Wisdom from Brian Baer, President of Dominick’s

Relatively newly appointed to the President role, Brian’s experience as Dominick’s CFO and previous positions within Safeway, the parent company, as well as experience with other service based organizations such as the Marriott, has shaped Brian into an outstanding leader to elevate the Dominick’s brand in Chicago, which is the most difficult market in the grocery industry. Each morsel of experience and philosophy that Brian shared was so valuable, but to summarize, the following were my top takeaways.

How do you prioritize in a role that has so many demands?

Brian said what guides him is to have clarity in purpose. Share that amongst your team. Often employees know the job, but aren’t clear on the purpose. A job may have 1,000 tasks, but there is only one purpose. Define what is our purpose. At Dominick’s, Brian has shared the following with his team of 7,200 employees.

  1. Make our customers’ experience unforgettable. In an industry where profit margins are 1-1.5%, price is a factor, but with that being said, people will go where they feel welcome and the experience is a pleasant one.
  2. Grow your brand. 
In the service industry, your brand is your people! Empower them with knowledge through training. A motto that Brian lives by is “Tell them. Show them. Watch them. Coach them.” Far too often we do not equip our employees with the knowledge, training and mentoring.
  3. You are here to sell! We are in the retail business so each and every customer-facing employee is a contributing factor. It goes back to #1, providing an unforgettable experience. Often when doing the task required of our jobs we forget the goal to grow business.


Data and Decisions

Brian had some interesting thoughts as to how data should be utilized in decision-making but not exclusively. He said to use data to validate, but use your eyes, ears, feet, brain, and mouth to make the ultimate decision.

When Brian took over as the new president, he facilitated round tables to listen to what the employees had to say. He carefully assembled different management teams and he listened. Brian said listening to both your employees and your customers is key. Dominick’s has impressive employee retention, with the average tenure to be 30 years!

Characteristics of a Great Leader

  1. Tenacity: Never give up, as often persistence prevails.
  2. Self Awareness: Be cognizant of your weaknesses and leverage your strengths.
  3. Constant Improvement: Always strive to take strengths to the next level, and make your key differentiator stand out.


Characteristics of a Great Employee

  1. Make your boss’s job easier.
  2. Know you have many bosses.
  3. Make your purpose to eliminate your job.

*Takeaways courtesy of Julie Poulos, VP Strategic Solutions at Desert Rose Design

This entry was posted in Lessons. Bookmark the permalink.