The Fresh Market

  www.thefreshmarket.com
  www.thefreshmarket.com

The Fresh Market Reviews

Updated October 17, 2014
Updated October 17, 2014
405 Reviews
2.4
405 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
The Fresh Market President and CEO Craig Carlock
Craig Carlock
230 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • The best thing about working for them is 20% discount on food (in 59 reviews)

  • Employee discount program is excellent - 20% to start and it goes up with more tenure (in 24 reviews)


Cons
  • Store managers last an average of about a year in my experience (in 29 reviews)

  • low wages, upper management, not much room for growth in wage or position (in 22 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1. 8 people found this helpful  

    Personally and professionally fulfilling and yet at the same time extremely frustrating

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Store Manager
    Current Employee - Store Manager

    I have been working at The Fresh Market full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Camaraderie among employees makes the days enjoyable. Most customers are easy to deal with and genuinely love the store and the employees. Promotional opportunities are available and internal employees usually get first look - however promotions for management opportunities are tied to your willingness to relocate across the country. Store hours are shorter than most retail grocery chains (8am-9pm in most stores). Stores are closed Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Employee discount program is excellent - 20% to start and it goes up with more tenure.

    Cons

    Compensation is low for everything that is expected - Pay for hourly/clerk level positions vary by store/market. Management Salaries are pretty much the same across the board. Management is expected to "Own" their stores but the compensation offerered is not in-line with the expectations. There is a pay range for Store Managers that goes up to a respectable salary but good luck ever getting there. The low Assistant Manager maximum pay coupled with the "standard, maximum" increase for becoming a Store Manager make it nearly impossible to ever reach the max salary for the position unless you are willing to work over 15 years in the position. Raises have been minimal the past 3 years across the board and have nothing to do with performance - raises are consistent across the company leaving high performing Department Heads, Assistant Managers, and Store Managers to receive the same increases as those that fail to meet sales/gross margin goals providing no real incentive to work any harder. There is a yearly bonus program for Department Heads, Assistant Managers and Store Managers but how you actually earn the bonus is unclear and you have no way of tracking your progress throughout the year to see if you will earn it or not.

    Labor allocation across the store is such that empoyees have little/no time to actually take care of the customers - they are too busy completing the seemingly infinite list of daily tasks expected of them.

    The company is experiencing severe growing pains - they continue to add numerous stores every year but do not have the necessary pool of management talent to support these new stores/markets. Assistant Managers that are not ready to manage stores are promoted out of desperation and are not prepared for the daily challenges they face - as a result, they are ultimately held accountable for their stores/teams not meeting company expectations - it is a vicious cycle that must be broken.

    Work-Life balance continues to deteriorate to the point where it does not exist for Assistant Managers and above.

    Training across the board is non-existent. No training hours are allocated to the store so new employees are "thrown to the wolves" and are expected to meet unrealistic deadlines/expectations for their jobs with little/no guidance.

    Management doesnt have time to actually manage the store or the employees - they are too busy with their forms, walks, checklists, emails, cycle counts, conference calls, SNAP Presentations, etc, etc, etc....

    There is a huge disconnect between the Home Office and Field Operations - communication is terrible. Good luck ever getting a response to something - especially after 5:00pm, anytime on the weekends, or during Holidays. The office is closed ALL HOLIDAYS while the stores are open with little/no support should something go wrong.

    Nothing is ever the Home Office's fault - they cannot/will not admit they made a mistake. But if you make a mistake, they send an email to everyone in the company and then you have to answer to all of your bosses (District Manager, Regional Director, Zone VP, COO, etc).

    Promotions/Programs are the same for every store in the chain - there is no room for interpretation at store level - you are expected to implement/execute to the letter or be held accountable. The worst part is, if the program is not successful in your store, the finger is pointed squarely in the stores' direction regardless of whether or not they executed it properly - it is never the programs fault (or the person who created it).

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Eliminate salary "maximums" - by putting a limit on the salary a person can earn you are putting a limit on the level of talent you can attract - and more importantly retain.

