I’m writing this column just a few days removed from the 2009 National Association of Convenience Stores annual convention, which was held in Las Vegas. And no, my body has not recovered! That’s a key sign you’re getting old—when your body doesn’t bounce back as quickly as it did in your younger years. Such is life, right?
My company conducted three workshops, one on employee recruiting and retention, another on the frontline and bottom-line connection, and the third on how to reinvent the HR department. Two of our workshops focused on store employees and customers. This is nothing new since the majority of the educational workshops focus on employees and customers.
You know the type of workshops I’m talking about. How to take care of and motivate your employees to achieve higher levels of job performance and how to deliver world-class, knock your socks off customer service. I’m certainly not criticizing employee and customer service workshops. After all, store employees and customers are the two most important constituencies in any business in any industry. Not to mention the fact that this is what my company specializes in - were the leading authority in helping c-store organizations achieve greater financial results by improving employee job performance.
Here’s my issue. Year after year the message and focus remains the same: employees and customers, yet very little if anything changes back in the workplace to positively affect employees and customers. All the talk about of how important employees are by using catch phrases that sound good like, “employees are our greatest asset,” “getting the right people on the bus,” and “employer of choice.” And let’s not forget customer phrases like, “best buying experience,” “customer-focused,” and “store of choice.” I think some companies actually believe that if they say these phrases long enough they’ll eventually become what the phrase suggests.
Count me in when it comes to believing in the law of attraction and the power of the universe. However, at some point you simply have to roll up your sleeves and get to work. And therein lays the heart of the matter. If you’re truly serious about developing your employees to their fullest potential and providing your customers with a positive and memorable buying experience, it requires a commitment not lip service. Making a commitment is hard stuff while lip service is easy. Many companies prefer the easy route.
Commitment vs. Lip Service
A lot of retailers don’t get it and never will. They think that making a commitment to their employees is one of those feel good, let’s hold hands and sing “Kumbaya” kind of things. Employees are not some kind of charity you should contribute to because “it’s the right thing to do.” You should commit to developing your employees because by doing so they will drive greater financial results by generating sales for your stores. They won’t just provide good customer service, but develop customer relationships, which is different and more productive.
Show Me the Money
So what’s the payoff? Consider the following. At one of the NACS seminars, Mr. Chet Caldieux, president and CEO of the highly successful QuikTrip Corp., responded to a single-store operator’s question of what is the most important advice you can give to someone just starting out in the convenience industry. Mr. Caldieux responded, “Hire the best people you can find because you can’t do anything to make up for a bad employee. And once you find them, treat them well.” QuikTrip is consistently rated one of the best companies in the areas of customer service. Why? Because of their commitment to their employees. How committed you ask? How does 15 percent turnover sound? Yes, 15 percent. Now that’s commitment!
To order “Hire the Best C-Store Employees – Interviewing tactics for hiring employees who can actually make you money” visit www.cstorecoaches.com.