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Retailer Of The Year: Good Nutrition

Georgia-based Good Nutrition enjoys growth, puts customers first.

The threat of increasing competition from the likes of Whole Foods and Sprouts Farmers Market doesn’t keep Greg Lee up at night. In fact, for the general manager of Good Nutrition’s eight stores throughout the state of Georgia, it only serves to heighten his opinion of his own company and its team of dedicated employees.

“Our strong business model and the talent and dedication of our employees have kept us going and allowed us to enjoy double-digit sales growth and expansion from five stores to eight over the past few years,” said Lee. “Our newest location is right in front of a Whole Foods and Sprouts just opened their first store here with five or so more ready to go. Sure, you’re always aware of the competition but we’re not necessarily worried.

“We know the bottom line is better with us, and that our customers will look but they always come back to us,” he added. “The big stores can’t give the type of advice or discuss the products in depth the way our employees can.”

It’s that level of growth and success, its dedication and commitment to its loyal customer base, along with its continued community involvement and eco-friendly awareness that prompted Vitamin Retailer to select Good Nutrition as its 2014 Retailer of the Year.

History

In business in the metro-Atlanta area since 1978, Good Nutrition currently boasts eight locations throughout Georgia, with its newest store added in Sandy Springs just last year (formerly House of Health). Since 2010, the company, which touts itself as “Atlanta’s Natural Health Destination,” has been in expansion mode, moving from five stores in 2010 to a total of eight stores currently. And while there are no immediate plans for further expansion, as Lee noted, the owners of Good Nutrition are “always looking and keeping a sharp eye on additional growth opportunities.”

Its headquarters store in Norcross offers more than 17,000 products with everyday discounts on a large selection of high-quality vitamins, supplements and herbs, earth-friendly household products and allergy-free foods. Good Nutrition’s smaller stores carry between 11,000 and 14,000 products. The company buys directly from more than 120 manufacturers as well as from select distributors.

“We offer our customers low prices and variety, with discounts every day at 15 to 20 percent below manufacturers suggested retail on everything on the shelf,” said Lee. “If they make it, there’s a pretty good chance that we carry it.” Lee added that his stores also offer monthly specials at 25 to 30 percent below MSRP as well as occasional coupons at an extra 10 percent off.

Good Nutrition’s eight stores range in size from its over 10,000-sq.-ft. headquarters store in Norcross to its smallest site in Sandy Springs at just 650 sq. ft. All feature the same basic setup with vitamins and minerals being displayed prominently by brand in the first aisle. From there is where each store draws its own personality, with remaining space allotted to whatever that specific store’s customer base fancies.

“Our stores are basically set up the same way in the front to display the vitamins, supplements, and minerals,” Lee explained. “From there, we allow our managers to determine which products are right for their particular store and their community.”

A Local Flavor

Linda Collins, who has managed Good Nutrition’s Marietta store for the past two years after working previously at their John’s Creek and Woodstock locations, enjoys the freedom she is afforded in her current role that allows her to customize her store to suit her customers’ needs and those of the community. Floor space at the Marietta store consists of about 95 percent dietary supplements and only about 5 percent food items, most of which are gluten-free.

“I worked at another natural health food store prior to Good Nutrition but was attracted to Good Nutrition’s upfront discounts and the freedom of Choices it offered me in vendors once I became a manager,” said Collins. “They let me determine the demographics of our particular store and our area and I think that’s very important in building a loyal customer base.”

Good Nutrition has eight stores in the metro-Atlanta area to serve its customers. In addition to its headquarters store in Norcross, the newest store in Sandy Springs, and Collins’ Marietta store, the retailer also extends its customer reach with stores in Gainesville, John’s Creek, Roswell, Toco Hills and Woodstock.

“We have formed a bond with our customers,” said Collins. We never let them buy into the hype and we always keep their welfare at the top. Our discounts are certainly good but my customers come back because of how we treat them.

Several Good Nutrition stores have recently undergone renovations and upgrades, according to Lee, in order to provide a fresh, updated appearance for both returning and new customers. These upgrades have included more efficient lighting, replacing old carpet with hardwood floors, and a fresh coat of paint.

“We are also in the process of addressing the outer look of our stores with advertising window film that will streamline the look of our stores and feature our top companies and our company logo,” said Lee. “Most of our customers are not aware that we have eight stores, they may shop in two or three near their homes or where they work. We work hard at learning all we can about our customers. It’s the people and the personalities that help secure our relationship with them.”