    Base raises on actual performance - don't give every Manager the same increase if they don't earn it. Instead of giving all Store Managers an XX% raise - take the total of all SM Salaries and multiply it by XX%. Take that pool of money and allocate it based on store P/L results. If your store is not profitable, you do not get a raise. If this doesn't motivate people to work hard to run a profitable store I don't know what will.

    Stop talking out of both sides of your mouth about customer service - if the customer is the priority, allocate enough labor to the stores to actually take care of the customers.

    If you are going to say we are One Team, dont have different expectations for the people working in the office and the people wokring in the stores (facial hair, nights/weekends/holidays off, consentual relations policy, etc). This looks very bad and leaves a bad taste in your employee's mouths.

    Create an actual training program for the hourly employees in the store - they are the ones doing virtually all of the work and receive by far the least amount of training. Allocate training hours to the stores and allow new employees the opportuntiy to learn what they are supposed to do before holding them accountable for not doing it.

    Have the people deciding how much labor is needed to run the stores actually work in a store for a period of time to see what the realities of the day-to-day operation are. This would be a huge eye-opener.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    The Fresh Market Response

    Oct 16, 2014HR

    Thank you for your detailed review about The Fresh Market. As we continue to grow as a company, it is important for us to constantly see what areas we can improve on. We try our best to make sure ... More

  2. 2 people found this helpful  

    Great company with room for growth and opportunity

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Greensboro, NC
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Greensboro, NC

    I have been working at The Fresh Market full-time (more than 8 years)

    Pros

    I feel people are treated well here, with dignity and respect. I feel my contributions are valued and that I can actually make a difference in the success of the business. I work with a great team committed to excellence and willing to go the extra mile to help each other and better the company as a whole. I feel my personal life is respected and I am able to balance work with home life. I am empowered to try new things and when mistakes happen to learn from them for the sake of getting better. I like the atmosphere in the home office - it is not stuffy or pretentious. I can be myself and enjoy my days at work. Considering how many hours of my adult life are spent working, it is really great to actually ENJOY where I go each day and the people I work with on a regular basis.

    Cons

    I would like to see us consider our pay scales to better ensure we are competitive (or adjust our scales to be so). I believe we could do better communicating infiormation. I don't feel it is intentionally not communicated, but I think as a fast-growing company we could be more intentional to slow down enough to communicate effectively to all people who need whatever information is being shared. I see us being more and more open to new ideas and technologies so that is moving in a very positive direction. I really have very few complaints here and hope to have a long and successful career here

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Slow down a bit and communicate more with one another so that the communcation can trickle down to all levels with consistency and clarity. Be intentional to check our competitiveness around pay and other elements of compensation and then SHARE what you learn with everyone so they do not continue to make assumptions. Always place people over process and remember that your INTERNAL customers need to be your primary focus so that they will serve your EXTERNAL customers for you.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3.  

    Growing company dedicated to improvement

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at The Fresh Market full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    I find upper management to be remarkably open to feedback and change -not what I expected when I started. Management has committed to making significant changes to improve the experience of employees. Many new initiatives have already been implemented and we are told more are to come.

    People at all levels of the company are passionate and skilled at the work they do. Most people are easy to work with. There is camaraderie among the teams.

    The stores are beautiful to work in.

    There is a lot of opportunity to advance in the company- managers are promoted from within and there is less "politics" here than I have experienced anywhere.

    Benefits have improved since I got here and new work life balance policies are being enacted.

    Cons

    Many operational procedures evolved in an ad hoc way from when the company was smaller... they really need to be thought-through and formalized by people who know what they are doing. Until they are, the end result is that there is inconsistency, double work, and a degree of uncertainty around the "right" way to do things. Ad hoc doesn't work in a company that is growing this fast. It will take time to establish a good process and implement it.

    Depending on who your direct supervisor is, you may have a better or worse experience. Plenty are good, but some are resistant to change and operate in a frenetic way.

    The company still needs to improve its communication internally.. Have clear channels for communicating between the office and the stores. need to invest more in technology and better systems.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The new changes are really encouraging- stay with them!

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5.  

