Here it is in mid-August and summer is winding down. But parts of the country are still seeing record high temperatures while other parts of the country are expecting Noah and his Ark to float on by. Summer is the time for heat and humidity. C-Store operators face two equally challenging tasks: Having a great team and having a great facility. You need both to service your customers.
In the 2012 State of the Industry Report from the National Association of Convenient Stores (NACS), they state the best of the industry faces a 66.1% turnover rate. The bottom of the industry wrestles with a 91.5% turnover rate. Repairs and Maintenances, along with utility costs, accounted for 14.54% of total operating expenses. Labor is at an all-time high; and Credit Card fees are growing faster than the operators can keep up with.
My grandfather used to have this funny quote I think he borrowed from a friend that said, “Growing old isn’t for cowards.” I laughed every time he said it, mostly because I didn’t know what it meant. I was 6 years old. Now that I am well beyond that, I would modify this to say “Operating a C-Store isn’t for cowards.” Being in the trenches, facing a new challenge each & every day can sometimes lead us to make what I call “OR” decisions. Do we run with the tightest labor possible? OR, do we take care of our facilities?
Your cashier calls out sick; there is a delivery at the back door; and the HVAC compressor stopped working so it is not keeping up with the summer heat. Which issue do you take care of first? Which one can wait? Which problem demands your highest priority?
All of them are the highest priority is the only correct answer. You have to do all of it, and it all needs to be done now. But how? How do you do it all?
I have had some incredible jobs in my life. I was a restaurant manager for 13 years and worked in many restaurant concepts, from Fast Food all the way up to Fine Dining. I also worked for the largest privately owned Travel Center Company in the U.S. for 8 years. I have enjoyed roles in the front-of-the-house, back-of-the-house, corporate management, operations, I.T., new-store openings, and facility maintenance. It takes a person who can multi-task, make decisions, and get a lot done each day to be successful.
As the pressure to do more with less challenges us all, we only have 1 choice and that choice is AND. Fix the HVAC AND receive the delivery AND help the customer. We have to leverage technology —when possible— to automate tasks that otherwise would require your time. I would bet we have all used “pay-at-the-pump” to do just this. Some companies have automated ordering systems for their merchandise; others use labor management systems.
How do any of these help my HVAC unit that is in desperate need of repair? That is where a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) comes in. A CMMS can be configured to program in all the important business decisions a facility manager has to make and allow the users to quickly execute tasks that would normally only be performed by a seasoned manager. Which vendor to use at store # 35 for HVAC? How should he be contacted in case of a fuel emergency? What is the process when a walk-in cooler goes down?
A team member can electronically submit a service request in less then 30 seconds, and go back to receiving that delivery or helping the next customer. A qualified service vendor (you have pre-selected) will receive that request, update the ticket, and schedule their onsite visit — all within the system. When the team member has time, they can check in & review the progress of the ticket. Additionally, regional managers or corporate personnel can gain visibility into the system to see real-time updates as the work order progresses through the repair cycle.
Smart facility managers are using CMMS to electronically manage all their repairs, cost of repairs, preventative maintenance, vendor relationships, equipment lifecycles, and repair times. Now that you are collecting all this data, reporting on trends and measurements is the next step. Today’s systems are getting smarter, faster, and produce great results to the operator. IPhones, iPads, SmartPhones, and Tablets are getting smarter, faster, and smaller. ServiceChannel is leading the way in mobile CMMS and allows vendors to check in and out or update work orders right from their mobile device.
CVS Pharmacy is leveraging ServiceChannel to do just that, but you don’t have to be big to be smart. Small to mid-size companies are lean, fast and agile, and they use CMMS too.
Next time when that cashier calls out, and the back door rings, and the HVAC unit is down, now you can do all 3 demands at the same time. Pull out your phone; log a service ticket for the HVAC unit. Call another team member in to cover a shift, all while holding the door open for the delivery driver.