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By Barbara Grondin Francella
DALLAS -- When 7-Eleven Inc.'s management team decided to go to an all-franchised chain, the operator of more than 6,200 c-stores in the United States and Canada—a count expected to rise by 200 units this year—knew it would need to help these operators build a strong employee base. "Help wanted" window signs just weren't going to cut it.
To streamline the store-level hiring process and reduce costs, 7-Eleven expanded the use of an online tool it was using for corporate-level recruitment out to its stores.
Using software from Peopleclick Inc., a talent acquisition software company based in Raleigh, N.C., store managers and franchisees now post job openings on 7-Eleven's Web site, www.7-11.com, and may quickly pull up details on applicants who have applied to their specific stores in the last 30 days.
Applicants may search for stores to apply to by entering a zip code or street address on the Web site—a handy feature for people moving to a new area. In the first 10 months of use, more than 100,000 people used Peopleclick’s Recruitment Management System to apply for work at 7-Eleven in the United States and Canada.
"The system assists store operators in hiring a higher-quality candidate," Jim Wahl, 7-Eleven's manager of talent acquisition systems, told CSNews. "Putting a sign in the window limits the pool of applicants to that store's customers. With our new system, one ad on CareerBuilder.com is seen by thousands of people and could support every store in Los Angeles. A newspaper ad, you see it one time, on one day, instead of 30 days 24/7."
A store operator in Chicago who needed to fill an associate's spot found 96 applicants waiting for him. "Putting those applications in front of a franchisee's eyes all at once is a huge time saver for him compared to shuffling through paper or having all of those people walk into the store," Wahl said.
Store operators who need associates can sign into the system and may go to one of four folders: "Under review," which holds new applications for a specific store; "Interviews," which holds the applicants the operator wants to interview; "Hired" and "Not suitable." Applicants who are not hired are removed from the system and automatically e-mailed a courteous "No Thanks" letter.
"The system closes the loop for us," Wahl said.
7-Eleven's 10 corporate recruiters throughout the country are given an eagle's eye view of the chain's hiring needs. If a store needs assistance, a recruiter may search for applicants who have applied at other units in the area and see if they are interested in working for a nearby store, Wahl noted.
The c-store operator has used the Peopleclick system for recruiting corporate support and managerial positions outside the store level for four years. For these jobs, an applicant questionnaire and criminal check program are integrated into the online process. (As of early May, 7-Eleven had 128 positions to fill outside the stores.)
At store level, sales associate turnover is 130 percent, though much of that can be attributed to franchisees taking over corporate stores. Corporate store employees who stay on with a franchisee are still counted in the company turnover rate.
Prior to using this software to find store associates, 7-Eleven spent more than $1 million a year on recruiting advertising and employment screening expenses for its corporate stores (now numbering 1,200).
"This system saved us 60 percent of those costs," Wahl said. "That cost savings allowed us to roll this out to our franchisee community at no cost to them. Plus making recruiting easier and more efficient means a huge cost savings to the franchisee."
While Wahl would not disclose the cost of the recruiting system to 7-Eleven, he said it "was not a major investment. In-store, technological adjustments were made to allow operators' computers to go to the recruiting Web site.
"Peopleclick has a very clean interface that is not overly cluttered," Wahl said. "The program has the basic look and feel of Outlook. It is very intuitive. We can teach store managers and operators to use it in under 20 minutes."
He continued: "If you look at a cost of what it would be to place newspaper ads, this system offers a huge savings."
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