What is both the greatest asset and the greatest challenge in a convenience store? If you said your team, you hit the bullseye. Staffing challenges are nothing new in this business, but it may be time for you to approach them differently. Creating and maintaining an excellent team requires the same planning you put into other aspects of store management. Take purchasing, for example. When determining what and when you order inventory, you might make decisions based on volume discounts and, consequently, carry large inventories. Or you might run lean, keeping minimal amounts on hand and using cash flow for other purposes. Whatever the case, you have a purchasing philosophy, a method.
Along the same lines, a staffing philosophy defines how you’re going to find and, more importantly, keep the best employees. Retention, after all, is at the center of most staffing challenges.
What is Your Staffing Philosophy?
Staffing shortages are so common for a lot of c-store managers, it’s hard to resist the urge to hire just anyone. The reality is, you will have to make quick staffing decisions sometimes, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle. Create a staffing philosophy that gets to the root of your operational and staffing challenges. Here’s an example: “I will hire only those people who demonstrate a genuine ability to excel in customer service and who possess common sense, communication skills, and integrity.”
A sound philosophy serves as the benchmark against which all hiring decisions should be measured. Think about the type of business you’re in and the customers you want to attract. Ideally, what do you want them to hear during a visit? How do you want them to feel? What do you want them to see? Candidates for your team must fit that bill.
Where Are All the Great Employees Hiding?
Many c-store managers fear that there are not enough quality employees to go around. A shrinking labor pool is definitely one of your staffing challenges, but it’s not insurmountable. Great employees are out there, but you may have to change where you’re looking. You’re not just competing against other c-stores for employees, but against many different industries. Think about all customer-centered businesses such as big box stores, restaurants, and household services. Instead of relying on a generic online “Now Hiring” ad, reach out to workers in these other industries as well as other non-traditional labor sources.
How Do You Become the Employer of Choice?
Think about what you have to offer that other businesses don’t. Maybe it’s a stronger team environment, more flexible scheduling, or a solid career path. If you really want to become the employer of choice, you may have to change some of your own attitudes as well as policies and procedures. Be creative. Sell yourself and your company to attract people who will work with your staffing philosophy.