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Convenience Stores: Keeping Employees in Front of Your Customers

“It’s hard to follow ongoing, best practices with limited store staff.”

This is the fifth post in a six-part series that addresses the main business challenges convenience store operators face today.

Keeping Employees in Front of Your Customers

Many retailers take pride in their customer service. In turn, consumers have expectations about the service they’ll receive when shopping. To compete, convenience stores need to emphasize customer service at a level that will match or exceed that of rival supermarkets, quick serve restaurants and other retailers. If they can’t, it’s simple: customers will go elsewhere.

With a focus on customer service, there is an increasing need for store employees to step out from behind the counter. To make the shopping experience enjoyable, convenience store associates need to take the time to assist customers out on the floor. They also need to restock popular items and clean up spills. And, what happens if there is an issue with the store’s refrigeration or HVAC systems?

It can be difficult to juggle all of these demands with limited store staff. More importantly, it is not reasonable to expect every store associate to be knowledgeable about more complex HVAC, lighting and refrigeration systems.

The labor turnover rate for convenience stores is 57.5 percent.1

Given the wide range in skills and experience across a convenience store workforce, an operator cannot rely on a store associate to manually monitor refrigeration and HVAC systems or to serve as the first level of service if a system issue arises.

Every minute an associate spends on operational tasks is a minute away from customers. And, less skilled or experienced store staff will take even more time to resolve issues, leaving customers feeling unattended to and not important. Customers could be standing in line, waiting and feeling frustrated — and they may even walk out of the door.

Increased training is not the solution for convenience store operators facing this problem. Operators need to make some difficult choices to determine where store associates will spend their time and find new ways to remove operational responsibilities that distract store employees from their most important job: serving customers.

With facility controls and enterprise monitoring, convenience store operators can monitor food quality and automate facility systems, taking these tasks away from the store-level staff, giving them more time to focus on providing a great customer service experience for the consumer.

Look for the next post in this series for specific ways convenience stores can follow best practices with limited store staff.

 John Atchley
National Account Executive, Retail Solutions
Emerson Climate Technologies


To read all posts in our series on convenience store challenges, click on the links below:

  1. Building Customer Trust One Experience at a Time
  2. Three Ways to Demonstrate Quality in a Pervasive Convenience Environment
  3. Replicating a Great Customer Experience in Every Store
  4. Three Ways to Provide a Consistent Shopping Experience Across All Stores
  5. Keeping Employees in Front of Your Customers
  6. Two Ways to Follow Best Practices with Limited Store Staff

Source: 1. Convenience Stores Do Well Retaining Managers, but Face Challenges with Staff, Paul Conley, Convenience Store News, October 8, 2013

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