The Five Rooms That Convey So Much!

By Harold Lloyd

As a supermarket employee, you are probably responsible for one million things. Perhaps two million. How well you manage many of your two million responsibilities is evident in just five rooms in your store.

This article will:

  1. Identify the five rooms.
  2. Explain why they are so vital.
  3. Help you score your current performance regarding your five rooms and hopefully inspire you to improve.

I’ve said it numerous times, and with the utmost confidence, give me 10 minutes and a peek at a store’s five rooms, and I’ll assess your ability to operate a store accurately. In fact, I’m certain you’ve subconsciously done this yourself. Remember the last time you walked into a supermarket’s restroom that was repulsive? As you dried your hands while

exiting, you wondered, “Who could be running this store?” “Why would they allow this mess to occur?” And, “What else is being so poorly managed here?” Am I right?

For years, I’ve made the same observations in four other rooms in a supermarket. In fact, I will make it a point to check the five rooms before leaving every store. Assessing these rooms gives me great insight into how well a store is operated, almost 100% accurately.

Before we begin, please rate your store (company) overall on a scale of 1 to 100. Is it highly effective and profitable? Score yourself between 90 and 100. Struggling and marginally profitable? Score yourself between 60 and 70. Got it?

OK, let’s now go and score your five rooms, each from one to twenty.

Room 1: The Restroom

First, since it has already been mentioned, score your restrooms from 1 to 20. The restroom tells me how truly committed a retailer is to serving the customer. Of course, maintaining a spotless restroom is a challenge, but somehow the best do it. They also throw in some fresh flowers, this week’s promotional flyer, possibly an excerpt from their mission statement that speaks to an unwavering commitment to ‘being really clean,’ and a QR code to scan if their standards are not evident.

Room 2: The Back Room

Next, let’s visit your back room. This area tells me how committed a retailer is to maximizing profit. Are the back doors unattended? Is the compactor door open? Are random loose cans and boxes scattered throughout? Are the floors and walls grimy? Uh oh! Score yourself 1 – 20.

Room 3: The Break Room

Our third room might be nearby—your break room. How well management maintains the employee break room mirrors their attitude toward their employees in general. This is all linked to the store’s morale. Your break room is friendly, modern, interesting, stimulating, and comfortable. Good for you. If not, recommit. Score 1 – 20.

Room 4: The Meeting Room

The fourth room might surprise you - your meeting room. To properly operate a supermarket, thinking, discussing, and strategizing must occur on a regular basis. I am constantly dumbfounded to see the room where we expect our store leaders to perform these functions. Christmas decorations are stored in one corner. A faded first edition of an old vision statement hangs at a slight angle on one wall—ads from several months ago on another. None of the chairs around the old, rickety table match, and the air conditioner makes the most annoying droning noise when it kicks on. Oh my! Score yourself 1 – 20.

Room 5: The Mop Room

Finally, room five, the mop room. The condition of this little room speaks volumes about store management’s commitment to cleanliness. And, in today’s world, being clean and sanitary is more important than ever. Having the right tools and easy access to them is essential in executing an unquestionably clean operation. Score your mop room 1 – 20.

There you are, the five rooms that say so much about you as an operator. Now, please add your five numbers together AND compare them to the first number you wrote down. Remember I asked you to rate yourself as an operator? 1 – 100.

If my postulate is correct, your five room total and your self-assessment score should be eerily close. How accurate is my five room assessment? (Please email me at and let me know.)

Now that you know the five rooms that convey so much about the way a store is operated, I’m sure you’ll want to get started on raising each of your room’s scores. Take your time. It’s that important. “Window dressing” fades fast. Consider five separate room committees working separately to brainstorm actions to improve each room. Or, if you’re a smaller company, form a five rooms improvement committee and allow them to focus on one room at a time over ten months. Support and encourage the participants. You’ll be amazed and proud of the improvements they will make. Good luck!

Harold Lloyd’s 50-year career has been committed to
supermarket retailing. The last 20 years have been spent
creating and facilitating seven executive-level share groups.
One of them, the Front Door/Back Door Asset Protection
Share Group is totally committed to reducing store shrink
and protecting company assets.