Consumers also expect quality customer service from c-stores.

When it comes to labor, convenience retailers are being squeezed by soaring costs while dealing with high turnover rates. Even as c-store operators allocate a significant portion of their budget to payroll, they find it difficult to retain good employees.

Although convenience stores create millions of job opportunities in local communities across the United States, the employee turnover rate reached 118 percent in 2018, while salaries rose by 4.4 percent overall, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

If you’re a convenience retailer in this situation, your best bet for long-term growth and profitability is to optimize your workforce, especially in a tight labor market. But how do you successfully enable workforce optimization, and what workforce management solutions do you need?

4 Ways to Counter the Labor Squeeze

What does a typical workday look like for your c-store employees? Understanding your employees’ work patterns, schedules, and customer service needs will help you identify all the areas that be optimized and improved with the right technology.

#1 Reduce the burden of routine tasks. Many employees spend a lot of time on routine, low-value tasks. Whether it’s a c-store manager revising a weekly staffing schedule or an employee manually entering competitor and other pricing data into a spreadsheet, many of these tasks can be automated to reduce employee burden. Instead of spending the effort on those tasks, a manager can devote more time on staff training and solving customer issues. At the same time, employees can focus on providing optimal customer service and promoting the store’s loyalty program.

#2 Streamline processes for greater efficiency. By identifying a routine task that can be automated, you can streamline operations and improve efficiencies. With our scheduling example, you can simplify the process with the help of a robust, automated solution that will enable team members to input schedule requests and changes on their own.

Human resources tasks aside, you need connectivity that a manual system can’t provide. Choose a unified enterprise solution that will connect your employees with the processes they manage or contribute to. Connectivity among individual stores, the back office, and the headquarters will simplify communication and collaboration throughout your operations.

In addition, if you don’t have an HR team or the team is at capacity, many solution providers offer managed services. This allows your team to offload day-to-day management so they can focus on your customers and more strategic priorities.

#3 Provide mobility and flexibility to your staff. To keep employees engaged, especially millennials and Generation Z staff, provide mobile devices and apps to increase productivity. Enable staff to carry out their work seamlessly, whether they are inside or outside the store. Employees should be able to get out in the field and visit different sites, with full access to ERP and workforce management solutions, and seamlessly connect with other team members or the main office.

#4 Equip your staff with data-driven analytics for optimal decision making. Your organization’s ability to resolve customer complaints and address sales-related and other issues promptly can directly impact your revenue. St. Romain Oil, a convenience-store and wholesale company based in Louisiana, learned this firsthand when it experienced shrinkage in its foodservice that affected its profitability. Its old system wasn’t able to leverage all the transaction data collected to analyze the shrinkage.

After St. Romain Oil switched to PDI’s end-to-end enterprise solution with robust analytics, it discovered the root cause of the problem. Not enough employees worked during busy times to maximize sales in foodservice. Data-driven analytics helped the company improve scheduling and staffing to reduce shrinkage by 33 percent without increasing the headcount. In addition to solving the issue, the company reduced its labor costs by 8 percent.

Don’t Sacrifice Profitability

As a c-store operator, not only are you selling gas and food, you’re selling convenience. You need good employees toprovide efficient, fast, and friendly customer service. The best way to address rising wages and the high turnover rate is by optimizing your current workforce. Leveraging the latest ERP technology and workforce management solutions can help you attain the highest level of customer service without increasing your labor budget or sacrificing your profitability.

Did You Know: Your Source for PDI News provided by PDI, the leader in enterprise management software for the convenience retail and petroleum wholesale markets.