Becoming a Best Place to Work

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Becoming a Best Place to Work

By Terry McKenna, Convenience Store Coaches - 03/17/2014

Every year, Fortune magazine publishes its "Best 100 Companies to Work For" report. The 2014 list includes QuikTrip Corp. (No. 48) and Sheetz Inc. (No. 87).  Having QuikTrip and Sheetz on the list is great for the convenience store industry because it demonstrates that it can be done.

Operating convenience stores may not be sexy like some of the high-tech companies on the list, but it proves that it’s not about what you do, but how you do it. The companies on this year’s list offer their employees a wide variety of perks in exchange for their loyalty and hard work. These perks include on-site daycare, a health club, subsidized cafeteria, paid sabbaticals, hefty cash bonuses, trips, career advancement opportunities, tuition reimbursement, etc. The list is pretty impressive.

When you’re a big company with lots of resources, it’s easier to offer your employees lots of perks. But what about small-business owners like yourself that simply don’t have the resources and options to offer your employees? What are you supposed to do?

You have a choice. You can either take the “nothing I can do about it” attitude, or you can get creative.

If your choice is to get creative, here are five suggestions to consider that can help you compete in the Best Place to Work arena against the big boys and their deep pockets of perks.


The thing that really motivates and sustains long-term performance is a strong sense of purpose; doing something meaningful and being part of something that’s bigger than oneself.

Redefine your customers' buying experience. You and your employees' purpose can be to provide the ultimate daily convenience in your customers' hectic, time-starved, pressured day. Convenience that is dependable, fast, friendly, helpful and personable (knowing your customers' names). 

Community Involvement

A strong appeal to both Gen X and Millennials is working for companies that get involved in the community and give back. Community involvement can be a very effective recruiting and retention strategy. 

Schools need help: supplies, speaking on career day, recognizing and reinforcing good grades by offering a free fountain drink upon presenting the report card, using your lot for fundraising activities like car washes, etc. Meet with the principal of a school you’d like to adopt and ask how you can help. 

Skill Development

Don’t allow your employees to focus on the job -- instead, help them to focus on the opportunities the job provides. Today, you’re a cashier working in a c-store. Tomorrow, you own and operate a 25-store chain.  Help your employees focus of the future possibilities their job represents.

Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is a big issue these days and it’s not just a younger Millennial-generation thing (i.e., my personal life is as important as my work life). It’s also become more of a Baby Boomer-generation issue.  Many Boomers today find themselves not only caring for their elder parents, but also for their children and their children’s children. That’s a lot pressure, stress and anxiety to deal with.

Companies that are sensitive to these situations and do their best to work with their employees will engender tremendous loyalty. I understand you’re running a business and not a charitable outreach program, and labor scheduling can be challenging. But it can and is being done. And if it’s being done by your competitors, you’re letting them beat you.

Boss Relationship

Employees join a company, but quit the boss. Looking out for and helping your employees reach their potential is powerful. There’s no out-of-pocket cost, just a little bit of your time.

I understand how frustrating it can be as a single-store operator trying to compete against the bigger, better financed c-store chains, and drugstores, and dollar stores, and big-box retailers, and grocery stores. Did I miss anyone? You can compete. You just have to be more creative, flexible and smarter.