Turning to industry experts can assist convenience stores looking to craft an effective employee-training program.
By Jim Callahan
Last month’s blog dealt with the critical need for providing your convenience store employees effective workplace training.
This month, I want to suggest some employee training topics companies might consider, with a particular focus on some resources that can be used to construct an effective training program.
Of course, a one-page blog barely scratches the surface. It’s always prudent to do a bit of research on your own before making key decisions. Luckily, there are a ton of education tools available to get convenience operators started.
TOOLS TO BUILD ON
For training material, whether you’re large enough to create your own training program or choose a “canned program,” the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) is where I’ll point you first—mainly because of the legwork and data compilation has been done for you already.
There are two options readily available. One is NACS LMS, which can be found at the website, www.nacsonline.com/elearning. This online training program is part of the association’s Learning Management System.
This web-based tool hosts and tracks usage/competency on dozens of c-store topics with a customizable ala-carte menu to build a platform specific to your company’s needs. If you aren’t ready for that, you can go to www.nacsonline.com/cbt, where members can pay $100 per DVD or CDROM.
Titles and training subjects include some of the following:
• Be Our Guest: The NACS Guide to Good Customer Service. There’s no substitute for good customer service and once it’s good, convenience stores must always aim for great.
• Inventory Loss: How to Prevent It. Who among us has mastered this area?
• Preventing Inventory Loss. This is a guide for store managers and a subject worthy of two videos.
• Robbery Prevention and Personal Safety. Here are logical tips on how to deal with robbery.
• Techniques of Alcohol Sales Management. You just cannot be a good company without dedicating quality time to this critical subject. (Call your tobacco company for videos regarding the sale of tobacco, also.)
• All’s Well—Smart, Safety in your Store—Always. In other words, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
• Move It, Fix It And Prevent It: Avoiding Slips, Trips & Falls. There’ really no more to be said, aside from “whoops.”
• Sexual Harassment: Your Rights and Responsibility. Responsible operators can’t afford to overlook this topic.
FISH FOR THOUGHT
For a fast-moving, hard-hitting and employee-rousing visual training program, another recommendation is the website, www.fishphilosophy.com/fish-philosophy-story, for free online previews.
These tutorials are designed to help you to create a culture where people choose to bring their best attitudes to the work. I’ve participated in some of their training and heartily recommend it for building a strong retail team.
One of the fish philosophies is “be emotionally present for people. It’s a powerful message of respect that improves communication and strengthens relationships.” That’s sage advice for employers and employees responsible for shaping a friendly retail environment.
Our valued customers are more discerning and discriminating more than ever. Customers are also easier to offend and less likely to forgive poor service than ever before.
We should remember that they are busier and more stressed and that it’s our job to not only provide great and timely service to go with that quality coffee/fountain offering, but also provide fresh deli selections and most of all, that great, friendly smile that confirms our seal of commitment in their minds.
Remember the real cost of training isn’t a couple hours in a class—sitting, watching and hopefully learning. It’s replacing good employees or individuals with promising potential because we didn’t properly invest in responsible workplace training in the first place.
In the end, the true cost comes when we have to again coach and train their replacements, which in our industry is a mundane and frustrating cycle. We see it in every customer’s face when he or she struggles to learn a new name and face during the next store visit.
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].