Forget the Fixtures. Upgrade Your People

by Jim Roddy

A regional convenience store chain with a not-so-stellar reputation recently renovated the store located a couple miles from my house. It’s actually quite beautiful as c-stores go — bright and open with new fixtures, colorful signage, and a classy stone façade.

But what happened in front of the refurbished building is what really caught my attention during my visit there last week.

While I was pumping gasoline, I heard women shouting and swearing behind me. I turned around expecting to see two patrons mixing it up, but instead saw two employees engaged in this raucous discussion.

I couldn’t hear everything they were saying, but somebody was upset about something and wasn’t going to take it anymore. Meanwhile, patrons were walking into the store, glancing at the confrontation as they opened the door.

My gas pump didn’t print a receipt (I guess that upgrade is coming later), so I needed to enter the store as well. I have to be honest — I was a little hesitant to do that. Who knows what a person’s going to do when they’re in an agitated state? I mean, I wouldn’t have been the first innocent person ever assaulted at a convenience store.

Upon entering, I saw one long line for the only open cash register and customers waiting at the sandwich counter. About a minute later, the two angry employees who had been out front came back to their posts. They took their time — first discussing the work schedule for the upcoming days before one walked to the back office while the other opened register two.

So the store was clean and new, but the customer experience was dreadful because of the people operating the facility. This convenience store chain would have been better off had it invested in hiring and management processes rather than a neon “Eat More Ding Dongs!” sign. The company would have been improved if it sought to hire employees who genuinely cared about serving the customers in line.

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