    Working at The Fresh Market

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Human Resource Coordinator
    Current Employee - Human Resource Coordinator

    I have been working at The Fresh Market full-time

    Pros

    As with any company The Fresh Market has its ups and downs. But from what I have seen during my time with the company they try to fix the things that are wrong and do the right things for their employees. Overall, they are concerned about what the employees think and have a good plan to ensure the employees are taken care of.

    Cons

    Compensation overall is lacking and staffing for several store departments and the field management is stretched thin

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    My advice would be to focus more on time studies and what it actually takes to get the job done right. Products are added to departments and there are not additional hours to support the addtional production. Same for the field support, more stores are added each year but it seems we are slow to adjust to the mounding demands. This causes those in support roles in the field to work over 5 days and well over 60 hours a week to just keep their heads above water.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6.  

    Cashier

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Sales Associate/Cashier in Aventura, FL
    Former Employee - Sales Associate/Cashier in Aventura, FL

    I worked at The Fresh Market part-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great flexibility. Great atmosphere (depending on which store and department you work in)

    Cons

    Hard to move up in the company. Needs to pay their employees better.
    Ever since their IPO, the business structure has focused mostly on profit margins and are forgetting entirely on the foundation in which the company was initially started.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Give more opportunities to those that have desire to move up.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    The Fresh Market Response

    Oct 16, 2014HR

    We are sorry to hear that you feel negatively about the career advancement opportunities available at The Fresh Market. We want to train employees to be able to move up and around our company. We ... More

  7. 1 person found this helpful  

    Great learning experience and growth opportunities.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous in Newport News, VA
    Former Employee - Anonymous in Newport News, VA

    I worked at The Fresh Market full-time

    Pros

    The best part about working at the fresh market is that you build strong friendships with the people you work with and customers.

    Cons

    The Fresh market does not value it's employees and this is evident by the low rate at which they pay, and cap employee wages. The district and regional managers have unrealistic expectations and are completely out of touch with what goes on at a store level. I'm not sure about other regions, but at the location I worked at there was a strong racial and gender bias. Examples include: a disproportionate amount of African American employees written up for issues, but yet if a white employee committed the same offense nothing would happen. The no females in the meat department and little to no makes in the bakery.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Make more of an effort to reach out to all employees, not just your favorites. Hold everyone accountable across the board. And don't make assumptions in certain situations when you don't know all the facts.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    The Fresh Market Response

    Sep 26, 2014HR

    Thank you for taking the time to leave a review about your experience working at The Fresh Market. We have passed along your comments to the HRC for the store to review and investigate the issues ... More

  8.  

    i loved working here

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Assistant Deli Manager in Phila, PA
    Former Employee - Assistant Deli Manager in Phila, PA

    I worked at The Fresh Market full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    there was atleast room for promotions

    Cons

    i resently had to resign from here because of family near death hospotialization my brother was in a comma but i had no va time and was not allow time needed to be there with him being that we our parents were no longer a live he was not on the list as famly leave witch i could have

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    The Fresh Market Response

    Oct 16, 2014HR

    We are glad to hear you enjoyed your time working at The Fresh Market! We are sorry to hear about your family health concerns and truly wish the best for your family and your career! ~TFM

  9. 2 people found this helpful  

    Growing Pains CAN be Cured, If You Want Them To Be

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Specialist
    Current Employee - Specialist

    I have been working at The Fresh Market full-time (more than 8 years)

    Pros

    The atmosphere is nice/attractive. Smaller "footprint" allows you to learn where things are much easier. Customers tend to be grateful for our "extra" attention to them compared to other places, making you want to help them even more. I think my current store manager is a nice guy and really does care about making it a nice place to work. Our benefits package is pretty good.

    Cons

    Like others have already stated, the company has taken a turn for the worse since going public. I understand growing pains are inevitable, but I see very little being done by the corporate office to combat or counteract those pains. In fact, they're used too often as an excuse for poor performance or slow responses to needs at the stores level. Rather than trying to fix them, we spend more time trying to get around them and treating them as the New Normal.

