Convenience store operators who make decisions based on their instinct, knowledge and experience are often proven right. But, to be especially sure that you’re on the right track, connect with an expert.
By Jim Callahan
We all know something about running a business and yes, many of us have been doing it successfully for years. However, almost all of us—me included—are guilty of leaving a trail of wasted dollars on the table, failing to maximize potential success and perhaps jeopardizing our long-term commercial viability through shortsightedness.
We might know a lot, but we don’t know everything. And, because of that fact of life, it’s always important to seek a second opinion in certain situations—not from your own staff, but from outside contractors and consultants that specialize in areas that might apply to your store operation.
FRESH SET OF EYES
We routinely seek second opinions regarding health issues but for some reason we’re reluctant to engage the talents of a consultant that allows us another set of eyes to see what we are.
Consultants—yes, I am one—come in, not only with a fresh set of eyes, but also with a different viewpoint than your own. Allow me to engage you with just one easy question: Think of 3-5 of your favorite things that you like about summer versus winter? Hold on to those thoughts for a while.
Years ago, when my wife was alive, she asked that we move south to escape the wintery roads of upstate New York. As the CEO of a nice company, I offered my employer a three-month notice and actually extended it by a month to accommodate them.
JACK THE CONSULTANT
During those four months, I retained a loss/security expert named Jack Sparagowski to come in and evaluate our operation. Jack the consultant found a few important “leaks” in our loss prevention management system—some of which I should have seen. In the end, he was well worth his fee.
As I prepared to leave, the company threw a nice party with vendors and employees to celebrate the 90.4% same-store sales growth we had experienced in my short, four-year tenure and afterwards, the gracious owner took me aside and asked a question that had been bothering her. She asked, “I’ve been wondering why you would take the risk of bringing in a consultant like Jack when you had done such a good job for us knowing it might reflect on your reign as CEO?”
I didn’t feel I could leave in good conscience without accomplishing my goal of achieving that high performance level. I had confidence in the overall job ahead of me but, at that time, security wasn’t my strong point. Overall, the organization learned some valuable lessons and, fortunately, I acquired new knowledge and skills, which have lasted me for more than two decades. During that period, I‘ve shared much with a number of owners, vice presidents, regional and district managers and cashiers.
As a side benefit, rather than tarnishing my reputation and small legacy, it actually enhanced them and that gracious and grateful owner still remembers my birthday every single year.
Back to the question regarding the things you like better about summer versus winter? Who among you thought: The dread associated with stepping out of the shower on a cold winter morning and shivering the entire time you’re drying off, opposed to the absolute comfort you feel doing the same thing in the summer? My point is, a good consultant can shine a very different light on your operation.
And, being too prideful to seek outside advice can leave you out in the cold.
If you find yourself at a loss for an answer, feel free to call or e-mail me. If I don’t have the solution, someone else does.
Jim Callahan has more than 40 years of experience as a convenience store and petroleum marketer. His Convenience Store Solutions blog appears regularly on CSDecisions.com. He can be reached at (678) 485-4773 or via e-mail at [email protected].