1. What is the No. 1 attribute you believe successful c-store operators should have?
Managerial skills. Just because someone is good with ordering, stocking, daily paperwork, doesn’t make them a manager. Managers needs to be able to manage people. They need to be in-tune with different personalities, work ethics, and what drives employees to succeed. Being able to manage is critical to the overall operation of the store and will ensure that our service – to employees, the company, and our consumers is our top priority.
2. What is your biggest challenge when it comes to training and development?
The biggest challenge is getting the managers on board with the training plan. Stores always seem to be short-staffed and training new employees is done quickly instead of thoroughly so that they can get the new employee on the register. This often backfires as the employee becomes overwhelmed when the store gets busy and they are unsure how to handle transactions. Beginning with the interview, we need to talk about how working in a c-store can become a career. There are so many opportunities to develop from store associate to director of retail operations. So many stepping stones are available to grow within the industry and providing the training, tuition reimbursement for college classes, and opportunities for advancement (we always promote from within whenever possible) need to be communicated at the very early stages of an employee’s employment because most young people don’t grow up thinking they want to have a career in the c-store industry.
3. Has employees’ preference for learning changed over time? What techniques do you use now that may have not been available to you before?
We are using an online video learning management system called, Ready Training Online, which helps with consistency of training – both topics and style to ensure that all employees receive a consistent message and learn exactly how we want things to be done. Considering that most of our employees are millennials who are used to using technology, we find that doing things electronically (we are paper free), works well for us.
4. What is the biggest misperception about Training and Development?
That everyone learns the same way. What works for one employee may not work for another. We need to be cognizant of that fact every time we train so that we can tweak our program to meet the needs of the trainee. We also need to be aware that it may take several attempts for people to understand the processes needed to complete a task. One thing I found funny was that managers questioned why we have a training video on how to mop a floor. I mean, “Who doesn’t know how to mop a floor?” Well as it turns out, many people have never used a mop and bucket or mopped a floor before and have no idea how to do it. Another misperception is that once the training program is finished, no other training is needed. We are continually training, holding training classes, etc. Training is always evolving and there is no reason not to have ongoing training and development.
5. When you’re on the road visiting your stores, what is the one (or several) item you always go for in a convenience store?
Most of the time when visiting stores, I go for Cinnamon Mentos and bottled water. For some reason you can’t find this flavor of Mentos in many stores, but our stores carry them. There is so much talking with employees when visiting stores that being able to quench my thirst and have something sweet helps when faced with a long day of driving and interacting with employees.
For an extended version with more information about training and developing new employees, check out our downloadable guide, Reducing Turnover Through Training & Development.
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