    Concepts and strategies from our days as a private company seem to be treated as "Oh, how quaint," with a pat on the head from the new folks in charge as they ignore them and charge off in a new direction.

    The almost-daily "sales" and "events" cheapens our image and gives us the appearance of an identity crisis. Are we going for upscale, quality-conscious consumers willing to pay a little extra, or are we trying to convince people we're a bargain destination?

    Salary caps discourage anyone from staying with Fresh Market as a long-term employee. It gives the impression that no matter how good you become at your job or how much profit your department generates, you'll never be any more valuable than (X) dollars to them. And conversely, an employee may decide that since they're never going to be given a raise again, why should they strive to earn more than $1 over last year's sales?

    In desperate need of revamp (in no particular order):
    The Human Resources Management structure; the department head bonus program; the computer system, especially the receiving/inventory system; redundant paperwork; endless morning (into afternoon) paperwork for managers; mandatory "mobility" for ASMs; and of course, salaries and compensation.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I say all this from a place of love. No one would stay in a job for nine-plus years (five of which at the same capped-out salary) if they didn't like their job. If I just wanted to get paid more because I was greedy, I would have left years ago. I do, however, know that TFM knew how to give decent starting salaries at one time. When I relocated to a new store my replacement got a "raise" to take the job--making $3 less per hour than I had been making. Yes, they saved a few hundred dollars in labor over a year, but my former top-ten department's sales and gross fell into the mid-thirties after I left. So how much money is really being "saved" by gearing salaries to local cost of living, rather than how much money your employee generates for the company through his skill, talent, etc.? Overall, TFM does not reward its higher-performing employees any better than they reward longevity.

    I know a company of fifty-sixty stores won't operate the same way as it becomes 150+ stores, but some of the concepts of the old days needn't be tossed aside in the rush to get bigger. I long for the days when we had a manager "on the red" every mid-day to work the crowd, to visit with his/her department heads and be available. Nowadays our managers are shackled to the computer, sending dozens of reports and updates of information to corporate offices, to district managers and RDOs, and are generally incommunicado from 6am to noon. Daily Store Walks also seem to have been plowed under by the avalanche of reports they e-mail around, which means the managers are not familiar with what is going on in their stores. The concept of "Grand Opening Magic" died a slow death once we were ordered to open another hour earlier. Now we are "getting close to ready" by 9:30 or so, with customers seeing the sausage made (metaphorically speaking) rather than just walking in and thinking the place is just naturally perfect.

    Computerized inventories, or perpetual inventory, computerized on-hands or whatever you want to call it would save so much time, effort and MONEY on the parts of corporate folks as well as store employees. Both ends would know what the individual stores have, what they need, and what sells or does not sell, which is helpful when stores replenish their stock, and corporate decides the size of distributions. It would certainly cut down on some of the morning e-mail barrage because that data would be accessible online. The current receiving/inventory system functions like it was designed by the North Koreans.

    The current Human Resources Manager scheme might have been fine for a fifty-sixty store chain, but it is insufficient for a chain this size. One HR representative attempting to cover forty or more stores is a disservice to both that individual as well as the employees of those stores. Employees won't even recognize this person if they only visit twice or three times per year, much less feel confident that they can talk to them with any level of familiarity. Even when they come to the store, they are not really "present", because they are taking back-to-back cell phone calls. The endless ringing of that phone makes them even more unapproachable and remote, and their attention cannot possibly be focused on any one issue. I think one HR specialist per district (maybe an ASM at one of the district's stores) would be a better option, rather than one per region.

