Sir Isaac Newton and C-Stores

Newton’s laws of motion laid a foundation for groundbreaking science. With a little tweaking, the same rules can apply to your convenience store operation.

By Jim Callahan, Contributing Editor

Playing hockey, driving a car or simply taking a walk down the street are all everyday examples of Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of motion. How this scientist and his laws can be applied to the convenience industry might be a stretch unless you look at it from a business perspective.

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As the story goes, a rush of awareness came over Newton when an apple from a branch fell and bonked him on the head. Afterward, Newton was able to devise the three laws of motion, describing the motion of massive bodies and how they interact.

• Newton’s first law of motion states: “Every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force to change its motion.” It goes to reason that if you sit in your office and do nothing productive to help your business thrive, you will not have a positive influence on the dynamics that will help move the company forward.

Positive motion can pertain to employee hiring, for example. I pick this example because nothing can set your company back like a bad hire. Instead of letting one bad apple spoil the bunch, make an extra effort to bolster weak hiring practices. There are plenty of industry tools at your disposable to help improve your systems.

If you are dong marginal background checks, make an effort to rethink how you’re evaluating candidates. If you don’t have a solid drug-testing policy, implement one.
Never stoop to hiring “warm bodies” when we already know and our background checks prove these individuals just don’t have what it takes. If we are to achieve our aspirations, we can’t do it with sub-par employees.

Hold employees to the rules. Begin transitioning from just verbal warnings to formal write-ups. Don’t be afraid to keep a file on employees so you can keep a record of their counseling sessions, their training records and other documents important to their standing with the company.

Provide meaningful incentives and achievable bonuses. Have a good promotion system so that you are moving qualified staff up the ranks.

• Newton’s second law states: “Every point’s mass attracts every other point’s mass, by a force acting along the line intersecting both points.” It’s much longer, but this will suffice.
In the words of an operator, an employee’s efforts, skills, attitude, professionalism, honesty, etc. have a direct effect on all other employees and your overall business. That’s why it’s so critical to find and pay for those that will bring excellence and positivity to the table.

• Newton’s third law states: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
Take for instance c-stores that endeavor to save precious dollars by waiting an extra half or full hour before turning their outside lights on or, conversely, turning them off in a foolish attempt to save dollars. Many customer are comforted by good lighting. Shutting it down runs the risk of alienating a good customer.

The same can be said for keeping hot dogs on the roller grill too long to avoid throwing them out. Or keeping the coffee in the pot too long to squeeze that last bit of revenue out of an unsuspecting patron. Once he or she gets a taste of that over-cooked product, the perception he or she takes away is permanent. That’s the reaction you don’t want.

Take a page out of the book that quality convenience chains operate from and study how they are doing it. They understand that food and coffee waste are part of the price of doing business. It’s the impression you leave with the customer that’s the most valuable commodity, not an extra hot dog sale.

If you’re unsure of how to approach these topics, there are plenty of experts who are glad to advise.

And remember, gathering positive forces around you can only strengthen the whole unit. Harnessing their good attitude, brainpower and dedication will surely help lead your team and your company to greater heights and success.

Otherwise you might fall victim to gravity, and as Sir Isaac can attest, gravity can be a real eye-opener.