Growing C-Store Sales with Better Informed and Motivated Staff
McIntosh Energy is a second-generation family chain in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The culture of great service and staff appreciation guides their operations. As such, it was a normal decision to involve their staff in an important project. Most c-stores focus growth in the food service space. With this problem to solve, McIntosh and his team knew success would come from the front-line staff. As such, they prioritized growing c-store sales with better informed and motivated staff. Darrell Jones chose to motivate with an open information plan.
With the commitment from Darrell and his food service manager, McIntosh Energy made the commitment to upgrade the store’s food preparation with a new Merry Chef oven, a new convenient freezer and refrigerator along with new stainless-steel wall covering to enhance our convenience store food service appeal.
– Ray McIntosh, President
Overview – Food Service Sales Growth
Second Generation owner/operator Ray McIntosh faced the pandemic with new managers in two of his four stores. Flexibility and resourcefulness were necessary as the company needed to adapt to the crisis and bring on new food service while operating with new managers. Ray chose Darrel Jones to take over his Fort Wayne store based on his fit with the family’s culture of customer service, staff accountability and goal-driven results. Jones’ experience at a national drug store chain brought large-company experience and technology expertise to his new tasks at the 60+ year old firm. The combination of the global business uncertainty, health fears and changes at an established, family-run, traditional business put Jones in a challenging situation. Management changes, due to the pandemic, left the staff with limited feedback and direction to guide them during the crisis.
The Approach – Better Informed and Motivated Staff
Jones set out to build a committed team by giving workers a grass-roots goal of growing prepared food sales to help them bond. He spent time getting to know the staff, understanding the store and its customers. He learned that the team desired to have better equipment. They wanted a place to work that they were proud of – good food, great service with clean and modern equipment to prepare the food. With Jones’ encouragement, staff expressed the desire to hit the goal. Initially, business unit performance was not known. Next, they simply asked to have the current sales numbers. Overall, they wanted to serve good food for their customers. It was natural, they live here and like their neighbors.
C-Store cashiers, supervisors and managers want to have a good job. Obviously, they desire to help their community – everyone does. Of course, they want to be recognized for their good work. Naturally, the chance to make a little extra for doing a great job is welcome. Sharing information lets everyone know where they stand. Having a team goal makes it easier to build enthusiasm. Even better, knowing the sales results allows the workers to improve them. That is, those who directly impact the results can choose the actions necessary to achieve the goal. Good people with strong leaders get things done. Of course, leadership is needed. Obviously, providing the resources, data and trust enables staff to take the actions that are growing c-store sales.
Jones “uses short term goals to spark gradual, daily growth.” He likes to look for the areas of good performance and those areas that are ripe for growth. “When you look too far out it is easy for the staff to get lost.” he states. He chose to use a daily scorecard to show the daily performance and monitor on-going monthly growth. “I share the result every day- even at the risk of overcommunicating. I want everyone to be part of it – even if some feel a bit uncomfortable.”
The key is to include the staff and make them part of the team. He knows his staff. “They are important. Acknowledging everyone’s impact helps diminish any push-back.” While most people thrive in an open, team-based approach, it is not always easy. However, working together is key. “We must do it. I cannot sit back and worry if people are not on board. If not, then I have to deal with it. That is my job. Building teamwork and getting results makes the team happy and drives satisfaction.”
Interestingly, money was not the main driver. Of course, bonuses were given. The motivation, however developed from results, teamwork and respect.
Bottom Line – Growing C-Store Sales
Respect the team by listening, setting specific goals, and showing the results each day. Informed and motivated teams make things happen. In the past year, the team was able to grow food sales by 300%.