The Connection Between Disney and Gas Stations

How retailers can deliver the same “wow” experience as the renowned theme parks.

March 17, 2021

Creating Workforces That Wow Convenience Matters Podcast

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—On the surface, Disney theme parks and gas stations have little in common. But when you dig deeper, you discover both want to deliver the same “wow” experience—even during this time of COVID-19 with online meetings and social distancing in-stores.

“It boils down to the people,” said Chris McKinney, director of human resources at Sprint Mart, during this week’s episode of Convenience Matters, “Creating Workforces That Wow.”

“The people are the same thing that bring an experience to life at Disney World, and the people are the same thing that provide that wow experience inside a convenience store. I think in the convenience segment where 80% of the items on our shelves are similar to the store that is down the street, it is the brief but impactful interaction a customer is going to have with a convenience store’s people” that makes a difference.

McKinney pointed out that the skills a person learns while working at a convenience store can translate into other careers beyond retail. “There are skills that are applicable across the gamut of career choices that all begin in the basic level of customer service in retail, and we try and play that up from a human resources perspective, specifically from an orientation standpoint,” he said. “They might think they’re simply signing up for a basic cashier position, but … [there’s] power in literally watching someone’s day be changed by a positive interaction.”

From a leadership perspective, it’s important to make sure all employees—whether corporate or store-level—are feeling connected to their co-workers. McKinney recommended weaving into a retailer’s basic training opportunities to build camaraderie through orientation, so that it’s part of the fabric of an employee’s work from day one.

“From a store level perspective, we have found success in not only making it the business policy to have orientation as close to an employee’s first day as we can, but then also convincing the operators as to why that is important from an operator’s perspective,” he said.

For Sprint Mart, the hiring and orientation process “provides a pipeline or consistent pipeline of talent,” as well as “driving home the idea that orientation training, be it procedural or cultural, needs to happen quickly” to help the new hire become a team player, McKinney said.

Listen to the podcast for more insights into how your employees can deliver “wow” to your customers. Each week a new Convenience Matters episode is released. With more than 250 episodes to choose from, the podcast can be heard on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and other podcast apps and YouTube and at Episodes have been downloaded more than 200,000 times by listeners around the world.