Respecting QuikTrip

Top-notch convenience retailer is competition, but also inspiration

TULSA, Okla. -- As much as QuikTrip strikes fear and awe among its convenience store competitors, it also attracts respect.Jim Griffith, CEO of Stillwater, Okla.-based OnCue Express, calls QuikTrip "one of the best retailers in the country" and acknowledges that his 46-store chain looks to it for new ideas and inspiration.

"I just think the world of them," Griffith told CSP Daily News. "Someday maybe I can grow up and be QuikTrip."

Griffith, who started his c-store business in 1966 and created OnCue through a merger with a partner in 2004, has one store in a market occupied by two QuikTrip sites. When he opened his Bartlesville, Okla., store in 1980, "the stores QuikTrip had were nothing like the stores QuikTrip has now."

"They have evolved considerably," he said. He appreciates the size and dimensions of the facilities, making it easy for customers. He also compliments its labor development and management: "They have extremely informed and friendly employees. They have a great culture."

When it comes to QT's culture of employee retention, Griffith said, "My hat is off to them. It takes a lot of work. And they've done the work. Anytime you can reduce turnover, you reduce costs."

QuikTrip consistently shows up as a top employer on national ratings lists, said Jim Fram, senior vice president for economic development for the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce. He credited the chain's above-industry pay and the fact the retailer promotes from within for employee retention.

"[Employees] have their anniversary date on their name badges," Fram said. "You don't see very many people who have worked there only a few months. They are all long-term employees."

OnCue Express is expanding in the Oklahoma City market, where there are no QuikTrips. Griffith's chain has four new stores in the works in that market, bringing the total there to 12.

"One of the biggest compliments I have," Griffith said, "is when someone says, 'Gosh, your stores remind me of a QuikTrip'."

For more on how QuikTrip has achieved fuel and inside sales dominance, see the March issue of CSP magazine.