Overcoming Our Labor Recruitment & Retention Obstacles

By Sukhi Sandhu, NCASEF Chairman

In an increasingly competitive labor market, the battle for reliable employees is growing fierce. The stakes are high, with a constant surge in the employment rate and heightened competition for quality labor. This is especially significant for our stores, where maintaining a consistent and reliable workforce is pivotal to our bottom lines.

Every time an employee leaves, it costs us money and disrupts the workflow. The cost of turnover includes training new employees, dealing with potential errors made by inexperienced staff, and the need for double coverage during the hiring process. This not only impacts our finances, but also the overall efficiency of our operations.

To address this issue, we must first understand the employment rates and the difficulties in recruiting quality employees. The market is saturated with competitors who offer attractive benefits and wages that can be challenging for us to match. For example, Buc-ee’s, a popular convenience store chain, offers impressive hourly rates and various other incentives for their workers. To combat the allure of such competitors, we need to make our positions appealing and create a sense of pride in working for our brand.

I can assure you that the NCASEF officers and Board members have not been sitting idly by—we are taking a proactive approach to tackle our labor recruitment and retention challenges. We have been working with SEI as they develop and introduce the new self-checkout system, which can alleviate some of the workload on our sales associates. By simplifying operations and reducing the burden on our employees, we hope to improve their overall experience and job satisfaction. These discussions were initiated during a CEO Roundtable, where the need to address labor retention was recognized.

Furthermore, we have signed on with Paradox, an artificial intelligence talent recruitment company, to streamline the hiring process. By using their AI assistant, Olivia, we can automate pre-interview screenings and simplify the entire recruitment process. This not only saves time, but also ensures a personalized candidate experience. Additionally, Paradox offers electronic onboarding, further simplifying administrative tasks and reducing the time it takes to integrate new employees. This service is available at a reasonable monthly cost for franchisees, and it provides an efficient talent acquisition solution.

In our efforts to attract and retain employees, we are also exploring healthcare benefits through Dafanie Financial Group. This allows franchisees to provide their employees with comprehensive health insurance plans that may include vision coverage, dental insurance, life insurance, and disability insurance. Offering such benefits will not only help us retain employees, but also enhance their overall well-being.

Another partnership we have established is with T-Mobile. Through this collaboration, franchisees and their employees can access affordable phone services and even receive free smartphones, which will save them money on their monthly bills. Additionally, T-Mobile offers multiple sensor solutions that include temperature monitoring for refrigerators and freezers; energy monitoring; and smart waste bin sensors that would help make our store operations more efficient.

We are also working with Payality, a payroll processing company, to allow stores to fund their employees’ payrolls directly from their open account, similar to ADP. This is not only a step towards simplifying the payroll process but also ensures the accuracy of payroll expenses reflected in financial reports.

Looking at industry trends, we find that many convenience store retailers are implementing measures to improve employee retention. According to a recent survey, pay raises, flexible scheduling, and employee recognition programs are commonly adopted strategies. Furthermore, offering improved training, additional paid time off, and enticing benefits like health insurance and vacation time have also yielded positive results. These efforts have led to a significant decrease in short-term employee turnover, reflecting the positive effects of improved wages and working conditions.

We’re exploring all avenues to recruit quality personnel and provide them with competitive benefits so that they stay longer with us. We understand that employee retention isn’t only about offering competitive pay rates. Factors such as morale, job complexity, and work environment also play significant roles. Therefore, we’re investing in tools and benefits to make the everyday lives of our franchisees and sales associates easier.

These facts point to our unwavering dedication to overcoming our current labor recruitment and retention obstacles, and creating a vibrant and sustainable work environment in our stores. As we look to the future, we will continue to adapt and innovate in our ongoing mission to foster a productive, beneficial, and fulfilling workplace for our valued employees.