Mission & Guiding Principles
We share the Zingerman’s Experience
Selling food that makes you happy
Giving service that makes you smile
In passionate pursuit of our mission
Showing love and care in all our actions
To enrich as many lives as we possibly can.
So, how do we bring the Zingerman’s Experience to as many people as possible? We hit our 3 Bottom Lines and we live by our Guiding Principles. The Guiding Principles talk about how we work together, how we relate to each other, to our guests, to our suppliers, to our community. These principles are at the core of everything we do; they drive our decision making, they help us with our planning, and they guide us in our daily work. We hope that during the time that you are here you will help us to build on, revise, refine and strengthen Zingerman’s Guiding Principles. We successfully share the Zingerman’s Experience by following our principles and living our commitment to providing and/or building:
1. Great Food!
At Zingerman’s, we are committed to making and selling high-quality food. Great food at Zingerman’s means:
We are a food-driven business.
While we engage in many activities at Zingerman’s, first and foremost we are in business to sell food. Our other work— including accounting, design and management—is done to support and advance the sales of our food.
Flavor in our food comes first.
We choose our products first and foremost on the basis of flavor. We sell food that tastes great. We want our food to be full-flavored, delicious and enjoyable to eat.
Our foods have tradition. We sell foods that have roots, a heritage, a history. We seek out traditionally-made, frequently hand-crafted foods which are primarily of peasant origin. These are foods that people have been eating for centuries and will continue to eat for centuries to come.
We work to sell our food at the peak of its flavor.
Traditionally-made foods are alive and different everyday. They are affected by weather, soil, climate, the skill and craft of the producer, and the care and handling by our staff. We regularly taste and evaluate our products in order to assure our guests of the most flavorful food possible.
Good food makes life more fun.
We value the pleasure one gets from savoring a sliver of fine farmhouse cheddar, or from the aroma of an aged balsamic vinegar. Eating and appreciating good food makes life more enjoyable. We value the opportunity to sell and enjoy so many fine foods.
Good food is for everyone, not just a select few.
We make our food accessible to as many people as possible. We put our guests at ease with our food. No advanced degrees are needed to appreciate it—just a willingness to taste and experience the pleasure it provides. To that end, we will gladly offer a taste of our foods to our guests.
Our foods look great.
Our food always looks neat, fresh, appealing, eye-catching. A just-split wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano, a just-off-the-grill Georgia Reuben (#18) are sights to behold. We work to present them to our guests simply and effectively. We display our food in abundance to demonstrate both our commitment to the food, and to convey that at Zingerman’s, our food comes first.
2. Great Service!
We go the x-tra mile, giving exceptional service to each guest.
We are committed to giving great service—meeting the guests’ expectations and then exceeding them. Great service like this is at the core of the Zingerman’s Experience. Our guests always leave with a sense of wonderment at how we have gone out of our way to make their experience at Zingerman’s a rewarding one.
Our bottom line is derived from customer satisfaction.
Customer satisfaction is the fuel that stokes the Zingerman’s fire. If our guests aren’t happy, we’re not happy. To this end, we consistently go the x-tra mile—literally and figuratively—for our guests. The customer is never an interruption in our day. We welcome feedback of all sorts. We constantly reevaluate our performance to better accommodate our customers. Our goal is to have our guests leave happy. Each of us takes full responsibility for making our guest’s experience an enjoyable one before, during and after the sale.
We believe that giving great service is an honorable profession.
Quality service is a dignified and honorable pursuit. We take great pride in our ability to provide our guests and our staff with exceptional service. Service is about giving and caring for those around us.
We give great service to each other as well as to our guests.
We provide the same level of service to our peers as we do our guests. We are polite, supportive, considerate, superb listeners, and always willing to go the x-tra mile for each other.
3. A Great Place to Shop and Eat!
Coming to Zingerman’s is a positive and enjoyable experience for our guests.
We surround our guests with great food, great energy and great experiences.
The guest’s first exposure to Zingerman’s is a breathtaking experience: food, energy and excitement are everywhere. There is a palpable feeling of excitement. The aromas of fine food waft through the air. Visually, incredible-looking food surrounds us.
We provide a dazzling environment for our customers and staff.
It’s neat! It’s clean! It’s Zingerman’s! Floors are swept and mopped constantly, windows sparkle, employees fall to the floor, colliding with each other as they race to clear each table before the guest has hardly moved away from it.
We follow safe food-handling procedures.
Handling food carries with it responsibility for the health and well-being of our guests. We are well-informed on safe food-handling procedures and implement them consistently in every area of our work.
Our policies and systems help the businesses run better.
We understand that our actions have an impact on our customers. With this in mind, we retain the flexibility to make exceptions to our rules when it is in the best interest of our guests to do so. We do not hold our guests responsible for not being familiar with our systems.
4. Solid Profits!
Profits are the lifeblood of our business.
We operate at a healthy level of profit.
