How to Pick the Best Employees for Convenience Stores, Gas Stations, and Retail Stores in 2020

Intro

One of the hardest parts of operating a retail store is the hiring process. You want the best employees to be the face of your business, but it’s hard finding great employees. One of the more problematic struggles of operating a retail business is employee turnover. Even if you find great employees, if they leave after three months, your out the time and expense it took to train them without much benefit to your business. When deciding on which candidate to hire, you should focus on checking up on their performance at past jobs and hiring the candidate whose the most personable. Additionally, you should work on creating a retention plan to keep great employees for as long as possible. Another great tip for acquiring top tier talent is to ask current employees for references, usually great talent hang around each other, so incentivizing references could help your retail store in the hiring process.

Check Past Performance

Conducting a detailed and thorough background check is essential to be certain that you’re hiring the best person for your convenience store, gas station, liquor store, or any other retail business. You want to contact their past work references to validate all the information you have pertaining to your candidate. The references you contact should also be able to confirm the potential employee’s work history, strengths, weaknesses, personality, work ethic, achievements, character, and their overall potential. Additionally, I would recommend checking if the candidate has any criminal history to make sure you are aware of who you’re hiring. The benefit of calling past employers is if the candidate had bad experiences at multiple jobs, it probably means there’s something wrong with him, versus something wrong with all the other employers. One tip I would give you about calling references is to lookup the businesses number online instead of calling the number on the reference sheet. The reason to do this is because a candidate could put a fake number on his reference sheet that will dial to his friend or family member that will lie about working with that candidate. If you look up the business on Google and call the number found for that business online, it will confirm you are getting in contact with the actual business and not a fake number. Past behavior almost always indicates future performance, so looking into a candidate’s past work experience can give you a good idea of what to expect from this person if you were to hire him to work at your retail store. If you would like to learn more about picking the right employee and preventing theft in your business you should read our other article How to Prevent Theft in Convenience Stores, Gas Stations, and Retail Stores.

Develop a Retention Plan

Employee retention and turnover are big issues for gas stations, liquor stores, convenience stores, and all other retail stores. When sifting through prospects, you want to focus on hiring candidates that have a high probability of staying at your business for a long period of time. If a candidate’s resume shows that the hop around jobs every six months, it’s probably not a good idea to hire this person. You don’t want to go through the time and expense to train someone when they plan on leaving just months later, no matter how promising a prospect looks. You want your employees to know that they can work their way to the top. What I mean by this, is that you want your employees to know that if they do a good job they can potentially be moved up to manager, assistant manager, or even general manager. Studies show that 32% of employees who quit their job leave because they see no career advancement or promotional opportunities (https://bit.ly/393YhTe). In addition, you should want your managers and general managers to have started as entry level workers. These people understand your business most and know what it takes to keep the customer happy. Even something as simple as hosting an employee of the month to celebrate one employee for achieving performance and retention milestones, like being on time, offering great customer service, and working assigned shifts. The reward for the employee of the month can be as simple as a prepaid gift card and a certificate hung where other employees will see it. Not only will this motivate other employees to excel at their job, but it will make the employee of the month happy and will want to continue working for you. Employee retention and turnover are big issues for retail stores, the average turnover rate in retail sits around 60 percent, so making sure you hire and keep great talent is crucial.

Ask Current Employees for Referrals

You most likely already have employees you really like and do well working for you. Your best employees already know and hang around many people who also work in retail. These connections make referrals one of the best recruiting tools for retail store owners. In addition, Most likely your employees have worked in other retail environments before your business, you should have your employees recommend people they previously worked with that were good employees and were enjoyable to work around. The key to referral success is directly asking each of your top-performing employees to identify, assess, sell, and then recommend at least one quality potential recruit a few times a year. To encourage referrals, offer a reward for each referral hired, whether that’s a gift card to a great restaurant in the area or just cash. Another tip for finding top tier talent is to periodically revisit “silver medalist” candidates (those who came in second) from a previously open job. You already know them and their interests. And after a 6- or 12- month delay, they are now likely to be more skilled and experienced. Getting current great performing employees to refer candidates to you is a great way to streamline the hiring process. Your efficient, outgoing, and friendly staff are bound to know like minded individuals, this is what makes this recruiting method so amazing. 

Personality

You want to see signs of success from candidates before hiring them to work for your retail business. In a retail environment, where your employees will be dealing with many different people throughout the day, it’s important that your employees enjoy talking with strangers, are positive, and have a great attitude. Operating the register, stocking the shelves, filling the coolers can all be taught, but a great personality is impossible to teach. You shouldn’t always just trust your gut when interviewing a potential employee. If an applicant is telling you everything you want to hear about their successes, abilities, and how they will put that to work for you, find something not to like about them. Sometimes you fall in love with a candidate and your gut instinct tells you that this person is the perfect person for the job, to make sure you’re making the right decision ask something like “Can you give me a time you didn’t give a great customer service experience and why that happened?” The great employees can pinpoint such a time and tell you what they’d have done differently or how it was resolved. The poor employees will just tell you it never happened. On top of that, don’t hire on the spot, tell the candidate you will them at 4pm the next day. This will give you a chance to call their references and possibly interview other candidates. This will allow you to make a better employment decision, plus it will make the candidate sweat a little, which will keep you firmly in control as the employer. In conclusion, when going through the hiring process you want to make sure you pick the right person for the job. Most skills in convenience stores, gas stations, liquor stores, and other retail businesses are easy to teach, but things such as great customer service, a kind personality, and willingness to learn are hard to come by. When selecting from candidates, you want to pick the ones with these hard to come by traits. You have to remember that your employees are the face of your business, so you have to make sure they shine your store in a good light.

Conclusion

The hiring process is a struggle for most convenience stores, liquor stores, gas stations, and all other retail businesses. Your employees represent your business, so you want only great talent to represent your retail store. There are a couple ways to distinguish great talent, such as checking past performance of the candidate, and hiring the candidate who is the most personable. A great strategy to find top tier talent is to ask current employees for references and incentivizing that by providing those employees with a prepaid gift card or maybe even cash. In addition, you should create a retention plan, so you can make sure amazing people stay with your company for as long as possible. If this article was helpful to you, you may enjoy another article we wrote about how to increase revenue in your business, How to Boost Revenue in Convenience Stores and Gas Stations in 2020.

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