    The department head bonus program is baffling. I've asked two different HR managers, three DMs, two RDO's and probably three or four store managers to explain how it's calculated, and none of them seem to grasp it, so I'm not alone. I was around when it was instituted, and though they gave us paperwork explaining it, I see no rhyme nor reason to the amounts that get paid out. The bonus should be transparent enough that we can calculate it on our own by having access to our sales figures and our gross profit for the quarter. Some of my lowest bonuses were received in my highest-sales periods, and I get higher bonuses now in a department that does a third of the sales of my previous, high-volume department. Each bonus ought to be tailored to your own efforts rather than one amount being given to everyone, whether you are kicking butt or just sitting on your butt. My main motivation to transfer out of that high-volume store was knowing that I would make the same salary while doing less work (which speaks to the problematic pay structure), and seeing no drop in my bonus only reinforced the feeling that this was a smart move on my part. Until Fresh Market can find ways to reward its high-volume sales generators over others, they'll keep losing them, and the bonus seems the logical place to do that. So if you are truly serious about rewarding your best performers via bonuses rather than just giving decent raises, throw out this current monstrosity and start over with something more transparent.

    You have a large, untapped well of talented, possibly exceptional ASM candidates right under your nose (and on the payroll). They're department managers and specialists who would otherwise apply for those positions, but refuse to for one simple reason: forced mobility. Allow your ASM's to stay in a place if they like it, and allow them to feel they can put down roots rather than worrying that they'll be forced to relocate on the whim of Fresh Market. We have families, homes, Churches, and communities we may want to remain in, as evidenced by our willingness to stay in a lesser position if it keeps us from being shipped off to who-knows-where like a member of the military getting marching orders.

    The stores almost without exception are understaffed. Whether this is by design or a by-product of not offering competitive starting salaries, I have no idea. I know store and district management gets penalized via lower bonuses (or termination) for having too much overtime hours and generally not managing their labor hours well, but Fresh Market would benefit from these same people being penalized for having stores that are notably "under hours" (that is, high sales with very low labor costs/hours). Any manager who forces a small amount of people to do ever-increasing amounts of work should not be rewarded financially while the store's employees (and customers) suffer. A store that is inadequately staffed is NOT enjoyable for the customer, but some managers are so enamored of their bonuses that they forget this in favor of pushing employees to "do more with less". That only creates a Catch-22 of the best employees (the ones who end up "doing more") quitting in frustration and leaving behind the ones who accomplish less and don't serve our customers well.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    The Fresh Market Response

    Oct 16, 2014HR

    We are glad to hear that you enjoy the atmosphere, benefits, and your current Store Manager at The Fresh Market! We have taken note of the concerns that you have raised in regards to compensation ... More

  10. 3 people found this helpful  

    Going "public" has been it's downfall

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at The Fresh Market full-time

    Pros

    The atmosphere, employee discount and most of your coworkers make The Fresh Market a decent place to work. Company benefits are very good.

    Cons

    There are a great many customers who are wealthy and obviously never worked for a living. They can be demanding, rude, condescending, and self-righteous. Training of new employees is difficult because the company does not provide training hours. Pay if below industry standards especially the higher up you go. Corporate is out of touch with what goes on a store level.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Get down in the trenches and see what really goes on in the stores. Actually practice what you preach regarding the "Speed of Trust". Keep the share holders happy but not at the expense of employees.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    The Fresh Market Response

    Oct 16, 2014HR

    Thank you for your feedback in regards to working at The Fresh Market. We are sorry to hear that you feel our training and pay are lacking. We are constantly trying to improve, and will take you ... More

  11.  

    Seen a Lot of Wrong In This Company

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at The Fresh Market full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Ability to travel to open stores.
    Relocation.
    Mostly morning shift.

    Cons

    Management negative towards to openly LGBT employees.
    Low pay scale.
    Leadership

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Re-evaluate your management teams approach to LGBT staff. In all of my years of employment through The Fresh Market I have never suffered negative comments until recently. Constant negative jokes and comments towards lgbt employees at my location. Many who have felt pressured to quit. Was leaving for one day when a gay employee was being called female names. Heard another male employee tell a lesbian employee that he could fix her quick. Never went to HR because have seen the buddy system in place in the companies hr department and realized nothing will happen.
    Would not hurt to look at the pay scale compared to competitors like Whole Foods, Winn-Dixie, Publix, or Kroger.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    The Fresh Market Response

    Oct 16, 2014HR

    Thank you for expressing your concerns about The Fresh Market. We strive to provide a comfortable and diverse workplace for all employees to grow personally and professionally. Please contact us ... More

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