Jere Matthews has been called a “clean freak” once or twice in his life. Last year, his hygienic standards paid off. As vice president of operations, he led the Rutter’s team to a near-perfect score in the CSP 2017 Mystery Shop against 11 other brands. In 2009, Rutter’s began to train every store employee in HACCP food-safety protocol. It helped the York, Pa.-based chain earn a 99% in interior cleanliness, and a 100% in pump-island and exterior cleanliness.
But the brand’s 65 locations aren’t just keeping up appearances. Rutter’s also scored high in customer service. That starts with finding the right people. The retailer screens for hospitality-focused recruits during one-on-one interviews and a new-hire orientation. Hiring managers and trainers assess candidates’ social aptitude and body language throughout the hiring process. “All of our competitors sell soda, cigarettes, coffee, etc.; excelling at customer service and having a clean store will bring customers back time and time again,” Matthews says. “And they will tell others, which helps to drive the continued success of Rutter’s.”
For the past 25 years, Rutter’s CEO and President Scott Hartman has mentored Matthews. Hartman’s knowledge and strategic insights have helped him learn how to find creative solutions. “Scott is an excellent problem solver, a patient man and an excellent communicator,” Matthews says. “His influence has really helped shape me as a person and my career success.”
But his more foundational influences began with his parents’ insistence on accountability. “[My mom] would say, ‘Jere, please always tell me the truth, because if you lie I will not be able to help you,’ ” he says. “That lesson stuck with me, and I continue to practice it each and every day.”
In a consumer climate in which bright and shiny objects abound (look, a drone!), Matthews is staying focused on the fundamentals that will make—or break—a store.
99%—Rutter’s score in CSP’s 2017 Mystery Shop—the highest any retailer has ever scored