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Rural Grocery Initiative

Customer Service a Family's Priority

Aaron Floersch helps assemble a 40-foot sub-sandwich for a special promotion at Ray’s Apple Market in Manhattan, Kan.  The sandwich was sold by the foot for $3.99By Amanda Bouc, ambouc@ksu.edu

MANHATTAN, Kan. – For the Floersch family, there’s no such thing as a ‘typical day.’

As the owners of Ray’s Apple Market, a local grocery store serving Manhattan, Kan., Mike, Aaron and Tom Floersch strive to provide “modern stores with old-fashioned service.”

The trio is following in the steps of Ray Floersch, the father of Mike and Tom and grandfather of Aaron, who started the business nearly 48 years ago. These grocers work to remain competitive with other chain grocers in town by maintaining relationships with their customers and the local community.

“We were brought up that way,” Mike Floersch said. “We think it’s a basic; it’s a thank you for shopping with us.”

The roots of customer service run deep in the family-operated store and are emphasized during employee training and store management. For example, employees of the store will carry-out groceries for shoppers and prioritize conversation with the consumer – two practices the Floersch’s say make their grocery store unique.

“We have the eight-foot rule. If somebody is within eight feet of you, you speak to them,” Mike Floersch said. “It’s what we expect when you come and work for us.”

But friendly relationships with customers are only the beginning of this store’s focus on the consumer.

Ray’s Apple Market is a full-service grocery store, and also has a bakery, deli, coffee shop, free Wi-Fi, and video kiosk. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the deli provides all-you-can-eat dinner deals, with chicken, ribs and various sides, as well as daily specials of home-cooked favorites, such as 15-20 preservative-free homemade salads, while the bakery produces an array of homemade breads.

The store’s meat department is also internal, with all of the cuts and packaging taking place within Ray’s, Mike Floersch said.

And, if there is a grocery item a customer wants but the store doesn’t have, they will special order it for that customer, he said.

The store’s services also extend beyond foods, as the Manhattan stores sell Kansas State University and Manhattan merchandise, and offer a dry-cleaning drop-off and pick-up service with a local provider.

To illustrate gratitude for its customers, Ray’s Apple Markets also has hosted various events in the store, such as a customer appreciation carnival, free ice-cream social, and “Donuts with Dad,” a Father’s Day celebration in which children could decorate donuts with their fathers. The store also has brought in the Easter Bunny and Tow Mater, the famous truck from the movie “Cars.”

While these events are hosted to attract customers, they are also held to thank local customers and “put a little more fun into grocery shopping,” Tom Floersch said.

Though the focus is on the customer, significant attention also is directed toward impacting the community. As the owners of the store, Aaron Floersch said it was easier to make decisions regarding community donations or requests because the request didn’t have to travel to the corporate level.

“We support a lot of things people don’t even know about. It’s a lot of little things,” Mike Floersch said. “We try and stay connected to our customers’ needs.”

For example, earlier this month the store provided grocery carts for a food collection event and gave tours of the store to elementary students.

Ray’s Apple Markets also uses its deli to assist organizations with fundraising, allowing groups to take home a portion of the night’s profits.

And while features and events are the norm at Ray’s Apple Market, this family trio prides themselves most in the quality of their groceries, Mike Floersch said.

“We have a passion for the business. We feel like if you put your heart and soul into it and mean what you say, people will return,” Mike Floersch said.

“We do it the best we know how.”

The Floersch family also provides hometown service in Ray’s Apple Markets located in St. Marys, Clay Center, Seneca, and Council Grove in Kansas, and in Fairbury, Neb.

Picture Caption: Aaron Floersch helps assemble a 40-foot sub-sandwich for a special promotion at Ray’s Apple Market in Manhattan, Kan. The sandwich was sold by the foot for $3.99.