No other works as hard to make each other better than the c-store industry.
In his general session presentation at the 2015 NACS Show, Steve Loehr, NACS vice president of operations, explained that the key to Kwik Trip’s success is finding great people and giving them resources to help them thrive
The lessons shared about Kwik Trip also apply broadly across the industry said Loehr, who is 2014-2015 NACS chairman of the board.
“We love our model at Kwik Trip. We have great team members, great products and a great appreciation of our customers,” said Loehr.
Kwik Trip has long been known for its banana sales — an astonishing 400 pounds per store per day, which averages out to about 1,000 bananas a day, among its other produce sales. In his presentation, Loehr introduced an equally impressive statistic related to employees.
Because of the great support that Kwik Trip team members receive, turnover is low and competition for new jobs is exceedingly fierce. How fierce? Over the past year, the company added 2,500 new co-workers after receiving about 178,000 applications — an acceptance rate of 1.4%.
“Let me put that in context,” said Loehr. “Last year, Harvard University was the most selective it had ever been. Only 5.3% of applicants were accepted. Kwik Trip accepts 1.8%. That means that you are almost four times as likely to be accepted by Harvard than by Kwik Trip.”
But Kwik Trip is not alone in the convenience store industry in its selectivity. Loehr cited three other well-known convenience store chains — and they also are all more selective than Harvard — or any of the other elite colleges in the country: QuikTrip accepts 3.1% of its applicants, Sheetz accepts 4.5% and Wawa accepts 4.8%.
Loehr also talked about the choices that Kwik Trip offers in stores for customers. While its stores sell an enormous amount of produce on a daily basis, they still are convenience stores, not produce stands. “We also sell about 800 muffins, donuts and cookies every day. With good reason. Believe me, I know — they are delicious!” said Loehr.
Loehr said that consumers are increasingly seeking healthy choices and Kwik Trip is providing more of these items.
“Last year, we became the first convenience store to sign a commitment with the Partnership for a Healthier America. This has greatly strengthened our business and made us a destination for those seeking out healthy options. Since then, other convenience stores (Sheetz and Vintners Distributors) and have joined us. And we have continued to step up with the Partnership for a Healthier America. We have joined its Drink Up program, encouraging more people to drink more water, more often. We launch this new program next week and expect that it will equally deliver benefits to our customers and our stores,” said Loehr.
Even with Kwik Trip’s programs focused on delighting both team members and customers, Loehr said that it’s essential to also reach out to elected leaders.
“The government can shape our business as much as anyone. If legislators don’t have the right information, they often make bad decisions,” he said.
Loehr praised the NACS In Store program, in which elected leaders visit convenience stores to learn about the business. Two of the 30 visits this year were at Kwik Trips. Kwik Trip also has its own program to reach out to elected leaders on a state and local level.
Loehr closed by thanking his family — his wife Cheryl, his four kids and nine grandchildren — and his industry “families,” including Kwik Trip team members, fellow retailers, suppliers and NACS staff.
“I can think of no other industry that shares as much, that works as hard, to make each other better. And, ultimately make the communities that we serve better,” said Loehr. “I feel incredibly blessed to work in this industry and to have served as your chair.”
The NACS Show is ranked as one of the top 40 largest trade shows in the United States. More than 20,000 attendees from 60-plus countries are at the 2015 NACS Show in Las Vegas, which features four days of general sessions, more than 60 educational sessions and over 1,100 exhibiting companies in a record-setting 400,000 net-square-foot expo.