at the one ... The 6,500 is across all the 10 stores, yeah.

Dean: Yeah.

Robin: The top shoppers, I'm looking at a report for my top 100 shoppers, and we're discussing Hastings, they're doing about 23% of that volume of the sales.

Dean: So they're doing 23% of all of the volume of sales.

Robin: Of the 76, of the 76.2.

Dean: Yeah, of all of your club member purchases, they're doing 23% of it, the top 100.

Robin: Yeah.

Dean: Which is about 10%, and if you took it to ... If we took, let's see if the 80/20 flows here, that if you took the top 1,800 of the 9,200, what would that be? I wonder, that would be an interesting exercise to see how the 80/20 rule holds up.


Robin: I will get back to you. I will get back to you on that.

Dean: Oh yeah, yeah.

Robin: That's an assignment for me and an image to scratch.

Dean: Yeah. I mean, no it is, right? If the top 100, which is literally it's less than 1%, right? I mean your top, the 1% are doing 23% of all of the after unit business, right? It's interesting.

Robin: Yeah.

Dean: 100 out of, if we say 9,200 is ... 1% would be 92, the top 92 people are doing probably 20% of the business. That's very fascinating. An interesting thing to look at what the bell curve of that looks like, you know? The distribution of the total volume. If you've got 9,200 people and on one pole is your ... On the high end pole is ... Can you see what the number one person, what their spend was?

Robin: Yeah.

Dean: In that report that you're looking at?

Robin: Yes. Let's see, I'm scrolling up. About 5K, 55K.

Dean: Okay.

Robin: Talking 5,500.

Dean: Yep, so $5,500 for your number one person, and then on the other pole would be zero for the person who didn't come in. What would be interesting to know is how many of the 9,200 actually had purchases in the last 12 months. That would give you a good indicative number, but the rest of them are going to distribute probably like a bell curve. That there's gonna be, the median is gonna be somewhere around some number between zero and 5,500, and it's probably not gonna be 2,000, it's probably not the average, you know? But it'd be interesting to see how that gets distributed, right? Maybe step that into core tiles or quin tiles to be able to see what, where those people are.

Robin: Or figure out if anybody is ... A different catch here is I've used a repeatedly used a club card and it's not been signing up folks, and I may be even missing out on that. You know what I mean?

Dean: It could be, absolutely. it could also be ...

Robin: So, it's finding out, it's making you ask different questions. Okay so, "Who is this person?" And really getting to know that person by name.

Dean: Yes, that's exactly right. It shows you, wow, that's pretty fascinating. I'm actually pretty in wonder here, in awe, that 1% of your customers, or your neighbors are doing 20% of your sales. That's really fascinating and exciting, because then it's like there's lots of opportunity with the other neighbors. So we have talked, and I still talk about, every time I see you we talk about this, and you know what I'm gonna say, right? That the thing that I talk about, my dream thing for you is this idea of return on groceries as an outward facing metric for people.

One of the questions that I ask to you when we had done some consulting together, one of the questions that I asked you was, "What's the best thing that you could do for somebody?" Right? Like, "If I gave you 100% control of my grocery spend, what's the best thing that you could do for me?" You would spend that money better and get me more value out of that spend by staggering or knowing when things are on sale, knowing when to buy certain things, when to stock up on certain things. That thinking, I based that on a quote that I had heard from Warren Buffett, that somebody was at the annual meeting with Warren Buffett, and he's always very accommodating to everybody, right?

Somebody had said they had their first time at the meeting and they just had one B share of Berkshire Hathaway to be able to be at the thing, and he called and said, "Well, that's okay. Between you and me, we're majority stakeholders." Which is so comforting and accommodating, right? But the question that they asked was, "Where is the best place to invest $1,000?" And Warren's answer was in consumer durables. They kind of stepped back, "Oh, what's that?" And he said, "Toilet paper and paper towels. Look in the newspaper and when toilet paper goes on sale for 50% off, buy all your toilet paper. Buy $1,000 worth of toilet paper and you've made 50% on your $1,000, rather than waiting until you need it and buying it for full price."

