If you ask a dozen convenience store executives how to define their brand and their culture, you may get 12 different variations of the same answer. I’m certain all of them will agree that their people drive their brand. After all, you can draw up the best plans, map out the best planogram and buy the best technology, but if you don’t have good people executing a well-planned strategy at all levels of the company, none of it is going to work.
With the onset of Covid came a sharp uptick in delivery services. For c-stores, this means less of an opportunity to showcase their great people at all levels of the company. For this industry, people and outstanding service have always been a competitive advantage. The same rings true for the team at headquarters. Over the years, there has been a growing trend for convenience store companies to rebrand headquarters as the “support center” for company operations. These are the people behind the scenes doing the work that allows a company to grow and succeed.
Gina Romeo, president and founder of Connect Source Consulting Group, shared with me a story of one of these employees who makes a difference every day. Romeo recently visited TA’s headquarters in Westlake, Ohio, to express her gratitude for the care she received from office support assistant Cheryl White. White is the first person guests meet when they enter the lobby at TA headquarters.
White made such an impression on Romeo, and all of the TA team, that she felt compelled to send her flowers and chocolate-covered strawberries. “I feel kindness needs to be rewarded and acknowledged,” Romeo said. “Cheryl was so kind from the moment we entered the building to the moment we left.”
Turns out TA CEO Jon Pertchik also noticed the work White does and her importance to the brand. He presented her with a glass block name plate that proudly lists her title as Director of First Impressions. “I love it,” Romeo said. “She exudes it.”
Dave Weybrecht, White’s supervisor and senior manager of facilities and office services, praised the work White does to make people feel welcome. “Each and every day Cheryl brings that high level of professionalism to her position and consistently demonstrates a warm and welcoming attitude to everyone that comes through our doors.”
In addition to White’s welcoming ways, the company said she is a team player extraordinaire. Whenever she sees a need to support the team, she fills it.
“I’ve been in the industry for 25 years visiting corporate offices,” Romeo said. “Walking into TA didn’t feel like walking into a cold corporate office. Cheryl’s kindness, welcoming and great big smile made us feel like we were walking into a home. She’s a very special person.”
Founded in 1972, TA operates a network of 276 sites, including 45 franchised sites, in 44 states, and has more than 18,000 team members. The company’s retail brands include TA, Petro Stopping Centers and TA Express. It also operates more than 600 full-service and quick-service restaurants and nine proprietary brands, including Iron Skillet and Country Pride. Last year, TA generated $7.3 billion in total revenue, due in large part to the company’s continued investments in its guests and its people.