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ATLANTA — The NACS/Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council (CCRRC) just released its final report in a three-phase project exploring the status of employee engagement in the convenience store industry.
Working with Bill Bishop, chief architect of the retail consultancy Bricks Meets Clicks, the NACS/CCRRC project is called “Power Up Your People.” The project grew out of retailers’ desire to build a culture of employee engagement throughout their organizations, according to Bishop, research director for the council, whose members include 16 of the nation’s leading convenience store chains.
“At the time, about 18 months ago, we [the CCRRC] were seeing a lot of other retailers such as Walmart announce they were going to pay their store people higher wages,” Bishop explained in an interview with Convenience Store News. “It made them realize that competition will increase for good people.”
Council members identified employee engagement as being key to lower turnover and higher levels of customer satisfaction — both leading directly to greater growth in sales and profits, said Bishop.
Believing “the only way you deliver your brand is through your people,” the council members agreed to explore through this project:
- How employee engagement and business outcomes are related in the c-store industry;
- Which factors are most important in influencing employee engagement; and
- Where the opportunities for improvement are located.
The three-phase project started with a series of videotaped interviews with district and regional convenience store managers talking about how improved employee engagement improved their businesses. (The videos can be viewed by clicking here.)
The second phase consisted of a series of PowerPoint presentations by University of Dallas Professor Dr. Blake Frank showing how and why building a culture of employee engagement benefits large corporations. (To view the presentations, click here.)
This final phase of the project is a report based on a survey of 20,000 c-store employees and managers across 11 different store banners. Conducted by the Service Management Group, the findings include:
- Customer satisfaction and loyalty goes up when employees are engaged, and the biggest gain is on the important dimension of “likelihood to recommend this store to a friend or neighbor.” On the other side of the counter, highly engaged employees are far more actively involved than less engaged employees in promoting their stores to friends and family.
- C-stores in the top 20 percent of employee engagement scored significantly higher across all three dimensions of customer service (overall customer satisfaction, customer likely to return and customer likely to recommend) than those in the bottom 20 percent.
- Higher levels of employee engagement are related to both higher profit and lower turnover. The study examined a medium-sized c-store chain with high employee engagement. That chain generates 4 percent higher inside gross profit per labor hour than the average retailer, which translates to $24,000 more gross profit dollars per year at its typical store.
- Even among convenience retailers with high scores for employee engagement, some of their stores perform far better than others. Every company has “headroom” for improvement and the opportunity to capture business benefits from employee engagement efforts.
- A retailer needs to concentrate on only a few key engagement drivers to get the greatest return. The top four drivers identified in the survey are: “Banner cares about my well-being;” “I have consistent opportunities to use my strengths;” “I know what is expected of me;” and “I’m encouraged to find better ways to work.”
Council members who have worked on employee engagement found that their own organizations experienced the greatest gains and long-term success when everyone in the company, from the top down, understood the value of increased engagement and behaved to support it.
To download a PDF of the final report, go to http://www.ccrrc.org/2016/06/22/power-people.
Members of the NACS/Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council are:
Hal Adams, CST Brands Inc.
Hank Armour, NACS
Chris Gheysens, Wawa Inc.
Varish Goyal, Vintners Distributors Inc.
Deborah Gullaher, Suncor Energy Inc.
Terry Handley, Casey’s General Stores Inc.
Kevin Hess, Kwik Shop Inc.
Dae Kim, NACS
Tom Lefevers, Speedway LLC
Steve Loehr, Kwik Trip Inc.
Crystal Maggelet, Maverik Inc./FJ Management Inc.
Billy Milam, RaceTrac Petroleum Inc.
Chuck O’Dell, QuikTrip Corp.
Quinn Ricker, Ricker Oil Co. Inc.
Debbie Robinson, SPAR
Joe Sheetz, Sheetz Inc.
Peter Tedeschi, Tedeschi Food Shops (formerly)
Matt Thornton, Thorntons Inc.