So that kind of thinking just overlaying some sort of metric over that is so ... I think could be fascinating if you take some stewardship of somebody's grocery opportunity that you could probably make a different of, I would guess, at least 20% on somebody's annual spend, just by anticipating and taking advantage of what is available right now. It's funny, because nobody, I don't think anybody owns that space of taking almost like a financial advisor, but your grocer advisor, of taking and being a steward of the $5,000 that they're going to spend.

Robin: Yeah.

Dean: Now if you look on it that your top guy, your top family spent $5,500, that I would bet that it's very difficult in New York to spend less than $500 a month on groceries for a family. What that tells you is that most of your people, the other 99% of your people are spending was less than $5,500 on their groceries, right? With you.

Robin: Yeah, that's right.

Dean: They're spending more than that, and that's something that you don't know is how much is the person who spent $5,500 with you, how much are they spending on groceries total? What percentage of their total basket are you getting?

Robin: That's always a question that we always have, because most people specifically know that most people, they shop in multiple places. So they may go to the big box store, they go to the neighborhood guy, and then they go to that convenience. So everybody wants to be the first guy.

Dean: Right. Because they think that they're going to -- some of those people -- they're trying to, they're clipping coupons, they're power couponers, and they're trying to be good stewards of their family's grocery budget.

Robin: Their food dollars, yeah.

Dean: Their food dollars, yep. So that's why they might shop around, but if you really thought about it, it would be very interesting for you to show and see how much somebody could save by following your grocery plan for them, right? A grocery planner ...

Robin: Go ahead, I'm sorry.

Dean: Almost like a financial advisor, because when you think about it, for most families a good portion of their monthly budget that they're spending is food. Have you seen ... You must have access to grocer stats and stuff like ... As far as all the money that people spend, it's certainly one of the largest pillars of spending that people have, right? They spend from housing would probably be their number one thing. If you take the majors, like they spend on housing, on their cars, on health insurance, on all ...

Robin: It's gotta be one of the top three.

Dean: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, yeah. When you think about it, I don't know of anybody taking that serious a position of it to position themselves as a grocery advisor. That's kind of I think, a fascinating thing that you could exploit as a -- I mean exploit for them -- as a savings of creating money for them.

Robin: I like see ... Rather, I like the word maximize. How do I maximize your food dollars?

Dean: Right. That's that frame of return on groceries. That your groceries are actually ... Smart grocery planning is getting you a return on your grocery dollars, right? Rather than just spending them.

Robin: I like that.

Dean: I think that philosophy of thinking that way, that there's probably people in your store, some of those 9,200 would fully embrace that idea of wanting to be completely the good stewards of their grocery budget, you know?

Robin: Yeah. A lot of good notes here. There's a lot of fun in that as well, because you would be, which we make an effort to do like with the Superbowl promotion and other stuff that we have, is rewarding them and keeping them engaged in different ways that ... Sometimes it doesn't have to be money, but obviously it is money, because those prizes are worth something.

Dean: Right.

Robin: You can really maximize your dollars if you pick a place, get familiar with those folks and loyal, and you'll see that you'll get a higher return for being loyal to your neighborhood guy than bouncing around from corporate shop to corporate shop.

Dean: Yeah. That's kind of a fascinating thing. Imagine what grocer is having a local podcast for the savvy shoppers in their neighborhood?

Robin: Actually, I know of one. He's a mutual friend of ours. He's come out with a podcast.

Dean: Our Bundles buddy?

Robin: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Dean: Yeah?

Robin: Yeah.

Dean: I'm not sure how ...

Robin: He's doing great with it.

Dean: I mean, it's kind of a fascinating thing when you think about tying in a podcast with an app that is right on their phone kind of thing. There's lots of ... Take in the future of groceries, if you look at where it's going. I just live streamed Peter Diamandis' Abundance 360, it's a conference that he does every year in January to share all the things that are coming and shaping the future. One of the most fascinating things is this idea of looking about the things that are coming that are shaping and changing the way that we approach any category. Groceries would be no different, and looking at adopting the technologies that you can for that, but it's also equally comforting to build on a foundation of what's not gonna change in the next 25 years. What's not gonna change that is gonna remain the same?