Supplements

As mentioned previously, Good Nutrition’s headquarters store in Norcross carries approximately 17,000 products with a focus on dietary supplements. While the other seven stores have less shelf space, here is a listing of some of the top products they carry:

• New Chapter – Bone Strength Take Care and Zyflamend

• Garden of Life – Vitamin Code Raw One for Women

• Natural Factors – CoQ10 twin pack

• Jarrow – Bone Up

• Emerald Labs – B Healthy

• Bluebonnet – Vitamin D 2,000 IU

• NOW – Cal/Mag Citrate

• Nature’s Plus – Ultra T Male

• Nordic Naturals – Ultimate Omega

• Renew Life – Total Body Cleanse

• Flora – Ultimate Flora

“We have an extensive line of products but we might not always have exactly what the customer is asking for, especially at one of our smaller stores like mine in Marietta,” said Collins. “What’s nice is that we have our other stores to reach out to and we do everything we can to get the product from one of those stores at the customer’s request. We will always go out or our way to make sure the customer is satisfied.”

An Educated Consumer

Keeping the customer coming back to Good Nutrition is obviously a top priority for Lee and his store management and employees. One sure way to accomplish this, according to Lee, is to have the best-educated staff in the industry. That’s why Good Nutrition goes to great lengths to educate every employee with in-store training sessions, training dinners, webinars and phone trainings. And it’s also why they have been able to retain employees for many years without any significant turnover.

“Once you come to work for Good Nutrition, you’re a lifer,” said Lee. “Many of our employees have been with us for five years or more and we provide them with the training they need to be the best at their jobs.”

One of the many ways Good Nutrition works to share this education with its customers is through in-store health fairs, where vendors and practitioners are brought in for educational purposes and all customers are offered an extra 10 percent off products.

“We usually do one or two health fairs a year in each of our stores,” Lee said. “These are important for a number of reasons. Besides offering an extra 10 percent discount on all purchases, this is a great reward to our regular customers to show our appreciation for doing business with us. We also bring in practitioners to expose Them to other alternative health modalities. Our health fairs are always a tremendous success.”

The folks at Good Nutrition also regularly attend outside events in order to give them an opportunity to “spread the word” to potential customers that may not be aware of healthy alternatives or products, according to Lee. “Good Nutrition is part of all the communities here in Georgia, but statistics tell us that only about 20 percent of the population shops in a health food store. This is our opportunity to reach out.”

While the in-store health fairs and outside events provide periodic opportunities to reach out to customers, Good Nutrition’s real reputation is earned every day on the floor of its stores. This is where its highlyeducated and trained staff interact with customers and share the knowledge and expertise that keeps those same customers coming back for more. And the emphasis is truly on “education.”

“Our employees don’t sell products, we educate and let the customer make their own decisions,” said Collins. “Our customers like for us to do the research for them and then educate them. We train our people to ask a lot of questions. We want to help and it’s up to the employee to ask questions about medications they may be taking. If they tell us they are taking prescription meds, we will advise them to call their pharmacist before starting on any of our products.

“We’re not there to push any particular product or just ‘make the sale.’ We only hire people that are ethical and want to help. That’s where we excel.”

Good Nutrition also has regular store meetings for their employees where a segment of each is devoted to product discussion. “Every employee has their favorite products in different categories,” said Lee. “We have an open discussion where they talk about why they prefer a certain product or brand over another and the successful results they have had.”

Another key element of Good Nutrition’s knowledgeable and experienced employees is the pair of certified nutritionists on staff as well as three herbalists working on a rotating basis throughout the eight store sites. “We are very selective about choosing our employees and we look for experience and credentials,” said Lee. “Where many health food stores experience high employee turnover, Good Nutrition has employees that have been with us for 10, 15 and 20 years. We are very proud of that.

“One of the most important things we can offer our employees and our customers is education,” said Lee. “This leads to high loyalty both on the part of our employees to the company and on the part of our customers. We try to stay on top of all the new products and anticipate what our customers will be asking for. We have a large reference section in our stores and we teach our people to ask questions. We also let them make the choice and work with the customer.”

For Collins, that freedom and being able to directly interact with customers is something that has kept her at Good Nutrition through the years.

“They allow me to do customer service and stay on the floor, even in my role as a manager,” she said. “That’s very important to me and it’s also important to our customers.”

Bring Them Back

Getting customers to return to the store and to develop a loyalty to the store and the brand is the key to a successful retail business, and nobody knows this better than the folks at Good Nutrition, who make the goal of “bringing back the customer” a part of everything they do.

“We know that people will look when a new store opens in the area and that’s alright,” said Lee. “We also know that eventually our customers will come back to us. We’re still doing what we’ve always done. Once people realize that things aren’t going to change, they come back and search us out.

“The three main reasons that our customers come back to us are variety, price, and advice. They are looking for guidance and we are the ones that can provide that.”

Lee also said that there has recently been a heightened awareness in the general public about the importance of preventative medicine, which has sparked a renewed interest in the natural product industry. Collins has seen this uptick in her store as well.

“People are finally realizing that they can’t or shouldn’t depend on their doctor for all of their health care needs,” Collins said. “They are trying to get more in tune with their bodies and working to prevent what they can. That’s where we come in. We can help guide them and help them find the products and services that are right for them.”

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