New Year, New Opportunities

For many convenience store chains, 2009 could not end soon enough. A challenging economy, higher operating costs, outrageous credit card fees and an onslaught of new tobacco taxes were just some of the issues retailers had to contend with.

In our ongoing effort to provide readers with the tools they need to make informed decisions, CSD partnered with human resources expert Mel Kleiman for the second annual CSD/Kleiman HR human resources survey. The purpose of the report is to help operators benchmark their hiring practices and employee costs against the rest of the industry.

The survey asked 45 questions relating to major staffing issues affecting convenience store operations across the country. Responses were collected from mid-November through early December. Replies were an accurate representation of the diverse companies operating in the industry, from large chain operators to those with as few as two stores.

Looking at the next 12 months, more than half (57%) of the respondents expect staffing levels to remain the same and about another one-third (32%) expect to actually increase staffing. Only 11% predicted staffing levels would decrease.

“So, while ours might not be an industry of choice for many job seekers, for those of you in a recruiting mode, it would be wise to capitalize on the industry’s stability and security,” Kleiman said in this month’s cover story.

When it comes to the industry’s notoriously high employee turnover rates, 56% of respondents now say turnover has decreased, perhaps due to the struggling economy.

Labor cost as a percentage of overall expenses ranged from 4% to 60% with an average of 31%. Cost of benefits as a percentage of payroll ranged from as low as 3% to as high as 80% with an average of 16.9%, the report found. View the entire survey results beginning on page 18. (Click here to read)

The Readers Have Spoken
Convenience Store Decisions celebrates its fifth annual Reader’s Choice Awards issue by recognizing the Top Performers and Honorable Mentions in two dozen categories and subcategories. The awards are a significant milestone for CSD as we continue to move forward with our commitment to helping convenience store marketers find the solutions they need to grow profitability.   

The Reader’s Choice Awards are also a must-read because the Top Performers and Honorable Mentions were chosen directly by you, the retailers. Nearly 100 chains participated in surveys and phone interviews with Hagen Marketing Research as part of our new Brand Preference Study. The 2010 Reader’s Choice Awards are based on supplier performance in this study.

While the purpose of these awards is to honor the leading suppliers in the channel, the bottom line is retailers need supplier partners that are willing to listen to their needs and offer innovative and profitable new ideas in this very complex industry. An occasional phone call is not enough.

While technology has helped improve relationships, there is still a considerable amount of work to be done. For example, in several key categories retailers reported no sales visits from leading suppliers in the previous two months. This suggests retailers and suppliers are both missing out on important sales opportunities and likely losing customers to competing channels, specifically supermarkets and drug stores. In this economy, c-stores can simply not afford to lose business to competitors. In other words, suppliers must take the first step in reaching out to decision makers and category managers with solutions that work to grow their businesses.

The 2010 Reader’s Choice Awards begins on page 25. (Click here to read)

Thanks to all the chains that participated in this year’s survey and congratulations to this year’s Top Performers and Honorable Mentions.

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