Even during the holiday season customers expect their local c-store not only to be open, but to meet their diverse needs.
Every year during the holidays I have cashiers tell me that customers ask them why our stores are open on days like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Customers often remark, “It’s a darn shame you have to work on Christmas. You should be home enjoying this time with your children and family.”
It must be nice to have a traditional job. Our industry, however, is anything but traditional. Customers can always count on us to have the items they need, when they need them, 24 hours a day. Even “customers” that just need to use the restroom target our stores to take a break from a busy highway.
As part of my training with employees I like to explain that convenience stores are a veritable emergency room for commuters, local residents and truckers traveling from state to state. Cashiers are every bit as noble as a nurse, orderly or doctor in a hospital or emergency room. Think about this—I mean really think about the warmth and comfort your stores and employees provide these customers in their time of need. Taking care of customers is a tough, but rewarding—and profitable—proposition. The holiday and your family will wait for you.
Meeting the Demand
As part of the service industry we have to be there when the people need us. In the case of convenience stores, as with hospital emergency rooms, that means we’re on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. More over, customers don’t just expect us to be open, they would be lost without us. We can all be proud of that noble designation. Embrace and revel in it.
Consider for just a moment: Little Johnny wakes up Christmas morning, rips the gift wrap off the toy robot he’s been dreaming about for months and there isn’t an AA battery to be found. Or Sally’s talking Barbie and doll house is short four AAA batteries. The pain on her face can ruin a Christmas. So where does dad turn to save the day? A trip to their nearby convenience store solves that problem.
You, my friends, get to be the difference makers every day—not just by being there, but by your smile, your attitude, your friendly nature, your knowledge regarding the surrounding area and, perhaps most importantly, by having a friendly store with clean restrooms fit for a king and his queen.
You may not get thanked by each customer, but your reward is knowing that you did indeed make a difference in the lives of hundreds of travelers on their way to celebrate relationships and the holidays with their loved ones.
While the convenience store industry emphasizes customers service during this holiday season there might never be a better time than right now to increase your efforts to make a positive difference in the lives of your employees
Right now we are witnessing more unemployment, underemployment, failed and failing businesses, which is troublesome for management, but maybe more so for frontline employees. But these troubled times offer us both challenges and opportunities.
It is indeed a great time to recognize and reward successes and efforts, no matter how small they seem. Believe me, family and employees alike will appreciate it.
As we bear witness to this change in the American lifestyle and realize that we are only as strong as our customer base, we struggle with how to do our part to make things better without damaging the trough that feeds the families that depend on us.
Let’s do all we can to help—tangible and financial if possible—but, there can be no doubt that we are all able to give that simple touch, caring smile, simple words of inspiration, and a listening ear, all of which have the power to touch the life of someone who needs it.