That's based on a Jeff Bezos quote that people asked Jeff Bezos like he has his finger on the pulse of the future, what's gonna change in the next 10 year? He said, "I don't really know." He said, "Some of the technologies that we're using now, I couldn't have even imagined 10 years ago," but he said, "Nobody ever asks me what's not gonna change in the next 25 years? Because that's what we're building the company around. I know that 25 years from now, or 10 years from now, people are gonna want as wide a selection of products that they can get. They're gonna want to get them at the lowest price that they can get them, and they're gonna want them as fast as they can." So every technology that they develop is only in service and support of those three things that are not going to change. It's kind of like that balancing all the technology and advancements based on a ... But hitching it to the one thing that you can depend on.

Robin: 25 years from now people are still gonna to eat, it's just how are they gonna get the ...

Dean: I think that's exactly right.

Robin: Yeah.

Dean: I think if you look at, if you were to say looking forward, "What evidence do you have in 2017 here of the future of where groceries are going? What are the things that are currently affecting, or disrupting, or demonetizing, or doing all of the, having an impact on the grocery business right now?" I think if you look at on a trend wise, it's certainly trending towards organics and being aware of what's in the food that we're actually buying, right? I think that's certainly a growing area, and certainly you look at things like Blue Apron or other meal delivery type of services, where they have all the ingredients already portioned out and delivered right to you for you to just prepare the things, that's certainly a trend between Plated, and Blue Apron.

Even the micro, the niche sort of meal prep things like the Pete's Paleo meals, or other things like that, that's certainly something that has taken on some legs. Then things like home delivery of things, like bundles, like the whole idea from Amazon of ordering up all of your durables and all that stuff. Why am I gonna lug things like paper towels, and toilet paper, and water in my car when I can have my Alexa app order them up? By the way, there's a way, and I'm looking into in now, but there's something that is I think gonna be big on trend. Have you got an Amazon Echo, by the way?

Robin: I do not. I have not jumped on that yet.

Dean: It's so cool. It's fascinating, but there's a thing now called Alexa Skills where you can say, "Hey Alexa, order me a pizza." Where you can teach it that that means put in this order at this restaurant for the thing.

Robin: Wow.

Dean: So if you're getting in alignment with the Alexa Skills, imagine if somebody could say, "Hey, put this on my Foodtown list," or whatever.

Robin: That is a possibility, because we're about to roll out our online shopping pretty soon..

Dean: Yeah. It's pretty fascinating. I mean, there's so much innovation possible in ... You're not ... The good news about it is that you're in a business that is fundamentally not going away. I mean, the thing that's not changing is our bodies and our need for food every single day, right? That's still gonna be here, and so all of that, you can rest assured with that, that there's no way to digitize a steak.

Robin: Well, one of the things -- maybe they will digitize a steak -- but one of the things that I'm noticing and seeing is that there's a growing group of people who are moving towards the local and the neighborhood guy, rather than going to the conglomerate. I'm talking from the coffee shop to the grocer, obviously, and ...

Dean: Who wouldn't want to get their eggs and their chickens from a farmer that made them right around the corner? That's of course what we would like.

Robin: Right. I'm seeing that being a growth factor, and it's been great for us because that's who we are.

Dean: Yeah.

Robin: Yes. Yes.

Dean: Yeah. So much great. I mean, boy that, and we've literally just been talking about the after unit. I mean there's just so much potential in that.

Robin: It's funny we've just been so comfortable talking here that we've been rolling off each other as we have in the past and there's a lot of great ideas here, and I'm gonna dig into a lot of the data here and get back to finishing the book, the second book.

Dean: Where can ... Is your book on Amazon right now? Your ...

Robin: Yeah.

Dean: Lessons From Behind? This is great, I would recommend this because it's a great story of a family business and from the perspective of a kid that grew up in a family business. I mean, you were born in the grocery business.

Robin: Yeah.

Dean: That's really the thing. Starting out sweeping the aisles, and then opening the stores, and you've done every job in the store. It was really well written, it's a beautiful story, so I would recommend that for everybody. Lessons From Behind the Counter, right?

Robin: Yeah. Thank you, and that was also through the 90 minute book. It was easy to do. The easy button, my easy button.

Dean: The easy button, exactly.

Robin: Yeah. Yeah, my brothers and I have had an interesting upbringing -- as many others have -- and it's been fun to be able to share with our neighbors and be a part of their lives and our team.

