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LAS VEGAS -- Convenience stores and professional sports teams might seem like they couldn't be more different, but they have some surprising similarities. They're both capable of winning strong loyalty; training is the key to victory; and they're both only as strong as their lineup of "players."
That final point was emphasized repeatedly during the "Filling Your Roster With Heavy Hitters" educational session on Sunday. The workshop was moderated by Linda McKenna-Welch, founder and principal of consulting firm Convenience Store Coaches. Gregory Donoghue, vice president of human resources for Tedeschi Food Shops, and Karin Beezley, manager of training and organizational development for Murphy Oil USA, lent their expertise as speakers.
Hiring and training processes are important, but neither will help a c-store operator make his or her store the best it can be without a strong understanding of their lineup, according to Donoghue. He recommended keeping a written roster or "people report" to track employee statistics, such as tenure, their most recent performance evaluation score, and judgments on whether they are promotable — and to what level.
"Don't just keep a list of your people," Donoghue advised.
Efficient recruiting is a good start, he noted, and various applicant tracking systems such as Recruiterbox and Smart Recruiter can help operators recruit and hire efficiently in order to create a strong roster. However, when possible, only entry-level positions should be hired externally. C-stores should have a bench of "ready to go" managers and assistant managers, he said.
Providing a clear path is key, as the opportunity to advance is very attractive to job-seekers, Donoghue said, and the chance to progress in their careers can persuade quality employees to stick around, rather than jump ship for a slightly higher hourly wage elsewhere.
Beezley outlined the training program for Murphy Oil USA, which focuses on hands-on training and continual employee development to develop its workforce. Its introductory training for cashiers is important not only to teach them the day-to-day processes of a store, but also to give them a firsthand account of what drives Murphy's culture, she said.
Self-paced learning programs supported by store managers allow Murphy's assistant managers to expand their knowledge and skills, with the end goal of being ready for a promotion when a position opens. Structured processes for Certified Training Managers and District Training Managers ensure Murphy always knows what management-track employees are learning and who is ready to step up.
Even smaller c-store chains are capable of creating effective, efficient training programs, said Beezley, who noted her own team is much smaller than the number of store employees in training at any given time. "You can do a lot with a little," she said, adding that "using your resources is critical."
The best employees are those with strong skills who have a path of upward mobility, the speakers agreed. Donoghue noted that he doesn't want to see assistant managers who have occupied the same position for seven years.By investing in employees, c-stores can keep their workforce striving for excellence, ultimately improving their individual stores and the company as a whole.