The Competitive Advantage of Staff

QuikTrip CEO Chet Cadieux chats with NACS CEO Henry Armour about the future of work.

December 11, 2020

By Sarah Hamaker

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—What is the secret behind QuikTrip’s success? Approximately 24,000 people, Chet Cadieux, chairman and CEO of QuikTrip, said during the NACS Crack the Code Experience Spotlight Session: The Future of Work With Chet Cadieux.

“Our guys and gals amaze me all the time,” Cadieux said.

During the presentation—now available on-demand to Crack the Code attendees—Henry Armour, NACS president and CEO, chatted with Cadieux about how QuikTrip hires the right people and gives them the best tools to serve their customers. While the key function of convenience stores continues to be transactional efficiency, with more foodservice in stores, retailers have evolved to more of a culture of hospitality.

“We’re a big believer in both because the customer demands transactional efficiency,” Cadieux said. “But that’s not an excuse for ignoring hospitality.” He pointed out that as technology makes checkout more efficient, that frees up labor to shift to other areas of the store. “We don’t expect our cashiers to fill the entire need of hospitality,” Cadieux said. “I believe you can do a great job on hospitality and still get stuff done.”

Cadieux also said QT has embraced the starter job label. “I don’t view [having people start their work experience with us] as a negative,” he said. “I view it as getting first crack at the best talent. Our challenge is hanging on to them.”

Employee retention is always a challenge for convenience stores. Cadieux said QT tries to meet employee needs with flexible scheduling and higher hourly wages. “We continue to see a trend for higher demand for more flexibility for when they work and flexibility for time off,” he said, adding that the trend has grown significantly over the past 10 years. “I don’t see that changing—I see that accelerating.” 

QuikTrip spends a lot of time making sure it hires the right people through psychological profiling. “We’re looking for people who will be a culture fit with us,” Cadieux said. “So we look for people who culturally align with us and share our values, and have a strong character, high work ethic, are driven to succeed and are pleasers who want to make people happy.”

He concluded, “If you hire great people, and genuinely care about them and respect them and give them the tools to be successful, they will be.”

The NACS Crack the Code Experience (CTCE) is now available on demand for attendees through December 31, 2020.

QuikTrip is among the retailers that have implemented the Good Jobs Strategy in its business. Developed by The Good Jobs Institute (GJI), the four pillars of the strategy are:

  1. Focus and simplify;
  2. Standardize and empower;
  3. Cross-train employees;
  4. Operate with slack (in terms of having extra employees on hand to shift among tasks as needs arise)

At the NACS Leadership Forum in February 2020, Cadieux shared how QuikTrip lives out those principles.

To illustrate the possible uplift of a good jobs system, GJI, in partnership with NACS, has created a tailored “Good Jobs Calculator” for the convenience store industry. This tool can help illustrate the possible uplift of a good jobs system. Businesses use their own data and customized assumptions about the amount of improvement or uplift achievable, and executives can run scenarios on the bottom-line impact of a good jobs system. In addition to giving an overall “size-of-prize” range, quantifying these benefits can help executives understand what would have to be true—specific improvements in metrics like turnover, shrink and basket size—to justify a given wage investment in creating a good jobs system.

To try out the Good Jobs Calculator, click here.

Sarah Hamaker is a freelance writer and NACS Daily and NACS Magazine contributor based in Fairfax, Virginia. Visit her online at sarahhamakerfiction.com.

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