Remove Your Rose-Colored Glasses

Whether we are assessing an individual’s job performance or the operational
performance of a store, it’s difficult to gauge accurately without employing hard
systems that accurately measure performance.

By Jim Callahan

Arguably, the most successful marketing campaign ever employed by the Army was “Be All You Can Be.”

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It was so successful it ran from 1980 to 2001. And though that branch has come up with other inspiring themes since then—“Army Strong” for example, few marketing efforts have captured the imagination of would-be recruits like “Be All You Can Be.”

What is it about that slogan that spoke to so many young men and woman during that period?

It was the promise that if an individual had untapped potential that was yet to be revealed, the Army would help. By meeting the challenges offered by the military, that individual could learn more about himself or herself while contributing to the mission of the organization.

The same might be said for the convenience store industry, which is under the gun against other industries. Of course, our industry is a people business. We serve customers and we rely on our people to make that happen.

That’s where assessments come in. From a business perspective, retailers must assess their workers, evaluate the workings of the organization and really determine what kind of job they’re doing every day, from the time that first customer comes in each morning to the time that last customer leaves the premises.

Most of us quite naturally are biased and fail to capture the true view of how we really are. Sometimes, we think our organizations are better than they are. Other times, we sell ourselves short by a good margin.

You might say our perspective is often altered by rose-colored glasses.

It’s a sure thing that until we are able to remove those rose-colored glasses we will never find the authentic, honest version. How do you know if you are performing to your potential? How do you know what improvements need to be implemented in order to “be all that you can be?”

Whether we are assessing an individual’s job performance or the operational performance of a store, it’s difficult to gauge accurately without employing hard systems that accurately measure performance. And, if a retailer thinks it is doing enough, there’s always a better measuring stick on the market—a better tool to assess employees, count inventory, churn loyalty-based engagements, control thermostat settings on coolers or figure out how a mobile payment system can speed up transactions.

The tools available to convenience operators are tried and usually true and are getting more functional all the time. Of course, there’s a cost involved with using new tools to evaluate your business. There’s also a cost to not looking more closely and measuring how various aspects of your operations are functioning.

A piece of the operation might seem stellar, but it might actually be operating on shaky ground. That shiny, high-functioning component that seemingly is driving profits might really be a threat to be taken apart and looked at more closely. How do you know unless you break out the toolbox and runs some checks?

To start your review you must unmask. As the saying goes: “Make yourself smaller and the world bigger” because in the scheme of things, we all are less significant than we would like to admit. That’s not to diminish your accomplishments or the importance you have earned but is just a reminder for all of us to strive to do better.

The likes of QuikTrip, Sheetz, Wawa and 7-Eleven have all earned high marks for being innovators, but only after each company established a system, enabling it to honestly assess every facet of its operation, implementing changes for self-improvement and monitoring to ensure those changes are positively affecting its overall business model.

Many in our great industry are second- or third-generation business owners, which is something that makes it special. Of course, there are also many companies out there that operate today as they have in years past because ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it.’ Sometimes, the old ways are the best ways, but you never know until you take a hard look at what works and what doesn’t.

My advice is to set those rose-colored glasses on the counter and determine what you want to accomplish, and the best course to get there.