One of the many things I enjoy about the holidays is that I have some time away from the business to reflect on the past year. There was one comment that repeated itself last year among several of our clients and conversations in general at industry functions. That comment was, “The c-store industry doesn’t attract the best job candidates. We seem to attract the type of employees who can’t get a better job elsewhere.” Do you believe that statement? If you do, then rest assured your belief will certainly manifest itself into your reality.
No, this column is not about the law of attraction and the powers of our minds and the universe. Although I will say this, our clients with the best store employees don’t believe in the aforementioned statement. They operate from a more positive/optimistic employee mindset. You get what you expect in life, right? What employee mindset does your company employ as your mental operating system?
What are you doing to attract top talent?
I’ve been in this business too long to be naïve. And don’t rush to look at my photo that accompanies this column to try to figure out my age! Let’s just say I’m younger than my business partner and sister, Linda McKenna-Welch. Now I’m sure to get a phone call from Mom. In terms of attracting the best job candidates, working in a c-store is not as sexy or glamorous as working at Best Buy or Abercrombie & Fitch.
Younger job candidates like the Millennial generation, associate their self-image with the type of job they have. Meaning, what will their friends think of them working in a c-store? Although this image perception is more pronounced among Millennials, this “c-store perception” is something that affects all job candidates.
You know the perception I’m taking about; 1) job of last resorts, 2) dead-end job, 3) job not a career, 4) no training or skill development. Dead-end job? Most job candidates think your business consists solely of the store they just applied for. They have no idea there may be potential career opportunities within your company beyond the transaction counter. Whose fault is that?
If you’re not attracting top job candidates to your stores, the type of candidates who possess the competencies and capabilities that will enable you to drive your business strategy, what are you doing about it? I’ve yet to see complaining as an effective strategy. Channel the energy your expending complaining and thinking about the problem and redirect it towards crafting a strategy that will change things.
For example, in all your recruiting efforts, things like, advertising, website, job application, job interview, and store employees who can serve as a recruiting army for you, do you incorporate the WIIFM factor? WIIFM: What’s In It For Me? The WIIFM answers the all-important question from the job candidate’s perspective, “Why should I work for you?”
The convenience industry as a whole can do a better job of answering the WIIFM question. Price of entry WIIFM components include compensation and benefits. Make sure your competitive in these two areas. The biggest WIIFM that you want to communicate is Transferrable Skill Development; skills that are portable that can be applied in any job in any industry that lead to success.
Here’s a c-store specific list of transferable skills to incorporate into your recruiting efforts:
ü Interpersonal Skills
ü Customer Service
ü Conflict Management
ü Merchandising & Retailing
One final thought: If we truly believe that working in a c-store attracts the “bottom of the barrel” job candidates, how many CEOs, presidents, marketing managers, director of operations, district managers, and category managers, started out working as a cashier in a c-store? I rest my case!