Dean: Yeah.

Robin: It's kind of cool. It's kind of cool.

Dean: I'm excited. You know, the thing that we've always run into is that you just have such an abundance of opportunity that it's very different to pick the one and execute that one, right? Because all this that we've been talking about is literally just the after unit of one store that multiplied across others. But it would be fascinating to really take the, to kind of implement that idea of identifying what the focus could be there, what the impact could be, and how much that would move the needle of getting more. The good news, it would be really fascinating to see the distribution for one thing, of the 9,200 people from zero to 5,500 laid out as a bell curve to see where the distribution ...

Robin: Yeah, that's one of things that I think is more enticing to figure out who's ... Lay these folks out on a bell curve and see how can we move that metric? I mean, sometimes we play games or have contests with our teams and our managers, how can affect this one percentage point here of a department contact? How many people are shopping this particular department? Whoever gets to move that number the most wins a prize. It always happens that you end up moving that number, everybody improves, and that then becomes the benchmark, the baseline. Then you keep improving upon that. It would be interesting to find out who are the ... Laying out these 9,200 folks and how could we affect that basket size, the engagement, and so on and so forth.

Dean: That's exactly right. I mean the interesting thing is, in theory, because you're collecting everything, you could zero on the individual items in the baskets, right? I mean, you've got all of that recorded because it scans in all the items, right? So you could go as micro as looking at the person -- your number one -- and looking at the $5,500 that they spent, and itemizing what those things are, right? You could get a sense of what their basket is?

Robin: Yes, of course. Of course.

Dean: Yeah, and you know, that's the kind of thing that would be very interesting for you if you looked at the 2016 numbers there. You just said for that 5,500 person who spent that, if you looked at what they spent when, and how much they spent on things, if you just knew that they spent X number of dollars on toilet paper, and paper towels, and whatever you would classify as durables -- things that you could have bought all at once and not have them go bad -- that what would have been the optimal time for them to have bought those things? It would be interesting as what kind of an impact could you have had on that person that spent the $5,500, you know?

Robin: Yeah. Yeah.

Dean: That's kind of, that level of granularity is really what's gonna give you the innovation, the opportunity to think that through. You have really great insight into the top 1% of the 1%, which is your number one, right? I mean, that's really it, and if you took slices of that ... When it's think like that, because I always look at the optimal. I've really trained myself to look and always start with, "How high is high?" as my starting point, to really just to set a context for it. Like, "How high is high?" You've already got 9,200 people right now, and if you take the top 1% of them, you took the top 92, how much of a gap would there be between the 5,500 and what number 92 is spending? Is most of that 5,500 two, or is that 5,500 an outlier.

Robin: Well, that's exactly my thinking, is that an outlier, or how far is it, or what are the clusters?

Dean: That's exactly why, seeing that distribution of it would give you a graphical distribution from zero to 5,500, how many people spent at each $100 along that way? Where does the information come from?

Robin: Yeah. Yeah. This is a lot of fun. This is gonna be a lot of fun breaking this down, because as you said, the data is there, just go sift through it.

Dean: Yeah. Well, that's the ... Whenever you're ready, I'm ready to help you with that. I would love to work with you on that, because it's been in my mind this whole time. I mean, I see it, and I see what the impact of what you could do.

Robin: All right, I'm gonna hold you to it. I'm gonna hold you to it. No, I'm gonna prep something out and think this through. We would be ...I think starting with those 9,200 folks, starting with those folks and just laying them out and seeing what this looks like will give us a huge insight ...

Dean: Absolutely.

Robin: ... on how many visits they've had, what's the dollar spent? What are the clusters? My mind is racing right now.

Dean: Yeah, and that's all the important stuff. That's all the things that ... Just getting enough that you've got the edges. That's what I talk about the ... I look at this as what set up the corners of the context. Like the macro numbers, we've got 9,200, and we've got them ranked by their spend, and we see a distribution of what they do. Then we can pick granularly little samples from every point along that to maybe at each 10%, just say, let's granularly look at how often these people come. How often these people come. Maybe get that graphical representation of what the total basket looks like over the course of the year, you know?

Robin: Yeah.

Dean: With that will come some ability to recommend to people what to buy and when, you know?