Profits provide us with security and growth potential—both for the business as a whole and for each of us as components of that business—in order to fulfill our mission. Attaining healthy profits requires a concerted and consistent contribution from everyone at Zingerman’s. Toward that end, we educate our entire staff about the financial workings of the business.
We want to make our profit work for our staff, our growth and our community, as well as for the businesses.
We reinvest our profits in the business. We share profits with the staff. We give back to our community through donations of money, time and products.
We are committed to being fiscally responsible in our work.
We spend according to our means. We are willing to delay gratification in order to build long-term rewards.
We are a growth business. We are committed to healthy, productive expansion and growth of our sales, consistent with our mission and our principles.
5. A Great Place to Work!
Working at Zingerman’s means taking an active part in running the business. Our work makes a difference.
We are empowered by the creativity, hard work and commitment of our staff.
It is the energy, effort and involvement of our staff that helps make Zingerman’s successful. We seek to build on the creativity and intelligence of everyone here.
We are committed to each other’s success.
Each of us is committed to the success of everyone else who works at Zingerman’s. We support each other, listen well, facilitate and encourage each other’s growth and advancement.
We compensate our staff well.
We provide income, a benefits package, profit sharing, meaningful work, and a sense of community for our staff, which balances their needs with the resources of the business.
We provide opportunity for growth and advancement.
We actively work to provide for the healthy growth of our business. In so doing, we provide opportunities for staff who wish to grow within Zingerman’s.
We involve as many people as possible in the running of the business.
We bring as many people as practical into the operation of the business. In so doing, Zingerman’s runs more effectively, benefiting from everyone’s abilities, creativity, experience and intelligence.
Each of us is committed to being proactive in our work.
We aggressively tackle difficult issues without waiting to be asked. We know that each of us bears the responsibility for what goes on around us, and we have the opportunity and ability to effect positive change within the business.
We work to improve in every area.
We seek to improve our performance, individually and as a group, and work to our fullest potential, through self-reflection, education, cooperation and feedback from others. When something is not working, we look at ourselves to improve before we look at the work of others. We do so as individuals, as departments and businesses.
We learn from our errors and work to correct them.
When we make mistakes, we view them as opportunities for growth and change. When we make an error we do not seek to assign blame, rather, we try to avoid repeating the problem in the future.
We strive to create a safe workplace.
We work within the limits of our space to create a safe workplace. We continually reevaluate and act to improve our work space. We walk slowly and carefully on the stairs, we never leave knives unattended in the sink, we pay close attention at all times when using slicers. We catch each other when we fall.
Zingerman’s embraces diversity.
We go out of our way to build a diverse and well-balanced workplace. We hire individuals regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual preference.
We like to have fun.
And we take our fun very seriously. So don’t mess with it.
6. Strong Relationships!
Successful working relationships are an essential component of our health and success as a business.
We build long-term relationships with our customers.
The long-term relationships with our guests are more important to us than any short-term transaction or interaction. To that end, we go the extra mile to take care of our guests and their families; we learn their tastes, their favorite sandwiches, their shopping needs.
We are committed to long-term working relationships with our staff.
We build mutually rewarding and long-term relationships with our staff, based on a commitment to each other’s success, mutual respect, and shared values. We work to retain those positive relationships even after one of our staff has chosen to leave Zingerman’s.
We establish rewarding relationships with our suppliers.
We view our relationships with our suppliers as a partnership in which both sides benefit. Our dealings are based on courtesy and consideration.
We build connections with other businesses who share similar values.
We seek out like-minded businesses to develop an effective support network for ourselves. We work with them to share information and ideas. We give back to the food industry through seminars, articles and participation in industry events.
We celebrate group achievement and recognize individual success.
We regularly go out of our way to enjoy and recognize our accomplishments as a business. When one of us is successful we are all successful. At the same time, we also recognize our individual achievements and overwhelm each other with a steady stream of positive reinforcement.
7. A Place to Learn!
Learning keeps us going, keeps us challenged, keeps us on track.
We educate our guests, staff and ourselves about the food we sell.
We constantly work to educate our guests, ourselves and our community about good food. We believe that the more we learn about food (where it comes from, how it’s made, how to use it), the more effectively and profitably the business will operate.
We actively educate our staff about the workings of the business.
We regularly share business information with our staff. The more we understand about the business the more productive we will be.
We actively educate ourselves about all aspects of our jobs.
We consistently seek to improve our understanding of our own jobs by staying current in industry literature, regularly reading books and periodicals on subjects both directly and peripherally related to our work, and attending conferences and trade shows.
8. An Active Part of Our Community!
We believe that a business has an obligation to give back to the community of which it is a part.
We participate in improving life in our community.
We are committed to leaving a positive mark on our community. We actively work to make our community a better place to live by contributing time, food, money, energy and information.
We encourage our staff to participate in community service.
We encourage our staff members to contribute to their community, to be active citizens, to work to better our environment.
We’re here to stay
We’re committed to building long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with our city, our neighborhood, and our community. We are committed to a long-term business strategy that will keep us in our community for many years to come.