Labor Remains One Of Our Biggest Issues

By Joe Rossi, NCASEF Executive Vice Chair

Many franchisees have been facing a significant labor shortage in recent years. This has had a major impact on our business, making it difficult for us to keep our stores running smoothly and efficiently.

One of the main challenges we have encountered as a result of this labor shortage is the difficulty in finding and retaining good employees. With the unemployment rate being low, it has become increasingly difficult to find qualified and reliable workers who are willing to take on the responsibilities of working in a retail environment. Additionally, many of our current employees are being poached by other companies offering higher wages or better benefits, making it difficult to retain a stable workforce. Many workers are even choosing to work for companies like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash, which offer more flexible schedules and higher pay.

Another issue we are encountering as a result of the labor shortage is the increase in labor costs. Since we now have to pay higher wages to attract and retain employees, our overall labor costs have gone up. This has had a significant impact on our bottom lines and has made it more difficult for many of us to turn a profit.

In addition to the difficulties in finding and retaining employees, the labor shortage has also made it more challenging to keep our stores fully stocked and organized. With a shortage of employees, it has been difficult for many of us to keep up with the demands of our customers, making it harder to provide them with the products and services they want and need.

Despite these challenges, we need to find ways to overcome this dilemma so we can keep our stores running as effectively as possible. Our franchisor has helped us try to find suitable employees by implementing the Hire Right job aid. Many of us are having a lot of difficulty finding employees to work the third shift hours, so allowing those stores to close for several hours overnight would also be helpful. Presently, SEI is permitting stores to close overnight on a case-by-case basis, but a more blanket approach might be called for.

C-stores in Japan are also facing this labor problem, and they’re experimenting with contact-free self-checkout stations. The self-checkout stations are already being utilized by other c-store chains in the U.S., so maybe it’s time this technology is adapted by 7-Eleven. Perhaps there are other tasks in our store that we could automate to help reduce the number of workers we require. A growing number of retailers are offering more flexible scheduling options, but that only seems plausible with bigger stores with larger staff.

The labor shortage has had a significant impact on our stores, particularly by driving up our labor costs and reducing the level of service we can provide, so we need to develop strategies to overcome this problem before other factors like inflation and crime make the situation worse. We need to ensure that our stores can continue to thrive in the face of this challenge.