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August 16, 2011

While the national unemployment rate continues to stay stubbornly over 9%, two things remain true about the labor market:

1. There are never enough good associates to work in our stores.
2. As the economy gets better, which we know will happen sometime, good employees will have other opportunities and you risk losing them.

This may not feel like a priority today, but customer service remains a key to retaining shoppers. And, that means doing as much as possible to empower these folks because they are our closest allies in the struggle to win more business.

We saw the need to address this topic at the last NACS/CCRRC meeting. During the roundtable discussions, nearly half of the retailers on the Council were working with or concerned about better understanding what was on the minds of their store-level associates and finding ways to improve the work experience.

Roy Strasburger, president of the International Division of Strasburger Enterprises, immediately saw the importance of this issue. He asked if the Council had done any studies about the topic that could be offered to NACS members through a workshop. The good news is that several years ago, Blake Frank, of the University of Dallas and before that 7-Eleven, had written Increasing Employee Retention in Convenience Stores based on a large study he completed.

Roy will lead an Empowering Our Closest Allies workshop on Saturday, October 1 at 4 p.m. at the NACS Annual Convention. Blake Frank’s paper, plus other learnings and best practices from the larger study, will be the centerpiece of this workshop. Addressing more than retention, Roy will be joined in a panel discussion by Stewart Spinks, president of The Spinx Company. They will share what they see happening with store employees and, specifically, what can be done to help keep them enthusiastically engaged in taking care of shoppers and growing the business.

We hope that you’ll attend this important October 1 NACS workshop. http://www.nacsonline.com/NACSShow/Sessions_Events/Workshops/SeniorLeadership/Pages/EL_100111_3.aspx

Just email me if you’d like to receive an electronic copy of Blake Frank’s paper about increasing employee retention in convenience stores. It would be great to read prior to the convention.

Bill Bishop
Research Director
NACS/Coca‑Cola Retailing Research Council
Founder, Willard Bishop Consulting and Chief Architect ClickMeetsBrick