Jack of all trades: The deli counter

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In most grocery stores, the deli counter and bakery areas are two major hubs of activity. Aside from the checkout counters, these parts of the store see the most employee/customer interaction. And unlike the rest of the store, the products found at the deli counter cannot be found at every other supermarket in the country – each deli has its own unique cuts of meat, slices of cheese and loaves of bread. The deli counter provides a positive way for the store to interact with the shoppers in the middle of the buying process, which is important for a business that usually has little interaction with its customers until they are at the cashier. In that way and in many others, deli counter employees are an integral part of the company.

The workers behind the deli counter have many responsibilities. To those who have never given the job much consideration, it may come as a surprise just how many different skills come into play each day.

One position, many responsibilities
According to GlobalPost, the responsibilities of a deli clerk include everything from safe food preparation to customer service skills. Read on for a breakdown of some of the tasks a deli associate may have to perform each day.

The deli counter is a key point of contact between the store and the shopper.The deli counter is a key point of contact between the store and the shopper.

Customer service
A deli clerk is expected to have impeccable customer service skills. As one of the few touch points between the grocery store and the customer, a deli clerk represents the store as a whole. His demeanor with the shoppers should be pleasant, helpful and informative. Besides being friendly, the clerk must be knowledgeable about the products. He may get questions about flavor, preparation, recommendations or food allergies.

Machine operation and maintenance
The deli clerk must know how to safely operate the meat slicer, bread slicer, wrap stand, scale and roaster, among others. In some stores, there may even be some crossover with the bakery equipment. Additionally, the clerk needs to be able to sharpen the blades on the machines and clean them regularly. The Gourmet Retailer reported that, moving forward, more deli counters will be equipped with computerized systems to help streamline the customer experience.

Food preparation
Along with the skills of machine operation should come knowledge of safe food prep. Not only does a deli clerk need to prepare sliced meats, cheeses and breads, he is responsible for a whole range of other food products. These include rotisserie chickens, salads, sandwiches, side dishes, and sometimes even sushi! Each of these must be prepared safely and professionally.

Sanitation knowledge
In the food preparation business, safety is the boss. That means safety for the customers purchasing the food as well as the sanitation habits of the employees. And when working with sharp objects, it is even more important to follow the safety guidelines. Deli workers should consider wearing slip-resistant shoes to avoid potentially life-threatening accidents.

Physical demands
Finally, a deli clerk must meet the physical demands of the job, which include lifting heavy objects and standing for long stretches at a time. This is a position that requires a lot of physical movement and exertion.

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