Single Store Owner

AUG-SEP 2016

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50 / Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner / AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2016 big i deas Catering t O the L OC a L n eed S Trying to be everything to everyone doesn't work, mainly because c-store shoppers don't fit into a one-size-fits-all box. Tennessee-based convenience store chain Weigel's Inc. kept this insight in mind when designing its new store in Clinton, Tenn. With truckers in mind, Weigel's Clinton location offers wide-turn lanes for easy navigation and ingress/egress; diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) at the pump; and the Smart-Q payment system. The store, however, also reaches out to a broad demographic of com- muters, locals and tourists with its signature 16-fuel position gas pumps for cars and small trucks. "The customers at [this store] are a mix of local residents that live in the Clinton, Tenn., area, business owners, recreational commuters, travel- ers and professional drivers," said Charlotte Havely, director of marketing. "Given the diverse nature of [this store's] customers, we have a diverse product and service offering that includes a separate diesel fueling station with wide diesel lanes and DEF at the pump for professional drivers." Pr O b L em S OL ver Although the industry has come a long way, convenience store retailers are still looking for ways to move beyond the traditional gas-and-smokes image. 7-Eleven Inc. is making great strides in this department. Aiming to become an important part of the mosaic of its customers' everyday lives, the retailer has a venture capital arm called 7-Ventures, as well a 20-person innovation team that was founded in 2013. "We have been meeting needs for 88 years by being a convenience store defined by products and services in-store," a 7-Eleven executive said last year regarding the innova- tion team. "We now need to evolve to being a convenient store defined by the problems it solves — inside the store, outside the store, we meet people where they are." 7-Ventures has led to investments in several startups and other fledgling but more established companies. Examples include: KeyMe Inc. self-service kiosks; loyalty rewards app Belly Inc.; and delivery service providers DoorDash Inc. and Postmates Inc. ment platform. Offering a competitive wage also helps. Wawa recently increased its starting pay to $10 an hour for customer service associates, and all associates received a 5-percent increase. Sheetz Inc. is also investing more than $15 million to raise the wages of its store employees. "It is changing a lot of discussions we are having with retailers that are looking for ways to deal with these changes. It's a very scary environment right now with retailers," Kramer said. Staffing U P 2016 seems to be shaping up to be the year of hiring sprees. Wawa Inc. (5,000 new associates) and Speedway LLC (500 new employees) are just a couple of the major convenience store industry players that have embarked on hiring initiatives this year. These pushes to boost employee count don't help the already-competitive hiring landscape. Long gone are the days of simply hanging a "Help Wanted" sign in your store window. C-store retailers today must get creative to attract a solid talent pool. Some are exploring flexibility in schedules as a way to manage hourly workers better, according to Steven Kramer, CEO and co-founder of WorkJam, an employee engage-

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