Robin: Yeah. Yeah. Starting off, I could start off with a month, a previous cycle, just a 30 day cycle, see what it is, or three months, and go by that.

Dean: Yeah. I think it's pretty fascinating. It's all movable. I think that's really the thing. If somebody knew, if somebody is hopping around. If you look at somebody who's spending $2,000, then you know for sure that's no where near their total thing. They may have, maybe even doing some conversations with those people to see what's their grocery philosophy? What's their approach? It's almost like you think about that idea of most people are underrepresented in just maybe one of the biggest expenses that they have on their budget, and don't get any advice. Nobody's taking an advisory role in that.

Robin: Yeah. For a lot of people, it's something that they dread of going to the grocery store. That's why the neighborly feel and the fun is an important part. Obviously, you gotta provide the great service and a competitive price, but how do you make it enjoyable, from the music that they listen to in the store, to the shopping experience. I mean, those little things, if I'd met you being in the store and had a two minute conversation with you about the game or whatever, you would automatically be ... Say, "Wow," every time you see me, you already know that I'm a Yankee fan, and now we got a little thing going on here.

Dean: Right.

Robin: Yeah. So knowing that, putting these people out on the bell curve, and knowing what they are, and getting to see who they are, and putting a face to the name would be very powerful.

Dean: Well, I'll come up there and we'll go dark chocolate shopping with Seth in your dark chocolate department.

Robin: Yeah. Yeah. He's a great dude. Do you know him personally?

Dean: Only be email and have met him speaking at the same events, but I haven't had any ... We're not friends. I love him, I think he's great, but we've just exchanged emails and I was actually ... I sent him a graphic that was in All Marketers Are Liars, and so we've had some email exchange.

Robin: Yeah. He's a cool dude. The funny thing was my daughter and I went to see him in New York City and he's read some of her stuff -- she's got a blog -- and it's cool. He's a good guy. I mean, I'm not gonna say we're best of friends, but he took a look around the lot with my brother Billy at the store, and ...

Dean: I know he would love this idea of return on groceries and taking an advocate advisory position for somebody. I think that's ... I know him well enough to know that he would love that as an approach.

Robin: Yeah. Again, you're putting me out there, so three apps, I guess I gotta get to it.

Dean: That's it.

Robin: All right. All right.

Dean: I can't believe this hour went so fast, but every time I talk about it I get excited, so there's something to it. We've been talking about it for what? Four or five years now.

Robin: Yeah. Yeah, but that's what happens when you're having fun with friends, you know?

Dean: Amen.

Robin: Time flies.

Dean: Amen.

Robin: All right. I know you gotta go, so have a good one.

Dean: Thank you, man. Thank you so much. I think people are really gonna enjoy this because it's something ... everybody's involved in groceries, and nobody's having that kind of a conversation with them, so it's exciting.

Robin: Well, I thank you for having me on, and keep doing what you're doing, dude. Doing great.

Dean: Okay, thanks man.

Robin: Bye.

Dean: Bye, bye.

There we have it. I really enjoyed that conversation. I love talking with Robin, I love his enthusiasm. One of the things that any business that's a going concern, any business that's been in business, has a repeat clientele has, is really this after unit, and it's a pleasure to get to spend that much time talking about specifically the after unit and seeing where the opportunity is.

I think that the greatest thing that you can bring to your business is to know where the opportunities are, where your strengths are, and overlaying your approach to the Eight Profit Activators on top of your existing business. The best way to do that, the best way to see how it applies to you is to do your profit activator score. We've got a online assessment that you can go through at profitactivatorscore.com, where you can see how the eight profit activators are either growing or slowing your business right now. It shows you where the opportunities are, where your aspiration is, and you get two free books that come along with that. The Breakthrough DNA book, which explains how to apply the Eight Profit Activators, and the Profit Activator's Score Card book, which is an interpretation of how the amplification of how the scoring system works.

So I would encourage you to got to profitactivatorscore.com and start that process for yourself. Of course, if you'd like to be a guest on More Cheese, Less Whiskers, just go to morecheeselesswhiskers.com, and look for the Be A Guest link at the top of the page, and I'd be happy to hatch some evil schemes with you. Have a great week.