RD Team of One? Take a Consultant Approach
By Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Being the only retail dietitian can feel like being on an island, whether you’re in a corporate or store role. You don’t have a direct colleague with whom to banter ideas and new programs. Some days, it appears that retail colleagues don’t understand what you do or may not see the impact of healthy living programs on the company’s business. Your store director or corporate boss may give you little time and attention.
What do you do?
You take a consultative approach. View the role as though you were a consultant to the store or company. Here’s how it works:
Understand Company Priorities and Pain Points. Consults are hired and hired back because they solve a problem for a company or drive success in priority areas. Have a clear sense of what matters most to your store director or corporate manager, including the business struggles they have.
Define the H&W Strategy. Instead of waiting for someone to tell you what health and wellness look like at your store or company, build it out yourself. You have the background in health and have experience in retail, making you very equipped to define the strategy. Consider the company priorities and pain points and build a strategy that you know can have impact in your shoppers’ lives and for the company.
Sell Your Strategy. A frustration heard from some retail RDs is that they are moving along, making great progress, and really connecting with shoppers on healthy living programs. Then a new store director or manager appears and wants to send you in a completely different direction. For this reason, it’s essential to have a documented strategy but also to sell in the strategy to the leadership team above your position. This ensures key decision-makers buy in to the overall strategy and its impact. When you get that new store director or manager, connect with them early in their new role, going through your strategy and the rationale for it. This can potentially ward off any major switches they might make to your plan.
Report, report, report. While your store director or other leaders may not ask for regular updates on your programs and services, be proactive in showing the value of your work. Establish standard reporting periods, such as quarterly, for reporting, peppering in anecdotal updates or customer feedback in between. Include pertinent sales data and ROI metrics, and be willing to suggest cuts in programs based on lack of performance or to shift gears based on emerging trends you’re seeing in your shopper segment.
As a solo retail RD, taking a consultative approach puts you in control of your work and your future and can increase your job satisfaction.