By John Lofstock, Editor-in-Chief
Being a good corporate citizen isn’t something convenience store operators can take lightly. In fact, giving back to the community should be considered part of the cost of doing business, not to mention part of a company’s long-term mission
In today’s competitive convenience store industry, your corporate values and what you stand for are just as important to customers as the products you sell. More precisely, it is your values that will define you in the eyes of all those who come in contact with your brand.
As the convenience store industry evolves, effectively managing your brand image will determine whether customers want to shop at your stores and whether employees will be proud to call you an employer.
Quite often, a company’s success is a result of its corporate culture, which begins at the highest level of the organization. Culture isn’t just a function of employee happiness or a “cool” store design. It’s deeper than that. Corporate culture includes the values, beliefs and priorities that underlie all of an organization’s activities.
It’s the foundation of all you do.
I bring this up because of the wonderful gesture I learned about from Good Oil and VERC Enterprises last month. Don Good, president of Good Oil in Indiana, and Leo Vercollone, president of VERC Enterprises, sent gift baskets to police departments in the towns where they operate convenience stores in order to show appreciation for local law enforcement.
Though it’s a simple act of kindness, the move speak volumes about the values these brands share. There was no fanfare, no press conference, and no expectation of a favor in return. It was simply a gesture of support to law enforcement to remind those officers and workers that the community appreciates the work they do.
It’s a message that cannot be repeated enough.
The idea came about when Vercollone, who operates 26 stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, attended a recent study group meeting.
Giving Back Matters
“Don mentioned that he had sent flower baskets to local police departments in his area,” Vercollone told me. “I went back and talked to our team and we decided to send fruit baskets. This is just a small way of recognizing our police departments for all they do. We are blessed to operate within these communities and we have a great degree of appreciation for what police do everyday.”
Delivered on July 15, the fruit baskets bore the message: “We admire what you do and support you for your work in our community.”
Good, who operates 15 stores in Indiana, has many friends in law enforcement. He told me he fears for their safety and worries that good police officers could leave the force for less dangerous positions. This would be a major blow to every community in the country.
“At times our industry has come under intense scrutiny for isolated events often outside of our control. While I have often felt the scrutiny was unjustified, I never felt that my life was at risk,” Good said. “When I look at the job we ask law enforcement to do and then witness the intense scrutiny and condemnation from the media, some segments of society and different levels of government, my heart breaks for them and their families. We depend on the law enforcement community for so many important things every day. I feel it is critical that we reach out to them and let them know there is a lot of appreciation and respect for the work they do.”
A small token such as a basket of fruit or a bundle of flowers not only sends a big message about your brand and your values, but it also raises the spirits of those on the receiving end.
Remember, the man who moves mountains begins by carrying away small stones. When evaluating what your values are, don’t overlook the little things.