Updated: Sep 13
“There are benefits to having an open heart. ”
Spoken by a local Okanagan employer who proves you don’t need to choose between diversity and profit.
Peter, the owner of Peter’s Your Independent Grocer in Kelowna, bought his franchise in 2015 after being a corporate manager for 26 years. When asked why he chose to invest in his own franchise, Peter states that he saw “an opportunity to make a real difference in the community.”
Since buying his franchise, Peter has made it his mission to make a positive impact by providing employment opportunities to members of the community who are eager to contribute.
Peter’s Your Independent Grocer has one of the most diverse and inclusive workforces in the Okanagan with 10% of employees having diverse abilities and 30% being new immigrants.
While placing diversity as a priority, Peter also knows the value of a dollar. He says that without a profit, he could not provide opportunities to others in the way that he does.
Peter remarks that – in terms of profits – the most useful advice he has ever been given is that “you are better off making three nickels than one dime.” To him, this means playing the long game and investing in workers who will deliver larger rewards down the line.
Peter believes that many businesses fail in their hiring process when they expect to hire the perfect candidate right away. He notes that the perfect candidate does not exist. According to Peter, a much more successful approach is to take the time to identify and invest in an individual’s potential.
When asked to describe what experience or education has allowed him to find success in such a hiring approach – Peter states that in his 26 years as a corporate manager, one of the most valuable lessons he learned was how to work with different personalities and abilities in order to maximize each employee’s success.
Following this lesson, Peter takes the time to invest in employees who might need more time to learn and adapt. He knows that regardless of ability, if an individual is placed in a position tailored toward their strengths, the payoffs will be endless.
Peter witnesses the dedication, loyalty, and work ethic that all of his staff members demonstrate every day. He recognizes that when someone is given the tools, time, and space they need to do their job, the “pure joy” emulated in their work is irreplaceable.
Besides investing in his team’s potential, Peter believes that positive leadership means taking an active and genuine interest in your employees.
Every day, Peter takes time to say hello to all of his staff, as each employee is a valued member of the team. He also spends time working alongside his employees to remind them that he does not expect them to do any job that he would not do himself.
According to Peter, taking a unique and authentic interest in his employees not only increases team morale but has actually played a large role in increasing the franchise’s customer base.
Employing new immigrants has helped to educate Peter regarding an underserviced market in British Columbia – specialty international food products. Peter states people travel from as far away as Cranbrook to buy their groceries at his store as he specifically stocks items that his employees tell him are lacking in current local stores.
Peter’s franchise isn’t the only business in the Okanagan reaping the rewards of taking an inclusive and community-oriented approach. When asked what other businesses he admires, Peter states that there are a large number of non- and for-profit businesses – including Food for Thought, KCR Community Resources, Salvation Army, Rad Jamz, and Helen’s Acres Community Farms that are making a positive impact on the community.
It is the hope of Peter– as well as the team at Creative Therapy Consultants – that other employers in our community will look to the success of businesses such as Peter’s Your Independent Grocer as proof that you no longer have to choose between making a positive impact and making a profit.
With an open heart and a willingness to invest in your employees, both are well within reach.
Written by: MacKenzie Verhelst, BAPsych, CVRP
MacKenzie Verhelst is a Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant for Creative Therapy Consultants. MacKenzie is a Certified Vocational Rehabilitation Professional (CVRP) and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from McGill University. She demonstrates expertise in vocational assessment, resume/cover letter development, interview preparation, active job search support, and job sustainment services. MacKenzie is passionate about helping others reach their utmost potential and advocates for finding joy in work. To learn more about Vocational Rehabilitation services, please visit click here.