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NATIONAL REPORT — Operating a convenience store involves juggling many duties, from keeping the store clean and functioning, to setting up and breaking down displays, to planning promotions. Perhaps the most important duty, however, is managing the workforce — and building the right team is one of the biggest challenges, according to the findings of the 2016 Convenience Store News HR & Labor Study.
When factoring in both chains and single stores, the average convenience store employs 10.7 store associates, one store manager and one assistant store manager.
Employees' tenure seems to correspond with the level of their position on the hierarchy: store associates stay in the role 2.2 years on average; assistant managers stay 3.2 years; and store managers stay 6.4 years. Only field managers for chain c-stores spend more time in the role, at an average of 6.5 years.
Corresponding with employees' average time spent in a role, turnover is a bigger issue for entry-level employees than it is for those who have moved up the job ranks. The average annual rate of turnover for store associates in 2015 was 54 percent. This figure dropped to 23.8 percent for assistant store managers and 14.9 percent for store managers. Field managers for c-store chains saw very little turnover, at just 4 percent annually.
The turnover problem is growing for store associates. While a majority of c-store operators reported that their turnover rate stayed the same over the last two years for store managers, assistant managers and field managers, only 37.5 percent said the same about store associates. Rather, 43.8 percent reported their turnover rate for the associate position has risen.
Top factors impacting turnover include competition from other businesses for employees, wages, dismissal for cause, and benefits, all of which ranked higher than a 3.0 on a 1-6 scale, where 6 is a serious problem. Retailers also expressed concern about the work ethic among the available pool of employees.
As c-store operations evolve, being a top employee involves mastering a wide variety of skills, yet the most common problem operators face regarding their workforce is a skill that can’t be taught: reliability. This averaged a 3.11 rating on a scale of 1-6. Basic skills/competence ranked second at a rating of 3.02. Together, these issues indicate the most important part of building a high-quality workforce may be investing in the right people from the start, rather than relying on training to transform a mediocre hire.
Of the retailers that participated in this year’s study, single-store operators made up the largest demographic group at 31.4 percent, followed by 27.5 percent who operate two to 10 c-stores, and 21.6 percent who operate 11 to 50 stores. Geographically, 35.3 percent of participants operate in the Midwest; 25.5 percent South; 23.5 percent Northeast; and 15.7 percent in the West.
Check out the October issue of Convenience Store News for more findings from the research.