How to find and finance employee retention programs that are especially designed for gas stations and convenience stores
Employee retention and turnover are big issues for gas stations and convenience stores.
Cashier jobs usually involve standing for long hours, dealing with consumer complaints, and low wages to boot. These factors may lead to employee dissatisfaction, and unsatisfied employees are hard to keep – and keep happy.
The good news is that there are many options for both getting and keeping satisfied employees. Some of these employee retention programs require a financial outlay, and some are low- to no-cost. Read further for information on gas station financing, as well.
Good Gas Station / Convenience Store Management Comes First
Career development, growth, wages, benefits, flexible schedules, and the overall working environment are the most important factors in employee satisfaction, reported Convenience Store News. You can affect career growth, flexible schedules, and work environment through tools that require more of your time than your money.
Showing entry-level employees that they can work their way into other positions, and hiring managers from within, are policies that need you to communicate with your staff. If you operate a franchise or branded location, make sure your employees know of leadership opportunities available within the company. Promote any training and advancement workshops offered, and offer flexible time or PTO for attendance.
Flexible scheduling is another low-cost retention strategy. Many hourly employees have to quit jobs because of emergencies, or restrictive attendance policies. In fact, an industry study showed that c-store owners rank reliability as the most common issue among their workforce.
Offering an easy way to swap – or choose – shifts makes it easier for employees to get to work when they’re scheduled. Such a policy may involve a small investment in scheduling or other time management software (like HotSchedules. used by retail industry leaders) for a one-time or monthly fee.
Cash Incentives Build Loyalty
Wages and benefits are top reasons for high employee turnover among entry-level convenience store and gas station cashiers, said Convenience Store News. It may be costly to increase salaries and benefits, but recognizing employees with a nominal cash award gives workers a financial incentive to stay employed.
In a study of over 1,200 workplaces, the Harvard Business Review found that “performance-related pay was positively associated with job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and trust in management.”
Examples of incentive pay are:
- Employee of the Month: Each month, celebrate one employee for achieving performance and retention milestones, like being on time, working assigned shifts, and offering great customer service. The reward for the worker can be as simple as a pre-paid gift card and a certificate hung where other employees will see it.
- Performance Contests: Create a contest in order to encourage employees to do tasks that might be overlooked, such as cleaning certain areas or selling promotional items. These contests should be based on measurable activities for the sake of fairness, and offer a good reward.
- Referrals: Offer a bonus to employees who help recruit new workers. Efficient, outgoing, and friendly cashiers are bound to know likeminded candidates. If your current workers screen applicants for you, it will be easier for you to find other good hires. You can give the referring employee half the bonus when the new employee starts, and the other half once the new employee has hit a certain milestone, such as 3 months of time with your company.
Programs that turn retention and performance into a game are very successful with retail workers. According to employment expert Linda McKenna-Welch, providing rewards for good performance is good for younger employees. Almost half of all gas station retail employees are under 35 years old, and this group is conditioned to respond to the instant rewards of video gaming. So, using similar rewards in your workplace will keep younger staff engaged, and engagement leads to satisfaction and longer employment.
2 Ways to Fund Gas Station Employee Retention Programs
1. Current operational expenses
You may be able to find the funding for a new program in your current operational expenses. An incentive program like Employee of the Month requires as small a cash outlay as $50 each month, or $600 per year. The amount that you budget can be even lower if you offer movie tickets or other entertainment rewards.
Using current employees as a recruiting tool will need a greater immediate investment. You will be asking your employees to go the extra mile to find co-workers, and a larger benefit will boost participation. However, recruiting good employees will improve customer service, which has been proven to influence 70% of buying decisions.
2. External financing
If your employee retention and recruitment efforts can be rolled into an overall business expansion, you may be able to fund capital expenses like software through a Small Business Association loan.
The SBA’s CDC/504 loans were begun as a way to stimulate job creation and improve small business success. Gas station financing can be hard to get through a traditional lender – many banks shy away from the cash turnover in the business, and the environmental and safety risks involved in operating gas machines. But 504 loans are partially backed by non-profit organizations with community involvement goals.
Gas station and convenience store owners can use CDC/504 loans for purchasing land, building new facilities, and for certain other capital expenses to be used as part of a business expansion effort. For example, you may be able to capitalize software expenses for expansion and include them in your loan request.
There are many ways to solve your employee retention problems, from the simple to the complex. However, with research and creativity, you can improve the satisfaction and recognition employees need to remain your most valuable assets.